John "I Support the Troops of Ghengis Khan" Kerry reassures Bush voters that they made the right choice in 2004 by delivering this updated support for the troops at a campaign rally for Gubernatorial candidate Angelides in California:
“You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.”
Here is a local paper covering the same event, giving us a bit of crow reax:
Hoping to breathe life into a flagging gubernatorial run, Democrats on Monday turned out a cast of party all-stars for Phil Angelides at a Pasadena City College appearance.
Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, state Assembly Speaker Fabian Nu ez and California Sen. Barbara Boxer all gave the California treasurer ringing endorsements, while telling about 370 PCC students that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger does not have their best interests in mind.
...But while the students showed proper enthusiasm for Angelides by waving his signs and wooing and booing at the right places, the energy in the room clearly belonged to Kerry. He took the stage to roaring applause and left it only to be mobbed by students and reporters.
Kerry charmed the crowd with tales of surfing at Mission Beach and got laughs for a series of one liners, including telling the crowd he had just returned from Texas, "Where the president used to live - now he lives in a state of denial."
Kerry then told the students that if they were able to navigate the education system, they could get comfortable jobs - "If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq," he said to a mixture of laughter and gasps.
I want to say that having listened carefully to the audio, it is possible that Kerry was misunderstood - he did not say "if you study hard... you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq". What he said was, unless you study hard "you get stuck with Democrats".
MORE: This may simply be a well-done spoof site, but here is Kerry's "response". Shorter Kerry - Your mother wears Army boots but you never did. And Rush Limbaugh is fat.
As Teresa might say, quel clown. Jiminy, Kerry had a choice: (a) apologize, get beaten for a news cycle, and move on, or (b) try to tough it out and turn this into a multi-day beat down. Hey, (b) works for me.
Hot Air has more, including a CNN clip - apparently CNN is pushing this hard.
John McCain thinks Kerry owes the troops an apology:
Senator Kerry owes an apology to the many thousands of Americans serving in Iraq, who answered their country’s call because they are patriots and not because of any deficiencies in their education. Americans from all backgrounds, well off and less fortunate, with high school diplomas and graduate degrees, take seriously their duty to our country, and risk their lives today to defend the rest of us in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.
They all deserve our respect and deepest gratitude for their service. The suggestion that only the least educated Americans would agree to serve in the military and fight in Iraq, is an insult to every soldier serving in combat, and should deeply offend any American with an ounce of appreciation for what they suffer and risk so that the rest of us can sleep more comfortably at night. Without them, we wouldn’t live in a country where people securely possess all their God-given rights, including the right to express insensitive, ill-considered and uninformed remarks.
KERRY'S SIDE: From the Huffers we see that Kerry simply can't tell a joke - he meant to deliver a Bush-basher with "You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq" as the punchline.
Fine - Kerry should apologize for not being able to speak English as well as the typical recruit. But enough already with Kerry delivering "Bush is dumb" jokes.
FROM HOTLINE: Hotline asks a couple of presumably non-rhethorical questions:
Do Republicans really believe that Kerry wasn't talking about Pres. Bush? (We believe that Kerry was referring to Bush because he's used a similar formulation in our presence before and quite clearly meant to call Bush a dummy.)
Aren't Republicans being a bit intellectually dishonest by taking Kerry out of context?
As to the "context" question, the quote was clear enough and Kerry's non-apology was absurd enough. Kerry's backdoor 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. However, Kinsley's definition of a gaffe applies - this appears to be a perfect case of a politician telling the truth. Let me break it to Hotline gently - I think there are plenty of Republicans who don't believe the Democrats (and particularly the Democrats of Kerry's anti-war generation) have a visceral respect for the military.
Possible data points would include:
(a) Kerry's Winter Soldier testimony - many Swift Vets saw his characterization of the troops in Vietnam as murderous rapists akin to the army of Ghengis Khan as something like the opposite of support.
(b) Charles Rangel's call for a draft. I understand he had many motivations, but his basic message is that the poor get stuck with serving because "the rich" have better choices. That is quite consistent with Kerry's message of 'study hard, don't get stuck in Iraq'.
(c) Has Hotline checked the availaibilty of ROTC on Ivy campuses?
(d) Kerry is a liberal Northeasterner. White Northeasterners are under-represented in military recruiting (Go West, and South, young man!). I daresay that wealthy white liberal Northeasterners are very under-represented in military recruiting. In Kerry's milieu, people don't enlist and their sons and daughter don't enlist. Kerry himself only enlisted after his deferments ran out. [Lots on recruiting here; more in the CS Monitor.]
Look, it may not be fair to characterize Democrats as believing that military service is a last choice rather than a first choice, but I think many Republicans believe that of Dems, and not entirely without reason. Consequently, I did not read Kerry's remark and immediately think that he could not have meant it. As an alternative example, if Kerry had been quoted as mocking black people I would have immediately assumed his mouth had disconnected from his brain, as has happened before.