Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Kerry is so very, very...

Seriously. The Democrats have got to get some goddamn backbone.

John Kerry has apologized and canceled several appearances over his now-infamous vocal mishap. While his apology contained more than a medium degree of defiance, it's sad that he even had to apologize in the first place. As for those canceled campaign stops? Pitiful. Further proof that the petty vindictiveness of the right and its complicit press continues to dominate politics.

I'm all for apologizing when you've made a mistake, or when you feel you've unintentionally offended a group of people. I've done that time and again in my own published writing. But in this case, all Kerry needed to do was clarify himself (which I think he did well). This chorus of GOP politicos and their Democrat "counterparts" all but calling for his head is ridiculous! This isn't Rush Limbaugh accusing Michael J. Fox of exaggerating his Parkinson's Disease for political reasons or a certain president lying us into war; Kerry simply misspoke. The party of George W. Bush should be well-versed in misspeaking by now.

So what exactly did Kerry say to his college-age audience that day? "[If] you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq." While that could certainly be misconstrued (albeit by a complete hack) as a slight against the intelligence of our fighting forces, it certainly doesn't merit the faux indignance that it has spawned.

All Kerry was saying is that Bush, through mediocre thinking and willful ignorance of history, has led this nation into a sticky situation in Iraq. Every single person I have talked with about this (among them: fellow liberals, casual political observers and one fervent Kerry-hater) completely understood this point! I have yet to run into anyone who honestly thinks Kerry was trying to disparage American students or the Armed Forces. The ones that do claim this position are the same die-hard neocon apologists who divert honest political dialogue at every opportunity, and who stand to benefit the most from distortion of Democratic words.

Assuming Kerry really meant to insult the military, couldn't he have made a more cutting comment? On Nov. 15, 1988, Kerry had this to say about the newly elected Republican administration:

"The Secret Service is under orders that if Bush is shot, to shoot Quayle."

That jab can be described two ways: 1) cheap and 2) clever. If Kerry really wanted to punch below the belt, there'd be no mistaking it. It certainly wouldn't be with that weak-ass remark with which the GOP is currently trying to crucify him.

This is a seriously desperate rhetorical trick on the part of the Republicans, who need the snowball of their record to survive the hell of mid-term elections. By lambasting Kerry, they bring the debate back into familiar territory: attacking the source and crowing over the mistake, rather than discussing the actual message. The fact that Kerry is apologizing and staying home is all the reinforcement the GOP will ever need to dwell in that unholy land.

As sad as it is, the neocons hope that voters are going to focus more on the "Kerry hates the troops" brouhaha than on the actual point he was trying to make. Right, Dan Rather? It doesn't help matters that Kerry and Co. keep apologizing every time they flub an obvious point, thus validating the immensely vapid tsk-tsking from desperate conservatives. Given that track, the Democrats are going to be even sorrier if voters shy away from them next week.


nolalily said...

Kerry doesn't owe anybody an apology. The whole issue is a complete fantasy and a diversion created by desperate Republicans. If you listened to Kerry's comment, even without him adding the notorious missing "us", it is clear that he was insulting George Bush's intelligence and not that of the troops.

Wanna know what the joke is? It's the Republicans who are counting on you to be stupid enough to take their word for anything.

Phillip said...

Amen. They're too stupid to even realize that they're the ones being called stupid.

Phillip said...

And one more point: What office is Kerry currently running for? I didn't realize he was up for re-election. Pundits incessantly claim that this election isn't a referendum on Bush, but a gaff (at BEST) made by Kerry is enough for them to taint the entire Democratic party as anti-military? Again, how could they be dumb enough not to realize that they were the ones being called dumb? (By "they" I mean the people who actually believe that Kerry was talking about our troops in Iraq, not the ones who know he wasn't but are trying to make hay of it.)

Anonymous said...

I was completely surprised that he finally apologized albeit after much arm twisting by his own party. I mean if you aren't going to apologize for calling the troops terrorists why should you apologize for calling them dumb?

Phillip said...

All Kerry should have apologized for was the Republicans' deliberate distortion about the aforementioned and for the president himself.

Ian McGibboney said...

Cajun Tiger: a conservative friend of mine--who thinks Kerry is one of the worst people in politics--completely agrees with me that Kerry's words have been twisted beyond belief. He understands what Kerry meant to say, and even agrees with Kerry's intended message to an extent.

I'd like to think that your derision of Kerry stems from partisan loyalty rather than some inability to comprehend a simple message. Which is it?

Nick said...

I don't think Kerry was trying to insult the troops, rather, was trying to take a shot at Bush. Instead, all Kerry ended up doing was proving to the nation that he's actually a bigger dunce than the President. And by being such a dumb-ass, even to the point he didn't realize he screwed up his "great" joke until the media pointed it out, he ruined any chance he might have had at the White House in '08.

Ian McGibboney said...

Nick, the only people in the nation who think Kerry is a dunce for his comment are the people who already thought that. I don't think the gaffe changed a single mind in America.

Incidentally, Nick, I have to question you just like I questioned Cajun Tiger. I can understand your dislike of Kerry; but do you honestly think he's a dunce? Wasn't the criticism of Kerry in 2004 all about his intellectual dryness? Slam the man if you want to, but at least be honest about it.

What I see in both yours and CT's analysis of this incident is an eager acceptance of every idiotic criticism made about it. At least be selective when on your high horse.

Nick said...

What the hell does intellectual dryness have to do with real intellegence. Kerry tries to act really smart and as if he's intellectually above everyone, but when it comes down to it, he's every bit as dumb as the man he was trying to put down.

But I see your point, it's ok to say Bush's dumb, but it's not ok to say that about Kerry, though he trips over himself just as much as Bush does. After all, you made a pretty ridiculous statement in the post above, saying Bush wouldn't pass the 4 question test I posed b/c, as you said, he's dumb.

Maybe I am on a high horse, but at least I am selective. I know a dumb ass politician when I see one.

Ian McGibboney said...

By "intellectual dryness," I mean that one of the major points made against both Kerry and Al Gore were that they were inanimate, overly analytical and hard to relate to. Bush, on the other hand, was "folksy," "down home," and a "Washington outsider." Correct me if I'm wrong, but Dubya was always portrayed as the voice of the common American, the one who led with his heart rather than by his brain. The one with whom you'd want to have a beer (his alcoholism notwithstanding), because he could talk to you on a mutual level.

Not until now has anyone tried to even pretend that Kerry is dumb, or a serial flubber of words. Indeed, the headlines his flub has generated (and what timing for Republicans!) would seem to indicate that such a thing is extremely rare. Bush should be so lucky that his own idiotic statements would make news. But they don't, because everyone expects that of him.

Which is why I said Bush wouldn't pass the test in the first place. Of course there was some sarcasm there; but I was serious about his contempt for the checks and balances of the three governmental branches. A president is not supposed just rewrite the rules of governance as he sees fit; and yet, that is what Bush does at every opportunity. If he took the test, he'd make up his own answers.

yournamehere said...

-Of course the Republicans know Kerry wasn't calling the troops "stupid". What amazed me was the criticism from John McCain. I used to admire Senator McCain, even if I didn't always agree with his politics. Now he's just another typical politician. Really, how many times is he going to throw his so-called "friend", John Kerry, under the bus?

-Hillary Clinton also criticized Kerry. Big surprise. A McCain-Hillary race in 2008 would be interesting: Two of the most shameless opportunists of modern times battling in the ultimate pander-off. I'm already sick to my stomach.

Anonymous said...

What gave this story legs is that it was said by Kerry, whose past statements about our troops are way worse than his botched joke.

I know what he was trying to say and I think it is poetic justice or Freudian slip, whichever you like, that it came out the way it did to further illustrate his career of bashing the troops.

And to go with your train of thought that he is not dumb (which I actually agree with), we all know that it only takes one event (Dean scream) or mistake (Lott statements about Thurmond) to completely change someone's political fortunes. Like it or not, that's politics and it happens on both sides of the aisle.

Ian McGibboney said...


What exactly has Kerry said, recently or ever, to undermine our troops? What statements has he ever made that disparaged the people fighting the war, as opposed to attacking the dubious administrative policies that got them fighting in the first place?

It makes me sick to see Republicans deride Kerry on military issues when he has served his country, faced extreme danger and had the courage to call his superiors to task, both then and now. All of this has come on the part of those who support a cowardly warmonger who didn't even have the nuts to finish his cushy National Guard enlistment. It's sick, sick, sick.

The GOP has changed the entire structure of politics, much the way HIV changes the DNA of its host. This is why Democrats flounder over such superfluous bullshit as Dean's scream. How in the world did something that silly get equated to the racist remarks of a snarly Republican? And why does it spell political death to show some emotion? Especially when conservatives jeer Gore and Kerry for being too dull?

I'll tell you why: because the right-wing hit machine and its apologists will leave no depth untouched in order to frame the debate and steer attention away from their own unjustifiable policies. And, for that reason alone, today's Republican Party is one of the lowest forms of life currently walking this planet. For the first time in my life, I have ZERO respect for any of them.

Anonymous said...

Let's about this about soldiers in Vietnam:

raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Ghengis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war.

And this about our soldiers in Iraq:

going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, you know, women

Nah...neither of those would undermine our troops in harms way. Definitely doesn't in any way disparage the people fighting the war.

Ian McGibboney said...

Is it wrong to tell the truth? He's not saying all soldiers did that, but some did. And none of those things should ever be tolerated. And I think that if a troop is strong enough to go to war, then their resolve is strong enough to handle honest criticism about dubious actions.

Only an idiot would think that such statements undermine the troops. I'd think what undermines the troops is the GOP policies that give them no clear mission, deny them necessary armaments and protection and slash their benefits.