Saturday, August 28, 2004

a question of flipping and flopping

Since I've been picking on Democrats for taking cheap shots, I thought fairness demands a comment on this post by my favorite junk-food blogger Andrew Stuttaford. Stuttaford quotes a newspaper account
'I'm pretty tough on Castro, because I think he's running one of the last vestiges of a Stalinist secret police government in the world,'' Kerry told WPLG-ABC 10 reporter Michael Putney in an interview to be aired at 11:30 this morning. ... Kerry volunteered: ``And I voted for the Helms-Burton legislation to be tough on companies that deal with him.''
”There is only one problem: Kerry voted against it.”
”Asked Friday to explain the discrepancy, Kerry aides said the senator cast one of the 22 nays that day in 1996 because he disagreed with some of the final technical aspects. But, said spokesman David Wade, Kerry supported the legislation in its purer form -- and voted for it months earlier.”
Stuttaford then comments, "There’s a bit of a pattern here, I think.".

I don't think this is entirely fair to Kerry. Without knowing the full story, I'd like to point out that there is nothing wrong with supporting a piece of legislation in broad form but refusing to vote for it over specific points.

The same applies to Kerry's vote on the Iraq War funding bill that he voted for and voted against. He claimed that he refused to vote for it without an addendum that raised taxes to pay for it. This isn't inherently disreputable. In fact, if Kerry had a policy of never voting for legislation that wasn't fully funded (without borrowing money), I'd think he was a hero and so would many other conservatives.

What makes that particular vote disreputable is that Kerry never shows any concern over the budget deficit except when the subject is military spending or tax cuts. That's what makes his explanation on the Iraq vote hypocritical. In the absence of more information, we can't assume that there was anything wrong with his voting on the Helms-Burton bill.

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