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John Kerry and the Opportunism Gene
by Teri O'Brien
23 March 2004

Senator Kerry seems to be governed by an irresistible impulse to pander to every audience he faces.


Since the mapping of the human genome, we’ve discovered what many have suspected: genetics are very powerful. After St. Patrick’s Day, it’s worth remembering that Senator John Kerry’s paternal grandfather was born Fritz Kohn in what is now the Czech Republic. It was a time of virulent anti-Semitism and Mr. Kohn was certainly not alone in his desire to pass as a gentile. As Prof. Charles Gati of Johns Hopkins, who specializes in European history notes, "It seems like cowardice today, but it was survival." It would be unfair to judge Mr. Kohn harshly, and I certainly don’t. I’m the first one to admit that I might have done the same thing when weighing the importance of my faith against the chance for me and my family to simply live and let live, or to live period. I would probably tell myself that God would understand. My purpose here, therefore, is not to second-guess Mr. Kohn’s decision, but rather to consider how the survival instinct he displayed may have mutated into the rank opportunism displayed by his grandson.

Family legend states the name “Kerry” was chosen when Fritz’s older brother randomly placed a pencil on a map. The pencil point landed on County Kerry Ireland and the rest, as the the saying goes, is history.

Or is it?  Sen. Kerry seems governed by an irresistible impulse to pander to every audience he faces, unconcerned about making inconsistent statements that are easily discovered to be so. For example, when he spoke to a largely-Jewish, pro-Israel audience, he supported the construction of a wall between it and the Palestinian territories. Last October, though, he told an Arab-American group that it was “provocative and counterproductive,” and a “barrier to peace.” Then there are the following gems:

“President Clinton was often known as the first black president. I wouldn’t be upset if I could earn the right to be the second.”
-- March 2, 2004, American Urban Radio Network, whose audience probably would be stunned to learn that in 1992 Senator Kerry called affirmative action “an inherently limited and devisive program.”

“We are a nation of laws and liberties, not of a knock in the night. So it is time to end the era of John Ashcroft. That starts with replacing the Patriot Act with a new law that protects our people and our liberties at the same time.”
-- Speaking about the Patriot Act, which he voted for.

''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. And I voted for the Helms-Burton legislation to be tough on companies that deal with him.''
-- March 14, 2004, West Palm Beach Florida

Then last week:
"I actually did vote for the $87 billion, before I voted against it."
-- March 16, 2004 arriving in West Virginia and responding to new Bush campaign ad.

These are all good, but my personal favorite Kerry quote is his reference, which he repeats often, of standing up to “Nixon’s war,” referring to the Viet Nam war. (Oh, yes, he served in Viet Nam. Didn’t you know?) On December 31, 1960, the last full year when Nixon was part of the presidential administration, there were 900 total American personnel in Viet Nam. On December 31, 1968, the last full year of Lyndon “War on Poverty” Johnson’s term, there were over 536,000.

Those are the facts, but I think we all realize the demonizing power of attaching the possessive “Nixon’s” to anything, especially to the ignorant, uninformed and especially to the left-leaning, all of which aptly describes the elites in academia and media. John Kerry certainly does now and did then as well.

When John Kerry returned from Viet Nam, it was obvious to him that these elites, who had previously supported the war, had turned against it. The hallmark of this dramatic change was Walter Cronkite’s reporting of the Tet offensive in 1968. Notwithstanding the fact that 50,000 communist soldiers were killed to America 2000, the most trusted man in America pronounced it a ‘defeat’ and declared that it was certain that our involvement in Viet Nam would end up in a “stalemate.” Once the commander-in-chief was their bete noire, Richard Nixon, they were determined to make that prediction a reality. Their hatred for him makes their feelings toward Ronald Reagan or the current president seem like a mild distaste. To them, he was, and remains the devil incarnate.

John Kerry, a man who as comedian Bill Mahre recently noted, uses the word ‘summer’ as a verb, is one of them, an East Coast product of the Ivy League who shares their admiration for things French, including involvement in Viet Nam, until, that is, Nixon took over. Historians have noted the Democrats' withdrawal of support from the South Vietnamese in 1973, at a time when the war could have still been won. Democrats could not allow Nixon to snatch victory from the defeat inherited from President Johnson. Fortunately for them, the Watergate scandal provided the ammunition to oppose everything Nixon, even if the result was the bloodbath in Viet Nam long predicted by the hawks and pooh-poohed by the doves. At his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 22, 1971, John Kerry predicted that 2000-3000 South Vietnamese might face political assassination, far fewer than the “200,000 a year who are murdered by the United States of America.” The Democrats, encouraged by John Kerry and the rest of the anti-war left, abandoned the South Vietnamese. Ho-ho-ho-Chi-Mihn and friends established their Soviet-style gulag and showed everyone what ‘murder’ really looks like.

Senator Kerry has used his Viet Nam service (Oh, yes, he served in Viet Nam. Didn’t you know?) as a shield against charges that he would be a national security disaster as president and as a bludgeon against anyone who dares to question his very questionable voting record. His use of the phrase “Nixon’s war” in an attempt to impose his elitist revision history on the American people is very revealing because it connects the two most important dots about John Kerry’s public life: his obsession with Viet Nam (Oh, yes, he served in Viet Nam. Didn’t you know?) and the survival skills that Sen. Kerry may have inherited which he has perverted into the worst kind of self-promoting opportunism. Understand this phrase as used by the man who would be president, and you understand why it should never happen.

Listen to Teri O'Brien Saturdays 12-3 PM and Sundays 12-3 PM on WLS-AM, 890 Chicago, or at WLSAM.com.

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