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A liberal’s liberal

Joe Licandro | Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Let’s call a spade a spade here. John Kerry is a liberal’s liberal. Barring a political meltdown even more embarrassing than Howard Dean’s “I Have a Scream” speech, the current Democratic frontrunner will win his party’s nomination. But despite cruising his way to victory, this might not be a good thing for a shaky Democratic party that can ill-afford for President Bush to capture re-election this November.Unlike Bill Clinton’s meteoric rise from out of nowhere in 1992, there is just not an overwhelming sense amongst moderate Democratic voters who comprise the party’s majority that Kerry represents their best interests. Clinton secured the Democratic nomination by distinguishing himself as a centrist Washington outsider disenchanted with the extremely liberal direction in which his party was headed.Kerry, no matter how hard he will try in the coming months to portray himself otherwise, is guilty of steering the ship in that extremely liberal direction. Americans for Democratic Action, the self-described nation’s oldest liberal lobbying organization, gives Kerry a lifetime rating of 93 percent. That’s considerably higher than any other candidate in the field. So high that liberal dinosaur Ted Kennedy, who has a rating of only 88 percent, actually holds the title as the conservative senator from Massachusetts. Anyone who can make Ted Kennedy seem conservative should be cause for serious apprehension.This primary has not exactly been one of those difficult process-of-elimination tests. Amidst an overly crowded field of political nobodys and lightweights, Democrats are choosing Kerry by default. Despite Time Magazine and U.S. News and World Report’s best efforts to drum up support for Howard Dean by placing the not-so-good doctor on their covers virtually every week over the last couple of months of 2003, the former Governor of Vermont proved to be an arrogant blowhard.Reasonable Democrats knew the American people were never going to elect a chronic finger-pointing-at-the-camera, left-winged radical whose face grew so red every time he spoke that it looked like he was choking on a piece of rotisserie chicken. The campaigns of Carol Moseley Braun, Al Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich were jokes, and that’s putting it nicely.Even though Madonna and other liberal Hollywood entertainers publicly endorsed him, General Wesley Clark lacks both the experience and the personality to play with the big boys. John Edwards, a rising star in the Democratic party, is a respectable guy, but too overly ambitious. For an ex-trial lawyer who has yet to complete a full term as Senator, he does not hold enough political clout yet to be elected President. His best chance might be four years later. But as it stands now, Edwards, regardless of his political fate in the primaries, will fade into oblivion because he will not be defending his Senate seat in 2004.Thus, the Democrats will nominate John Kerry not for his charisma or any dynamic political agenda, but because, as his current campaign states, “I am the only candidate who can defeat Bush.” That is a scary thought, not just for the radical right wing but for middle-of-the-road voters like the majority of us.True to the liberal mantra, Kerry believes the government should coddle the dredges of society. He voted against mandatory prison sentences for drug dealers who sell to children. He also supported using the hardworking taxpayers’ money to provide disability payments to drug addicts and alcoholics. No other senator has been as staunch a defender of abortion rights, either. Kerry has voted against every proposed bill restricting partial birth abortions and has gone on record as saying that if elected president, he will never appoint a judge who would strike down any such law.Occasionally, Kerry has toed the line of conservatism making disparaging remarks about the merits of affirmative action while vocalizing support for school vouchers, as well. But these are issues for the Supreme Court to decide, not the United States Senate. And given that a liberal judge who would protect abortion rights would probably not strike down affirmative action or uphold school vouchers, Kerry’s conservative talk is cheap. With the possibility of as many as four current Supreme Court justices retiring in the next four years, this next election will determine the social direction of this country. Voters should not forget the type of liberal, activist justices Kerry will surely appoint.While social issues will be critical in this election, no issue will take more precedence than national security. Judging by his comments on the campaign trail, Kerry does not seem to know where he stands. Kerry deserves the utmost respect for serving in the Vietnam War, but this does not automatically make him a better candidate than President Bush in this area.If his past voting record is any indication, Kerry is anything but tough. Despite sitting on the Senate Intelligence committee and being privy to highly classified information revealing looming security threats to the United States, he has routinely voted for military and intelligence spending cuts throughout his time in office. Kerry was also one of only a few senators to vote against the first Iraq war. In 2002, he did an about-face, voting for the Iraq war resolution, but has repeatedly criticized President Bush for making the decision to go to war ever since. Kerry has justified this contradiction by saying he voted “to threaten the use of force to make Saddam Hussein comply with the resolutions of the United Nations,” not necessarily to go to war. Does Kerry really think the American people can’t see through these shameless attempts at political expediency?According to Kerry, the Bush Administration should have worked harder to convince our so-called allies, France, Germany and Russia, to support the war. But the third-term senator overlooks that all of these countries had handsome oil contracts with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. A hundred more rounds of talks and not even underhanded bribes would have convinced them to support the war. Not that their support should matter anyways. The United States should never have to ask another country’s permission to defend ourselves.Most alarming, though, is Kerry’s claim that the Bush Administration has exaggerated the terrorist threat to the United States. Does Kerry suffer from amnesia? Has he already forgotten the over three thousand Americans that tragically died on 9/11? Not only are Kerry’s comments cruelly insensitive to the families of these victims, but they are also frighteningly naive.In the coming months, John Kerry will try to paint himself as a moderate to the American people. But we know better. He’s a liberal’s liberal, and our nation will suffer if he is elected President.

Joe Licandro is a senior political science major. His column appears every other Wednesday. He can be contacted at jlicandr@nd.edu.The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.