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Monday, February 23, 2004

It's On!

Get ready to hear more of this in the coming months:

"The other party's nomination battle is still playing out. The candidates are an interesting group with diverse opinions," Bush said. "They're for tax cuts and against them. They're for NAFTA and against NAFTA. They're for the Patriot Act and against the Patriot Act. They're in favor of liberating Iraq, and opposed to it. And that's just one senator from Massachusetts." His supportive audience erupted in laughter and applause.

Kerry spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter disputed Bush's list of purported flip-flops. Kerry opposed Bush's tax cuts for the richest Americans and stands by that; voted for NAFTA and stands by it; voted for the Patriot Act, but believes the Justice Department is using it to trample civil liberties; and stands by his vote to authorize force for Iraq, but believes Bush's prosecution of the war "created a breeding ground for terror" and alienated allies, Cutter said.

Bush's line is going to be very effective because it's accurate. The response from the Kerry spokeswoman is pathetic because she essentially confirms Bush's critique by saying Kerry backed both the Patriot Act and Iraq War but doesn't like how those votes have turned out. That's called changing your mind. "If you knew how those votes would turn out, would you make them again?" is a question I guarantee Kerry will work hard to dodge. The spokeswoman also omitted that Kerry has said he wants to revisit NAFTA when he gets into office to look again at labor and environmental issues, which hardly qualifies as standing by his vote unequivocally. He also opposed the entirety of the Bush tax cuts package, though now he says he wants to keep the cuts that went to the middle class and get rid of those for the rich.

I'm not saying all of Kerry's votes are illogical--splitting hairs like this can make sense in some instances. It's just troubling that Kerry seems to split hairs on every damn thing, and consequently, painting him as a waffler is ridiculously easy to do. (Edwards, I should add, is vulnerable to similar attacks because of the positions he has taken.)