Sunday, May 30, 2004

Kerry: Flip-flopper, straddler or Mr. Duplicity?

Instapundit Glen Reynolds only glosses the surface of Mickey Kaus's analysis of John Kerry as a "straddler." Kaus actually argues Kerry is a "straddler"-plus.

Kaus: "Like many alleged Kerry flip-flops, this one appears to really be a straddle presented in a dissembling fashion...The problem is that he shows each camp the half of his position that he wants it to see, keeping the other half hidden...Then when the second, hidden half of the policy comes out, it looks like Kerry's flip-flopping, when in fact he's just been hiding the ball. I don't know if that's better or worse than flip-flopping. Flip-flopping reflects indecision. Dissembling and straddling reflects a calculated, dishonest opportunism that isn't even smart in the long run..." [emphasis added]

Kaus is very precise. Kerry doesn't just simultaneously embrace opposite positions on issues, which is the hallmark of a garden variety "straddler." From Merriam Webster On-Line:

Straddle: 1 : to stand, sit, or walk with the legs wide apart; especially : to sit astride; 2 : to spread out irregularly: sprawl; 3 : to favor or seem to favor two apparently opposite sides; 4 : to execute a commodities market spread.

Instead, the term duplicity better captures the nature of the Kerry approach.

Duplicity: 1 : contradictory doubleness of thought, speech, or action; especially : the belying of one's true intentions by deceptive words or action; 2 : the quality or state of being double or twofold; 3 : the technically incorrect use of two or more distinct items (as claims, charges, or defenses) in a single legal action.

This distinction was made evident some time ago by Kerry supporters. They argued: "how can you claim Kerry has the most consistent liberal voting record in the Senate, and that he is a flip-flopper at the same time?"

A good point, as far as it goes. It's not that Kerry isn't a die-hard liberal when he votes in the Senate. It's that Kerry wants to appear to be something else, at least to some of the people, all of the while.


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