Sunday, February 15, 2004

Bush & Kerry in the 1970s 

What Kerry and Bush did or did not do 30 years ago is relevant to their qualifications to be President only to the extent that each man's behavior then is predictive of what he would be like as President.

As Mark Steyn recently pointed out in the Telegraph, Bush has changed greatly since then. Among other things, he has become a born-again Christian and has foresworn alcohol. He's raised a family, run a business, been governor of Texas. It's therefore likely that his behavior in the 70s would have little if any predictive value about how he would serve as President. More importantly, we voters have the benefit of his recent experience as President. It's reasonable to assume that a second Bush term would be similar to his first term, factoring in the effects of being term-limited and any changes to the mix in Congress.

Applying the same process to Kerry, one should ask whether there is any indication in the interim that would indicate a change of philosophy and values from those of the antiwar activist of the 1970s. Less change => more predictive value.

Not having researched his voting record in the Senate, I must rely on published reports that Kerry has consistently voted against defense expenditures, voted against Gulf War I, voted for the Iraq war but then voted to defund it once the troops were on the ground. On domestic issues, it is reported that there are few if any more "liberal" Senators. It has also been reported that Kerry has initiated or co-sponsored comparatively few bills during his Senate term. One more thing -- he was Mike Dukakis's Lieutenant Governor. This record suggests that Kerry has not, in fact, changed much since the 1970s, and therefore his activities then should be somewhat predictive of what kind of President he would be.

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