Context on Kerry


On Friday, Reason's Brian Doherty reported on the Drudge bombshell that John F. Kenn–er. Kerry– had talked about dismantling the Dept. of Agriculture. Doherty rightly asked for more context: While this charge doesn't rise to the level that surrounded Drudge's infamous, incorrect report on a certain former Clinton administration toadie and domestic violence, on the face of it, it seems unlikely.

(It's partly a testament to Kerry's complete lack of identity–even after 1,000 years in the Senate–that nobody really knows what the hell the guy is about, other than having touched the hem of JFK's garment as a boy, getting shot in Vietnam, and marrying the massively rich widow of a dead senator cum ketchup heir. Indeed, Kerry's bizarre series of tough-guy stunts–e.g. riding a Harley on The Tonight Show–is a nearly open admission that the guy is a cipher who is desperate to create a public persona; I half expect him to bend iron bars and explode a hot water bottle with lung power during the Iowa caucuses).

In any case, here's the context for Kerry's rather good suggestions, courtesy of Newsday. His comments are actually much more interesting than you'd think, calling for an end to Energy and Agriculture, and a consolidation of Education and Labor.

"I think we can reduce the size of Washington," the Massachusetts senator said in a 1996 interview with the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. "Get rid of the Energy Department. Get rid of the Agriculture Department, or at least render it three-quarters the size it is today; there are more agriculture bureaucrats than there are farmers in this country. We can probably meld the Labor and Education departments because the job of both is so symbiotic today."

Whole thing here.

Then again, the only part of the Newsday story worth reading is the response from the Kerry campaign:

"John Kerry takes a back seat to no one to protecting America's farmers," [a Kerry spokesperson] said. "In fact, he has stood side by side with Tom Harkin in the U.S. Senate to protect family farms."

And, we can assume, that teachers, union leaders, and energy types are also safely in the front seat with Candidate Kerry.