There must be panic these days in the Kerry camp. David Broder, the "dean" of Washington pundits, a liberal columnist at the liberal Washington Post, has pointed out the obvious: the American public has figured out that Kerry is an unprincipled opportunist. Here is Broder quoting in part, and devastatingly, from the liberal (!) Boston Globe's biography of Kerry:
"Unlike many who are driven to succeed in public life by a core belief system, the arc of Kerry's political career is defined by a restless search for the issues, individuals and causes to fulfill a nearly lifelong" ambition for the White House. The election is still six months away. But Kerry's reputation has been built over 40 years. And the voters seem to be sniffing it out.
And what Broder does not say, but implies is that, in contrast, Bush stands for certain core beliefs, however unpopular with the liberal chattering classes and the liberal mainstream media. In this sense, Bush is following in Reagan's footsteps. They hold to core conservative beliefs and stick to them. A public that yearns for strong leadership reacts positively. But Kerry is a symbol of a larger problem in American politics that emerged most dramatically with the election of John F. Kennedy in 1960. Kennedy was the product of a family obsessively driven to obtain the presidency at all costs. Ask someone what were Kennedy's core beliefs, and they will be hardpressed to be specific about anything. The usual response is that Kennedy's eloquence, glamour, and charm made the nation feel good about itself. "Vigah" is not the basis of a core belief system. In this sense, Kerry is indeed like Kennedy and like that other politician besotted with Kennedy hero worship: Bill Clinton. Both Clinton and Kerry are empty suits in the Kennedy model of ambition for the sake of ambition. But problematically for both of them, neither are as remotely eloquent or charming as the original. Kennedy didn't stand for much of anything, but he made America feel good. Clinton and Kerry leave American cold. Don't believe the media chatter about Clinton's eloquence or charisma. Clinton can't even approach the Kennedy standard on those traits. Remember this is the same media that in 1988 labelled the Rev. Jesse Jackson's childishly rhyming speech to the Democratic Convention as extraordinarily eloquent. The standards for applying the adjectives "eloquent" and "charismatic" have gone through the floor. In my view, Kerry, like Clinton, has had presidential political ambitions from a very early age due in no small part to being smitten with Kennedy's glamour. Like Kennedy, both men lack a distinctive core of belief to bring to politics. Unlike Kennedy, both men are personally dull. But what does this have to do with a Catholic analysis? Well, the empty suit in politics brings that same lack of core conviction to the Catholic Church. The Church is a welcome affiliation in historically Catholic Massachusetts, and is part of the Kennedy legend. The rest is pure "liberal" religion, which George Weigel has aptly defined, as the religion that we make up as we go, as opposed to revealed religion. And so Kerry is the quintessential liberal, cafeteria Catholic. In fact, he is a perfect caricature of the empty suit that is the liberal Catholic. In Kennedy's time, no Catholic politician would publicly diverge from the Church's fundamental moral teachings. American society in 1960 still held to a broad, Judeo-Christian moral consensus. We now know, after the fact, that Kennedy recklessly and compulsively defied that moral consensus in private, but we also know that he correctly feared its ever becoming public because it would end his political career. In today's America in which the moral center of gravity has shifted, Kerry does not share the fear of flaunting his lack of a foundational moral core. And so after rallying pro-abortion forces, he gingerly steps into the communion line.
Ongoing commentary by the editors of CatholicKerryWatch
Sen. John Kerry stands with Kate Michelman (right) President of NARAL Pro-Choice America.
Since 1995, Michelman's group has given Kerry a 100% rating for his voting record to defend abortion.