KERRY SPEAKS. Tim Grieve has a longish, highly worthwhile Q&A with John Kerry in Salon today. Read the whole thing, but I especially liked how Kerry responded to Republican charges that he's a "flip-flopper":
Q: As you know, the Republican line on you is that you're a "flip-flopper." Do you think the White House really views you that way, or is this just an intellectually dishonest political exercise?
A: Of course it is. It's not only intellectually dishonest, it's shallow beyond belief. It's exactly what they said about Bill Clinton, it's exactly what they said about Al Gore, it's exactly what they said about John McCain. It is the standard operating approach of Republicans who have nothing to say for themselves, so all they do is try to brand somebody else.
Q: Well, it's not exactly what they did to McCain. Nobody's accused you of having an illegitimate love child.
A: Not yet. I'm waiting for those. That's probably August or September.
I'll tell you what. What's really so craven about it is that they pick something that they implement badly and screw up, like Iraq or No Child Left Behind or the Patriot Act. And when you point out that they screwed it up, they say that you're "flip-flopping."
But they, on the other hand, break a promise to have no deficit, break a promise not to invade Social Security, break a promise to fund No Child Left Behind, break a promise to introduce the four-pollutant bill and move forward on the environment, break a promise to deal with the real health issues and prescription drugs, break a promise of humility in American foreign policy. I mean, you start running down the list - I've never seen a grander array of flip-flops. This is the biggest "say one thing, do another" administration in modern history.
Q: So maybe when you voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq, you were agreeing to never raise any questions about how the president used the power he was given.
A: I didn't sign off on that. This is the biggest "my way or the highway" crowd we've ever had in Washington. They have no interest in legitimate governance. They have all the interest in power, favor, privilege, perks and reelection.
Caveat: it is true that Kerry has a maddening habit of nuancing things so finely that he can claim to hold numerous positions on many issues. But that's not the same thing as being a flip-flopper, and the Republicans know it. And it's amazing the way that Kerry's enemies will mischaracterize reality in order to shoe-horn it into that paradigm.
Yesterday Bob Somerby rightly whacked the Boston Herald for referring to Kerry's dalliance with not formally accepting the Democratic nomination in Boston - an idea driven wholly by a weird technicality in campaign-finance regulations, and which Kerry ultimately rejected - as a "flip-flop."
Today the Herald is back with a really stupid editorial (although not as stupid as another editorial, headlined - I'm not making this up - "How Dare Al Gore Disgrace This Nation") that concludes: "Ah, yes, another decisive moment from a man who is increasingly behaving like New England weather. You know, if you don't like it, just wait a minute, it'll change." In the print edition, the editorial is illustrated with a photo of Kerry as some sort of a two-faced monster.
HERALD BRAIN DRAIN CONTINUES. Veteran staff reporter Robin Washington is leaving to become editorial-page editor of the Duluth News Tribune. And recently promoted investigative editor Maggie Mulvihill has been named to a Nieman Fellowship.