Running from his record

Deroy Murdock writes on John Kerry: Try to get to John Kerry’s left. Just try. If you’re a U.S. senator, you cannot. According to a recent analysis of the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body, the Massachusetts Democrat was the “No. 1 Senate liberal in 2003.” As the archest of the Senate’s arch-liberals, Mr. Kerry voted last year to the left of fellow Democrats John Edwards of North Carolina (No. 2), Barbara Boxer of California (No. 5) and Tom Harkin of Iowa (No. 10). Mr. Kerry’s ayes and nays were significantly to the left of the two liberals who most conservatives would nominate for a one-way fact-finding mission to Mars: New York’s Hillary Clinton (No. 7) and Massachusetts’ Edward Moore Kennedy (No. 12).

At the other end of the spectrum, 14 Republican senators tied for least liberal with scores of 14 out of 100. Top Senate conservatives include Virginia’s George Allen, Tennessee’s Bill Frist and Indiana’s Richard Lugar. America is a free country, and many citizens consider liberalism a worthy philosophy. In solidarity with those true believers, if nothing else, Mr. Kerry could wear the National Journal’s conclusion as a badge of honor. Instead, he runs away from it. “Anyone who knows John Kerry knows that this label doesn’t fit,” Kerry campaign spokesman Chad Clanton told the New York Post’s Brian Blomquist. “He’s a decorated Vietnam combat veteran [in case you had not heard], a former prosecutor and a deficit hawk [who has] opposed his party and voted to shrink the deficit.” Mr. Kerry himself dodged the liberal prize in a Feb. 29 New York debate against his campaign rivals. He called the National Journal’s label “a laughable characterization” and deemed this distinction “the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”

How does being a decorated combat veteran and a prosecutor somehow inoculate you from your public voting record? The leading National Socialist of yore was a decorated combat veteran, which hardly prevented him from pushing what we would today call a liberal program. And what is a prosecutor but another government employee flexing the muscle of the state? I understand why Jean Francois is running from his record, what I don’t understand is how he expects that to work.

But it’s interesting to see how two senators can appear to be polar opposites while remaining in sync on the most important issues of our time. I doubt Kerry and Frist can be separated on the issues of UN membership, debt-backed money, state’s rights and the income tax. Even on gun control, the two parties’ positions are moving closer, as the Republicans have become more squishy about protecting gun rights while Democrats are starting to realize that it is not a vote winner.