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What's wrong with Kerry?

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

The 2004 presidential election is the Democrats' big chance! A controversial Iraq war has polarized the country more than any event since Vietnam. Voters are put off by Bush's hard-headed Texas style and disappointed by the economy. With war and the economy the two main issues in the race, the Democrats need to convince voters that their candidate can handle the problems better. Given all the ammunition that Bush has provided the opposition, this should not be too hard a job.

Unfortunately, Democratic strategists have overlooked the simplicity of this task. They thought that contrasting their candidate's decorated military service with Bush's wobbly Air National Guard service was a good idea, but that turned into a mistake when it became evident that Kerry's supposed heroism was, to put it lightly, open to debate. As a result, Kerry cannot convincingly run on his Vietnam service anymore. Charges of dishonesty by groups such as the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth and Kerry's evolving stories and explanations have rendered his claims of heroism questionable at best and downright phony at worst.

Kerry's case for doing a better job in Iraq is practically meaningless with all the inconsistencies he has shown. In the Senate he voted in favor of the war but later voted against funding it. On a campaign stop in Arizona, Kerry was asked by a reporter whether, if he had known at the time of the Senate vote that the aftermath of the Iraq invasion would be such a disaster, would he still have voted for the war? Surprisingly, he answered "yes," despite declaring that Iraq was "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time" at a different campaign stop. Kerry's primary objective of convincing voters that he could have done Iraq better falls flat.

Touting his four months of Vietnam service has backfired and capitalizing on the Iraq mess has been plagued by Kerry's contradictions. In addition, Kerry's strategists have failed to convince voters that the economy is bad and that it is Bush's fault. Thus, Kerry has looked for more dubious ways to differentiate himself from President Bush. One issue Kerry recently seized upon is the Base Realignment and Closure process (BRAC). This Defense Department plan seeks to reorganize world deployment of U.S. military forces, save money, and adapt to coming threats. Despite voting in favor of BRAC three times in the Senate, in New Mexico Kerry promised to slow or even halt the process in order to pander to voters living in military-heavy districts.

Kerry committed an even more egregious grab for single-issue voters when he announced on the campaign trail in Nevada that if elected he would end the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site project. Of course it goes without saying that Kerry (along with Edwards) supported the proposal in the past. Now, opposing the Yucca Mountain site is a moot point since billions have already been spent and the facility is nearly ready. This unrealistic promise is evidence of Kerry's desperation.

Despite all the Bush bashing, protesting, and untold millions of dollars spent by left-wing 527 groups like MoveOn.org, Bush has come out with a seven-point post-convention lead that the Kerry campaign can only envy and scratch their heads over. It's a damn shame they can't come up with a better candidate! Kerry has brought way too much damaging baggage with him and has a habit of drawing attention to it. After doing some soul-searching about this collective failure, the Kerry campaign has shuffled personnel and tried to change tactics, hoping that it is not too late. If Kerry does end up winning it will be for the sole reason that he is not Bush. The latest CNN poll suggests that this "credential" will not be enough.