Zell's Right, Kerry's Wrong

Ever since Democratic Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia delivered his scorching speech at the Republican National Convention attacking John Kerry’s record on defense issues, Kerry’s partisans, including those in the liberal media, have been frantically laboring to discredit Miller.

They have done everything from claiming that Miller lied to slanderously implying that the same man they lionized in 1992, when he gave the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention, is really a closet racist.

What they haven’t done is present the relevant facts. So, what are those facts?

The passage in Miller’s speech that elicited the most vehement denials from the Kerryites simply listed the weapons systems Miller said Kerry opposed.

No Response

“Listing all the weapons systems that Sen. Kerry tried his best to shut down sounds like an auctioneer selling off our national security but Americans need to know the facts,” said Miller. “The B-1 bomber that Sen. Kerry opposed dropped 40% of the bombs in the first six months of Operation Enduring Freedom. The B-2 bomber that Sen. Kerry opposed delivered air strikes against the Taliban in Afghanistan and Hussein’s command post in Iraq. The F-14A Tomcats that Sen. Kerry opposed shot down Khadafi’s Libyan MIGs over the Gulf of Sidra. The modernized F-14D that Sen. Kerry opposed delivered missile strikes against Tora Bora. The Apache helicopter that Sen. Kerry opposed took out those Republican Guard tanks in Kuwait in the Gulf War. The F-15 Eagles that Senator Kerry opposed flew cover over our Nation’s Capital and this very city after 9/11.

“I could go on and on and on,” said Miller. “Against the Patriot missile that shot down Saddam Hussein’s SCUD missiles over Israel. Against the Aegis air-defense cruiser. Against the Strategic Defense Initiative. Against the Trident missile.”

Are there sources that back up Miller’s claims here? Yes. Kerry’s own campaign literature and voting record.

  • When Kerry first ran for the Senate in 1984, he published a campaign document in which he promised to try to cancel “this year” all the weapons systems that Miller mentioned in his speech except the B-2 bomber and Trident missile.
  • Kerry voted to cancel the B-2 bomber on Aug. 2, 1990 (roll call vote #208) and on Sept. 18, 1992 (roll call vote #216).
  • Kerry voted on Aug. 11, 1995, to cancel funding for the Trident II nuclear missile for submarines (roll call vote #393).

    In a June 19, 2003, article in the Boston Globe, Kerry–now a wartime presidential candidate–admitted he had opposed the very weapons systems Zell Miller cited him for opposing. In this article, Kerry admitted some of his positions on weapons had been “ill-advised” and “stupid.” But he still defended his opposition to some other weapons systems.

    “In his zeal to keep pace with [1984 Democratic primary opponent James] Shannon’s leftward drift on disarmament,” the Globe reported, “Kerry supported cancellation of a host of weapons systems that have become the basis of U.S. military might–the high-tech munitions and delivery systems on display to the world as they leveled the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein in a matter of weeks. These weapons became conversation topics at American dinner tables during the Iraq war, but candidate Kerry in 1984 said he would have voted to cancel many of them: the B-1 bomber, B-2 stealth bomber, AH-64 Apache helicopter, Patriot missile, the F-15, F-14A and F-14D jets, the AV-8B Harrier jet, the Aegis air-defense cruiser, and the Trident missile system.

    “He also advocated reductions in many other systems, such as the M1 Abrams tank, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, the Tomahawk cruise missile, and the F-16 jet,” the Globe continued. “In retrospect, Kerry said some of his positions in those days were ‘ill-advised, and I think some of them are stupid in the context of the world we find ourselves in right now and the things that I’ve learned since then.’ But he defended his opposition at the time to the MX missile, the ‘Star Wars’ strategic defense initiative, and some other programs.”

    The conclusion is irrefutable: Had Kerry actually succeeded in canceling the weapons systems he promised to fight to cancel when he was first elected to the Senate–or that he later specifically voted against in the Senate–every one of the weapons Miller listed Kerry as opposing would have been cancelled. The systems that in the words of the liberal Boston Globe became “the basis of U.S. military might” would not have been built.

    Ironically, it is Kerry’s supporters who now want people to believe Kerry flip-flopped and actually supported the weapons he was elected vowing to oppose. Further, they argue that Kerry cannot be accused of “voting” against specific weapons systems merely because he sometimes voted against overall Defense authorizations or appropriations. Yet, this argument, implies that Kerry should not be credited for supporting specific weapons merely because he sometimes voted for overall Defense authorizations or appropriations.

    Interestingly enough, Kerry did vote for the Defense bill in 1985, his first year in the Senate. By the logic of Kerry’s current supporters, that would mean he immediately betrayed his campaign pledges of 1984 and supported the very weapons systems he had just been elected opposing. Then, again, Kerry voted against the Defense authorization and appropriations bills in 1990 and 1995, and the Defense authorization in 1996.

    So, when should Kerry get credit for flip-flopping and abandoning the campaign promises that made him a senator? HUMAN EVENTS last week repeatedly asked the Kerry campaign if they could cite any instance between Kerry’s 1984 campaign and 2003 interview with the Boston Globe in which Kerry ever expressly said he had changed his mind and now supported any of the weapons systems Miller listed in his Republican convention speech.

    The Kerry campaign took the question. But no one ever responded.

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