01/21/04 — Kerry: Checking out a possible nominee for president

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Kerry: Checking out a possible nominee for president

Sen. John Kerry’s comeback victory in the Iowa caucuses makes him a strong candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, so it would be good for us to have a look at the man.

It’s easy to imagine what a Kerry White House would be like. All we have to do is look back to the Clinton White House. Many of the policies of Kerry and Clinton are quite similar.

For example, each is a staunch supporter of women’s rights to have abortions, even to the late stages of pregnancy.

Each is exceedingly concerned with the approval of other countries in the way we conduct our defense and foreign policies.

Kerry, like Clinton, has made health care a campaign issue. Kerry says he will ensure that every American will have the same health insurance plan that members of Congress have. He has not specified where he would get the billions of dollars necessary to achieve this.

As Clinton did, Kerry claims to be a protector of the environment.

And, like Clinton, Kerry has an activist wife. She has been particularly active in environmental issues. Teresa Heinz Kerry, whom he married in 1995, was the widow of Republican Sen. John Heinz of Pennsylvania. She grew up in the African nation of Mozambique, the daughter of a Portugese physician. She became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1971 and joined the Republican Party. She switched to the Democratic Party a year ago as her husband’s presidential campaign gained momentum. She also finally changed her name to Kerry from Heinz.

The Kerrys are a wealthy couple. When her first husband was killed in an aircraft accident in 1991, she was left with $500 million. Kerry himself is a blueblood New Englander who is a member of the Forbes family.

While he is similar to Clinton politically, his initials are JFK and he has even more in common with John Kennedy, who was the last U.S. senator to be elected president.

Like the original JFK, he is Roman Catholic. Both of them grew up in the Boston area and went to private schools and Ivy League universities — Kennedy to Harvard and Kerry to Yale. Both entered the Navy upon graduation.

Kerry won a Bronze Star and Silver Star. Upon his discharge — when Richard Nixon had succeeded Lyndon Johnson as president — Kerry became an anti-war activist and joined other veterans in throwing their medals on the Capitol steps. It later turned out that Kerry hadn’t thrown his medals, just his ribbons. He displays his medals on his office wall.

Kerry then ran for Congress but lost, and he decided to go to law school at Boston College. He practiced law for a few years before being elected to a proscutor job. He then ran successfully for lieutenant governor, and in 1984 he ran for the Senate and won. So at age 60, he has been in the Senate for 20 years.

As for the issue du jour — the war in Iraq — Kerry has ebbed and flowed. He voted in favor of the resolution authorizing President Bush to initiate the war but he later criticized Bush for doing so. He voted against the president’s request for $87 billion for reconstruction.

He now believes we need more involvement from other countries in Iraq, a position not unlike that of many prominent Democrats.

Published in Editorials on January 21, 2004 11:00 AM