- Democratic Senator from Massachusetts and 2004 Democratic Presidential nominee
- Denounced U.S. for alleged systematic “war crimes” in Vietnam
- Organizer of Vietnam Veterans Against the War
- Worked to cut off aid to anti-Communist guerrillas in Nicaragua
- Proposed large reductions in defense and intelligence spending
A key event that helped make John Kerry the Democratic Party’s frontrunner for its 2004 presidential nomination occurred on January 25 of that year, when Kerry campaign strategists whisked an Oregon resident named Jim Rassmann to Iowa for an emotional public reunion with the campaigning Kerry, who, as Rassmann’s fellow soldier in the Vietnam War nearly 35 years ago, dragged him out of a river one day and carried him to safety, evading a hail of enemy gunfire in the process. As Veterans for Kerry campaign director John Hurley acknowledges, Rassmann’s appearance with Kerry gave the Senator’s momentum in the polls an enormous boost. “It was just thrilling to get [Rassmann’s] phone call out of the blue,” Hurley said. “Normally I’m a calm guy, but I was dancing and shrieking.”Kerry has made frequent references to his own military background, depicting himself as a longtime proud American who served his nation honorably during the Vietnam War era. Yet there is another side to that story. When Kerry returned from combat, he in fact became a key figure in the early-1970s, anti-America, pro-Hanoi crowd of protesters personified most visibly by Jane Fonda. Like so many of those protesters, Kerry publicly maligned American soldiers, and went on to become a prominent organizer for one of America’s most radical appeasement groups, Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW). He developed close ties with celebrated activists like Ms. Fonda and Ramsey Clark, the radical Attorney General who served under President Lyndon Johnson. He supported a document known as the “People’s Peace Treaty,” which was reportedly composed in Communist East Germany and contained nine points – all of them extracted from a list of Viet Cong conditions for ending the war. By frequently participating in VVAW demonstrations, Kerry marched alongside many revolutionary Communists. Exploiting his presence at such rallies, the Communist publication Daily World prominently published photographs of Kerry addressing anti-war protestors, some of whom were carrying banners with portraits of Communist Party leader Angela Davis. Openly organized by known Communists, these rallies were typified by what the December 12, 1971 Herald Traveler called an “abundance of Vietcong flags, clenched fists raised in the air, and placards plainly bearing legends in support of China, Cuba, the USSR, North Korea and the Hanoi government.” In early 1971 Kerry organized one of the most confrontational anti-war protests of the period, a rally in which nearly 1,000 purported Vietnam veterans gathered on Washington, D.C.’s Mall for what they termed “a limited incursion into the country of Congress.” As part of a carefully orchestrated buildup toward that demonstration, Kerry had recently testified before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, claiming to have personally heard U.S. soldiers boast about having raped, dismembered, tortured, poisoned, and randomly executed innocent civilians – sometimes even razing entire villages in a manner reminiscent of Ghenghis Khan. During that same time period, Kerry charged that American-perpetrated war crimes in Vietnam were the norm, not the exception – and were carried out with the full awareness and blessing of officers at all levels of American military command. Today, many American veterans and their families deem Kerry’s past public excoriation of U.S. troops as unforgivable acts bordering on treason. As a result, numerous veterans’ groups opposing Kerry’s presidential ambitions have been formed. The root cause of their anti-Kerry sentiment is summarized by the publication U.S. Veteran Dispatch, which notes that Kerry’s aforementioned testimony “occurred while some of his fellow Vietnam veterans were known by the world to be enduring terrible suffering as prisoners of war in North Vietnamese prisons.” Indeed Senator John McCain has stated that his North Vietnamese captors had used reports of Kerry-led protests to taunt him and his fellow prisoners. Retired General George S. Patton III angrily charged that Kerry’s actions were giving “aid and comfort to the enemy.” One anti-Kerry group, Vietnam Veterans Against John Kerry (VVAJK), recently formed a national coalition with two other groups – Vietnamese-Americans for Human Rights in Vietnam (VAHRV), and Vietnamese-Americans Against John Kerry (VAAJK). “We represent hundreds of thousands of American veterans,” says VVAJK founder said Ted Sampley, “who do not want to see John Kerry anywhere near the Oval Office.” A formal VVAJK statement reads, “As a national leader of VVAW, Kerry campaigned against the effort of the United States to contain the spread of Communism. He used the blood of servicemen still in the field for his own political advancement by claiming that their blood was being shed unnecessarily or in vain. . . . Under Kerry’s leadership, VVAW members mocked the uniform of United States soldiers by wearing tattered fatigues marked with pro-communist graffiti. They dishonored America by marching in demonstrations under the flag of the Viet Cong enemy.” In a similar spirit, VAAJK member Dan Tran says, “On behalf of tens of thousands of Vietnamese-Americans, we are determined to demonstrate against Senator Kerry all across this nation . . . . John Kerry aided and abetted the Communist government in Hanoi and has hindered any human rights progress in Vietnam.”
As chairman of the Select Senate Committee on POW / MIA (Prisoners Of War / Missing In Action) Affairs, which was created in 1991 to determine whether any American POWs or MIAs were still alive in Vietnam, Kerry pushed the panel to conclude that no American servicemen remained there. According to U.S. Veteran Dispatch, “[N]o one in the United States Senate pushed harder to bury the POW / MIA issue, the last obstacle preventing normalization of relations with Hanoi, than John Forbes Kerry.” Controversy erupted in December 1992, however, when, according to the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity, “Hanoi announced that it had awarded Colliers International, a Boston-based real estate company, an exclusive deal to develop its commercial real estate potentially worth billions. Stuart Forbes, the CEO of Colliers, is [John] Kerry’s cousin.”
With the 2004 presidential race in high gear, Kerry’s left-wing supporters worked hard to distance their candidate from any of his past associations that might today damage him politically. One such supporter is the aforementioned Jane Fonda, with whom Kerry appeared at a Valley Forge, Pennsylvania anti-war rally in 1970 – a rally that featured scathing attacks on America’s alleged perpetration of “genocide” and “international racism.” “Any attempts to link Kerry to me,” said Fonda, “and make him look bad with that connection is completely false. We were at a rally for veterans at the same time. I spoke, [actor] Donald Sutherland spoke, John Kerry spoke at the end. I don’t even think we shook hands.” But not only were Fonda and Kerry featured speakers together at numerous ant-war demonstrations, but, as presidential historian Douglas Brinkley writes in his biography of Kerry, Fonda in fact “adopted” Kerry’s group, VVAW, as “her leading cause” during that era.
Kerry’s career in the U.S. Senate began in 1984. Since then, he has established a long record of support for a wide array of left-wing causes, ideologies, and associated pieces of legislation. Among the most significant features of this record are the votes he has cast with regard to national defense and security issues. During his Senate career, Kerry has voted for at least seven major reductions in defense and military spending. Even after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing by Islamic terrorists, he voted to cut intelligence spending by $1.5 billion for the five years prior to 2001. In 1996 he voted to slash defense spending by $6.5 billion.
In areas other than national defense and intelligence, however, Kerry has been a notably big spender – having earned a lifetime rating of 26 percent from the organization Citizens Against Government Waste. In other words, that organization has approved of barely one-fourth of Kerry’s spending-related Senate votes. Over the years, Kerry has voted against a Balanced Budget Amendment at least five times, and against lowering overall government spending at least three times. In 2001 he voted against President Bush’s $1.35 trillion tax cut package, marking at least the tenth anti-tax relief vote of his Senate career. By contrast, Kerry voted in favor of President Clinton’s 1993 tax hike, which was the largest such increase in American history. In fact, Kerry recently called for “a return to the fiscal responsibility we gave this country in 1993 when we passed the Deficit Reduction Act.” Kerry’s consistent pattern of voting in favor of high taxes has earned him a low 25.2 percent rating from the National Taxpayers Union (NTU) for the period of 1985-2001. Similarly, the group Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) gives him an even lower 12.5 percent rating for the years 1999-2002. The issue of taxation, of course, has enormous implications for entrepreneurs and small businesses.The U.S. Chamber of Commerce gives Kerry a 36 percent rating for the years 1985-2001, and the National Federation of Independent Business rates him at 21.4 percent for the years 1997-2001. Kerry’s positions on most political and social issues are consistently far-left. In 2000 he voted to expand federal hate-crime protections to include such categories as gender, sexual orientation, and disabilities. He has voted in favor of affirmative action and set-asides in employment and contracting. With regard to environmental issues, he supports the positions of radical leftist groups like the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), which has endorsed him for the 2004 presidential election. During the past six years, the LCV has approved of 95 percent of Kerry’s votes on environmental matters. According to the Capital Research Center, which rates the political leanings of nonprofit organizations, this group’s rating places it at the extreme far left of the political spectrum. Kerry has voted in favor of federal funding for abortions, and against requiring parental notification for minors’ abortions. On at least three occasions he has voted against proposed bans of partial-birth abortions. While Kerry has earned a zero-percent rating from the National Right To Life Committee, his National Abortion And Reproductive Rights League rating is consistently 100 percent, year after year. With regard to criminal justice, Kerry opposes the death penalty “because I think it’s applied unfairly.” After 9/11, however, he stated, “I am for the death penalty for terrorists because terrorists have declared war on [our] country. I support killing people who declare war on our country.” But this is a new position for Kerry, who, between 1989 and 1993, voted at least three times to exempt terrorists from the death penalty – on grounds that anti-death penalty nations would refuse to extradite suspected terrorists to the United States, and thereby prevent the U.S. from even being able to try and imprison them.
Kerry’s voting record is every bit as far-left as that of his fellow Massachusetts Senator, the candidly self-avowed leftist Ted Kennedy. According to Congressional Quarterly, over the course of Kerry’s Senate career, he has sided with Kennedy fully 94 percent of the time for key votes. In a number of different years – 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1998, 1999, and 2001 – that figure stood at 100 percent. Kerry’s lifetime Vote Rating from the leftist group Americans For Democratic Action (AFDA) is 93 percent, meaning that more than nine-tenths of his Senate votes have pleased that organization. Senator Kennedy’s AFDA rating is a slightly lower 88 percent. By contrast, Kerry’s lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union (ACU), which is essentially the AFDA’s political opposite, stands at just 5 percent – the third lowest figure in the entire Senate, higher only than the ACU ratings for Ted Kennedy and Barbara Boxer. The ACU ratings for some other notable Democrats are: 13 percent apiece for Richard Gephardt, Hillary Clinton, and Tom Daschle; 14 percent for John Edwards; 15 percent for Dennis Kucinich; and 19 percent for Joe Lieberman. Senator John Breaux, one of the upper chamber’s few moderate Democrats, has a 46 percent ACU rating.
In 2011, it was reported that Kerry was docking his family’s new $7 million yacht in Rhode Island, not Massachusetts, so he could save $500,000 in Bay State taxes. If the boat were to have been docked at Kerry’s summer vacation home on Nantucket, he would have had to pay $437,000 in a one-time sales tax and $70,000 in annual excise taxes.
In the summer of 2012, Kerry delivered a speech on the Senate Floor warning of the dangers of “climate change.” Among his comments were the following:
“I believe that the situation that we face … is as dangerous as any of the sort of real crises that we talk about. Today we had a hearing in the Foreign Relations Committee on the subject of Syria, and we all know what’s happening with respect to Iran, and nuclear weapons and the possibility even of a war. Well, this issue actually is of as significant a level of importance, because it affects life itself on the planet. Because it affects ecosystems on which the oceans and the land depend for the relationship of the warmth of our earth and the amount of moisture that there is and all of the interactions that occur as a consequence of our climate….
“Climate change, over the last few years, has regrettably lost credibility in the eyes and ears of the American people, because of a concerted campaign of disinformation — a concerted campaign to brand the concept as somehow slightly out of the mainstream of American political thinking…. We have in effect, with respect to climate change in America today, what is fundamentally a flat-earth caucus, a bunch of people – some of them in the United States Congress itself – who still argue, against all the science, all the evidence, they argue that somehow we don’t know enough about climate change, or they argue that the evidence isn’t sufficient, or they argue that it just is a hoax.”