John Kerry rips on the ‘myth of the maverick’

John Kerry came out swinging hard on behalf of Sen. Barack Obama Wednesday night, countering many of the Republican attacks that he failed to aggressively defend himself against four years ago.

Sen. Kerry, D-Mass., the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate who lost to George W. Bush, praised Obama’s patriotism and accused this year’s likely GOP nominee, Sen. John McCain, of offering more of the same policies and politics employed by the Bush administration.

“This election is a chance for America to tell the merchants of fear and division: You don’t decide who loves this country, you don’t decide who is a patriot, you don’t decide whose service counts and whose doesn’t,” said Kerry, the target of the infamous Swift Boat attacks four years ago.

Kerry also charged McCain with flip-flopping on the issues, a charge Kerry himself was smacked with during his presidential run — but with more humor than Kerry exhibited at the last Democratic National Convention.

Kerry generated wild applause when he talked about the differences between the politician McCain and the real McCain.

“To those who still believe in the myth of a maverick instead of the reality of a politician, I say, let’s compare Sen. McCain to candidate McCain. Candidate McCain now supports the very wartime tax cuts that Sen. McCain once called irresponsible. Candidate McCain criticizes Sen. McCain’s own climate-change bill. Candidate McCain says he would vote against the immigration bill that Sen. McCain wrote.

Are you kidding me, folks? Talk about being for it before you’re against it.”

McCain would offer more of the same “Rove tactics” and politics as the Bush administration of “fear and smear,” Kerry said.

“The country can’t afford a third Bush term,” he said. “Just think, John McCain voted with George Bush 90 percent of the time.”

Kerry, who many thought was shown up by Obama’s speech at the 2004 convention, ended on a nostalgic note, saying the party united four years ago and would stand together again in 2008:

“The choice is clear. Our cause is just, and now is our time to make Barack Obama the president of the United States.”