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A Little Bit About Kerry


Lcyberlina
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There seems to be a lot of people here who like to talk about Kerry without even bothering to find out about him... All I hear is the same Republican party line: "Kerry is a Flip Flopper".

 

You may read this only if you truly want to know what this man is all about and get a glimpse of what kind of a leader he may be... This may push you to think that he is even more of a "flip-flopper" or maybe it will push you to vote for him just not because he is not Bush, but because he is John Kerry...

 

Warning, long article intended only for people who WANT to know about John Kerry

 

For Kerry, Decisions Are Found Only in the Details

The candidate consults widely and deliberates carefully before reaching any conclusion on strategy or policy, his confidants say.

 

By Matea Gold, Times Staff Writer

 

WASHINGTON ? Sen. John F. Kerry has divulged little about his process of selecting a running mate. But if past behavior is a guide, he will spend the coming days immersing himself in information and debating the merits of contenders with a disparate group of confidants.

 

The Democratic presidential hopeful will make the case against his favored choice just to test the strength of his own arguments. Only when he is confident that he has thought through all the considerations will Kerry settle on a vice presidential nominee ? no matter how long it takes.

 

Kerry's deliberative decision-making process, described by 20 friends, advisors, colleagues and aides in a series of interviews, is the hallmark of his approach to political and policy matters.

 

How the Massachusetts senator has approached issues such as campaign strategy, oil drilling in Alaska and postwar developments in Iraq offers a glimpse of how a President Kerry would make decisions in the White House.

 

Those who have observed him up close describe a man who is fundamentally more pragmatic than ideological, who delves into details, and who often surprises new aides by arguing his opposition's case, when in fact he is merely playing devil's advocate.

 

Kerry has an almost compulsive need to seek out feedback from a circle of advisors so large and diverse that those closest to him have trouble estimating its size. (By his own count, the candidate says he consults with hundreds of people.)

 

The core group consists of many who have been with him since his early days in Massachusetts politics: his brother Cameron; his former brother-in-law David Thorne; fellow Bay State Sen. Edward M. Kennedy; strategist John Marttila; and Ron Rosenblith, his first chief of staff in the Senate.

 

But Kerry says he also seeks perspective from people he has met on the campaign trail, from hospital administrators to Wall Street analysts.

 

Regardless of the issue, "he wants to get his arms around it and isn't comfortable unless he feels he has expertise in it," Cameron Kerry said.

 

"I've certainly had the experience of going in and saying, 'You should say the following.' ? But he's not accepted that easily. He's apt to pick up the phone and call any number of people who have an independent judgment."

 

Kerry's style stands in contrast with the man he is hoping to replace in the White House, a president who is known for leaving details to his aides. It's also an approach that has fed the criticism of Republican opponents, who say Kerry lacks clarity and certainty.

 

Those close to the senator say his decision-making is one of his greatest strengths, demonstrating thoughtfulness, intellectual prowess and an ability to broker dissent. But because of his thoroughness, Kerry can also come across as overly cautious, some acknowledge.

 

"It's exhaustive and it's detail-oriented, so by its nature it's not an intellectual process given to speedy decision-making," one former Senate aide said.

 

Sometimes, Kerry's deliberations cause his staff consternation. Last fall, the candidate considered whether to opt out of the public campaign finance system, a decision that would mean foregoing public matching funds in order to spend unlimited amounts of money raised from private donors during the primaries.

 

Kerry pondered the matter for more than three months, consulting as many as three dozen fundraisers, political strategists and attorneys. It was a politically delicate issue, since rejecting public funds could open Kerry up to criticism that he was abandoning campaign finance reform.

 

The lengthy process caused aides to fret that they wouldn't have enough time to adjust their fundraising strategy once he made a decision. Finally, in mid-November, a week after former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean opted out of the system, Kerry followed suit, saying Dean's move left him with no choice.

 

Those who know him best say Kerry's style is one of diligence, not hesitation.

 

In the Senate, he would make a decision "sometimes six months before a vote, sometimes six minutes before a vote," said Jonathan M. Winer, who worked for a decade as Kerry's Senate counsel and legislative assistant. "He is not going to delegate his decision-making to somebody else's opinion."

 

Though "this can easily be caricatured as indecisiveness," Winer added, "it's a choice not to make a decision prematurely that could be wrong or inadequate."

 

In an interview with The Times, Kerry said his method stemmed from what he learned from lively discussions at his family's dinner table, where "everybody had an opinion, and you'd argue and listen and talk about things."

 

It was refined by three years of law school and his experience as a Middlesex County prosecutor in the late 1970s.

 

"The Socratic teaching of the law really forces you to look for that truth ? and helps you understand sometimes how difficult it is to find in certain instances," Kerry said.

 

He has applied that prosecutorial approach to his work in the Senate, tackling issues with a thoroughness that often daunts his staff.

 

In 2001, when Kerry decided to take a leadership role among Democrats in opposing oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, he was not content to cite the environmentalists' case that drilling would harm a pristine area. Instead, he challenged the Republicans' argument that opening the refuge would help wean the U.S. off foreign oil.

 

Kerry delved into the scientific data on the merits of horizontal drilling ? a method that oil drilling advocates said could minimize disruption to the refuge, and a subject that most lawmakers left to experts.

 

"Kerry got into that kind of minutiae" and asked, " 'What is the latest drilling technology? If we're not going to drill in the refuge, where are we going to drill?' " recalled George Abar, Kerry's Senate legislative director. "He wanted to see numbers, maps, and he would push back on some of our claims."

 

In the end, Kerry made the case to his colleagues that the refuge would reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil by only 2%, an argument that helped win enough votes to defeat efforts by the Bush administration to lift the ban on drilling, according to those involved in the process.

 

Several advisors said Kerry tended to approach issues on a case-by-case basis ? employing "practical problem solving" ? rather than make ideological decisions. He is moved less by rhetoric, more by facts and figures.

 

"You don't get knee-jerk reactions out of John based on ideology," said Paul Nace, a longtime friend. "Part of the debate and discussion is that it rationalizes the process, as opposed to making it an emotional process."

 

But Kerry's desire to understand ? and even think like ? his opposition can sometimes defuse his ability to articulate his views clearly, some advisors concede, and contributes to a speaking style laden with caveats.

 

In the presidential campaign, his nuanced views have proved the most problematic in explaining his stance on the war in Iraq. After voting in October 2002 to give President Bush the authority to use force against President Saddam Hussein, Kerry spent much of the primaries trying to reconcile that vote with his criticism of the administration.

 

He argued that although he believed that Hussein was a threat, he was disturbed by Bush's handling of the invasion, which he said unnecessarily alienated U.S. allies and jeopardized the country's standing in the world. By making such distinctions, he reinforced a reputation for taking both sides of the issue.

 

In March, GOP critics pounced when Kerry tried to explain that he supported an earlier, Democratic version of an $87-billion bill to fund operations in Afghanistan and Iraq by saying, "I actually did vote for the $87 billion, before I voted against it."

 

The Bush campaign quickly inserted that line into an ad.

 

Kerry dismisses the criticism, pointing to the life-and-death decisions he made during the Vietnam War, when he commanded a swift boat on the Mekong Delta, and his decision to speak out against the war after he returned to the U.S., as evidence of his ability to make quick choices.

 

"I've never failed to make a decision when a decision was necessary, period," he said. "I'll look for facts, but I'll go with my gut."

 

That said, the candidate agreed that he engrossed himself in details whenever possible.

 

"If it means getting facts and listening to people who are smarter than me ? if you fight about it a little bit ? you can kind of apply your values and your standards to what you've heard and make a decision, and that's how I do it," he said.

 

And so as he crisscrosses the country, Kerry can frequently be seen with his ear glued to his cellphone, reaching out to a network of advisors.

 

His personal aide, Marvin Nicholson Jr., has amassed hundreds of names and phone numbers in seven black leather phone books, a Rolodex so large and unwieldy that Nicholson is trying to organize them in a Palm Pilot.

 

Before making a new statement on the situation in Iraq, the candidate checks in with his team of foreign policy advisors, many of them Clinton administration alumni. The group includes former national security advisor Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger; Delaware Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr.; former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; former U.N. Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke; former Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn; and former Defense Secretary William J. Perry.

 

"What he likes to do is hear a lot of different opinions and often play the devil's advocate: 'Why do you think this? Is this really the right approach? Doesn't this disprove what you just said?' " Albright recounted.

 

Biden says Kerry often calls him at home after 10 or 11 at night, on the way to his hotel, to toss out possible responses to the news of the day. Kennedy says he speaks with the candidate several times a week, occasionally in conversations that stretched more than an hour.

 

"He's inquisitive," Kennedy said. "I think that's a great quality. I saw that in my brothers."

 

But the frequency with which Kerry calls his advisors has exasperated some of his campaign officials.

 

At one point in the fall, he spent so much time on the phone that former New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, his national chairwoman, and campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill threatened to take his cellphone away, according to several people familiar with the situation.

 

Kerry prevailed and kept his phone. But the candidate is now trying to find a balance between seeking information and letting others find it for him.

 

"Part of the process of running for president, as much as holding office, is that you're going to have to learn what things you do delegate and what things you focus on," Cameron Kerry said. "And he's having to learn that."

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You would call his decision making process deliberate. I would call overly cautiousand potential gridlock.

 

There is a reason why successful Presidents make decisions based upon advice garnered from aids. Presidents, due to immense workload and scope of responsibility, cannot personally research every possible subject, deliberate for hours (or days) and then make decisions. This is why most modern-day presidents (including Clinton) have relied heavily on the aids that surround them.

 

I don't see a porblem in Kerry deliberating for hours on whether to stay at the Holiday Inn or Amerisuites, but when it comes to decisions in the White House this gets a little concerning.

 

If his handlers encounter problems making logistic decisions on his campaign because of his deliberations, what happens when he gets a call in the middle of the night at the White House and needs to make a military decision within minutes?

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I think you are clear on your opinion. You didn't need to read anything about Kerry, because you had already made your mind before you even came in here to post your opinion.

 

I think if you read the entire article, you can also find the part were it says that he can make decisions in minutes or in hours, depending on the circumstances... I certainly wish President Bush would have had the same approach before rushing to invade Iraq on somebody else's advice... Lots of people told him not to do it... yet he still went for it.

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I think you are clear on your opinion. You didn't need to read anything about Kerry, because you had already made your mind before you even came in here to post your opinion.

 

I think if you read the entire article, you can also find the part were it says that he can make decisions in minutes or in hours, depending on the circumstances... I certainly wish President Bush would have had the same approach before rushing to invade Iraq on somebody else's advice... Lots of people told him not to do it... yet he still went for it.

And tell me again how Bush "rushed" to invade Iraq?

 

Was that before or after bipartisan support for it in both the house and Senate? Or maybe he rushed into it after the months of military planning and preparation?

 

Or did he rush into it after years of UNSCOM inspections?

 

Blah. At best the article heralds Kerry for something that any person in a decision-making position should do, make well informed decisions. And that's what presidents, including Bush, do. They make/made well informed decisions based upon the best information avaiable at the time.

 

Unless, of course, you beleive that Kerry, with his magical research and decision-making powers, would of been able to do what the UN, CIA, FBI, NSA, and the intelligence agencies of Isreal, Russia, India, Pakistan, Iran, Egypt and several other countries could not - Determine for sure whether Saddam had WMD.

 

And stop acting like Bush sat down with a couple of buddies over a Budweiser and decided to invade Iraq despite ehat everyone in the world told him. If it was in fact a "lie" to the American public than almost every single Democratic Congressman and Senator are as culpable, as they voted for it, too.

 

I think you are clear on your opinion. You didn't need to read anything about Kerry, because you had already made your mind before you even came in here to post your opinion.

 

Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't recognize that you were the model of objectivity and undecideness. I take it you are still about 50/50 on who you will vote for?

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I think you are clear on your opinion. You didn't need to read anything about Kerry, because you had already made your mind before you even came in here to post your opinion.

 

I think if you read the entire article, you can also find the part were it says that he can make decisions in minutes or in hours, depending on the circumstances... I certainly wish President Bush would have had the same approach before rushing to invade Iraq on somebody else's advice... Lots of people told him not to do it... yet he still went for it.

And tell me again how Bush "rushed" to invade Iraq?

 

Was that before or after bipartisan support for it in both the house and Senate? Or maybe he rushed into it after the months of military planning and preparation?

 

Or did he rush into it after years of UNSCOM inspections?

 

Blah. At best the article heralds Kerry for something that any person in a decision-making position should do, make well informed decisions. And that's what presidents, including Bush, do. They make/made well informed decisions based upon the best information avaiable at the time.

 

Unless, of course, you beleive that Kerry, with his magical research and decision-making powers, would of been able to do what the UN, CIA, FBI, NSA, and the intelligence agencies of Isreal, Russia, India, Pakistan, Iran, Egypt and several other countries could not - Determine for sure whether Saddam had WMD.

 

And stop acting like Bush sat down with a couple of buddies over a Budweiser and decided to invade Iraq despite ehat everyone in the world told him. If it was in fact a "lie" to the American public than almost every single Democratic Congressman and Senator are as culpable, as they voted for it, too.

 

I think you are clear on your opinion. You didn't need to read anything about Kerry, because you had already made your mind before you even came in here to post your opinion.

 

Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't recognize that you were the model of objectivity and undecideness. I take it you are still about 50/50 on who you will vote for? You may post your opinion here... That is what this threads are for. However, my purpose with this thread is to shed light into people who are still undecided about who to vote for. Most of them already know Bush, like me, we already know what he is all about, what he has done and what he is capable of doing.

 

All of which you have said above has been the subject of debate in many threads, therefore I won't go in an debunk all of it.

 

I have never claimed to be completely objective or to be undecided.

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