I have to say that I like this John Kerry a lot better than the one we saw until last Monday. A reader complains that I should not have bought the Bush campaign's line that Kerry was a flip-flopper on Iraq, pointing me to a San Francisco Chronicle news analysis that sets out to refute this charge but in the end reinforces it. The piece closes with a quote from radio host Don Imus, who asked Kerry to explain how he could vote to authorize the use of force in Iraq, stand by the vote, yet oppose the war:
Kerry responded with a 324-word answer, including a discussion of no-fly zones and Iraqi tribal separatism.
The response left Imus–a self-described Kerry supporter–perplexed.
"I was just back in my office banging my head on the jukebox," Imus told listeners when the interview was over. "This is my candidate, and…I don't know what he's talking about."
The essence of the flip-flopping charge is not that Kerry actually keeps changing his mind but that he wants to have it both ways, which leads to the sort of obfuscation that befuddled Imus and to seemingly contradictory remarks, depending upon the audience and the circumstances. In the last week or so, however, Kerry has been clear, forthright, and consistent.
I don't know how long it will last, but the strength of this approach can be seen in the lameness of the Bush campaign's response to it. A campaign spokesman told The New York Times "John Kerry will say anything he thinks benefits him politically, regardless of its effect on our troops in the field and our allies fighting alongside them." In other words, anyone who criticizes the war is undermining the morale of our boys and should keep his mouth shut for the good of the war effort.