It is astounding that conservatives and the toadies that serve them — in this case, editorial cartoonists — go on ridiculing John Kerry over “flip-flopping” over Iraq. Observe this example from Chip Bok of the Akron Beacon Journal, which also ran recently in the New York Post, in which Kerry says, supposedly confusing even himself, “I’m opposed to the war in Iraq ... and I would have voted for it even knowing what we know now ... but we didn’t send enough troops ... so, I’ll bring some of them home in the first 6 months of my administration.”
Each of these is supposed to present a flip-flop, which means Bok sees four changes of position on Iraq, given that Kerry voted to authorize the president to use force against Saddam Hussein. But remember that language.
When Bok has Kerry saying “I’m opposed to the war in Iraq,” he is correct. When he has Kerry saying “And I would have voted for it even knowing what we know now,” he is misquoting, because Kerry’s vote was not for war, but to authorize force if necessary. When he has Kerry saying “but we didn’t send enough troops,” he’s missing the fact that this complaint is not inconsistent with being against the war (because if we’re going to be there, we should do it right) or voting in favor of authorizing force (obviously). When Bok has Kerry saying “So, I’ll bring some of them home in the first 6 months of my administration,” he’s ignoring the fact that much time has passed since the start of the war, and that the war has failed.
The consistent message here, on the part of Kerry, is that the Iraq war was pursued incorrectly: rushed into and executed badly. He didn’t want it. He didn’t actually vote for it. He wanted it done right if it had to be done at all. And it needs to be ended, to save lives, now that it’s failed utterly.
For anyone who doesn’t believe Kerry has been consistent on this, check out this Slate piece that takes it step by step, with the Republican’s own attack video on this topic as a guide to the pertinent “flip-flops.” It’s no surprise to find out that the Republicans got the flip-flops on record through editing out the context of what Kerry was saying.