and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Barbara's Column
March  2004 #1

Kerry: 'Phony Baloney' or is he simply confused?
© by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, March 4, 2004

So my son called from Nevada and asked me to get him a John Kerry bumper sticker.

I told him I don't usually hang out in places that have them lying around, but he could go to a local print shop and order his own. The official bumper sticker, I told him, is "John Kerry, Phony Baloney."

To which he responded that if George Bush won't let their gay friends be married, he and his wife won't call themselves married either.

Family values. My family has all of them, and on both sides of most debates.

Though I'm sure that the "defense of marriage" proponents, who got sufficient signatures for their constitutional amendment, are entitled to their vote in the Constitutional Convention next week, I'm still undecided on how I will vote if the proposal gets to the ballot. Sometimes my libertarian self clashes with my conservative side.

Aside from those few issues, however, it is hard for someone like me, with strong opinions on almost everything, to relate to John Kerry, who doesn't seem to know what he believes. I'd think it would be difficult for my equally issue-assured son to like the likes of Kerry.

Back when Michael Dukakis was running for president, I had many calls from the national media asking what I thought of him; and I had plenty to say. But when I received my first national media call about Kerry's tenure as Dukakis' lieutenant governor, my mind went blank. I had no recollection of his position on any of the controversial state issues of that time.

I do remember him from long ago, before I came to Massachusetts. I was a Navy wife who, while strongly pro-military, was opposed to the draft and appalled by the way the Vietnam War was being run by Washington. So I admired Kerry for his service, and then for his resistance. It wasn't until I moved here that I attached the word "phony" to his name when I learned that the medals he threw over the fence were not his.

More recently, I recall his U.S. Senate vote against the federal balanced budget amendment, because the amendment was killed by that one vote. So I don't want to hear Kerry complaining about the federal deficit, which is his fault. [Read the recently compiled CLT record of Kerry's votes against a Balanced Budget Amendment]

But Kerry doesn't exist in my Statehouse memories. It's possible that, having no center, he barely exists anywhere.

Kerry's claims that he, unlike President Bush, could have talked the United Nations into useful action on Iraq, and prevented the violence in Haiti, are laughable. On foreign policy, delusion is not an asset for a presidential candidate. The confident decision-making required by the leader of the free world doesn't seem possible to him.

There's a pattern now of indecision and flip-flopping that he can't step out of, even when his positions aren't really conflicting. The Republicans are having a field day with his opposition to President Bush's proposed constitutional amendment defining marriage, and his support for the similar amendment in Massachusetts.

The key word, however, is "similar." The Massachusetts version he supports, at the moment, encourages "civil unions," which the federal amendment does not. So he really isn't on both sides of that issue, though the charge sticks to his already-defined persona.

Kerry's plight seems to mirror that of Dan Quayle, who once tagged as "dumb," found his every statement ridiculed, even when it was intelligent and correct.

Kerry doesn't want to be defined as a liberal, and with his glittering generalities, it's sometimes hard to tell. But before the campaign, when he was showing up for work, his Senate votes were the same as those of Ted Kennedy, who does not run from the liberal label. It seems to me that Kerry has a choice: liberal, or nothing.

Having some extra time on Leap Year Day, I looked up Kerry's horoscope, hoping for a clue. Birthday: Dec. 11, 1943. Sun in Sagittarius, Moon in Gemini. According to astrologer Jefferson Andersen, this combination is called "The Blythe Spirit." I am not making this up. Among other things, it says:

"No matter how restless, impulsive, adventuresome, and extravagant you may be, somehow you always manage to get by... Although you can get quite emotional on the surface, inside you are always quite cool... "Concentration is not your forté. Yours could be the combination of a great scholar and innovator, if you could only develop the patience required to master something. You just can't sit still: From your early years, you spend much of your time in preparation for your next big move...

"It's sometimes so difficult for you to keep your colorful imagination within bounds that the line between fantasy and reality becomes blurred. Some people may think of you as inconsistent, and some may accuse you of lying. It's not that you are actually malicious or deceitful; it's just that, in continually changing your mind, you frequently confound others by saying one thing and doing another."

"John Kerry, not a Phony Baloney, just Confused." Gotta find me a print shop, too.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her syndicated columns appear weekly in the Salem News and Lowell Sun; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the Providence Journal and other newspapers.