One of the things people hate most about politics is politicians who don't tell the truth and change their positions at the drop of an opinion poll.
Only five months ago, Sen. John Kerry said of his chosen running mate, Sen. John Edwards: "I think the American people want an experienced hand at the helm of state. This is not the time for on-the-job training in the White House on national security issues."
Speaking of Edwards' lack of experience as a freshman senator, Kerry was quoted by The New York Times six months ago as saying about Edwards: "In the Senate four years -- and that is the full extent of his public life -- no international experience, no military experience, you can imagine what the advertising is going to be next year ... When I came back from Vietnam in 1969, I don't know if John Edwards was out of diapers then ... ."
Did Edwards swallow maturity pills and, overnight, achieve political potty training? How can a presidential candidate think so little of a Senate colleague only to select him as his running mate? Dan Quayle had more congressional experience than John Edwards when Quayle was selected to run with President George H.W. Bush in 1988. Some of the same people praising Edwards trashed Quayle for being an inexperienced airhead.
Less than a month ago, Kerry's stepson, Chris Heinz, was quoted in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "I was very pro-Edwards in the spring. ... But now I think we may need someone with stronger credentials on foreign policy."
Edwards has a 100 percent liberal voting record as chronicled by most left-wing organizations and a zero rating by most conservative ones. The chairman of Walter Mondale's 1984 presidential campaign, Bob Beckel, interviewed July 6 on Fox News, described Kerry-Edwards as "a liberal ticket."
Edwards would repeal the Bush administration's tax cuts, which ended a brief recession and ignited an economic recovery. He is a big-government, high-taxing, abortion-at-any-stage, judicial-litmus-testing opportunist. The Republican National Committee issued a remarkable 22-page diary full of quotes by Kerry that criticize and oppose Edwards' stand on almost every issue imaginable, from health care to his lack of experience to his acceptance of special-interest money and "grandstanding."
And the feeling was mutual. Edwards attacked Kerry on the poverty issue, saying he doubted Kerry would make the poor a priority. He criticized Kerry for being inconsistent on his approach and votes concerning the Iraq war. And Edwards implied that in 1969 he and his parents were "sitting around a kitchen table ... trying to figure out how we would pay for college ... that is a difference between me and Sen. Kerry." There's much, much more on the Republican National Committee Web page (http://www.rnc.org).
Don't look for the big media to point out much, or any, of this. They'll call Edwards a "moderate" or "progressive," while they label President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney "conservative" or "very conservative," which is precisely what the media called them in 2000.
A preview of the way the big media will treat Edwards (and Kerry) occurred early Tuesday when it became known that Edwards would be Kerry's choice. CBS' Byron Pitts gushed: "He is a newcomer, but he is by no means a novice to this business. He was on the Senate Intelligence Committee, he is considered one of the best debaters on the Senate floor. ... The expectation is he will be a good match next to Dick Cheney in a debate." Pitts theorized that Edwards could "deliver his home state of North Carolina."
That is not what Kerry said last February. According to The New York Times (Feb. 3), Kerry said: "Edwards says he's the only one who can win states in the South. ... He can't even win his own state."
But Pitts didn't explain how Edwards could win North Carolina since Edwards' approval rating was just 37 percent, according to an April 7 poll published in the Greensboro (N.C.) News & Record. A Winston-Salem Journal poll published in September 2002 showed President Bush beating Edwards by nearly 2-1.
The Bush-Cheney re-election team should have no problem campaigning against these two. Call Kerry "lightweight" and Edwards "lighter weight." And would someone in the Democratic leadership mind sending an apology to Dan Quayle?
Cal Thomas is a columnist for Tribune Media Services.