"Nothing emboldens sin so much as mercy." --- Shakespeare, 1600

Opinion: Who's Kerry?

Special to the Register 03/07/04

Knowing that I served in the U.S. Senate with John Kerry and that, like him, I am a veteran of the Vietnam War, many people have asked me what I think of him, particularly now that he's the apparent presidential nominee of the Democratic Party.

When Kerry joined me in the Senate, I already knew about his record of defamatory remarks and behavior criticizing U.S. policy in Vietnam and the conduct of our military personnel there. I had learned in North Vietnamese prisons how much harm such statements caused.

To me, his remarks and behavior amounted to giving aid and comfort to our Vietnamese and Soviet enemies. So I was not surprised when his subsequent overall voting pattern in the Senate was consistently detrimental to our national security.

Considering his demonstrated popularity during the Democratic primaries, I earnestly hope the American people will soberly consider Kerry's qualifications for the presidency in light of his position and record on both our cultural war at home and on national security issues.

To put it bluntly, John Kerry exemplifies the very reasons that I switched to the Republican Party. Like the majority in his political party, he has proven by his words and actions that his list of priorities -- his ideas on what most needs to be done to improve this country -- are almost opposite to my own.

Here are two issue areas that I consider top priorities: the war over the soul of America, and national security.

Top priority should be placed on an effort to recover our most fundamental founding belief that our national objectives, policies and laws should reflect obedience to the will of Almighty God. Our Declaration of Independence, our national Constitution and each of the states' constitutions stress that basic American national principle.

For about 200 years, the entire country, both parties and all branches of government understood that principle and tried to follow it, if imperfectly.

For some 50 years, our nation's opinion-makers, our courts and, gradually, our politicians have been abandoning our historical effort to be "one nation under God" in favor of becoming "one nation without God," with glaringly unfavorable results.

I believe our political leaders, educational system, parents and opinion-makers must all return to teaching the truth most emphasized by our Founding Fathers.

George Washington called religious belief indispensable to the prosperity of our democracy. William Penn said, "Men must choose to be governed by God or condemn themselves to be ruled by tyrants." And when asked what caused the Civil War, President Lincoln said, "We have forgotten God."

In these days we have not only forgotten God, we are by our new standards of government and culture rejecting him as the acknowledged creator and as the endower of our rights.

As a result, we are suffering cultural decay and human unhappiness. The decline of the institution of the family is the most obvious result.

Perhaps the current movie, "The Passion of the Christ," will help many to come to realize the cost of the redemption of our sins, and the destructiveness of sin.

Let's remember that over 95 percent of Americans during our founding days were Christians, and though our Founding Fathers stipulated that no one was to be compelled to believe in any religion, and also stipulated that there would be no single Christian denomination installed as a national religion, there was no question that our laws were to be firmly based on the Judean Ten Commandments and on Christ's mandate to love your neighbor as you love yourself.

That setup brought us amazing success as a nation, lifting us from our humble beginnings, through crisis after crisis, to become the leading nation of the world.

Now, though, we are throwing away the very source of our strength and greatness. Yet I am not giving up on our country. I am encouraged at the stand and the attitude of our president, and inspired by his courage. There are many more of his stripe in Washington now.

Though Rome and other empires have decayed and fallen, the cultural war in the United States can and should be won by the majority of Americans -- a majority to whom Kerry and the Democrats disdainfully refer to as the "far right." They are people who believe in God and in the original concept of "one nation under God."

As a nation, we are now at the point of no return. The good guys are finally angry enough to join the fray, and I pray we are not too late.

John Kerry is not among the good guys. The Democratic Party isn't, either.

Indeed, on the subject of national security, John Kerry epitomizes a fatal weakness in the Democratic Party.

During the decisive days of the Cold War, after the Democratic Party changed during the mid-1960s, the party was on the wrong side of every strategic debate on policy regarding Vietnam and the USSR, and is now generally on the wrong side in the war on terrorism.

The truth is that the Cold War was barely won by a narrow margin -- a victory and a margin determined by the political choices made by our government regarding suitable steps to deter Soviet attack and finally win the Cold War.

If the U.S. had followed the Democratic Party line, the Cold War would have concluded with the U.S. having to surrender without a fight, or the U.S. would have been defeated in a nuclear war with acceptable losses to the USSR.

It was not Johnson and Carter and the Democrats; it was Nixon, Reagan, George Bush and the Republicans who led us to victory in the Cold War.

And George W. Bush and the Republican majority -- not John Kerry and the Democrats -- can lead us to victory in the war on terrorism.

Jeremiah Denton is a retired Navy admiral who served in the U.S. Senate from 1981 to 1987.


"Only the dead have seen the end of war." --- Plato, 380 BC