October 31, 2006

THE HOTLINE BLOG ASKS:

By making himself an issue, did Sen. John Kerry do the GOP a favor by giving them an issue to motivate their base? (Independents may not care, but the base hates Kerry… hates him.)

If Kerry is happy to let America know that he’s not going to take sleights, are Democrats happy to have Kerry in the spotlight seven days before the election?

Couldn’t Kerry have taken care of this imbroglio by admitting that he mangled his words?

Is it smart for any Democrat right now to take the spotlight? Shouldn’t the Dems want to keep the spotlight solely and totally on Bush and Iraq?

Does Kerry know how and when to pick his battles?

Lots more questions, basically boiling down to this one: “What was he thinking?

Austin Bay comments:

In the spare space of 24 hours Kerry has resurrected the Vietnam Syndrome –at least his and the left wing of the Democratic Party’s Vietnam (loser’s) Syndrome. This is stupid but particularly stupid in the last week of a national election. Doubly stupid in the midst of a long, grinding war. Kerry is trapped, in an odd sort of amber. He’s stuck on stupid and stuck in the past simultaneously. . . .

Why didn’t Senator Kerry just apologize? “I’m sorry for what I said. I meant to crack a joke and it came out sounding like an insult to US troops. Forgive me. We owe our defenders so much.”

But we know why.

Some questions answer themselves.

UPDATE: More:

I’ll bet Senator Clinton absolutely loves watching her potential ’08 rival shoot himself in the foot.

BTW, I’m another National Merit Scholar serving in the active duty military. I missed 4 questions on the SATs. But the real insult to my intelligence came when Senator Kerry tried to pretend he was talking about Bush.

That was a pretty unconvincing response. I don’t think he’s used to the power of YouTube in politics. Bill Frist, meanwhile, joins those demanding an apology.

And here’s some more background on the quality of the forces in Iraq:

Our review of Pen­tagon enlistee data shows that the only group that is lowering its participation in the military is the poor. The percentage of recruits from the poorest American neighborhoods (with one-fifth of the U.S. population) declined from 18 percent in 1999 to 14.6 percent in 2003, 14.1 percent in 2004, and 13.7 percent in 2005. . . .

In summary, the additional years of recruit data (2004–2005) sup­port the previous finding that U.S. military recruits are more similar than dissimilar to the American youth population. The slight dif­ferences are that wartime U.S. mil­itary enlistees are better educated, wealthier, and more rural on aver­age than their civilian peers.

Recruits have a higher percent­age of high school graduates and representation from Southern and rural areas. No evidence indicates exploitation of racial minorities (either by race or by race-weighted ZIP code areas). Finally, the distri­bution of household income of recruits is noticeably higher than that of the entire youth population.

Just don’t wind up a clueless U.S. Senator.

Meanwhile, the American Legion is demanding an apology from Kerry, too.

MORE: Donald Sensing responds to Kerry:

In about 30 minutes I wll leave to attend the funeral of Marine Lance Cpl. Richard Buerstetta, killed in action in Iraq two weekends ago. He was a2004 graduate of Franklin High School, where both my sons knew him. He and my eldest son were actually scehduled to go to boot camp at Parris Island, SC, the same day, but a change by their recruiter sent them on different days. Lance Cpl. Buerstetta was a Marine reservist, enrolled in college at Middle Tennessee State University, when his callup came. Without a flicker of hesitation at being yanked from his college courses, he shouldered his seabags and went off to war. “His bags stayed packed,” according to a family member. He died about a month after arriving in Iraq.

Got that? High school graduate. College student. US Marine. Iraq. . . .

I dare you, Senator Kerry, to come to Lance Cpl. Buerstetta’s funeral and tell that to his parents. Tell them that their son, high school graduate, college student, was just too uneducated and too stupid to avoid enlisting in an all-volunteer military.

Read the whole thing.

STILL MORE: Brendan Loy is defending Kerry:

This is yet another example of a political kerfuffle where the response to the mistake is worse than the mistake itself. If Kerry had spared us the vitriolic bluster and just apologized for a poor choice of words — explaining that he absolutely, obviously never meant to insult the troops — this story might be dead by now. Instead, he’s given right-wing propagandists like Drudge a golden opportunity to run context-free headlines such as “I APOLOGIZE TO NO ONE,” implying that Kerry stands by an insult that he never intended to deliver. This is the very definition of an unforced error.

So, in conclusion, John Kerry an idiot. But he doesn’t think our troops are idiots. I mean, c’mon. Like Bush, he’s stupid, not evil.

Loy’s commenters don’t seem to be buying it. Tom Maguire notes a similar claim on Kerry’s behalf and comments:

As to the “context” question, the quote was clear enough and Kerry’s non-apology was absurd enough. The real explanation – the quip was a Bush-basher that went awry – is probably true, but how would we have known that (Kerry has not used a similar formulation in our presence)?

As to believing that Kerry meant this as a troop-basher – well, it is hard to believe that he would have reflected carefully and said this.

But, he notes, Kerry hasn’t been shy about bashing troops in the past. His bottom line:

Kerry should apologize for not being able to speak English as well as the typical recruit. But enough already with Kerry delivering “dumb” jokes.

Or, in another take: ” A Democratic congressman told ABC News Tuesday, ‘I guess Kerry wasn’t content blowing 2004, now he wants to blow 2006, too.’”

Indeed. Or are the Karl Rove mind-control rays just that overpowering?

FINALLY: Here’s a big roundup on this story, from PJ Media. And Chip Mathis reminds us that Kerry’s grades at Yale were worse than Bush’s. This explains a lot . . . .

And Ann Althouse comments:

The John Kerry “stuck in Iraq” story is dominating the news today. It’s rather unfair to the Democrats who are actually running in the election. I’d love to hear the behind-the-scenes cursing he so richly deserves. (And let me add that Kerry is outrageously lying when he says he wasn’t referring to the troops. This is only prolonging his time in the spotlight, when he should get out of the way and let actual candidates speak.) . . . . I’ve seen the video of the whole context, and it’s obvious what he was saying. His attempt to interpret it away is outrageous. It only makes it worse. I know exactly what he was saying and it is the sort of thing that antiwar people say, that the volunteer military is full of unfortunate, deluded souls.

They managed to stifle Dukakis. They can’t seem to keep Kerry quiet.