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Politics

Kerry blasts GOP’s ‘ideological rigidity and stupidity’

Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, at a committee hearing on Syria last week.

KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images

Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, at a committee hearing on Syria last week.

Senator John Kerry today blasted what he branded Republican “ideological rigidity and stupidity” for driving moderates like Olympia Snowe out of Congress and damaging the United States’s image abroad.

The Massachusetts Democrat, speaking in Boston to a blend of Democratic and Republican business leaders at a breakfast meeting of the nonpartisan New England Council, said inflexibility by Republicans in the House and Senate has blocked investment in the country’s infrastructure and education and energy systems while China and other competitors fill the void.

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“We’re sending a message of indecision, of gridlock, of weakness, of an inability to seize this global moment,” said Kerry.

Saying the GOP is singularly committed to limiting Barack Obama to being a one-term president, Kerry said critics who are for parliamentary rules changes are missing the real problem.

“It’s not the rules; it’s the people. It’s an attitude,” said Kerry.

MassVictory, an offshoot of the Massachusetts Republican Party, pointed out a recent Congressional Quarterly analysis showing Kerry had voted with his own party 97 percent of the time.

“Senator Kerry is correct: partisan gridlock is responsible for hindering progress in Washington, and with his 97 percent voting record with his party leaders, he is an offender-in-chief,” said party spokeswoman Alleigh Marre. “Our state and country need more elected officials focused on solving problems and making progress, and fewer hypocrites like Senator Kerry focused on throwing rocks at others.”

Without naming names, Kerry noted GOP presidential contender Rick Santorum’s criticism of public education while the number of US degrees in science and engineering has plummeted. He complained China is spending 9 percent of its Gross Domestic Product on infrastructure and Europe 5 percent, while the US commits less than 2 percent. And Kerry said the US has ceded the renewable energy market to more aggressive rivals, all because congressional Republicans have stymied Democratic or bipartisan solutions.

“Because of an ideological rigidity and stupidity in Washington, we’re having an impossible time doing the most simple things in order to build our nation to be competitive, to do what every citizen in America wants us to do, which is to create jobs, and put people to work, and be strong,” he said.

The five-term senator, who was his party’s 2004 presidential nominee, lamented “narrowly” losing that election and his ability to implement a more positive political agenda.

He said Snowe, the Maine Republican who cited partisan gridlock as she announced her retirement last week, ended up retiring because she was “tired and fed up with an orthodoxy of a caucus and a party that requires them to toe the line through absurdity.”

Glen Johnson can be reached at johnson@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.

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