Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Dueling Opinions: Jobim's Second Response To Me

First, I don't put much faith in "who do you trust on issue X" polls. If we want to talk polls we should talk about neutrally-worded polls that ask about specific policy positions.

As for where Kerry is to the left of the average American, I would say: gay marriage (I believe he voted against DOMA), partial-birth abortion (he opposed the ban), taxes (he has repeatedly sought to increase them, albeit not by as much as the Bushies claim, and he supported energy taxes), health care (he supported the Hillary care stuff), judges (he opposed judges that had majority, bi-partisan support in the Senate), defense (he opposed the first Gulf War and many key Cold War defense systems) . That's a start. I don't disagree with Kerry on each and every one of these, but in each case I believe he is to the left of the average American voter.

On the other points, not all changes in position constitute "flip-flopping." Context matters. To take one example: If one opposes nation-building but supported the Gulf War, that individual has two options: Leaving Iraq a mess, or engaging in nation-building as a necessary consequence of the war. The latter does not constitute support for nation-building as such. In any event, I think there is a qualitative difference -- albeit one of degree -- between the sort of waffling Kerry does and some of the Bush administration's policy changes. All politicians do it, the issue is whether Kerry does it more than most.

On the steel tariffs, this was a horrendous policy blunder -- both substantively and politically -- but not much of a "flip-flop" as the initial policy was always time-limited (and conveniently so). I would note I viciously attacked the decision at the time on NRO's The Corner and consider trade policy to be the single biggest disappointment of this administration. While I believe many attacks on the current administration are mistaken, I have never said Bush was a great president, and have been quite public as to my differences with the administration (even when defending it).


P.S. On the war records, I think this is a non-issue, but for those who
care, Byron York's account seems to be different than [Finnegan's]. See this.
[York's account is dubious for a variety of reasons; will explain if asked, and possibly without being prompted--ed.]


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