Picking apart the Zell pick-aparters

Is “pick-aparters” a word? Probably not ;)

Jim Geraghty over at the Kerry spot takes to task the claims of the recent crop of anti-Zell bandwagon jumpers and their criticisms of his barn burner speech last Wednesday night at the RNC:

The argument that Kerry never voted against these systems is the same as saying Kerry never voted against the body armor for U.S. troops in the $87 billion Iraq-aid bill. Yes, Kerry did not vote specifically against this provision in the bill; he voted against the whole thing. He and his allies contend this argument is unfair, because Kerry did not vote against the specific provision.

At the time, Kerry wanted the $87 billion to be offset with tax hikes β€” or to use the preferred Democratic vernacular, “repealing the tax cuts for the richest Americans.” But that proposal was never going to go anywhere. Anyone can have a preferred alternative – the NRO crowd would probably prefer the $87 billion be offset with cuts to farm subsidies and porky transportation projects – but one rarely gets exactly what one wants in life, or in legislation. The choice before John Kerry earlier this year was up or down, yes or no, should the troops in the field get this $87 billion or not. Kerry and Edwards said “no,” and the two men have also insisted that if they were the deciding vote, they would have voted the same way. A Kerry aide later admitted to The New Yorker that the reason for this was the popularity of Howard Dean’s antiwar stance.

Every defense-appropriations bill is going to have something that a lawmaker won’t like. Defense experts debated the necessity of the Crusader artillery system for a long time. Many folks debated whether the Osprey plane would fly. Missile defense, the F-22, the Stryker armored vehicle, the DD-X – every major defense program has its supporters and detractors. But all the projects get rolled into one bill, and then lawmakers have to decide, up or down, whether to vote for it. There is no “maybe” button in the U.S. Senate, no “yes, but” key.

This is the kind of logic that leads one down the path to, “I actually voted for it before I voted against it.”

In two of those three defense-appropriations bills, Kerry was still very much a minority position. The three bills cited by the Republicans that Kerry opposed passed 79 to 16, 80 to 17, and 59 to 39.

Please make sure to read the link in its entirety.