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Sunday, June 27, 2004

Boston Globe Gets it Half Right

Mickey Edwards wrote in today's Boston Globe
[T]he excitement is being generated by the debate. Not between Bush and Kerry, not between Cheney and the yet-unnamed ticket-filler (a debate between Cheney and Patrick Leahy might be fun, though), but the debate between John Kerry and John Kerry.

It is unfair to call Kerry a "waffler," which suggests that he can't make up his mind. What has become clear is that he has made up his mind, and he has decided he is for whatever will get him elected; he just hasn't figured out what that is yet. The man the National Journal described as the most liberal member of the Senate has spent the entirety of this campaign trying to decide not what he thinks, but what to tell the people he thinks. In the latest incarnation, he has become "a pragmatic centrist." It is a political truism, perhaps, that candidates campaign to the left (or right) in the primaries and to the center in the general election, and if that's the way it works, John Kerry has proven to be a master of the art. One may dismiss this public zigzag, this search for a position the voters will buy, by saying "that's just the way politics works," but that's a sad commentary, since it implies that expediency should be counted on to trump principle.

Kerry gives no reason to believe he finds the practice offensive. And that, in the end, is what is so fascinating this year. Bush will have to run against somebody -- a liberal Kerry, a centrist Kerry, a strong-on-defense Kerry, a let-the-UN-decide Kerry -- and it will be fun waiting to see which Kerry eventually emerges.
See, I whole heartedly agree with everything except the idea that it is unfair to call Kerry a waffler. To call him anything other than a waffler, or possibly Flipper, is a bit silly. You can't say he has made up his mind and then say he just hasn't decided what it is yet. Yes we know he is dead set on saying anything to get elected and he has no qualms with his appearance as a waffler, but that doesn't mean he doesn't waffle on the issues.

To say that Kerry has made up his mind to say anything to get elected, and that he doesn't know what to say yet is tantamount to saying Kerry has made up his mind to be a waffler... so calling him on it is totally fair.

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