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March 18, 2004
Cheney Gets Serious, Shows Kerry Isn't

In dueling campaign appearances, John Kerry experienced his first blast of Dick Cheney, as the eloquent and wry Vice President made his first foray into this year's re-election effort. Cheney wasted no time going after Kerry, painting him as a waffler who would prove dangerous as President:

"At least this much is clear: Had the decision belonged to Senator Kerry, Saddam Hussein would still be in power today in Iraq," Cheney said, in an aggressive defense of Bush's record as a war president. "In fact, Saddam Hussein would almost certainly still be in Kuwait." ...

In a rejoinder that began a half-hour after Kerry finished, Cheney mocked the Massachusetts senator's disparaging comments about nations that have joined the United States. By calling the Iraq alliance "window dressing" and a "coalition of the coerced and the bribed," as Kerry has done, Cheney said the Democrat was "ungrateful to nations that have withstood danger, hardship and insult for standing with America in the cause of freedom."

"Many questions come to mind, but the first is this: How would Senator Kerry describe Great Britain -- coerced or bribed?" Cheney taunted.

"If such dismissive terms are the vernacular of the golden age of diplomacy Senator Kerry promises, we are left to wonder which nations would care to join any future coalition," he said. "He speaks as if only those who openly oppose America's objectives have a chance of earning his respect."

That last sentence will be the one that resonates most with voters, I believe. Kerry comes from a mindset that American aims were evil and so those who opposed America were reflexively good, such as the North Vietnamese, Communism, Palestinians (such as that "statesman", Yasser Arafat), and European Socialism. Therefore, any action which directly served American interests were to be opposed, while American resources were freely spent on issues that should have only been the provenance of other nations. Interestingly enough, John Kerry spoke as the Balkans erupted into flames once again, and he was joined by the architect of American entanglement in that region, Madeline Albright, in what could in a literary sense be called foreshadowing.

In his speech, Kerry blasted the Bush administration for not spending enough money on the military, recounting a case where a soldier got body armor as a present from his new wife:

"I can tell you right now, in a Kerry administration no one will be getting body armor as a gift from a loved one," the senator said. "It will come from the armed forces of the United States of America, which is where it should come from."

He also outlined his plans for adding 40,000 more active-duty troops to the Army in a new "bill of rights" for military families. He plans to pay for this by cutting weapons programs, which is a song we've heard from Kerry before. For some reason, even though he's been in the Senate for 19 years, he hasn't seen fit to actually propose legislation along these lines until now. What he has done is to vote for or propose cutting these defense systems over that time:

1984 In campaigns for the Senate, vowed to cancel the B-1 bomber, B-2 stealth bomber, AH-64 Apache helicopter, F-15 fighter, and the AV-8B Harrier.

1984 Campaigned against key missile systems: Patriot, Aegis and Trident.

1985 to 1994 Voted 38 times to cut defense budget.

1990 to 1996 Voted 12 times against pay increases for military personnel.

1993 Introduced plan to cut number of submarines, light infantry units, fighter wings, and to terminate the Navy mine-hunting ship program.

1994 Voted to gut intelligence budget by $6 billion over four years.

1995 Tried again to slash intelligence budget, introducing bill to cut $300 million per year though 2000.

2002 Initially voted against creation of the Homeland Security Department, siding with labor unions upset about plans to hire private security workers. Later, voted to back it.

2003 Voted against $87 billion needed to fund troops in Iraq though this year.

2003 Skipped vote on $29 billion homeland security funding.

Military families aren't fooled this easily, and Kerry's legislative record clearly stands for a bill of goods on defense, not a bill of rights.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 18, 2004 6:22 AM

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