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Thursday, February 26, 2004

"I'm Done With That Question": More Kerry Over Edwards

John Kerry has to be feeling lucky that his oft-critiqued statements on gay marriage today look absolutely statesmanlike compared with John Edwards:

Speaking to reporters yesterday afternoon, Edwards explained that he personally opposes gay marriage but supports civil unions, and believes each state should set its own marriage policy.

When asked why civil unions could not simply be called marriages, Edwards said, "My answer is the same."

Asked why states, not the federal government, should decide policy, he replied, "Because it's something I think should be decided by the states."

And when asked to explain his personal opposition to gay marriage, he snapped, "I'm done with that question."

It's reasonable to be asked to explain why you hold the positions that you do, Senator Edwards. "Just because" is not an illuminating response.

The Globe leads with Kerry's comments, his most extensive to date, on the same subject. At least he mentions some of the issues involved and he hasn't been testy with reporters' questions, to my knowledge. Nevertheless, "New England's largest gay-targeted newspaper, In Newsweekly, cited Kerry's 'flip-flops' on the issue of gay marriage in an editorial to be published today that endorses his rival, Senator John Edwards, for the Democratic presidential nomination." I can understand them being annoyed with Kerry over this, but they don't seem to realize that Edwards is hardly better.

The Times has endorsed Kerry over Edwards today, citing Edwards' lack of experience in foreign affairs. I largely agree with the editorial, though this line is overly generous: "What his critics see as an inability to take strong, clear positions seems to us to reflect his appreciation that life is not simple." It's hard to make the case that Kerry has not taken muddled positions to protect himself politically in several instances over the years. In fact, the Times goes on to contradict itself two paragraphs later: "Unfortunately, so far in this campaign Mr. Kerry has shown little interest in being daring, expressing a thought that is unexpected or quirky on even minor issues. We wish we could see a little of the political courage of the Vietnam hero who came back to lead the fight against the war." So which is it, thoughtfulness or political calculation?