Kerry weighed politics versus lives in 2002 vote

Traprock ed note: It seems politics won. Does this surprise anyone who was paying attention at the time? See Charles Jenks’ June 20, 2003 article at

By Michael Kranish, Globe Staff | May 28, 2007 original article

WASHINGTON — Senator John F. Kerry voted for the Iraq war resolution in 2002 after weighing the political ramifications and being told by his future campaign manager that he would never be elected president in 2004 unless he sided with President Bush on the issue, according to a forthcoming book by Kerry’s former strategist.

The book by veteran Democratic Party strategist Robert Shrum, titled “No Excuses,” paints a portrait of an often-dysfunctional Kerry presidential campaign in which senior strategists clashed with each other.

It also quotes e-mails from Kerry’s former campaign manager that are highly critical of the behavior of Kerry’s wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry . An advance copy of the memoir of Shrum’s years in politics, slated for release in early June, was provided to the Globe.

Shrum, who was brought into the campaign to help provide Kerry with a strategic overview, provides a vivid de scription about the events leading up to Kerry’s decision to vote for the war.
He writes that Kerry telephoned him on the eve of the Oct. 11, 2002, vote. Shrum said Kerry was skeptical of Bush’s claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and that he “didn’t trust Bush to give the diplomatic route a real chance.” Nonetheless, Kerry asked Shrum whether he would “be a viable general election candidate if he was in the small minority of senators who voted no.”
Shrum wrote that he told Kerry it was “impossible to predict the political fallout if we went to war.” But he wrote that Jim Jordan, Kerry’s former Senate press secretary and future campaign manager, “was insisting that he had to vote with Bush.”

Shrum wrote that Jordan had “hammered” Kerry with a warning: “Go ahead and vote against it if you want, but you’ll never be president of the United States.” Kerry voted for the war resolution and Jordan became Kerry’s campaign manager three months later.

Kerry declined to comment on Shrum’s book.

His spokesman, Vincent Morris, said, “Senator Kerry voted [for the war resolution] based on the promise of effective diplomacy and because he believed that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. He’s said previously that this was the most difficult vote he’s ever cast and he’s acknowledged his vote was a mistake. Since that day, he’s been one of the Senate’s most outspoken voices to end the war.”

Asked about the conversation, Jordan answered, “It wouldn’t be appropriate for me to recount those conversations with Senator Kerry, but it’s ridiculous to contend that I had the influence to manipulate a man of his stature and substance and judgment on a vote of war and peace. Right or wrong, it was a vote based in conscience and conviction.”

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Kerry’s fellow Massachusetts Democrat, urged Kerry to vote against the war, according to Shrum. Kennedy talked with Kerry on the Senate floor before the vote, Shrum wrote, and “passionately contended that even if it looked like good politics now, siding with Bush was wrong on the merits — and even politically.”

Kerry’s vote for the war resolution opened the door for the surge of the Howard Dean candidacy, which became focused on the antiwar view of the former Vermont governor, according to Shrum.
Kerry, however, thought the Iraq war would be over quickly, Shrum wrote, adding that the senator said to him that “whatever misgivings he had about Bush’s course, the Iraq war, if it came, probably, almost certainly, would be over by the primaries.”

Aides to Kerry said it was natural for the senator to seek political advice from Shrum about the vote and stressed that Kerry also talked to CIA director George Tenet and Secretary of State Colin Powell, both of whom have said they believed at the time that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

Kerry’s chief of staff, David McKean, said he walked with Kerry to the Senate floor before the vote. He recalled telling the senator: “Obviously a huge factor here is whether you believe there are weapons of mass destruction. He said, ‘I have no doubt about that.’ ”

In his book, Shrum acknowledges that he is viewed as being a “curse” to Democratic presidential candidates. The Massachusetts resident wrote that he worked on eight failed presidential campaigns, but notes that he directed 30 successful Senate campaigns.

Shrum, who declined to comment for this story, provides numerous examples of infighting within the campaign — particularly between him and Jordan.

As a senior strategist, he often clashed with Jordan, whose role as campaign manager also included strategic decisions. Shrum was among those who wanted Jordan ousted; Kerry eventually fired Jordan in November 2003 and replaced him with Mary Beth Cahill, a Shrum ally.

Shrum quotes from e-mails he said Jordan wrote about Kerry’s wife. Jordan is quoted as worried about Teresa Heinz Kerry’s interview with The New York Times: “What are the odds — take this as I mean it pls — that she won’t [expletive deleted] this up . . . wallow in victimhood. . . . There’s always a chance she’ll say something stupid. This has to stop.”

Shrum also has some criticism of Kerry, although it is usually paired with some praise.
For example, he wrote at length about Kerry’s decision to deliver a much-criticized South Carolina speech in which he formally announced his campaign. The outdoor speech — during which Kerry was drenched in sweat — later was portrayed as long-winded. Shrum wrote that Kerry wanted to kick off the campaign in Iowa, “but once again he allowed himself to be persuaded to go against his own instincts.”

At another point, Shrum wrote that in times of crisis, Kerry “was bold and decisive. At other times, he tended to second-guess, revise, fiddle, confer with anyone in sight, and try to please everyone around him. For him, I think the easier days in the White House might have been harder.”

Shrum, who subtitled his book “Concessions of a Serial Campaigner,” concedes that he made “indisputable mistakes” in 2004, backing a decision not to respond to attacks on Kerry’s Vietnam service with television ads in August 2004. Shrum said that the decision was forced, in part, by the campaign’s need to conserve money for the fall.

He also wrote that Kerry wanted his campaign to return fire, and “he was angry that we hadn’t listened to him and struck back sooner.” The failure to respond to the attacks has often been cited as one of the reasons for Kerry’s defeat.

The Kerry-Shrum relationship soured over time. Shrum wrote that after The Washington Post reported that Kerry was blaming Shrum and others for the campaign’s problems, “Kerry, who could have quieted this with a sentence or two, said nothing. My wife was enraged . . . [saying] ‘Bob, he’s left you up the river.’ ”

© Copyright 2007 Globe Newspaper Company.

Chavez closes opposition TV station

[Ed. note: This is extremely disappointing. What is Chavey afraid of? First of all, a President – of any country – shouldn’t be making decisions on which tv stations are allowed to operate. Nationalizing media is not in the people’s interest, in my opinion. Second, if the station did have a hand in an illegal coup attempt, as he claims, then indict and prosecute – by fair and impartial judicial processes – those suspected of wrong doing.]

CARACAS, Venezuela (CNN) — Venezuelan police on Sunday used water cannons and what appeared to be tear gas to break up thousands of demonstrators protesting the government’s decision to close the country’s most-watched television station.

The protest began in front of National Telecommunications Commission headquarters after members of the National Guard seized broadcast equipment, including antennas, the result of a Supreme Court order on Friday.

During the clash, two or three bullets were shot into a nearby traffic light, police said. Soon afterward, the director of the Metropolitan Police, Juan Francisco Romero, pointed to the light, and said on television that police were “not going to accept the situation.”

It was not immediately clear who had fired the shots.

Police told The Associated Press that at least four officers were slightly injured after some of the protesters threw rocks and bottles.

After police stopped using the water cannons, the crowd regrouped, and video of the scene showed a peaceful mood, with people waving flags and chanting as night fell.

Inside the studios of Radio Caracas Television, employees cried and chanted
“Freedom!” on camera, AP reported.

“We are living an injustice,” presenter Eyla Adrian said, according to AP. “I wish that tonight would never come.”

President Hugo Chavez announced in January that the government would not renew the broadcast license for the station, long an outlet for opposition parties.

Chavez has accused the station of supporting the failed 2002 coup against him and violating broadcast laws.

He called the station’s soap operas “pure poison” that promote capitalism, according to AP.

RCTV, which has been broadcasting for 53 years, is slated to be off the air at midnight. It will be replaced by a state-run station.

“To refuse to grant a new license for the most popular and oldest television channel in the country because the government disagrees with the editorial or political views of this channel, which are obviously critical to Chavez, is a case of censorship,” said Jose Miguel Vivanco, executive director of Human Rights Watch.

“We have arrived at totalitarianism,” said Marcel Granier, president of Empresas 1BC, which owns RCTV.

“We will reorganize and continue working. One is beginning a fight — not violent, but active, very active.”

Granier accused Chavez of being “afraid of free thought, of opinion, of criticism.”

The closing of the station will affect “more than 200 journalists, 3,000 workers and the entire Venezulean society,” the station said in a statement posted on its Web site.

Last week, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution condemning the decision to shut down the station.

Journalists Flor Santamaria and Carlos Guillen contributed to this story.

Copyright 2007 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

Press Release – No Honorary Degree for Andy Card

May 21, 2007


Based on information that has been revealed in the past week, a coalition of faculty, staff, and students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst are demanding that the decision to award an honorary degree to Andrew Card, Jr. be reversed. Card was the White House Chief of Staff from 2000 to 2006, and headed the White House Iraq Group.

In the past week, a spate of media reports have revealed Card’s central role in pushing through illegal wiretapping policies. The Washington Post and New York Times reported Card’s 2004 attempt to bypass the acting attorney general and coerce the ailing Attorney General John Ashcroft to approve an extensive wiretapping initiative. Former Deputy Attorney General James Comey testified about how Alberto Gonzales and Andrew Card visited an unresponsive Ashcroft in his hospital bed, asking him to allow wiretapping that Ashcroft himself considered unconstitutional. “Card was leading the effort to undermine the rule of law and to deceive the public. This vividly demonstrates the reasons behind the growing outrage at UMass among faculty, students and staff,” said Sigrid Schmalzer, a faculty member and member of the ad-hoc coalition that is opposing an honorary degree for Andrew Card.

Last week, Card telephoned two UMass faculty members to challenge their claims about his intellectual dishonesty. “Do you even know me?” he asked. Insisting that he deserved a doctoral degree from UMass recognizing his commitment to public service, Card repeatedly denied having violated federal and international law and misleading the public about the war in Iraq.

As a result of the new information, on Thursday, May 17, the UMass Amherst Faculty Senate voted 31-0 to revoke the honorary degree to Card. Faculty pointed out that students who acted as Card did — changing facts to support their opinions – would be convicted of violating the university’s academic honesty policy and punished, rather than receiving an honorary degree.

In a series of rallies and demonstrations, hundreds of students and faculty have protested the award. Within a week, over 400 faculty members signed a letter asking the university to immediately revoke the offer to Card. According to University of Massachusetts Policy Doc. T93-060, “only persons of great accomplishment and high ethical standards who exemplify the ideals of the University of Massachusetts” are eligible to receive an honorary degree. Off the record, administrators have said that Card’s degree was offered in return for his help securing federal funding for major UMass research initiatives in the sciences.

The UMass Amherst protests against Card have received national attention. National blogs including Daily Kos have featured the story prominently, sparking heated debate over UMass’s decision. “The public record on Card’s actions should persuade the University to rescind the offer of an honorary degree,” said Steven Brewer, a faculty member in the Biology Department and Faculty Senator. “His behavior does not exemplify the high ethical standards that the University of Massachusetts should celebrate.”

# # #

UMass Protests Andy Card May 21-25

Honor Students, Not War Criminals!
UMass is a Public University: Card Shames Us All!

PROTESTS (for details, see below):
Tuesday, May 22, 12:30: March
Thursday, May 24, 4:30-6:30: Stand-out
Friday, May 25, 12:00-5:00: Commencement

Please join UMass students, faculty, and staff in opposing
UMass’s plan to award an honorary degree at graduate
commencement to Iraq War architect Andrew Card. During his
tenure as White House Chief of Staff, Card founded the
White House Iraq Group in order to coordinate efforts to
“market” (his term) the war to the American public. Andrew
Card shares responsibility for the lies and distortions
that led to the Iraq war and occupation. He is therefore
not eligible for an honorary degree which can be awarded
only to “persons of great accomplishment and high ethical
standards who exemplify the ideals of the university of

Tuesday, May 22, 12:30 p.m.
Whitmore Administration Building, UMass

A final march and rally will be held to try to prevent the
award. Meet in front of the Whitmore administration
building on the UMass campus. March to the Amherst Town
Commons. Our first rally brought 200 people; our second
rally had 400. Third time’s the charm!

Thursday, May 24, evening rush hour
Intersections at UMass or in your town

If the award goes forward as planned, please make signs
and stand on highly trafficked intersections on the UMass
campus or in your town during Thursday’s evening commute.
Suggested slogans: “Honor Students, Dis Card”; “Honor
Education, Not War Criminals”; “No Degree for Andrew
Card”; “Protest Tomorrow at UMass, 12:00,” etc.

Friday, May 25th, 12:00 p.m.
Mullins Center, UMass Continue reading UMass Protests Andy Card May 21-25