Bush Campaign Lies

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Bush Campaign Lie #21: Kerry Flip-Flopped On Cuba Sanctions 

Here's number 11 on the GOP 'Kerry Flip-Flop' hit parade. The GOP argument goes like this:

  1. They pick out four of Kerry's Senate votes which, they say, are votes 'against stronger Cuba sanctions'.
  2. They give a 2000 Kerry quote in which he says 'The only reason we don't reevaluate the [Cuba] policy is the politics of Florida.'
  3. They then cite a 2003 Meet the Press interview. When Russert asks 'Would you consider lifting sanctions, lifting the embargo against Cuba?', Kerry responds 'Not unilaterally, not now, no.'
  4. Finally, they cite a Miami Herald article from November 2003 in which Kerry talks about 'opening up the dialogue' with Cuba, which 'means travel and perhaps even remittances or cultural exchanges', but does not support 'opening up the embargo wily nilly' [sic].
I think we're supposed to conclude that Kerry is anti-embargo in (1) and (2), and pro-embargo in (3) and (4), thus a flip-flop. But even the GOP version of the facts doesn't really say this.

Starting with item (1). Of the four Senate votes the GOP list, only one of them concerns legislation which would strengthen the embargo on Cuba, and Kerry did in fact oppose it. The other three were on legislation which would: make it easier for family members to send money to Cuba or travel to Cuba for family emergencies, and to give humanitarian aid, which would lift all travel restrictions to Cuba, and which would establish a national bipartisan commission to evaluate U.S. policy. Kerry supported all of these. So the votes in item (1) really show three things: Kerry opposes strengthening the embargo, he supports travel to Cuba, and he thinks U.S. policy toward Cuba should be 'evaluated'.

Item (2) suggests that Kerry believes U.S. policy toward Cuba should be 'reevaluated', but that Florida politics prevent it. So here we're still consistent with item (1).

Item (3) starts to look like a flip, but of couse the Republicans have cherry-picked a quote from the interview. Kerry also said 'I'd like to get people traveling in there. I think that people traveling in there weakens Castro.' Asked about other ways in which he wanted to re-evalute Cuba policy, he answered 'Possibly flow of money, funding, I -- there are things to look at. I think we just have to reevaluate it.' So what Kerry's really saying here is that he supports travel to Cuba, and he thinks U.S. policy toward Cuba should be 'reevaluate'd. Hmmm.

Finally, in item (4), you see how Kerry's policy toward Cuba has made a 180 degree turnaround. He now supports 'travel' and possibly cultural exchanges, but he wouldn't open up the embargo 'wily nilly.

So in just nine years, Kerry shifted from a position which favored travel to Cuba, allowing Cuban nationals to travel to Cuba and send money home, and a commission to 'evalute' U.S. policy on Cuba, to a position in which he favored travel to Cuba and opposed lifting the embargo 'wily nilly.' The flip-flop is as clear as day, isn't it?

11:06 PM