May 05, 2004,
My friends, Charlie and Marty Hale, are perfect gentlemen and great company, from Vermont's ski slopes to Manhattan's nightclubs. They also are the most profoundly identical twins I've met. After our two-year acquaintance, I simply cannot tell them apart. And I am not alone.
"We'll just show up at a social function and without coordinating it, we'll happen to be dressed exactly alike," says Marty, 32. "Confusion follows."
This benefits each of them, observes Charlie, also a 32-year-old Gotham businessman. "When we make mistakes, we say it was our twin."
These human Xerox copies made me think. Their experience suggests how John Kerry's views so often collide like two trains speeding into a tunnel from opposite ends.
Here is my theory: Senator John Kerry has a Franconym twin brother named Jean whose pronouncements and actions the Massachusetts Democrat later reverses. Consider the evidence:
During an April 1971 antiwar protest, Jean threw away several medals he earned in Vietnam. "In a real sense, this [Nixon] administration forced us to return our medals," he declared back then. "I did turn my medals in," he said in the June 15, 1971, Philadelphia Evening Bulletin. "I gave back, I can't remember, six, seven, eight, nine medals," Jean told Washington, D.C.'s WRC-TV on November 6, 1971.
But in the February 21, 1985, Washington Post, John challenged Jean's earlier statements. "It's such a personal thing...I did not want to throw my medals away." Then, in the October 6, 1996, Boston Globe, he explained that he only discarded his ribbons since "I didn't bring my own medals to throw because I didn't have time to go home and get them."
John told ABC News in December, "I'm proud of my medals. I always was proud of them." Was John proud of Jean's medals but ashamed of his own ribbons? Who really knows? Thankfully, as John reassured Good Morning America's Charlie Gibson on Monday, "I have been accurate precisely about what took place."
Jean voted for the Patriot Act and said in Manchester, New Hampshire last August 6 that it "has to do with things that really were quite necessary in the wake of what happened on September 11."
John disagrees. "We are a nation of laws and liberties, not of a knock in the night," he said at Iowa State University December 1. "So it is time to end the era of John Ashcroft. That starts with replacing the Patriot Act with a new law that protects our people and our liberties at the same time."
Jean supported the educational No Child Left Behind Act in December 2001. His twin dissented. "I'm going to use every day to make this president accountable for making a mockery of the words 'No Child Left Behind,'" John told the Associated Press on April 22, 2003.
Jean fretted in the April 8, 1992, Washington Post about "an inherently limited and divisive program which is called affirmative action." He said it creates a "perception and a reality of reverse discrimination that has actually engendered racism."
John, in contrast, fully embraces this policy. He said last January 30: "I have always voted for it. I've always supported it. I've never, ever condemned it."
Jean voted for NAFTA, telling the November 21, 1993, Boston Globe: "NAFTA recognizes the reality of today's economy globalization and technology." He added, "Our future is not in competing at the low-level wage job; it is in creating high-wage, new technology jobs based on our skills and our productivity."
John doesn't buy it. "If it were before me today, I would vote against it because it doesn't have environmental or labor standards in it," he stated in the Hartford Courant last August 6.
Jean and John have diametrically opposed visions of the war on terror. "It's basically a manhunt," Jean said of the war on terror in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel February 13. "You gotta know who they are, where they are, what they're planning, and you gotta be able to go get 'em before they get us."
A mere fortnight later, at UCLA on February 27, John offered his rebuttal. "This war isn't just a manhunt a checklist of names from a deck of cards. In it, we do not face just one man or one terrorist group. We face a global jihadist movement of many groups, from different sources, with separate agendas, but all committed to assaulting the United States and free and open societies around the globe."
*"I don't own an SUV," Jean told reporters on Earth Day. John then backtracked, sort of, when asked if Teresa Heinz Kerry owns a Chevy Suburban. "The family has it," John said. "I don't have it."
So why do the Kerry twins bicker so? It could be sibling rivalry or, perhaps a giant inside joke. Jean and John must endure laugh attacks watching pundits try to fathom how as they naively see it one man's record has more zigzags than a herringbone jacket.
Still, Charlie Hale questions my premise.
"As an identical twin, I disagree," he says. "I think the twin theory is highly probable, but they have to be fraternal twins, or else their opinions would be the same."
Good point, Charlie. Identical or fraternal, somebody better unravel the mystery of the Kerry twins, and soon. If Kerry wins in November, Jean and John finally might reveal themselves, whereupon the next inauguration will find them both with their hands on matching Bibles saying, "So help us, God."