Bush Campaign Lies

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Bush Campaign Lie #65: Kerry Has the Wrong Priorities on Funding Troops and Protecting Pregnant Women 

On July 8, the Bush campaign released an ad called 'Priorities', attacking Kerry's commitment to funding the troops in Iraq and protecting pregnant women. More low-hanging fruit.

The ad makes essentially four distinct claims:

  1. Kerry has missed 70 percent of the votes in the 108th Congress.
  2. Kerry missed both 2004 votes on medical liability reform.
  3. Kerry missed the vote approving $25 billion in supplemental funding for the troops in Iraq.
  4. Kerry voted against the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, also known as the Laci Peterson law.
All of these statements are true (okay, I'll admit it: I haven't bothered to fact-check item (1)). The lie comes in concluding that Kerry's votes or lack thereof mean anything about his priorities.

For example, consider the three votes referenced in items (2) and (3). The two votes Kerry missed on medical liability reform were cloture votes to end a filibuster Kerry supported. Cloture votes require 60 yea votes to pass, and these two cloture motions received 48 and 49 yea votes, respectively, so Kerry's absence made absolutely zero difference in the outcome.

Similarly, the supplemental funding bill for Iraq passed 95-0. Republicans Peter Fitzgerald of Illinois and Ben 'Nighthorse' Campbell of Colorado also missed this vote, which I guess means they're as unpatriotic as Kerry is.

Anyway, what these three non-votes tell me about Kerry's priorities is that beating George Bush is more important to him than casting meaningless votes. I'm sure Republicans don't like this, but they can't honestly conclude that Kerry is in favor of higher health care costs or opposed to equipping our soldiers in Iraq.

Finally, there's Kerry's vote against the Laci Peterson law. He did vote against this bill, but it is wrong to conclude that Kerry opposes stronger penalties for crimes against pregnant women. Kerry opposed this bill because it codifies into law the notion that life begins at conception, which starkly contradicts the position of the pro-choice movement. As a committed supporter of a woman's right to choose, Kerry voted against the bill. And the Bush camp clearly understands this, since they bother to charge that Kerry 'Placed Abortion Politics Over Unborn Victims Of Violence'.

Actually, the exact reverse is true. It is Senate Republicans who placed abortion politics over unborn victims of violence. The fact is that Republicans exploited the Laci Peterson tragedy in order to gain support for the bill --- and demonize its opponents --- precisely so that they could pass legislation which accords the same rights to a fetus as to anyone else.

How do I know this? Because Dianne Feinstein introduced a substitute amendment (S. Amdt 2858) which would have effectively replaced the Unborn Victims of Violence Act with legislation which, according to Feinstein

". . . include(s) the same structure, the same crimes, and the exact same penalties as the DeWine bill. The only real difference between our amendment and the DeWine bill is that we do not attempt to place into law language defining life as beginning at conception--beginning with an embryo."
Those who are truly concerned with 'protecting pregnant women from violence' would happily support the Feinstein amendment, which was defeated 50-49, with 47 Republicans voting against it (and yes, Kerry voted for it). Only those whose true intent is to 'place abortion politics above unborn victims of violence' would reject the Feinstein amendment in favor of a bill which sticks a thumb in the eye of Roe v. Wade.

10:48 PM