With "Unified Kerry Theory II/Why his waffles aren't chopped liver!", Mickey puts Kerry back on the couch after a weekend spent flipping and flopping with the WaPo, the Times, and the Post again.
Mickey has an interesting point about inconstant candidates, made by a Blogger chap with puzzling links:
Flip-flopping" is an attack that only resonates in primary contests, when you are trying to convince base voters that the other guy is insincere. In general elections, it's a loser issue, the type of thing that people who don't like you and won't vote for you anyway will use to rationalize their votes.
My motivation exactly! But read my lips - a disaffected base that questions its candidate's commitment to their causes can create trouble simply by staying home. As a sometimes unwieldy alliance of special interests, each faction of the Democratic Party may wonder whether Kerry is really "their guy", and will remain so. True, he is not George Bush, and that seems to be all they need to know right now. But if doubts settle in, and energy fades, low Dem turnout will scuttle their hopes.
We see signs of this disenchantment from Marjorie Williams of the WaPo:
Kerry voted for so many of Bush's major initiatives that in order to disown them now he can only argue that they were wrongly or dishonestly "implemented." This amounts to a confession that his opponent made a chump of him for the past three years.
Might voters wonder whether the North Koreans or (sacre bleu!) the Security Council could also dupe the would-be President? Or are we comfortable with the notion that all duplicity flows from the White House (and Halliburton)?
It is on the subject of gay marriage that Ms. Williams is most unhappy:
I finally lost my grip, though, when I opened my newspaper a few days ago to read of Kerry's latest lunge in the direction of some politically feasible position on gay marriage. In general, Kerry, like most Democrats, has taken shelter in the mantra that (a) it's a matter that should be decided in the states, and (b) civil unions are the acceptable way to go about conferring equal rights on gays; marriage itself is off the table. "I believe marriage is between a man and a woman," Democrats say, as if that took care of the matter. Outside of a religious context, of course, that statement is a prejudice rather than a policy -- a prejudice that, in many cases, the speaker does not actually hold.
But Kerry was managing this footwork just fine until Feb. 4, when the Supreme Court of Massachusetts interpreted the state's constitution to require the option of gay marriage. Kerry responded by endorsing an amendment to the state's constitution that would forbid gay marriage but allow civil union. He was the only member of his congressional delegation to take this stance, for good reason: Endorsing a constitutional amendment at the state level seriously undermines the arguments for fighting an amendment at the federal level. One of the best arguments against forbidding gay marriage in the Constitution is that the spirit of the document is to confer rights, not confiscate them.
This more-than-theoretical move against gay marriage was at odds with Kerry's brave 1996 vote against the reprehensible Defense of Marriage Act, which is easily one of the most principled votes he ever cast. He was one of only 14 senators to oppose it, while Bill Clinton, ever triangulating, cynically signed it into law.
But never mind. On Feb. 27, Kerry quietly told a group of unhappy gay donors that he would work to confer full federal benefits, including Social Security survivor benefits, the right to file taxes jointly, and more than a thousand others, on gay couples joined by any state-sanctioned union -- which would of course include marriage. So while wishing to forbid gay marriage in his own state, he is promising to reward it in others.
To watch Kerry floundering in the impossible contradictions of this issue is to see starkly how little he is guided by core principle -- or even by a consistently wise sense of where his political interests lie. To respond to every unpleasant political stimulus that presents itself is to throw away the chance to make even an expedient long-term commitment to something.
Link added. Now, I suspect she agrees with him as to the long term objective on gay marriage (I suspect I do, as well). However, his positions, and the painful way he gets to them, don't quite square with "Kerry - The courage to lead". At some point, even his target base may wonder who they are bringing in to fight for them.
Perhaps a new slogan can be adopted - "Kerry - He's everywhere you want to be".
MORE: Sorry, Kerry's "states rights" position on gay marriage is sooo last week; his current view seems to be that it should be looked at as an equal protection issue under the Fourteenth Amendment. Well, fine, if "let the courts decide" is his current position, we think we get it, and it soundbites well. But why the posturing in support of the Massachusetts state amendment, which will be struck down (in Kerry's world) by a Federal judge anyway?