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February 19, 2004
Kerry's Hypocrisy Defended on the Left

After a series of embarassing revelations about favors given by John Kerry to illegal contributors, Peter Beinart of The New Republic rides to his rescue -- sort of -- in today's TRB. Beinart argues that all these incidents demonstrate is politics as usual, but that to charge Kerry with hypocrisy is to charge everyone with hypocrisy. Beinart writes:

Let's stipulate that Kerry has occasionally helped out his financial backers--sometimes at the public's expense. Brooks says this makes Kerry's attack on special interests "phony." But virtually every governor or member of Congress--which is to say, virtually every presidential candidate--has raised money from people with an interest in legislation and at some time or another has written a letter, or voted for a bill, on their behalf. In the 2000 GOP primary, Bush even argued that anti-special interest crusader John McCain was tainted by "all those fund-raisers with lobbyists" he had held during his years in the Senate. And Bush was partially right.

But the piece that Beinart never mentions can easily be found in Kerry's own campaign website, where he makes broad, damning statements such as, "From the moment I take office, I will stand up to the special interests and stand with hardworking families so that we can give America back its future and its ideals."

Is this an example of "standing up to special interests"?

A Senate colleague was trying to close a loophole that allowed a major insurer to divert millions of federal dollars from the nation's most expensive construction project. John Kerry stepped in and blocked the legislation. Over the next two years, the insurer, American International Group, paid Kerry's way on a trip to Vermont and donated at least $30,000 to a tax-exempt group Kerry used to set up his presidential campaign. Company executives donated $18,000 to his Senate and presidential campaigns.

Kerry's website states that "John Kerry has a proven record of standing up to the very special interests George Bush caves to." Is this part of that record?

In 1996, Senator John Kerry was locked in a hard-fought and close reelection campaign with Massachusetts Governor William Weld. Kerry was the policy wonk, noted for his expertise in international crime, arms and drug dealing, and intelligence. ... [Johnny] Chung gave $10,000 to Kerry's campaign -- most of it illegally -- hosted a fund-raising party in Beverly Hills, and threw in an extra $10,000 to honor Kerry at a Democratic Senate Campaign Committee event. Kerry eventually returned all the Chung money.

In return, Kerry opened a door for a friend of Chung: Liu Chaoying. ...

"Who is Colonel Liu?" asked William Triplett, a former Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffer and author of two books on Chinese influence in US politics. "She began her military intelligence career with Chinese Navy intelligence. She has been, in succession, assistant to the President of the China National Precision Machinery Import-Export Corporation and the China Great Wall Industries Corporation, both of whom have been sanctioned twice -- in 1991 and 1993 -- by the United States for ballistic missiles sales to Pakistan. She later became president of China Aerospace Industrial Holdings Ltd. and she made illegal campaign contributions to the Clinton Gore ticket and John Kerry in 1996.

"She is a communist, says Triplett; she is a high-tech spy; she is an arms broker and she met Bill Clinton at a fund raiser and John Kerry in his Senate office."

In the Liu case, Kerry made a call to the SEC, which he oversaw as a member of the Senate Banking Committee, and set up a meeting she wanted in order to get listed on the stock exchange. And does this quid pro quo meet the threshold that Kerry sets when he says, "I have a message for the influence peddlers, for the polluters, the H.M.O.'s, the big drug companies that get in the way, the big oil and the special interests who now call the White House their home: We're coming. You're going. And don't let the door hit you on the way out"?

Sen. John F. Kerry sent 28 letters in behalf of a San Diego defense contractor who pleaded guilty last week to illegally funneling campaign contributions to the Massachusetts senator and four other congressmen. ... Between 1996 and 1999, Kerry participated in a letter-writing campaign to free up federal funds for a guided missile system that defense contractor Parthasarathi "Bob" Majumder was trying to build for U.S. warplanes. ...

Kerry's letters were sent to fellow members of Congress and to the Pentagon while Majumder and his employees were donating money to the senator, court records show. During the three-year period, Kerry received about $25,000 from Majumder and his employees, according to Dwight L. Morris & Associates, which tracks campaign donations.

Beinart tries his best, and he is an excellent writer, but he cannot cover up Kerry's hypocrisy on special interests, not with a record like Kerry's left over the past 19 years in the Senate. Beinart's piece no more exculpates Kerry than did Louis' declaration in Casablanca when he said, "I am shocked, shocked to find gambling in this establishment!" Had Kerry taken the McCain-Feingold approach and said that the system needs reform, that might have been acceptable. But to throw stones at Bush while living in a giant crystal house and claiming to be simon-pure is the definition of hypocrisy. Beinart should know better; perhaps he agrees with what Power Line sees as the operative definition of special interests:

I suppose in his mind, people who contribute to his campaigns are just public-spirited citizens, not "special interests." "Special" interests are the ones who contribute to Republicans.
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Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 19, 2004 12:56 PM

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