Jewish World Review August 3, 2004 / 16 Menachem-Av, 5764

Jack Kelly

Jack Kelly
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Deception parties and a party of deception | Sen. John Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, celebrated their first anniversary at a Wendy's restaurant, because — in the days before junk science and gullible juries made Edwards a multi-millionaire — that was all they could afford.

So the day after the Democratic convention, the newly minted nominees stopped their bus tour at a Wendy's restaurant in Newburgh, N.Y. so that John Kerry and his wife, Teresa, could buy John and Elizabeth Edwards lunch on their 27th anniversary.

The Edwards each ordered a hamburger and fries. Teresa had the chili, after first asking the gal behind the counter what it was. John Kerry ordered chili and a frosty.

They didn't eat much of their meals, with good reason. Waiting for them back on the campaign bus were five star lunches ordered the night before from Nikola's restaurant at the Newburgh Yacht Club. (Wendy's menu doesn't include shrimp vandaloo, grilled sea scallops, prosciutto, and wrapped stuffed chicken.)

The deception was mild, as deceptions in politics go. But Kerry and Edwards were pretending to be something they were not, a continuation of the theme of the Democratic convention.

A survey taken in Boston indicated that nearly 90 percent of the delegates believe the war in Iraq was a mistake, or worse. But there wasn't a hint of this in the Democratic party's platform, or from the rostrum.

The survey indicated most delegates also support gay marriage and abortion on demand, but these topics were banned in Boston.

What there was at the Democratic convention was an orgy of patriotic and traditional symbolism. American flags were everywhere. The Divine was frequently invoked by a party that in the recent past has tried to banish Him from the public square. Conventions are masquerade balls in which each party pretends it is like the other, Mort Kondracke has said, but Democrats this year carried this to a ludicrous extreme.

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What the convention was mostly was a highly selective biography of the nominee. John F. Kerry is the Rip Van Winkle of candidates. Rip Van Winkle is the Washington Irving character who fell asleep in the Catskill mountains for 20 years. Kerry's snooze has been longer. He is asking Americans to vote for him for president on the basis of what he did for four months and 12 days in Vietnam in the winter and spring of 1968-69, and on the basis of what he has said since sewing up the Democratic nomination in March of 2004. The 35 years in between have been dropped down the memory hole.

This is extraordinary. Every presidential candidate in history has emphasized some parts of his life story, and soft-pedalled others. But never before has a candidate for president asked us to dismiss as irrelevant his entire career in public life.

Kerry first became a public figure as a spokesman for Vietnam Veterans Against the War, in particular with his riveting — and false — testimony before a U.S. Senate committee in 1971 accusing his fellow Vietnam veterans of war crimes. Though he owes his career to them, Kerry's antiwar activities received nary a mention at his coronation.

Kerry's anti-war activities do not detract from his heroism in the war he denounced, but may be a better indicator of his actual views of his country and its national security policy than was his behavior in combat.

Kerry has served in the U.S. Senate for nearly 20 years. But Kerry devoted just two sentences to it in his acceptance speech. There isn't much to say, since his record there is devoid of significant accomplishment. But it is still a startling omission.

But an understandable omission, given that Kerry is claiming he would do a better job of managing the war on terror than President Bush has.

Kerry has perhaps the most dovish record of any currently serving senator. He voted against the first Gulf War, and against nearly every major weapon system that brought us victory in that war, and in Afghanistan and Iraq. In 1994, he tried to cut by $5 billion over five years what nearly everyone now agrees were grossly inadequate intelligence budgets.

President Bush is running on his record, warts and all. John Kerry is running from his.

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JWR contributor Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret, was a deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the Reagan administration. Comment by clicking here.

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