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Thursday, April 29, 2004
The Taylor Challenge (Regarding Kerry)
By Steven Taylor @ 2:10 pm

Preface: Clearly candidates often find themselves faced with a storyline attached to their campaign, fairly or not (e.g., Bush isn’t too bright, he doesn’t read, doesn’t ask questions, or Gore is an exaggerator, etc). Kerry clearly finds himself being classified as a “waffler” or “flip-flopper” (i.e., being on multiple sides of issues on a regular basis).

I think, as a matter of analysis, not partisanship, that Kerry currently has a very serious problem as described above. Further, I think that this is likely to become an increasing liability. And while there are some parallels here with Gore, I think that Kerry could end up being more of a Bob Dole type candidate. Indeed, even with Gore’s liabilities, he was the sitting Vice President coming off a flawed, but successful, administration. Kerry is challenging an incumbent President.

The Challenge: I am looking for serious commentary from commenters, and hopefully other bloggers who support Kerry along the following lines:

1) Is it fair to say that Kerry has the problem described above?

2) If not, why would you argue such?

3) If yes, what would you recommend the candidate do to deal with this problem?

4) Do you think that this problem is simply one of image, or is there a real problem here?

Caveat: The point here isn’t the explain how Kerry is, indeed, right about a specific issue (e.g., medals and ribbons are interchangeable terms, etc.).

UPDATE: This is my entry in today’s Beltway Traffic Jam

Filed under: 2004 Campaign | |Send TrackBack


  1. I’m anti-Bush and therefore pro-Kerry and I agree that there is a problem here. But I think it’s less of flip and flop and more of a problem of just spinelessness and refusal to take stands and defend himself. He runs away from calling Vietnam war crimes “atrocities.” He runs away from throwing his medals. He runs away from voting against paying for troops in Iraq (because of ties to tax cuts).

    So, yeah. Kerry sucks because of this. But it could change quickly if he’d just draw some lines in the sand. I expect this may happen during the debates.

    Comment by Stephen — Thursday, April 29, 2004 @ 7:13 pm

  2. Actually, the problem is that he both runs from the atrocities charge and stands by it, he says he threw ribbons, not medals, but has had several other positions and one declare why he said what he said in the past. It is rather odd.

    By the same token, I don’t expect any of this to convert hard-core anti-Bush folks.

    Comment by Steven — Thursday, April 29, 2004 @ 8:11 pm

  3. 1) Yes.
    2) Not applicable.
    3) Smoke pot on the campaign trail; at least he will giggle more.
    4) Andre Aggasi said image is everything. Then he shaved his head.

    Damnit, I just realized you wanted serious commentary.

    Comment by John Lemon — Thursday, April 29, 2004 @ 11:26 pm

  4. In going after John Kerry’s post-Vietnam war record, Republicans have to be careful that the attacks don’t rebound and hit President Bush, whose own military record is rather dubious. Of course, if White House aides get some help from the press as it smoothes over the bumps in Bush’s spotty National Guard service, all the better for them. This morning, in a brief summary of both men’s military service, the Associated Press did just that, giving readers a wildly distorted — and Bush-friendly — view of Bush’s days in the Texas Air National Guard.

    Bush joined the Guard in 1968 and was granted an early exit in 1973 to attend Harvard Business School. The recent controversy stems from the fact that for nearly a year between the spring of ‘72 and ‘73 there’s no record of Bush serving. The distortions begin when AP explains, “After his last flight as a Guard member in 1972, Bush moved to Alabama to work on [a] Senate campaign.” Makes it sound like Bush’s flight obligations were up, right? Wrong. In early ‘72, Bush made the unilateral decision that his flying days were over and simply walked away from flying, despite the fact he never fulfilled his pilot commitment to the Guard.

    Next, the AP reports Bush “was assigned to PROTECT National Guard units in Alabama.” [Emphasis added.] First, it’s unclear how Bush was going to “protect” Guard units since he essentially refused to fly. But left unsaid was the fact Bush originally requested to be assigned to a paper-pushing postal unit in Alabama; an appeal National Guard headquarters rejected as too lenient for a fully trained fighter pilot.

    As for Bush’s missing year, the AP reports: “After question were raised about his service, the White House in February released pay records and other documents supporting Bush’s assertion that he fulfilled his National Guard duty.” That’s a stretch. All the documents proved was that Bush showed up at the Alabama base for a free dental exam in late ‘72. The White House has never produced any original Guard documentation that can knock down the charge Bush simply walked away from his monthly military duties for nearly an entire year. The AP ends the valentine by noting, “[Bush] lost his flight credential after MISSING a physical exam.” [Emphasis added.] Actually, Bush refused to take the physical in early ‘72, the same year the Air National Guard announced it was instituting drug testing for pilots.

    Comment by Stephen — Friday, April 30, 2004 @ 12:04 am

  5. Stephen,

    A couple of points:

    1) What Republican has been attacking Kerry’s Viet Nam record? (aside from a hadnful of talk radio types curious about his firs Purple Heart, which is, as I have noted, a silly line of attack).

    2) Kerry is building his entire campaign on the foundation of his Viet Nam service–Bush isn’t building off of his Guard duty.

    3) Kerry’s problem is that he wants to be a war hero AND be a anti-war advocate who admits to having committed war crimes. This strikes me as both politically, and logically, untenable.

    Comment by Steven — Friday, April 30, 2004 @ 10:47 am

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