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Matthew Reid: Old Kerry Quotes Unearthed

Old Kerry Quotes Unearthed

By Matthew Reid

"Where's the backbone of France?"

No, that's not the name of the new Toby Keith CD. It's not some ill-timed remark from President Bush or even the title of a new book from Ann Coulter. That is but one of the provocative questions asked by Sen. John Kerry on CNN's Crossfire back in November of 1997.

That comment, and others cited below, came during Kerry's vigorous defense against charges that the Clinton administration was sparring with member nations of the UN Security Council, including France and Russia. We now know that France was illegally trading with Saddam during those years, which explains their behaviour, but what about Mr. Kerry?

It does appear that his position on war vacillates depending on the political benefit to him - and the party affiliation of the president initiating the action. Gulf War 1, Republican president George Bush 1, Kerry votes no - even though Saddam had invaded another country! (And now he talks like he supported it all along.)

1997-1998, Clinton wants to use military force, no problem, he's a Democrat. And while Kerry did vote to authorize the recent War in Iraq, he now claims he wasn't really voting to use force, just to threaten it.

On the campaign trail, Kerry blames the President for equipment shortages our troops are dealing with, relating stories of family members buying body armor on the Internet. Yet it was John Kerry, who inexplicably voted against the 87 Billion Dollar appropriations bill which included funding for that very same equipment.

Then again, Mr. Kerry has never let what he said yesterday interfere with what he needs to say today.

Take Kerry's response to the well-orchestrated Democrat charge that Bush was AWOL. He tried to appear above the fray, saying something like, well, it was a difficult issue, I understand that, "some people wanted to serve, others didn't."

That choice of words is curious because, while Kerry did serve, it was not his first choice. A February, 1970 Harvard Crimson article says, "When he approached his draft board for permission to study for a year in Paris, the draft board refused and Kerry decided to enlist in the Navy."

Some people chose to go to Vietnam, others would have rather gone to France.

And while Kerry and the Democrat Smear Machine forced the President to release all of his Vietnam era records, John Kerry refuses to release his medical records.

Kerry was in Vietnam for 4 months during which he was awarded 3 Purple Hearts for wounds suffered in battle. Mr. Kerry is the only obstacle to the release of those records, but for some reason he doesn't want the public to see them.

Of course, he probably doesn't want anybody to see this either, but here's more from that Crossfire transcript, Kerry, defending the Clinton administration from charges of failed leadership said, "On the contrary. The administration is leading - I think the United States has always reserved the right and will reserve the right to act in its best interests."

Wait a second. John Kerry equating presidential leadership with going it alone? This doesn't sound like John F. Kerry circa 2004 does it? Then again, Kerry's never been one to let his position on an issue stop him from taking a completely different position on the very same issue.

Kerry continued, "And clearly it is not just our best interests, it is in the best interests of the world to make it clear to Saddam Hussein that he's not going to get away with a breach of the '91 agreement that he's got to live up to, which is: allowing us to know that he has dismantled his weapons."

More from Senator Kerry, the unilateralist hawk, "Clearly the allies may not like it, and I think that's our great concern - where's the backbone of Russia, where's the backbone of France, where are they in expressing their condemnation of such clearly illegal activity: they're now climbing into a box and they will have enormous difficulty not following up on this if there is not compliance."

I hope there's room for Mr. Kerry in that box. After all, he has made 'restoring our standing in the world' a prominent campaign pledge. He regularly lambastes the president for his 'isolating us from the rest of the world'. Funny, Kerry loved when Clinton did it.

But that's been Senator Kerry's m-o whenever his previous convictions became inconvenient - switch tack and don't look back. Maybe the more appropriate question would be, "Where's the backbone of Kerry?"


1. CNN Crossfire / November 12, 1997; Wednesday, 7:30 pm Eastern Time (Lexis-Nexis Transcript #97111200V20)

2. The Harvard Crimson quote is available online here:


Copyright 2004 Matthew Reid - All Rights Reserved

Matthew Reid is an internationally syndicated radio host and freelance journalist based in San Francisco, CA. He's broadcast in Philadelphia, Seattle, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., as well as hundreds of cities across the globe on the SupeRadio Network. He is also the editor of Mr. Reid can be reached via email at

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