Kerry: The Missing Years

Steven Taylor chronicles the flap over the Kerry campaigns staff’s claim that their fearless leader was vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence when, in fact, that was Bob Kerrey. While that’s certainly rather embarrassing, I’m willing to chalk that up to an overzealous staff’s sloppiness. What’s more damaging is the fact, not really in dispute, that Kerry (that’s John) has been an absentee Senator.

“It’s difficult to take John Kerry’s claims about his intelligence experience seriously when one of his credentials is completely made up,” said Republican National Committee spokeswoman Christine Iverson. “If he had shown up for Intelligence Committee hearings he would notice he wasn’t vice chairman.”

A good line! But, so far as I know, Kerry himself never made the claim. (In contrast, say, to the Cambodia story.)

Kerry’s failure to attend three-fourths of the committee’s public hearings was criticized by RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie in a memo Tuesday to members of Congress. The Kerry campaign has not denied he missed meetings but has said the criticism relies on accounts of 65 open hearings and doesn’t note that the panel held more than 329 meetings.

I’m not sure this will have much traction with voters, since they’re likely to vote prospectively and, to the extent they vote retrospectively, it’ll have more to do with Bush’s first four years than Kerry’s last twenty. But Kerry’s lackluster performance in the Senate strikes me as a legitimate issue.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2004
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. McGehee says:

    A phony claim that Bush was AWOL from the National Guard got weeks of Big Media attention. The cold, hard and irrefutable fact that Kerry has been AWOL from the Senate ought to warrant at least a passing glance.

  2. NONAME says:

    I want to know why Senator Nuance is just now coughing up all these plans and lofty ideas to fix healthcare and the economy and security and the world. Did they just occur to him? Or has he been sandbagging for 20 years in the Senate, holding out on a weary populace, saving all this genius for the White House job? Interesting timing to have a stroke of brillaince suddenly descend upon him.