Originally created 04/28/04

Credibility gap



As Forrest Gump might say, an interview with John Kerry is like a box of chocolates: You never know what you're going to get.

The Democrats' man who would be commander in chief has campaigned hard to make George Bush's credibility an issue - the president "lied about" going to war, he "lied about" weapons of mass destruction, he "lied" when he decided to topple Saddam Hussein - but now Kerry has run into some credibility problems of his own. And he's not handling them very well, either.

It's not about whether the Bay State senator earned the three Purple Hearts, a Silver Star and a Bronze Star during his service in Vietnam; of course he did.

It's what he did after the war that's tarnishing him. He came back, joined Jane Fonda's anti-war movement, accused his fellow servicemen of war crimes and threw away his medals. Or were they his ribbons?

Kerry now claims they were his ribbons he tossed. But back in 1971, he said it was his medals. At various times he claimed he didn't toss his medals or ribbons, but someone else's. He's also said during his various election campaigns that he didn't throw his medals away, but gave them back to the government.

Whenever he's questioned on the matter - as he was Monday by Good Morning America host Charles Gibson - he says something different. You just never know what's inside the next chocolate.

A month ago Kerry said his surrogates should not make an issue of Bush's Texas National Guard service, but when he was feeling Gibson's heat, he reverted to accusing the president of not being able to prove he served in the Guard.

That, of course, was a lie on two counts. First, he raised the Bush service issue after saying he wouldn't. Second, Bush's records prove he did report for service. Again, with Kerry, you never know what you're going to get.

Then there was the SUV flap. In calling for higher fuel economy standards last week, Kerry boasted he would never own a gas-guzzling SUV. Then when he was asked about the SUV in his driveway, he blithely said it was his family's, not his. Huh?

In fact, it turns out Kerry's family owns five SUVs. The Boston Herald comments that his family needs a personal pipeline to Saudi Arabia to keep their fleet of cars going.

But the bottom line is this: Kerry has made his service in Vietnam a centerpiece of his campaign, so questioning his conduct after he completed his service is not to question his patriotism, but his judgment - and his credibility.

He certainly didn't help troop morale when he accused them, without proof, of committing war crimes in Vietnam. Is that the talk Americans can expect if they elect Kerry commander in chief?

His inability to take a stand and stick with it also undercuts his credibility. If he can't be straight on small matters like what he did with his Vietnam medals/ribbons - or whether he owns an SUV, for goodness' sake - then how can he be straight on the big issues?

If you don't know what you're going to get with Kerry, then you don't know whether you can trust him, either.