Just quickly, since I am swamped... I wanted to weigh in on theis whole "Kerry Bashed the Troops" bullshit. All of this stuff seemed to explode in a short time and people have already accused Kerry of costing the Democrats the election due to his comments. Here's what he said:
What Kerry said Monday at a campaign rally was this: "You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."
Firstly, even at their worst, those comments are simply bone-headed, and not worthy of much attention. They certainly should not be considered election-jeopardizing—but that's not the political atmosphere we all breathe in.
I know John Kerry wouldn't actually bash anybody in the military, despite the Right's accusations, but I really wondered what the hell he meant and why he opened his big pompous mouth. I basically thought to myself, "you're not even running, could you please shut the fuck up?"
That was last night.
An article this morning, entitled "White House—and Dems—want Kerry apology", caught my attention (emphasis mine). Of course, the "Dems" part of the headline is the reason it caught my attention—but buried deep at the bottom of the article is actually a clear explanation of what Kerry meant and what happened, but you have to read past the quotes of all of the Dems eager to throw Kerry under the bus, and the Republican histrionics, before you ever get there.
A Kerry spokeswoman, Amy Brundage, said later that the senator's prepared text had called for him to say: "Do you know where you end up if you don't study, if you aren't smart, if you're intellectually lazy? You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq. Just ask President Bush."
That should BE the end of the story, not a small detail thrown in at the end of a story.
If Kerry had come out forcefully and explained that himself (not a spokewoman), and repeatedly, this might have been contained. Instead, Kerry put up the bravado front and lobbed a non-apology apology attack at the White House and others:
Kerry, who fought in the Vietnam War, shot back that the charge was a "crazy" distortion of what he said.
"If anybody thinks that a veteran would somehow criticize more than 140,000 troops serving in Iraq and not the president and his people who put them there, they're crazy," he said at a news conference in Seattle, Washington.
"If anyone owes our troops in the fields an apology, it is the president and his failed team and a Republican majority in the Congress that has been willing to rubber-stamp policies that have done injury to our troops and to their families," Kerry said.
I'm glad he learned how to punch back, but in this case it was actually the wrong play. He DID fuck up. He fucked up his own joke. A joke I'd contend should never have made it to the podium. But it did and he botched it. His own exact, in context quote skewers him without any help or "distortion" from Republicans. Therefore he does own an explanation. If he properly explained what he meant, an apology "to the troops" would be unnecessary.
Get the record straight. Kerry should be appearing on every forum that will have him and making a clear, simple explanation of what he was supposed to say. Period. Once that is out there and established, you can come back and punch back against stuff like this:
Vice President Dick Cheney at a Montana campaign rally, scolded Kerry for taking "another swipe at the U. S. military."
"Of course, now Senator Kerry says he was just making a joke, and he botched it up. I guess we didn't get the nuance. He was for the joke before he was against it," Cheney said in a line meant to recall Bush's skewering of Kerry in their 2004 race for saying he had voted for war funds before he voted against them.
GOP Sen. John McCain, a Vietnam veteran and possible 2008 contender, said Wednesday he wasn't sure "how you could construe" Kerry's comment as a joke.
And White House spokesman Tony Snow said Kerry's apology on Imus didn't pass muster. "He's insisting on pointing fingers at the president," Snow said. "Just say you're sorry. It's not hard."
As for the Dems that came out and asked for an apology (Harold Ford and Jon Tester among them), absent a clear explanation from Kerry I can hardly blame them. If Kerry sets the record straight however, they should back off.
Kerry is in a tough position. If he sits on his hands and doesn't help campaign for Dems in the midterms, he'll be criticized for it. He should be stumping, and to his credit, he is. And it appears, by the number of cancellations today, he had an aggressive schedule planned. Good for him. He is after all the party's past-Presidential candidate. That said, he needs to be smart, and safe in what he does. Standing alongside another candidate actually IS the time for carefully planned and calculated comments—something he was criticized for in his own campaign. Instead, he tried to get cute, and it blew up on him and everyone else. When you're a fucking stiff, stick to the script. And keep the script simple.
The best thing Kerry can do now is take some of his now-free time and get out there and attempt to "catapult the propaganda" He should make the rounds on tv and issue his mea culpa, briefly explain exactly what he meant to say, and finish with "I hope that makes perfectly clear that I never meant any insult to our brave troops, and I never would insult them, nor would I make a joke at their expense. End of story. Anybody who continues to insinuate that from this point going forward, is a liar."