SUV Flip-Flop

I must admit to being rather bemused by the John Kerry SUV flap. He’s been charged with hypocrisy for campaigning on higher fuel efficiency standards while owning a Chevy Suburban SUV. He denies owning it saying it’s a “family” vehicle. The family? His wife Teresa (Tuh-RAY-suh).

Frankly, I don’t care what kind of car he drives. Or his wife drives. I don’t even think it’s that big a deal that they own a big gas guzzling SUV despite wanting to mandate lower fuel economy. For that matter, I suspect his Chrysler 300M doesn’t get substantially better mileage than the Suburban. But what is he thinking? Is he channeling Al Gore or something, equivocating on an incredibly minor issue?

Cam Edwards and Steven Taylor have more.

Update: Betsy Newmark hits the nail on the head:

I wonder if ordinary married couples can relate to John Kerry saying that he doesn’t own an SUV, but then having to acknowledge that his wife does. If you were to count up the cars you owned, would you count your spouse’s car? But then, we file jointly, so what do we know?


FILED UNDER: 2004 Election, , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Hey!

    What’s with this Tuh-RAY-suh stuff…is that the rich and snobby way of pronouncing Teresa? Or is this just an east coast thang…

    On the Behalf of Teresa’s everywhere! United in the of protest catsup queens! 😀

  2. moghedien says:

    “Frankly, I don’t care what kind of car he drives.”

    Neither do I; but didn’t Kerry sponsor a bill that would have raised the CAFE standards on SUVs, pickups, and Minivans?

  3. RicK DeMent says:

    OK I don’t get it, favoring a higher CAFÉ standard as policy and driving a low gas mileage car is not mutually exclusive. I think gas prices are too low and I think we need to have a higher CAFÉ standard. I believe these things for a number of reasons too numerous to get into here but if I decided to buy an SUV (I drive a Saturn) I don’t see how that is at all hypocritical. I can bring about change by driving my Saturn, the kind of change that I believe is necessary requires a national policy not individuals making individual choices. If you agreed with me (and I have a feeling you wouldn’t but that is another story), you would realize that individual choices in absence of a national policy is foolish. “Setting an example” has nothing to do with it. There is no example I could set to cut petroleum consumption 15% in absence of a national policy so beyond moronic gotcha politics this whole thing is a non-starter.

    The choice is clear, follow Bush and “Drain America First” or start making some tough decisions.

  4. James Joyner says:

    What is it that we’re “draining”? People have gravitated towards larger vehicles because they’re more comfortable and gas was cheap. If gas prices stay high, people will start considering that again when making purchasing decisions, as they did in the 1970s and 1980s.

  5. Jim says:

    The annoying thing about the SUV flap is the instinctual pandering that Kerry engaged in. I don’t care what he drives, I haven’t bought a SUV because there is no need for me to own one and I am too cheap to buy the gas. If I had 3 kids, I would be at the dealership today. That being said, the pandering is becoming over-the-top. Can someone who panders that much ever lead? For good or ill, President Bush led us into a war in Iraq under great controversy, coykd Kerry ever do the same?