Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Professor Bainbridge links to the increasingly tendentious Fred Kaplan's piece accusing Zell Miller of lying during the RNC.

Not counting his rather pathetic insult regarding Miller's intelligence, which I'll get to later, Kaplan's first (and presumably most important/damning) charge is:

Still, it is worth setting the record straight. The main falsehood, we have gone over before (click here for the details), but it keeps getting repeated, so here we go again: It is the claim that John Kerry, during his 20 years in the Senate, voted to kill the M-1 tank, the Apache helicopter; the F-14, F-16, and F-18 jet fighters; and just about every other weapon system that has kept our nation free and strong.

Here, one more time, is the truth of the matter: Kerry did not vote to kill these weapons, in part because none of these weapons ever came up for a vote, either on the Senate floor or in any of Kerry's committees.

However, if you read Miller's speech, he never claimed that Kerry voted against any of those programs. He stated, again, and again, and again, that Kerry OPPOSED them, not that he voted against them:

Together, Kennedy/Kerry have opposed the very weapons system that won the Cold War and that is now winning the War on Terror.

Listing all the weapon systems that Senator Kerry tried his best to shut down sounds like an auctioneer selling off our national security but Americans need to know the facts.

The B-1 bomber, that Senator Kerry opposed, dropped 40 percent of the bombs in the first six months of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The B-2 bomber, that Senator Kerry opposed, delivered air strikes against the Taliban in Afghanistan and Hussein's command post in Iraq.

The F-14A Tomcats, that Senator Kerry opposed, shot down Khadifi's Libyan MIGs over the Gulf of Sidra. The modernized F-14D, that Senator Kerry opposed, delivered missile strikes against Tora Bora.

The Apache helicopter, that Senator Kerry opposed, took out those Republican Guard tanks in Kuwait in the Gulf War (news - web sites). 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: against the Patriot Missile that shot down Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)'s scud missiles over Israel; against the Aegis air-defense cruiser; against the Strategic Defense Initiative; against the Trident missile; against, against, against.

Do you see a single claim that Kerry voted against any of these weapons systems? No, because it didn't happen. Uh, Fred, let's talk about lies and distortions... In truth, there is ample proof that Kerry DID in fact oppose all those weapons sytems. Professor Bainbridge was kind enough to dig through the records to establish the facts as far as the B-2 bomber. Powerline has a 1984 Kerry press release which establishes his opposition to many more. They don't seem completely conviced of it's veracity, but the RNC has it as well. He opposed and wanted to cancel the MX missile system, the B-1 bomber, Star Wars, the Sparrow missile, the F-15, the F-14a, the F-14d, etc. etc. etc. JUST AS MILLER STATED.

Miller DOES go on to immediately after his recitation of the weapons programs that Kerry has opposed to accuse him of 20 years of poor votes. Does this work to create the wrong impression? Sure, though mildly. If you oppose a program, then what difference does that make if you don't get a chance to vote against it? You are still against it, aren't you? And if you vote FOR a program that you are against, what does that indicate? Either way, Kerry is in the wrong. In the one case, he just never had the opportunity to vote against these programs but would have done so. If the other case, he voted against his beliefs. Where is Kaplan's beef?

In any event, this is all just politics. NORMAL politics. How many people have falsely claimed that Kerry "volunteered for combat"? How many have disingenously claimed that Kerry "volunteered for dangerous swift boat duty" - while failing to note that when Kerry requested swiftboat duty they were patrolling the coast instead of the rivers, and it was then not particularly hazardous? When will Kaplan call attention to THESE "lies, damn lies" and "distortions"? Don't hold your breath. They are normal, everyday politics.

Here is the section where Kaplan is clearly lying himself:

This myth took hold last February in a press release put out by the RNC. Those who bothered to look up the fine-print footnotes discovered that they referred to votes on two defense appropriations bills, one in 1990, the other in 1995. Kerry voted against both bills, as did 15 other senators, including five Republicans. The RNC took those bills, cherry-picked some of the weapons systems contained therein, and implied that Kerry voted against those weapons.

However, if you will compare the weapons systems that Miller mentioned with those on Kerry's own 1984 press release, you will find almost all of them there - with Kerry trumpeting his opposition to them. Miller (and the RNC) are "lying" when they rely on Kerry's own press releases??? There are only two systems which Miller listed which aren't listed on Kerry's own press release - the B-2 and the trident missile. Professor Bainbridge has done yeoman's work proving that Kerry did in fact not only oppose the B-2 but actually at least one time VOTED AGAINST IT:

I did, however, find on Nexis a July 20, 2000 Cox News Service report that Kerry opposed SDI, voted to cancel 2 B-2 bombers and opposed authorizing the first Persian Gulf War.

Does anyone truly doubt that Kerry also opposed the trident?

I'll get into the rest of Kaplan's piece in a later post.

UPDATE: I just noticed that Kaplan was setting up an embarassingly obvious strawman. He put words into Millers mouth that obviously never crossed it - Kaplan DOESN'T EVEN GET THE WEAPONS SYSTEMS RIGHT. Miller didn't say a single word about the M-1 or the F-16 or the F-18.

UPDATE2: Here is proof from his hometown paper, the Boston Globe, that Kerry opposed the trident in addition to the other systems that I have been talking about:

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.