The Commonwealth Comment

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

John Kerry vs. The White House

While speaking to a group of students in California, Senator John Kerry (MA-Dem.) Told students to keep their grades up and do well in school or they'll end up getting stuck in Iraq. This statement has sparked outrage across the country tagging Kerry, a Vietnam veteran, as a "Troop Basher".

Kerry claims that it was a "botched" joke intended for George W. Bush. The punch line he unintentionally dropped was "Just ask President Bush." In the mean time the floundering GOP has taken Kerry's comments as the chance to strike the Democrats one week before the mid-term elections. Senator John McCain (AZ-Rep.) has openly demanded an apology from Kerry. The President at a rally in Georgia said "...our troops are plenty smart and plenty brave, and the Senator from Massachusetts owes them an apology."

After an initial hard line stance against apologizing for his criticism of President Bush, Kerry released this statement:

"As a combat veteran, I want to make it clear to anyone in uniform and to their loved ones: my poorly stated joke at a rally was not about, and never intended to refer to any troop.
I sincerely regret that my words were misinterpreted to wrongly imply anything negative about those in uniform, and I personally apologize to any service member, family member, or American who was offended.
It is clear the Republican Party would rather talk about anything but their failed security policy. I don’t want my verbal slip to be a diversion from the real issues. I will continue to fight for a change of course to provide real security for our country, and a winning strategy for our troops."

My Opinion: Bravo to John Kerry for initially refusing to apologize for his criticism of the President. The "botched" joke was intended for Bush, not for the troops. The idea that a Vietnam veteran would openly attack the troops' intelligence is outrageous. Shame on the GOP for knowingly twisting Kerry's words and shame on the media for their coverage which did not clearly explain what really happened.


  • Go Democrats!!!!

    I concur with you Mr. O Leary, the joke did indeed seem to be a jab at the president's less than stellar education records...unfortunately, Mr. Kerry just offered up an apology to anyone offended by the poorly executed joke.

    Peace and goodwill

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 8:00 PM  

  • I think Kerry could have made his point better, but the GOP was unfair in twisting his words.
    I think it's important that Kerry apologized, because it shows that he won't be stubborn against Bush even if it means that the troops and their families might be offended. Sometimes, it's just better to let go and move on than to risk hurting others. If anyone at this time is deserving of honor, it's those troops who are serving their country, even though their country fails to serve them.

    By Blogger Lynette, At 1:56 PM  

  • I think his apology was forced. It wasn't been the first time the GOP has twisted a Democrats' words so it appears to be "troop bashing", and probably won't be the last. I look forward to a Democratic legislature and a balance of power between the legislative and executive branches.

    By Blogger James O'Leary, At 7:10 PM  

  • The original quote was:

    "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. And if you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

    Even with the alleged punchline -- "Just ask President Bush" -- the "joke" makes no sense. I say this because:

    a. Bush may be "stuck in Iraq", but trying to make people believe it's because of his bad educational record is a little rich.
    2. Kerry's educational record was no better than Bush's.

    So whether or not you think Kerry intended to insult the troops, you have to agree that he's not exactly Groucho Marx.

    But you say, "Bravo to John Kerry for initially refusing to apologize for his criticism of the President." Kerry MAY have intended to criticize the President, but what he actually said was only a clumsy, insensitive, divisive remark that fully deserves bipartisan censure. Don't try to cast him as a brave dissenter struggling against the forces of repression. He's just an idiot.

    Heck, this is a mis-statement worthy of Bush, and people jump on him whenever he says something stupid. Kerry should receive equal treatment.

    --JBM (You know who)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 12:40 AM  

  • JBM, I feel as though John Kerry would have apologized for his honest mistake if he weren't pushed. When the GOP jumps on him, knowingly twisting his word to make him appear anti-troop and demanding an apology. I have a problem with that. That is dirty politics. Something Karl Rove and George Bush specialize in.

    Like it or not Senator Kerry served in Vietnam, he knows what its like to be on the front lines. To accuse him or any other veteran of not supporting the troops for political gain is shameful.

    By Blogger James O'Leary, At 3:27 PM  

  • To accuse a veteran of not supporting the troops is shameful? What, do veterans get a free pass? Do veterans NEVER turn into political hacks? Do they NEVER play for votes?

    Of COURSE it's possible for a veteran to demean the military. However, I'm not saying Kerry did. After reading Kerry's explanation of his "joke," it does seem as if he sincerely did not mean to insult the troops. But when I first read his original quote -- in Time Magazine, not exactly a conservative rag -- the first and most obvious conclusion was that Kerry had insulted the troops. I was surprised, but without his apology I had no other conclusion.

    In other words, Kerry made HIMSELF appear anti-troop. Had he apologized and explained immediately, perhaps the GOP wouldn't have been able to jump on him. Which is why I think it's ridiculous to "congratulate John Kerry for initially refusing to apologize." You say something stupid, you say sorry. Them's the rules.

    Besides, if emphasizing Kerry's misstep is "dirty politics," then so is joking about Bush's educational record. "Bush did badly in school" is a played-out, irrelevant Democratic jab.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 11:04 PM  

  • Jay Ben, you should volunteer for Rumsfeld's Transition-to-a-Long-Overdue-Retirement Team.

    By Blogger Mike, At 4:14 AM  

  • I'm not exactly sure what that means, but it's mildly funny so I'll let it pass.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 9:40 AM  

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