It will be interesting to see how much liberal red meat — excuse the oxymoron — John Kerry has the guts to throw at his Michael Moore-esque base at the Democratic National Convention this week. Will he dare, or will he continue to pretend he’s a moderate? If John Kerry’s a moderate, I’m a Leon Trotsky disciple. Yet it’s no secret that Kerry has been avoiding the “liberal” tag like Howard Hughes avoided germs or like liberals avoid traditional values. Kerry was obviously displeased with the reputedly nonpartisan National Journal designating him as the most liberal senator of 2003. They had some nerve telling the truth without checking with him first. Kerry’s mouthpieces have attempted to discredit the National Journal‘s rating system. Why, it must be unfair, since it’s based on an objective standard: the senators’ actual votes. Kerry, apparently aware that the media rarely hold libs accountable for inconsistent statements they made as recently as the day before, has also begun to masquerade, at times, like a quasi-conservative. He has started talking about “values” and has challenged President Bush’s bona fides as a conservative, pointing to the federal deficit that has grown under his watch. And, despite his equivocation about Iraq, he has recently vowed to approach it more aggressively than has President Bush. The Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) — the organization instrumental in dressing up Bill Clinton as a centrist — is assisting in Kerry’s charade. It issued a frantic e-mail last week saying that attempts to label Kerry a liberal are “bogus” and calling the National Journal‘s rating a “bad joke.” “Kerry,” said the DLC, “is no Michael Dukakis, and his lifelong record of service to America in war and peace has been difficult for Republicans to fit into the old stereotype of Democrats as weak on national security and values.” Methinks they protesteth a bit too much. Given Kerry’s long record of conspicuous and unwavering liberalism, the only thing the DLC’s e-mail shows is that the DLC is not as centrist as it pretends to be. Rather than being a force for moderation in the far-left Democratic Party, the DLC is a thinly disguised marketing vehicle trying to package unelectable liberal Democrats as palatable moderates. Also joining, albeit clumsily, Kerry’s liberal-avoidance gambit, is his biggest cheerleader, Senator Edward Kennedy. After accidentally admitting Kerry’s liberalism to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Kennedy came to his senses and attempted to brush over his intemperate utterance, saying that while he had never “shied from” the liberal label, Senator Kerry’s handlers prefer the term “progressive.” Why not? “Liberalism” suggests a rejection of traditional values, appeasement, confiscatory tax policies and unrestrained domestic spending. “Progressivism” connotes forward thinking, innovation and intellectual heft, or so liberals hope. But seriously, how can there even be a question about Kerry’s liberalism? It’s not just the National Journal rating — though that is proof enough. He has amassed an unambiguous record since returning from Vietnam in 1971 as anti-defense, national sovereignty-challenged, a profligate spender, pro taxes, pro-abortion (including partial-birth abortion), anti-death penalty, anti-traditional marriage (though he shamelessly denies it), anti-CIA, and soft on law enforcement. Kerry probably isn’t so much afraid of the liberal label on economic issues since liberals can safely campaign as tax cutters, as long as they promise to tax the rich into Hades and punish big corporations. But Kerry is afraid of the label concerning social issues, which is why he claims to support traditional marriage while voting against it and to personally oppose abortion while doing everything he can to avoid making it “rare.” Kerry’s real fear, however, is being recognized as the flaming liberal he is on national security. No matter what they tell you, liberals know they cannot be elected as liberals during wartime. That’s why Kerry holds himself out as a General Patton on the War on Terror, while simultaneously belching daily press releases that arguably undermine our effort and troop morale. While the DLC and DNC would have us believe that one’s military service establishes one as bullish on national security, discriminating minds know that dog won’t hunt. What should concern a comfortable majority of the electorate as much as John Kerry’s proven extreme liberalism is his dishonesty in refusing to admit it. If Kerry and his 2000-Florida-election-grudgeholding colleagues were truly opposed to all attempts at disenfranchising voters, they would own up to Kerry’s liberalism. An uninformed electorate is little different than a disenfranchised one. But don’t expect Kerry to exclaim in Boston this week or anytime before the election, “I’m a proud liberal.” If he did, we could be sure that the election results in no more than a handful of states would be close enough for Gore’s election lawyers to challenge.