John Kerry’s choice of John Edwards as his running mate, was hardly heart-stoppingly shocking, even if your name is Dick Cheney. Yet, the interesting outcome of this pick is an ad by the Bush campaign that shows President George W. Bush is at least as much of a flip-flopper as Kerry.
Even while Edwards was still actively campaigning in the Democratic primary, he was widely seen as the safest bet. When Edwards dropped out, Kerry gave a speech that heralded Edward as a “great promise for leadership to come.” While Kerry managed to carefully avoid the phrase “vice president” when talking about him, Edwards had been referred to as such a safe bet that several pundits dismissed it as too obvious. Sometimes, though, the obvious choices are best.
A name that was often thrown around as would-be VP, however, was Republican Sen. John McCain (Could there be more Johns?). Even after McCain said on CBS, “I don’t want to be vice president of the United States. I do not want to leave the Republican Party. I would not be vice president of the United States on either ticket,” his name still kept coming up. Even during the question and answer session of Kerry’s visit to the USF campus, he was asked if McCain wouldn’t make a good VP choice.
Now Bush is running an ad that shows McCain speaking out on his behalf.
Funny, didn’t Bush win the Republican ticket in 2000 by questioning McCain’s patriotism? Back then Bush questioned the man who spent five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam where he was tortured on a regular basis while Bush himself still cannot prove conclusively if he even showed up for National Guard duty. Now he parades out McCain to speak on his behalf, even though no cheap shot was too low in the dirty primary campaign Bush fought in 2000.
What makes this new tactic even stranger is that McCain repeatedly worked together with Kerry and often spoke out on his behalf. On NBC’s Meet the Press, when asked if he thought Kerry was weak on defense, he defended the senator by saying, “I do not believe that he is necessarily weak on defense. I don’t agree with him on some issues, clearly. But I decry this negativism that’s going on both sides. The American people don’t need it.”
Kerry speaks about McCain in no less glowing terms in his book “A Call to Service.” Recounting a trip to Vietnam with McCain, Kerry writes: “I learned several important lessons during our effort to put the war behind us for ourselves, our generation, and our country. I learned how to reach across the partisan and ideological divides to find common ground …”
So now Bush slams Kerry for even considering to reach across the aisle in an attempt to make bipartisan politics? After repeatedly declaring he was “a uniter, not a divider” in the debates of the 2000 election, maybe the Bush campaign should keep such comments to themselves, since, while preaching unity, Bush has polarized the American public and political system in his years in office more than anybody could have expected.
But maybe Bush was simply untruthful when making the original statements. After all, he also said, “(Gore) and I have a disagreement about the use of troops. He believes in nation building. I would be very careful about using our troops as nation builders.” Granted, the war in Afghanistan was probably unavoidable after the attacks of Sept. 11, but the war in Iraq was not only a war of choice, its aftermath was also badly planned and executed.
Again Bush was berating somebody on something he not only ended up doing himself but also failed at in ways nobody would wish on this country.
The deciding difference between Kerry and Bush’s changing stances is that a senator in Congress is bound to debate the same bill differently on separate occasions as the contents change over time. Congress is set up to do just this: deliberate.
The Bush administration keeps changing stances by the month – be it if there are WMDs in Iraq or not, or what exactly the reasons for the war in Iraq are.
So maybe Bush should stop the finger pointing?
Sebastian Meyer is a junior majoring in geography and an Oracle Opinion editor.