Jun 10, 2002
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July 30, 2004 -- I LOVED Bill Clinton's speech. I was inspired by John Edwards. Barack Obama thrilled me. Max Cleland made me grow as a person as I heard him . . . And then there was John Kerry.

All around him was eloquence but, in the center of the bagel, there was a speech that was a letdown.

And did he just tell 140,000 men and women fighting in Iraq that they are there because of a mistake?

By insisting that we are in Iraq because we "want to be," rather than because we "have to be," he is telling them that they are risking their lives for an optional, elective adventure. The fact is, that the reason we have not been attacked in the United States is that the terrorists are fleeing from cave to cave in Afghanistan and from building to building in Iraq — pursued by our heroic young men and women.

I honor his service in Vietnam. I think a man who knows what it is like to fight in a war is a good person to have as commander-in-chief. John Kerry is a good man. But what else is there?

Last time I checked, Sen. John Kerry was 60 years old. But to listen to his speech last night at the Democratic National Convention, you would think he was still in his 20s.

He opened up his talk with a lengthy and evocative description of his childhood and what it was like growing up in divided Berlin. He told us of the "goose bumps" he remembers getting when the band struck up "Stars and Stripes Forever."

Then, after this long rendition of his childhood, he tells us at length what it was like to serve in Vietnam for the four months that he was there. So far, so good.

But then he spent only about one minute talking about what he has done since.

Beyond a brief allusion to his efforts for crime victims and to prosecute crimes against women as an assistant district attorney, his support for Clinton's plan for extra cops and a balanced budget and a reference to his work with John McCain on the POW and MIA issue in Vietnam, that's it.

What did this man do as an adult? What happened during his service as Michael Dukakis' lieutenant-governor in Massachusetts and in his 20 years in the United States Senate?

What bills did he introduce? What initiatives did he sponsor? Which investigations did he lead? What amendments bear his name? What great debates did he participate in?

What did he do for his constituents in Massachusetts? What businesses did he persuade to come to the Bay State? Which elderly did he help get their Social Security benefits? What injustices did he correct?

Kerry's biography ends at 24.

America does not want to elect a lieutenant to the presidency. The voters want a commander-in-chief, but there is precious little in the autobiography of John Kerry, as we heard it last night, to commend him to us.

The Democratic National Convention closes as a nutritious, tasty, appetizing bagel — with a hole in the middle.

John Kerry? Oh yeah, he's the guy who fought in Vietnam and then he ran for president. That's not enough. Where did his 20 years in the Senate go?

Oddly, his absence of biography confirms the impression I formed of him during my White House years: He's a back-bencher. I never can recall a single time that his name came up in any discussion of White House strategy on anything. He was the man who wasn't there. We were always figuring out how to deal with Ted Kennedy or Pat Moynihan or Tom Daschle or Phil Gramm, or Al D'Amato or Bob Dole or Jesse Helms or Orin Hatch or Joe Biden. But nobody every asked about John Kerry.

He wasn't much there then, and he's not much there now. Only now he wants us to trust him to be president.

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