Slippery bluster

Jeff Jacoby:


All candidates are slippery sometimes. But Kerry is slippery as a matter of course. His rhetoric may be forceful, even aggressive, but his positions don't stay still. In Boston yesterday, the Republican Party released an 11-minute compilation of Kerry's ever-shifting stands on Iraq. It is a remarkable video -- both for the sheer number of Kerry's lurches on the war and because of the adamance with which he expresses incompatible views. (Kerry in July 2002: "I agree completely with this administration's goal of a regime change in Iraq." Kerry in August 2003: "The fact is, in the resolution that we passed, we did not empower the president to do regime change.")

It is a hallmark of Kerry's political career: Rarely does he take a stand and hold his ground -- not if there may be a price to pay for doing so. A John McCain he isn't. The blunt truth about Kerry the 60-year-old politician is that he is devoid of political courage. That is why he has to borrow so much of it from Kerry the twentysomething soldier.


Kerry would make a strong president in the 2000s because he was a good swift boat skipper in the 1960s? It isn't exactly a logical argument. But it's the argument the Democrats are going with because the nation is at war and because nothing else in Kerry's long and ambiguous public record gives any hint that he would make an effective commander in chief.

Kerry's party brandishes his Vietnam bravery so incessantly because it is one element in his career that hasn't been nuanced to a pulp. But when has he shown bravery in the three decades since? What reason is there to think he would show any in the Oval Office? A compelling answer to that question is one many of us have been waiting a long time to hear. I'd be surprised if we hear it tonight.


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