ARLINGTON, Va. - The Republican National Committee has released a "documentary" to counter Michael Moore's film Fahrenheit 9/11. The film (available for viewing at www.rnc.org) chronicles John Kerry's statements about Iraq and proves to all but the most partisan that this is a man who is a political opportunist and a vacillator who cannot be trusted with the power of the presidency.
Opening with Mr. Kerry's pledge at the Democratic National Convention last month to "never mislead us into war," the film shows how Mr. Kerry consistently favored using force to oust Saddam Hussein until it proved politically advantageous for him to reverse course.
Mr. Kerry, who serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee and had access to prewar Iraq intelligence (when he bothered to show up for meetings), said on Face the Nation on Sept. 23, 2001, "It is something that we know - for instance, Saddam Hussein has used weapons of mass destruction against his own people, and there is some evidence of their efforts to try to secure these kinds of weapons and even test them."
On Dec. 11, 2001, Mr. Kerry said on Fox's The O'Reilly Factor, "I think we need to put pressure on [Saddam Hussein] no matter what the evidence is about Sept. 11. ..."
Only July 29, 2002, Mr. Kerry spoke to the moderate Democratic Leadership Council and said, "I agree completely with the [Bush] administration's goal of a regime change in Iraq. ... Saddam Hussein is a renegade and outlaw who turned his back on tough conditions of surrender put in place by the United Nations in 1991."
In an op-ed in the Sept. 6, 2002, New York Times, Mr. Kerry wrote: "If Saddam Hussein is unwilling to bend to the international community's already existing order, then he will have invited enforcement, even if that enforcement is mostly at the hands of the United States, a right we retain even if the Security Council fails to act."
How can Mr. Kerry now say that the Bush administration did not exhaust diplomatic efforts and went into Iraq without international approval and sufficient (in his mind) international cooperation?
During a May 3, 2003, debate among Democratic presidential candidates, Mr. Kerry said President Bush made "the right decision to disarm Saddam Hussein, and when the president made the decision, I supported him, and I support the fact that we did disarm him."
What's changed? Only Mr. Kerry.
Mr. Kerry has repeatedly said that as president he would involve U.S. allies in postwar Iraq, but he has given no proof that those allies, specifically France and Germany, would change their current uncooperative positions. He wants us to believe that "regime change" in the United States would prompt France and Germany to send troops to Iraq. No French or German official has made such a promise, and several have been quoted in the media as saying they won't send troops no matter who wins the election.
In a Nov. 12, 1997, appearance on CNN's Crossfire, Mr. Kerry criticized two U.S. allies for failing to oppose Mr. Hussein's failure to comply with the agreement that ended the Persian Gulf war: "Where's the backbone of Russia, where's the backbone of France, where are they in expressing their condemnation of such clearly illegal activity?" What makes Mr. Kerry think such "allies" will now rush to our aid with him in the White House when he holds such a view of them?
Mr. Kerry addressed the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention last week in Cincinnati. He criticized President Bush for proposing a troop pullback from Europe and South Korea. But on Aug. 1, Mr. Kerry said on ABC's This Week: "I will have significant enormous reduction in the level of troops . ... I think we can significantly change the deployment of troops not just [in Iraq] but elsewhere in the world. In the Korean peninsula, perhaps, in Europe, perhaps."
In the VFW speech, Mr. Kerry sounded as if he had adopted the Bush doctrine of pre-emption when he pledged to "get them [the terrorists] before they get us."
The words of Democratic Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut should be recalled. At a candidates debate last year, Mr. Lieberman spoke of Mr. Kerry's "ambivalence about the war, which does not - will not - give the people confidence about our party's willingness to make the tough decisions to protect their security in a world after Sept. 11."
It's a revealing "documentary" the Republican National Committee has produced. It is worth watching before November.
Cal Thomas' syndicated column appears Wednesdays in The Sun.