In the heat of battle, with his campaign crumbling, Howard Dean lashed out at John Kerry. First, he called the leader in the Democratic presidential race a "Republican." Then he said, "When Senator Kerry's record is examined by the public at a more leisurely time...he's going to turn out to be just like George Bush."
Just like George Bush? It is true that Kerry, another Yalie and Skull and Bones alum, has voted in favor of NAFTA and other corporate-friendly trade pacts, that he once raised questions about affirmative action (while still supporting it), that he has, like almost every Democratic senator, accepted contributions from special-interest lobbyists (while being one of the few to eschew political action committee donations), that he voted to grant Bush the authority to invade Iraq. But this hardly makes him Bush lite. There is, as evidence, his nineteen-year Senate record, during which he has voted consistently in favor of abortion rights and environmental policies, opposed Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy, led the effort against drilling in the Alaskan wilderness, pushed for higher fuel economy standards, advocated boosting the minimum wage and pressed for global warming remedies. But what distinguishes Kerry's career are key moments when he displayed guts and took tough actions that few colleagues would imitate. One rap on Kerry is that he is overly cautious and conventional. He's no firebrand on the stump, nor does he come across as the most passionate and exciting force for change. But his history in Washington includes episodes in which he demonstrated a willingness to confront hard issues, to challenge power, to pursue values rather than political advantage, to take risks for the public interest.
Kerry arrived in the Senate in 1985. This Vietnam War hero turned antiwar leader had been lieutenant governor of Massachusetts. But he entered the body more as the prosecutor he had been in the late 1970s after graduating from Boston College law school. In early 1986 Kerry's office was contacted by a Vietnam vet who alleged that the support network for the CIA-backed Nicaraguan contras (who were fighting against the socialist Sandinistas in power) was linked to drug traffickers. Kerry doubted that the Reagan Administration, obsessed with supporting the contras, would investigate such charges. He pushed for a Senate inquiry and a year later, as chairman of a Foreign Relations subcommittee, obtained approval to conduct a probe.
It was not an easy ride. Reagan Justice Department officials sought to discredit and stymie his investigation. Republicans dismissed it. One anti-Kerry effort used falsified affidavits to make it seem his staff had bribed witnesses. The Democratic staff of the Senate Iran/contra committee--which showed little interest in the contra drug connection--often refused to cooperate. "They were fighting us tooth and nail," recalls Jack Blum, one of Kerry's investigators. "We had the White House and the CIA against us on one side and our colleagues in the Senate on the other. But Kerry told us, 'Keep going.' He didn't let this stuff faze him."
Kerry's inquiry widened to look at Cuba, Haiti, the Bahamas, Honduras and Panama. In 1989 he released a report that slammed the Reagan Administration for neglecting or undermining anti-drug efforts in order to pursue other foreign policy objectives. It noted that the government in the 1970s and '80s had "turned a blind eye" to the corruption and drug dealing of Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, who had done various favors for Washington (including assisting the contras). The report concluded that "individuals who provided support for the contras were involved in drug trafficking...and elements of the contras themselves knowingly received financial and material assistance from drug traffickers." And, it added, US government agencies--meaning the CIA and the State Department--had known this.
This was a rather explosive finding, but the Kerry report did not provoke much uproar in the media, and the Democratic leadership on Capitol Hill did little to support Kerry and keep the matter alive. His critics derided him as a conspiracy buff. Yet a decade later the CIA inspector general released a pair of reports that acknowledged that the agency had worked with suspected drug smugglers to support the contras. Kerry had been right.
After the contra investigation, Kerry next turned to a far more sensitive target: a bank connected to a prominent Democratic Party fundraiser. During their investigation of Noriega, Kerry's staff discovered that the Bank of Credit and Commerce International had facilitated Noriega's drug trafficking and money laundering. This led to an inquiry into BCCI, a worldwide but murky institution more or less controlled by the ruling family of Abu Dhabi. BCCI was a massive criminal enterprise, although this was not yet publicly known. It had engaged in rampant fraud and money laundering (to help out, among others, drug dealers, terrorists and arms traffickers) around the world. Its tentacles ran everywhere. Its political connections reached around the globe. Jimmy Carter and Henry Kissinger both became involved in the scandal. When banking regulators finally shut down BCCI in 1991, an estimated 250,000 creditors and depositors from forty countries were out billions of dollars.
One key issue was whether BCCI had secretly and illegally acquired control of First American bank in Washington, DC. The top officials of First American were Clark Clifford, a longtime Democratic graybeard and a party fundraiser, and Robert Altman, his protégé. Democratic senators grumbled about Kerry's crusade, which put Clifford in the cross-hairs. "This really pissed people off," Blum says. BCCI hired from both Democratic and Republican quarters an army of lawyers, PR specialists and lobbyists (including former members of Congress) to thwart the investigation. The Justice Department of the first Bush Administration did not respond to information on BCCI uncovered by Kerry's staff. So Blum took the material to New York District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, who then commenced an investigation of BCCI that led to indictments. And Kerry again found himself tussling with the CIA, for the agency had been using the services of BCCI even after it had learned that the bank was crooked and in league with terrorists (including Abu Nidal).
In the fall of 1992 Kerry released a report on the BCCI affair. It blasted everyone: Justice, Treasury, US Customs, the Federal Reserve, Clifford and Altman (for participating in "some of BCCI's deceptions"), high-level lobbyists and fixers, and the CIA. The report noted that after the CIA knew the bank was "a fundamentally corrupt criminal enterprise, it continued to use both BCCI and First American...for CIA operations." The report was, in a sense, an indictment of Washington cronyism. In the years since, there's been nothing like it. Senator Hank Brown, the ranking Republican on Kerry's subcommittee, noted, "John Kerry was willing to spearhead this difficult investigation. Because many important members of his own party were involved in this scandal, it was a distasteful subject for other committee and subcommittee chairmen to investigate. They did not. John Kerry did."
While Kerry was in the middle of the BCCI muck, Senate majority leader George Mitchell asked him to assume another difficult task: investigate the unaccounted-for Vietnam POWs and MIAs. For years so-called POW advocates, like billionaire Ross Perot, had claimed American GIs were still being held in Vietnam, and the highly charged POW/MIA issue was the main roadblock to normalizing relations. Working closely with Senator John McCain, a Republican who had been a POW, Kerry got the Pentagon to declassify 1 million pages of records. His committee chased after rumors of American soldiers being held. He took fourteen trips to Vietnam. This was a hard mission: How could his committee say there were absolutely no POWs still captive in Vietnam? Yet anything less could keep the POW controversy alive.
On one trip to Hanoi, as Douglas Brinkley notes in Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War, Kerry insisted that he be allowed to inspect the catacombs beneath Ho Chi Minh's tomb, where, according to a persistent rumor, the remaining POWs were being held. Permission was granted, and with conservative Republican Bob Smith by his side, he inspected the tunnels and found no signs of POWs. In January 1993 Kerry's POW/MIA committee released a 1,223-page report concluding that there was "no compelling evidence that proves any American remains alive in captivity in Southeast Asia." Some POW die-hards howled. (Journalist Sydney Schanberg has accused Kerry of covering up and destroying evidence that POWs were left behind.) But the report mostly settled the issue. President Bill Clinton was able to drop the Vietnam trade embargo and normalize relations.
Investigations were not the only notable moments in Kerry's Senate career. On September 10, 1996, as he was in a tight re-election contest against William Weld, the popular Republican governor of Massachusetts, Kerry voted against the Defense of Marriage Act, which would deny federal benefits to same-sex couples and permit states to not recognize same-sex marriages conducted in other states. He was one of only fourteen senators to oppose the measure. Several leading Senate liberals--including Paul Wellstone, Tom Harkin and Pat Leahy--had voted for it. But on the floor of the Senate that day, Kerry, who noted that he did not support same-sex marriage, said, "I am going to vote against this bill...because I believe that this debate is fundamentally ugly, and it is fundamentally political." He refused to pretend that the bill was not a wedge-issue trap devised by conservative Republicans. The legislation, he charged, was "meant to divide Americans," and he argued fiercely that it was unconstitutional. "If this were truly a defense of marriage act," he said, "it would expand the learning experience for would-be husbands and wives. It would provide for counseling for all troubled marriages, not just for those who can afford it. It would provide treatment on demand for those with alcohol and substance abuse.... It would guarantee daycare for every family that struggles and needs it."
The following year, a re-elected Kerry was in another lonely position as one of only five original sponsors of the Clean Money, Clean Elections Act, to provide for full public financing of Congressional elections. The measure would remove practically all special-interest money from House and Senate campaigns. (Kerry's colleagues were Wellstone, Leahy, John Glenn and Joe Biden--all Democrats.) "Kerry was totally into it," says Ellen Miller, former executive director of Public Campaign, a reform group pressing for the legislation. "He believes in this stuff."
In introducing the legislation, Kerry said on the Senate floor, "Special interest money is moving and dictating and governing the agenda of American politics.... If we want to regain the respect and confidence of the American people, and if we want to reconnect to them and reconnect them to our democracy, we have to get the special interest money out of politics." He was also a backer of the better-known McCain-Feingold legislation, a more modest and (some might say) problematic approach to campaign reform. But over the years he's pointed to the Clean Money, Clean Elections Act as the real reform. "It is a tough position in Congress to be for dramatic change in financing elections," says Miller. "It's gutsy to go out and say, 'Let's provide a financially leveled playing field so there is more competition for incumbents.' Kerry and Wellstone were the leaders and took a giant step. It was remarkable."
After two decades in the Senate, Kerry has a long record that can be picked apart by competitors within his own party as well as in the GOP. And though he has been re-elected three times, he has not developed the best political skills. He has not shed a manner too easily criticized as aloof or patrician. He has had brushes with smarmy campaign financing. But there have been times he has shown courage, devotion to justice and commitment to honesty, open government and principle-over-politics. There are few senators of whom that can be said. A full assessment of the man ought to take these portions of his public service into account.
DeltaGuy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (10 years 6 months 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 1717 times:
Americans need one of the biggest liberals in the nation as CIC? Pfff, hardly! Anything's better than Kerry. Hell, I'd give the Oval Office to Ross Perot before I'd give it to Kerry. At least we'd know there'd be SOME sanity.
Kerry elected= DeltaGuy looks for pilot jobs in another country
J_hallgren From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 1507 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (10 years 6 months 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 1701 times:
Some Dem's would probably vote for Paris Hilton or some other airhead over GWB! Or maybe that's MOST Dems these days...
Bush is NOT responsible for the bad things Kerry says he is...almost all of them, he has NO control over...so why should he get the blame? And thus Kerry can't fix it either...no matter how he claims he can...it's NOT a ketchup company where the CEO has real power!
Greaser From Bahamas, joined Jan 2004, 1101 posts, RR: 4
Reply 14, posted (10 years 6 months 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 1699 times:
Obviously, i am too young to vote, so all im gonna say is that please, all of you, vote for AMERICA and get us a good president whether its Bush, Kerry, or Edwards.
Also, all you democrat lovers pls don't spread your rubbish here, im an independent, but it seems that Kerry has hired some of you to spread 'his good message'. NEVER TRUST A POLITICIAN
Don't do it here. One thing bad about kerry is that he's not very nice looking(HAHA). I don't know but he just creeps me out for some reason!
John Edwards is so much more warm and kinder looking!
STOP ADVERTISING FOR JOHN KERRY
BN747 From United States of America, joined Mar 2002, 5613 posts, RR: 51
Reply 15, posted (10 years 6 months 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 1691 times:
Kerry and Bush have the same corporate owners. The last true president the US had was James Earl Carter. In 1980 the corporations won the war sadly.
IMissPiedmont, very nice said and very true Carter's willingness to tell the Corporate masters and the press to fu*k off cost him dearly!
However, I must say that Kerry's worldliness will regain America's respect among world leaders simply by showing up. By opening his mouth, they'll see he's a true Chief Statesman, capable speaking commandingly on any subject in the most sophisticated of circles! Everyone on the planet except the hardcore-Bush-followers, knows that Bush relies entirely on advisors which is alarming on any scale of leadership. It's a miracle we made it this far with the world in one piece with this man at the helm. Kerry on his worse day will eclipse Bush on his best. Yes they probably do serve the same coporate masters...but it's how you package the horsecrackers that sells them. And with Bush, many of us smelled how badly he was packaged a long ago and voted against him from day one!
"Home of the Brave, made by the Slaves..Land of the Free, if you look like me.." T. Jefferson
CPH-R From Denmark, joined May 2001, 5991 posts, RR: 3
Reply 17, posted (10 years 6 months 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 1665 times:
Both have just been called back to Washington to load up a badly needed piece of legislation with special interest bills that will take away the civil rights of Americans.
Ooops, wrong again, you're thinking of Dubya & his amendment to the consitution that will ban all gay marriages (or something to that effect). "So I guess it's time to add the first amendment to the Constitution since Prohibition that will actually restrict personal freedom. And everyone knows what a smashing success Prohibition was." - couldn't be bothered to type it myself, so copy+paste from Democraticunderground.com.
MidnightMike From United States of America, joined Mar 2003, 2892 posts, RR: 14
Reply 18, posted (10 years 6 months 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 1653 times:
My vote goes for the current President, George Bush, how anybody can vote for John Kerry is beyond me. John Kerry has spent a majority of his time bashing President Bush & flip flopping on every major issue, his new game is to try to convince the voters that there is no difference between himself & John Edwards. John Kerry has no vision, no plan, but if you hate President Bush that much, then vote what you feel is correct. Study the man first, John Kerry says one thing & does another.
JetService From United States of America, joined Feb 2000, 4798 posts, RR: 11
Reply 19, posted (10 years 6 months 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 1656 times:
CPH-R, but I suppose its OK with you that both Kerry and Edwards are against gay-marriage, too? Oh well.
777236ER, when you were complaining about J-hallgren speaking for 'half of America', I actually thought you would say something about SFOintern for thinking he speaks for ALL Americans (read title of thread). LMAO!
Greaser, he probably creeps you out because he looks like Herman Munster with porcelain veneers, but that's not his fault.
Kerry is busy talking to Dem voters. If he wins the Dem candidacy and starts talking to all voters, I'll let you know if he sways me. So far, its not looking like he will.
Alpha 1 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 20, posted (10 years 6 months 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 1649 times:
I cast my vote about 15 minutes ago for Senator Kerry. I like Senator Edwards a lot ,but I think Kerry is more electable than Edwards. I think Edwards, hands-down, should be the choice for VEEP. I also voted to keep our library system open here, and for the renewal operating levy for our public schools.
Texan From New Zealand, joined Dec 2003, 4277 posts, RR: 52
Reply 21, posted (10 years 6 months 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 1642 times:
Well, hopefully there will be really good turnout today as well as in November. And hopefully a lot of Democrats will get out there and vote Those who support Bush, I respect y'all's opinions, but after having him as Chief Executive of the US for almost four years and Head Honcho here in Texas for six, I don't really want to see him in office anymore. Hopefully Kerry will get the Democratic nomination, pick Gov. Richardson to be his running mate, and come out with a clear victory in November. Can't wait to see the Super Tuesday results!
"I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library."
CPH-R From Denmark, joined May 2001, 5991 posts, RR: 3
Reply 24, posted (10 years 6 months 5 days ago) and read 1617 times:
last time I bothered to check, they weren't voting for the amendment - that's better than Bush. I hope that VP Crashcart's daughter can talk some sense into her father.
On the other hand, I'm ready to slam Dubya for anything.
In other news, have you heard that both Bill Clinton & Al Gore have made appointments with the 9/11 commision, to be available for an open hearing? And that Dubya & VP Crashcar so far only managed to be available for a 1-hour closed, seperate hearing, with only the chairman & vice-chairman of the commision present.
Yup, that sure is going to be one open investigation - I wonder how long Dubya can stall it, before he has to say "I don't recall"
: I will never vote for a democrat..................
: What will be interesting to see is who the President picks as his running mate since it is highly unlikely Cheney could run in 2008. Rumored contender
27 EA CO AS
: SFOIntern- With all due respect, do you have any opinions that are yours, or will you only be regurgitating op-ed pieces to show why you support Senat
: Sorry guys, for me it's either Edwards or Bush (and I hope Edwards.) But there ain't no way I'm voting for Kerry. 'Speed[Edited 2004-03-02 18:08:55]
: 777236ER, read the headline. That's what I'm talking about. "We Americans...". I'm an American and I do not share his view. At least be consistent. CP
: "We Americans need a new president" is clearly a personal political opinion - it's not on par with saying "all Democrats are idiots".
: Sorry, had to ralph after reading that crap... Yeah, I think I'll join you in pukeage
: 777236ER, you don't call that generalizing the American population? OK.
: It is my hope and prayer that Kerry gets the nomination what could be better than a liberal from Massachusetts getting the nod in Boston. As a Bush su
: well im sure iraq wouldnt be so f**ked if bush wasnt the president,and that america's economy wouldn't be so f**ked since were trying to pay for iraq,
: Such big words for a youngster, makes me proud of the educational system. Does your mother know you talk like that? When you grow up if you're lucky m
: Espion007, Iraq is drafting a constitution rather than being ruled under a murderous dictator. You can say we are there for the wrong reason or that i
: Espion007; maybe President Bush (in term for 3 1/2 years) isn't the real reason that the educational system is...errr..."f**ked" (your words). Did he