Mickey Kaus and Instapundit both point to a Philadelphia Inquirer analysis of John Kerry’s political activities since his loss in last year’s elections, which suggests that the Senator may request the complete release of his military records at last:
For Kerry, indignities abound. He trails Hillary Rodham Clinton in every 2008 survey. The other day, he was assailed by Clinton aide Ann Lewis for running “an inconsistent campaign.” Indeed, in focus groups conducted this winter by Democratic strategists, he was still seen as indecisive; one participant said, “He’s the guy that holds up the line at McDonald’s.”
And he’s been dogged by bloggers who want him to authorize the release of all his military records, to clear up questions raised in 2004. He told NBC on Jan. 30 that he would sign military form SF-180 to do so, but he hasn’t yet. Most of the heat has come from conservatives, but Democratic blogger Mickey Kaus also is on the case, urging party brethren to “remove this increasingly pathetic figure from our national stage.” (The word in Washington is that Kerry will sign the form soon.)
Mickey asks what will happen if nothing interesting develops from the release, but that would wind up outraging his supporters even further. Just as his leftover $15 million left them wondering if that money could have made the difference in Ohio, a release of squeaky-clean records will cause Democrats to wonder why Kerry blocked their release throughout his entire campaign and caused such controversy over their contents.
No, this is a smart move by Kerry, one of the few he’s made. He will sign off on the release three years ahead of the start of the primary season, plenty of time for whatever bad news in the file to be assimilated and then discounted by the true believers. The problem with releasing them a year ago was the proximity of a release to the primary vote, and then after that to the general election. It wouldn’t have been an issue at all, of course, if Terry McAuliffe hadn’t made the mistake of accusing George Bush of desertion during his service and continuing to use that smear for months afterward. That made a complete release by Kerry impossible.
My best analysis, furthered by sources which I cannot name, is that Kerry’s file contains a less-than-honorable discharge from the 1971-72 period that his later 1978 discharge overrode. With three years between a revelation such as that and any voting, Kerry could eventually sell voters on the idea that the times in which that discharge occurred reflected the deep divisions in America, etc etc. If he runs to Hillary Clinton’s left, which appears inevitable unless he changes his name to Joe Lieberman, that could convince the International ANSWER/MoveOn crowd of his viability — but they’ll be the only ones. They might well get him either to the top of the ticket, but if he couldn’t beat Bush, there’s no way in Hell he could beat any other Republican candidate in 2008.
Assuming, of course, that Kerry really signs the 180 and isn’t just trying to blow the issue off again.