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Tuesday, August 10, 2004

John Kerry Flip Flops?

As pointed out by my colleagues, my masochistic tendencies have me reading the two major candidate's web pages off and on. Occasionally both pages have something of merit posted to them - beyond ad hominem attacks in their comment forums.

The Bush/Cheney page has a page outlining at least a few of the different positions that John Kerry has taken on several issues - ranging from taxes to defense to alternative fuels to gay marriage to war, and so on.

One of the most interesting "flip flops" outlined is about ballistic Missle Defense:
Flip-Flop-Flipped On Ballistic Missile Defense

Kerry Called For Cancellation Of Missile Defense Systems In 1984 And Has Voted Against Funding For Missile Defense At Least 53 Times Between 1985 And 2000. (“John Kerry On The Defense Budget,” Campaign Position Paper, John Kerry For U.S. Senate, 1984; S. 1160, CQ Vote #99: Rejected 21-78: R 2-50; D 19-28, 6/4/85, Kerry Voted Yea; S. 1160, CQ Vote #100: Rejected 38-57: R 6-45; D 32-12, 6/4/85, Kerry Voted Yea; S. 1160, CQ Vote #101: Rejected 36-59: R 1-49; D 35-10, 6/4/85, Kerry Voted Yea; S. 1160, CQ Vote #103: Rejected 33-62: R 28-22; D 5-40, 6/4/85, Kerry Voted Nay; H.J. Res. 465, CQ Vote #365: Motion Agreed To 64-32: R 49-2; D 15-30, 12/10/85, Kerry Voted Nay; H.R. 4515, CQ Vote #122: Ruled Non-Germane 45-47: R 7-42; D 38-5, 6/6/86, Kerry Voted Yea; S. 2638, CQ Vote #176: Motion Agreed To 50-49: R 41-11; D 9-38, 8/5/86, Kerry Voted Nay; S. 2638, CQ Vote #177: Rejected 49-50: R 10-42; D 39-8, 8/5/86, Kerry Voted Yea; S. 1174, CQ Vote #248: Motion Agreed To 58-38: R 8-37; D 50-1, 9/17/87, Kerry Voted Yea; S. 1174, CQ Vote #259: Motion Agreed To 51-50: R 37-9; D 13-41, With Vice President Bush Casting An “ Yea “ Vote, 9/22/87, Kerry Voted Nay; S. 2355, CQ Vote #124: Motion Agreed To 66-29: R 38-6; D 28-23, 5/11/88, Kerry Voted Nay; S. 2355, CQ Vote #125: Motion Agreed To 50-46: R 38-7; D 12-39, 5/11/88, Kerry Voted Nay; S. 2355, CQ Vote #126: Motion Rejected 47-50: R 38-6; D 9-44, 5/11/88, Kerry Voted Nay; S. 2355, CQ Vote #128: Motion Rejected 48-50: R 6-39; D 42-11, 5/11/88, Kerry Voted Yea; S. 2355, CQ Vote #136: Motion Agreed To 56-37: R 9-34; D 47-3, 5/13/88, Kerry Voted Yea; S. 2355, CQ Vote #137: Motion Agreed To 51-43: R 38-5; D 13-38, 5/13/88, Kerry Voted Nay; H.R. 4264, CQ Vote #251: Motion Rejected 35-58: R 35-9; D 0-49, 7/14/88, Kerry Voted Nay; H.R. 4781, CQ Vote #296: Motion Agreed To 50-44: R 5-39; D 45-5, 8/5/88, Kerry Voted Yea; S. 1352, CQ Vote #148: Motion Agreed To 50-47: R 37-6; D 13-41, 7/27/89, Kerry Voted Nay; H.R. 3072, CQ Vote #202: Rejected 34-66: R 27-18; D 7-48, 9/26/89, Kerry Voted Nay; H.R. 3072, CQ Vote #213: Adopted 53-47: R 39-6; D 14-41, 9/28/89, Kerry Voted Nay; S. 2884, CQ Vote #223: Adopted 54-44: R 2-42; D 52-2, 8/4/90, Kerry Voted Yea; S. 2884, CQ Vote #225: Motion Agreed To 56-41: R 39-4; D 17-37, 8/4/90, Kerry Voted Nay; S. 2884, CQ Vote #226: Motion Agreed To 54-43: R 37-6; D 17-37, 8/4/90, Kerry Voted Nay; S. 3189, CQ Vote #273: Passed 79-16: R 37-5; D 42-11, 10/15/90, Kerry Voted Nay; H.R. 5803, CQ Vote #319: Adopted 80-17: R 37-6; D 43-11, 10/26/90, Kerry Voted Nay; H.R. 4739, CQ Vote #320: Adopted 80-17: R 37-6; D 43-11, 10/26/90, Kerry Voted Nay; S. 1507, CQ Vote #168: Rejected 39-60: R 4-39; D 35-21, 7/31/91, Kerry Voted Yea; S. 1507, CQ Vote #171: Motion Agreed To 60-38: R 40-3; D 20-35, 8/1/91, Kerry Voted Nay; S. 1507, CQ Vote #172: Motion Agreed To 64-34: R 39-4; D 25-30, 8/1/91, Kerry Voted Nay; S. 1507, CQ Vote #173: Rejected 46-52: R 5-38; D 41-14, 8/1/91, Kerry Voted Yea; H.R. 2521, CQ Vote #207: Motion Agreed To 50-49: R 38-5; D 12-44, 9/25/91, Kerry Voted Nay; S. 2403, CQ Vote #85: Adopted 61-38: R 7-36; D 54-2, 5/6/92, Kerry Voted Yea; H.R. 4990, CQ Vote #108: Adopted 90-9: R 34-9; D 56-0, 5/21/92, Kerry Voted Yea; S. 3114, CQ Vote #182: Motion Rejected 43-49: R 34-5; D 9-44, 8/7/92, Kerry Voted Nay; S. 3114, CQ Vote #214: Rejected 48-50: R 5-38; D 43-12, 9/17/92, Kerry Voted Yea; S. 3114, CQ Vote #215: Adopted 52-46: R 39-4; D 13-42, 9/17/92, Kerry Voted Nay; H.R. 5504, CQ Vote #228: Adopted 89-4: R 36-4; D 53-0, 9/22/92, Kerry Voted Yea; S. 1298, CQ Vote #251: Adopted 50-48: R 6-36; D 44-12, 9/9/93, Kerry Voted Yea; S. Con. Res. 63, CQ Vote #64: Rejected 40-59: R 2-42; D 38-17, 3/22/94, Kerry Voted Yea; S. 1026, CQ Vote #354: Motion Agreed To 51-48: R 47-6; D 4-42, 8/3/95, Kerry Voted Nay; S. 1087, CQ Vote #384: Rejected 45-54: R 5-49; D 40-5, 8/10/95, Kerry Voted Yea; S. 1087, CQ Vote #397: Passed 62-35: R 48-4; D 14-31, 9/5/95, Kerry Voted Nay; H.R. 1530, CQ Vote #399: Passed 64-34: R 50-3; D 14-31, 9/6/95, Kerry Voted Nay; H.R. 2126, CQ Vote #579: Adopted 59-39: R 48-5; D 11-34, 11/16/95, Kerry Voted Nay; H.R. 1530, CQ Vote #608: Adopted 51-43: R 47-2; D 4-41, 12/19/95, Kerry Voted Nay; S. 1635, CQ Vote #157: Rejected 53-46: R 52-0; D 1-46, 6/4/96, Kerry Voted Nay; S. 1745, CQ Vote #160: Rejected 44-53: R 4-49; D 40-4, 6/19/96, Kerry Voted Yea; S. 1745, CQ Vote #187: Passed 68-31: R 50-2; D 18-29, 7/10/96, Kerry Voted Nay; S. 936, CQ Vote #171: Rejected 43-56: R 2-53; D 41-3, 7/11/97, Kerry Voted Yea; S. 1873, CQ Vote #131: Motion Rejected 59-41: R 55-0; D 4-41, 5/13/98, Kerry Voted Nay; S. 1873, CQ Vote #262: Motion Rejected 59-41: R 55-0; D 4-41, 9/9/98, Kerry Voted Nay; S. 2549, CQ Vote #178: Motion Agreed To 52-48: R 52-3; D 0-45, 7/13/00, Kerry Voted Nay)

Kerry Then Claimed To Support Missile Defense. “I support the development of an effective defense against ballistic missiles that is deployed with maximum transparency and consultation with U.S. allies and other major powers. If there is a real potential of a rogue nation firing missiles at any city in the United States, responsible leadership requires that we make our best, most thoughtful efforts to defend against that threat. The same is true of accidental launch. If it were to happen, no leader could ever explain not having chosen to defend against the disaster when doing so made sense.” (Peace Action Website, “Where Do The Candidates Stand On Foreign Policy?” http://www.peace-action.org/2004/Kerry.html, Accessed 3/10/04)

Now Kerry Campaign Says He Will Defund Missile Defense. FOX NEWS’ MAJOR GARRETT: “Kerry would not say how much all of this would cost. A top military adviser said the Massachusetts Senator would pay for some of it by stopping all funds to deploy a national ballistic missile defense system, one that Kerry doesn’t believe will work.” KERRY ADVISOR RAND BEERS: “He would not go forward at this time because there is not a proof of concept.” (Fox News’ “Special Report,” 3/17/03)

The page has about 35 other instances.

It is not clear if Kerry changes his mind as his information set changes, which would be natural. However, the number of flip-flop-flips makes this unlikely - wouldn't a purdent leader/decision maker keep his "powder dry" before running into the debate? Of course, when statements are made years apart it is hard to expect such silence, especially when a politician feels it is "incumbent" upon them to contribute something, anything, to the debate.

Alternatively, it could be that Kerry acts as a delegate (and not a trustee) and responds to the wishes of his constituency - as they change their mind, he changes his mind. However, this is also unlikely because (a) I don't think the people of Massachussetts change their mind that much and (b) I don't think Kerry acts as a delegate.

In the end, Kerry's different stances are probably the natural result of having been in the Senate for too long. There are too many speeches, written by too many aides, about too many different laws that are being log-rolled with too many other laws that it is difficult to maintain a pricipled stance about anything. It is perhaps a bit different when dealing with the media, but it is also the case that a politician that maintains principle over the long-run might have a limited political life.

Edwards probably hasmuch fewer cases of making reversals, reverse reversals, and so forth, because he hasn't spent enough time in the Senate to contradict himself. President Bush makes fun of Kerry in this sense, but in all seriousness it is probably the reason that long-sitting (or standing?) Senators are difficult to elect to national office.

Anyway, the page does make interesting reading - especially Kerry's sometimes torturous language - I don't think State of the Union speeches would be as fun to watch/listen to as Bush's.

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