Voters recognize Kerry dodginess

David Broder:


"...When voters were asked to rate Bush and Kerry on their willingness to take a position and stick with it, eight out of 10 said Bush does that, while only four out of 10 saw that consistency or tenacity in Kerry.

"Some Democrats blame this on the millions the Bush campaign has spent in recent weeks on ads depicting Kerry as a flip-flopper. But in the Post-ABC poll, Kerry actually fared much better against Bush in the states where those ads have run than in the rest of the country.

"I suspect something deeper is at work. If you watched Kerry on "Meet the Press," you saw many examples of dodginess on his part. At the very start, moderator Tim Russert asked for a 'yes or no answer' to the question, 'Do you believe the war in Iraq was a mistake?' Kerry's response was: 'I think the way the president went to war was a mistake.' By restating the question, he left the fundamental issue unanswered.

"Over the course of the hour, Kerry struggled to explain why he had once -- decades ago -- advocated placing U.S. forces under the direction of the United Nations, why he had said in 2000 that the U.S. effort to isolate Cuba was a 'frozen, stalemated, unproductive policy,' why he had voted in 2002 for the resolution authorizing the use of force against Saddam Hussein and why he now criticizes that policy after promising he would not do so 'once the shooting starts.'

"This is not a new problem for Kerry. As Boston Globe reporters Michael Kranish, Brian Mooney and Nina Easton write in their newly published biography of the senator, despite instances where Kerry showed himself 'a lawmaker willing to stand up to prevailing political winds . . . he is trailed by a reputation for political opportunism. . . . Unlike many who are driven to succeed in public life by a core belief system, the arc of Kerry's political career is defined by a restless search for the issues, individuals and causes to fulfill a nearly lifelong ambition' for the White House.

"The election is still six months away. But Kerry's reputation has been built over 40 years. And the voters seem to be sniffing it out."

It is the Democrats disease. They know they cannot get elected if they campaign on what they really believe. There only core belief is maintaining their political viability.


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