Andrew Sullivan has a new piece on John Kerry. My impression of Kerry is that he doesn't have any views and just goes along with whatever political wind other Democrats are moving in. Sullivan's comments support this impression. On his statements about justifications for war and when it's right to go to war, he's given many conflicting principles, not all of which he can consistently believe. Sullivan points out two sentences even right in a row that do this, showing he's trying to appeal to the doves and the hawks at once by trying to hide the inconsistency in very long sentences with qualifications that don't quite resolve the tension. He accuses Bush of doing nothing in North Korea, when Bush's efforts in North Korea are exactly what Kerry thinks should have been done in Iraq (though Kerry never specifies how that would have been done in any helpful way on the details).
On Bush's service in the national guard, he's said both that it's a morally neutral choice (when the issue of Clinton's draft dodging was also at issue) and a morally reprehensible avoiding of duty (when the comparison is to his own service, which he proceeded to dishonor immediately upon his return but now flaunts as if it will make him a better civilian leader of a country).
On gay marriage, he hems and haws for a while without saying clearly any view, and then he basically says he wants civil unions but not marriage and wants to see states do it on their own, exactly what Dick Cheney, and presumably George Bush, want. Sullivan: But even now, he seems incapable of a clear and ringing answer. He's still defensive--even when he doesn't have to be.
Then Sullivan closes with some telling final thoughts:
And that's true throughout this debate. Kerry is pro-war, except when he's antiwar. He votes for war against Saddam but opposes financing it. He's for equality for gays, but against equality for gays in marriage. And his attempts to explain his having it every which way only confuse matters even further. Not a good sign for November.
My response is just amazement that anyone could support someone running for president on the premise that George Bush lied to us or was in some other way dishonest (none of which I believe there's any real evidence for) and turning around and doing the same thing when it comes to the nature of his own views. The mainstream media clearly wanted Howard Dean, and I think Wesley Clark too to some extent, out of the race, and that's why they spent so much time on their (especially Dean's) flip-flops, contradictions, and other foibles. Now it's pretty clear that Kerry is doing the same thing, and I see hardly anyone pointing them out. This suggests to me that they very much wanted a mainstream Washington Democrat in the White House, or at least getting the nomination, and now that one seems likely to get it they don't want to rock the boat.
I, for one, think it's morally unconscionable to vote for someone whose campaign has made it clear that you can't trust him in any way, since you can't even trust him to tell the truth about his own positions. If John Edwards is able to pull together in the end, Bush may be in trouble, but I just can't imagine John Kerry being able to pull together a successful run unless he stops doing this sort of thing long before the main election is in full gear. If he does, the American voters deserve what they get for not reading the writing on the wall.