Skip to comments.Can John Kerry hold on to his lead? (Zumwalt:"virtually had to straight-jacket him ")
Posted on 02/11/2004 7:08:43 PM PST by 11th_VA
Harold Wilson, that British politician more canny than admired, usefully reminded his audience that things can change very quickly in politics.
"A week is a long time," he said, in politics, and we have seen this over and over in the American scene these past months.
After all, only nine weeks ago former vice president Al Gore blessed the insurgent campaign of Howard Dean and most pundits thought the race was over. All that was needed was the anointing of the former Vermont governor as Democratic party standard-bearer to take on US President George W. Bush in November.
Overnight Senator John Kerry, whose campaign had almost imploded late last year, turned the race upside down by winning big in Iowa's caucuses and then the weeks following in New Hampshire, Missouri and other primaries -- not only showing he has the "Big Mo" (or momentum) essential for winning in America, but a hammerlock on the nomination.
Or so it looks. After all, Senator Joe Lieberman has withdrawn, Wesley Clark's hopes are forlorn and John Edwards is resting his case on a single win, in the state of his birth.
But can it happen again? Dean's hold looked airtight until folks actually went to the polls. He had money to burn and endorsements from across the country, and now he is barely maintaining viability as a serious candidate. What could go wrong with Kerry's campaign at this point, and are there any implications for Asia?
Not a lot, but no one yet considers it over. The lanky and experienced Massachusetts senator has money to burn. No one wants to say it, but his wife's near billion-dollar fortune at the very least permits him to spend all his own, more modest, fortune to smooth his way. She can't shovel money directly into his campaign, but the mere fact of her fortune gives confidence to other contributors or lenders that they're backing a winner. He has seemingly unlimited self-confidence, despite many trip-ups in his long career.
But no senator has won the keys to the White House since John F. Kennedy.
There's a reason why senators don't tend to win. They've been on the record for too long on too many issues. There are too many interest groups they have had to cultivate and satiate to stay in politics. Sam Nunn, a powerful senator from Georgia who didn't even have to face serious re-election opposition, left the Senate in 1996 because he tired of spending his evenings entertaining his major supporters and running over to the Senate to vote. At the prime of life, he wanted to rediscover his family.
The real issue that Kerry must resolve is, however, character. Now that he is the front-runner, he must not only answer to all the charges of serving special interests that have risen and will still rise, he has to satisfy the public that he is, not to put too fine a point on it, an honorable man. There are questions.
Kerry has managed to straddle many issues and so it is difficult to discern his real beliefs -- other than in himself. He votes for the war in Iraq so he doesn't look "wet" and then votes against Pentagon budget rises, so he can please the liberal Democrats, who give him one of their highest ratings. When he looks at an acquaintance, he always seems to be looking just past, to see if someone more important lurks behind his interlocutor. Of course that's just standard politics. But people want something more.
He now makes much of his decorations from the war in Vietnam, to appeal to centrists and conservatives, without reminding those audiences that he for long was a leader of Vietnam veterans against the war. Indeed, assiduous searchers, looking for his vulnerabilities, will find much of interest in that period of his life.
For example, the fabled and distinguished chief of naval operations (CNO), Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, told me -- 30 years ago when he was still CNO -- that during his own command of US naval forces in Vietnam, just prior to his anointment as CNO, young Kerry had created great problems for him and the other top brass, by killing so many non-combatant civilians and going after other non-military targets.
"We had virtually to straight-jacket him to keep him under control," the admiral said. "Bud" Zumwalt got it right when he assessed Kerry as having large ambitions -- but promised that his career in Vietnam would haunt him if he were ever on the national stage.
It is that sort of thing that senators don't have to worry about. But if they become a front-runner for president, the whole ball-game changes. Their past is scrutinized with a fine-tooth comb. In Kerry's case, for example, he has shown precious little interest in Asia since his tour in Vietnam, and there is little doubt that he will follow the standard Democratic party, pro-Beijing, line. But every word he's ever spoken on it will be scrutinized.
That is why it is not only true that a week is a long time in politics. But, as they say in American politics, "It ain't over until the fat lady sings."
W. Scott Thompson is an adjunct professor at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Boston, and a former assistant secretary of state in the Reagan administration. He has visited Taipei eight times and now lives in Bali.
So, then: nothing's really changed, in other words... right? :)
I don't understand how a swift boat commander could be offing so many civilians by himself. Maybe we should be checking Kerry's service record and talking to his commanders.
Maybe this is why he make that rant in congress about "his fellow vets" killing and brutalizing civilians and cutting ears off and raping and pillaging.....maybe he was talking about himself.
Maybe Kerry was a one man MaiLai!
Vote Kerry, and you'll get Kofi as Sec Def!
That sure would be embarrassing after writing this story.
I'll bet the farm that you won't see THAT in the New York Times, or on CNNABCMSNBCCBS....
Perhaps Kerry's complaints of war crimes -- was his own self admission, then like a true Democrat pushing the blame on to "Everybody was doing it".....
This %$#%^$## has to go down...
Caution is indicated. And research required before proceeding further.
But the fact that Kerry has openly accused others of these same charges serves as a certain kind of corroboration. Liberal Democrats excel at accusing others of what they themselves have done.
I am willing to bet money that, in the unlikely event this ever make it into the mainstream press, it will be brushed over with the ease Clinton shrugged of Gennifer Flowers in 1992.
Kerry's lapdogs in the press will pass it off as either (a)youthful indiscretions or (b)paint him as a traumatized victim whose environment in an immoral war forced him to act that way-- which is why he went overboard as Hanoi Jane's lapdog in denouncing the war after he was discharged. If forced to choose which, I'd pick (b) because it kills two birds with one stone.
I'd rather see Kerry being the nominee than that oleaginous John Edwards.
John Kerry's My Lai?
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