One of John Kerry's more notable characteristics is his tendency to "flip-flop," to change his position on an issue when it becomes convenient. It's also rather remarkable how he can rationalize it as not contradictory, but entirely consistent and logical and correct.
But in many other ways, Kerry is remarkably unchanging. In those ways, his fundamental character just shines through.
My superb colleague Kim yesterday talked about WHAT John Kerry did in Davos. As the site's resident New Englander, who's lived in the state next door to Kerry's home of record all my life, I thought I would give it some context and show that his actions are entirely typical for him -- and why he (as always) doesn't see why anyone would be upset with him.
As almost everything in his life does, it all goes back to Viet Nam. More specifically, to the 3 months John Kerry spent there, because nearly everything he's done since has been built on those three months.
After Kerry returned from Viet Nam, he threw himself into the anti-war movement. And, I think, he's always trying to relive those heady days, to recapture the time when he was the toast of the town.
There's an old tradition that's dying out here in America -- that politics ends at the water's edge. We fight and squabble and bicker among ourselves, but we keep the arguments "at home" -- we don't duke it out in public, out on the world stage. We keep our disagreements within our borders, and don't take it to other countries. It's a good tradition, and I think we're poorer for it.
In 1970, John Kerry was discharged from active duty in the United States Navy and entered the Naval Reserve. Later that year, he travelled to Paris and met with the leadership of the Viet Cong's political wing (there for official negotiations with the United States). Those contacts helped him win a role in crafting "The People's Peace Treaty," a pie-in-the-sky fantasy Kerry and others "negotiated" with the Viet Cong and then tried to push on the United States government. This was not only a violation of the Logan Act, which forbids private citizens from intervening in foreign policy by negotiating with foreign governments, but a serious violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which Kerry (as a Naval Reserve officer) was bound by.
Now, in 2007, Kerry (currently a United States Senator) has attended a world economic summit in Switzerland and denounced the actions of the United States.
In 1971, Lt. John F. Kerry (USNR) testified before Congress about the Viet Nam war. He said that American troops. Quoting other soldiers, Kerry said that
"(T)hey had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war."
Kerry also said he had committed war crimes, specifically participating in "free fire" zones.
Many of those whom Kerry quoted were later exposed as liars and frauds. He, in effect, was using his standing and credibility to give credence to their frauds.
In 2007, in Davos, Switzerland, Kerry denounced the Bush administration's opposition to the Kyoto Accords on greenhouse gas emissions. Here, Kerry is using his "credibility" as a United States Senator and presidential nominee (who just barely lost in 2004) to give cover to those who choose to rewrite history.
Yes, President Bush has opposed the Kyoto Accord. He did so when he was first running, and he hasn't changed his position since. But what does that really mean?
Not a hell of a lot.
The Kyoto Accord first came up for approval in 1998. And as the United States Constitution requires of all treaties, it must be ratified by the United States Senate. At that time, President Clinton opposed it, citing that far too many developing countries were specifically excluded from its mandates. President Clinton directed Vice President Al Gore to sign it on behalf of the United States, but purely as a symbolic act -- he did not want to commit the US to it until it covered all nations, developing as well as industrialized.
At the same time, the Senate passed a measure (co-sponsored by Robert Byrd (D-WV) and Chuck Hagel (R-NE) stating the Senate's opposition to Kyoto as written. The measure was utterly meaningless, as President Clinton never submitted the treaty for formal approval, but it was a clear indicator that the Senate did NOT like it. The resolution passed with 95 votes in favor, five abstentions, and zero votes supporting the Kyoto Accord.
Not even John Kerry's.
Finally, Kerry lambasted President Bush's efforts to fight AIDS and other diseases in Africa. Apparently the good senator has not been informed that Bush has directed the spending of a great deal of money on just that problem -- not only several times more than President Clinton did, not only far more than any other president, but quite possibly more than EVERY other president. What's more, it's not just "throwing money at the problem" -- it's getting results.
A while ago, I wrote a piece wondering why the hell the United States should do anything -- anything at all -- for Africa, and came up with a sound reason, one firmly rooted in enlightened self-interest. It's comforting to see that the Bush administration agrees with me.
If I had the time and resources to investigate it, I would like to see just how that funding got through Congress -- and how Senator Kerry voted on the measure. The cynic in me wonders he didn't remember it because the bill came up while he was running for president, and missing over 80% of Senate roll-call votes.
Glenn Reynolds, He Who Needs No Linkage, opined: "Like Jimmy Carter, he'll never forgive America for rejecting him, and he'll console himself with the approval of America's enemies."
It's a great observation, and I think it applies quite nicely to Carter. But I don't think it's what's behind Kerry -- or, at least, to a great extent. Kerry's behavior is entirely consistent with his actions dating back over 35 years.