In 2004, I can't tell you how frustrated I became - more and more by the day - by Senator Kerry's slowness to tap into the pulse of the people. My blog was filled with advice to Senator Kerry to speak out on the Iraq war with force and convincing reason - and to defend himself against the Swift Boat political operatives.
This time, I'm afraid it doesn't matter what his intent was in making that lame joke. He can try to defend it 'til the cows come home and the stupid (but unstoppable) media machinery gears will keep on rolling right over him until he offers a heartfelt apology.
Listening to his rationalizing about his unfortunate choice of words, refusing to apologize, I could imagine many people out there seeing him as
- still angry having lost the election with the knowledge that he lost, in good part, because he would not speak out strongly and early enough on the Bush-made miserable mess that was (and still is) the Iraq war. Politically, I think that it's too late for him to grouse about it now.
- just as stubborn as Bush when he's wrong.
- for many who could not afford college for themselves or their kids, his arrogance probably made them see him as an elite bumbler who wouldn't know a poor, struggling person if he stepped on one.
- for military families, sadness to see the 2004 Democratic candidate make a joke against Bush at their families' expense. I'm sure they never expected someone like Kerry [for whom many say they voted in 2004 Dem primaries because of his "gravitas"] to do something like that.
He needs to apologize and clarify. My hope is that, if he can create a speech that includes an apology - and then if he can proceed to focus on the real issue at hand, which is underhanded and institutionalized methods of military recruitment of our youth at a time when a Bush-administration-generated abuse of the military may cause the military to be weakened a la "shake and bake" [aka conscription, which is fatal to military performance and unsettling to politics], then perhaps we can really get somewhere. Kerry is an expert, unfortunately, at being in a seemingly endless war where the enemy is invisible and the goals are not clearly delineated and the military is demoralized. He could turn this media hype around to America's advantage - and I hope he can and will do so.
By the way, there could not have been a sicker or a more disrespectful joke made at the expense of our troops and their families than Bush making a JOKE of the absence of WMD in Iraq. I'm sure you remember his disgusting attempt at humor - a video of him groping around the oval office and under his desk looking for WMD. He never paid politically for that, and I wonder why Kerry would have to politically pay for something far less insulting?
Bill O'Reilly (from the woefully unbalanced Fox News network) has actually made a comment with which I agree:
"I don't believe John Kerry meant to demean any American military member. I just don't. I think that fair-minded people know that that would be political suicide for the senator. He wouldn't do it" ("O'Reilly Factor," 10/31). [source: National Journal]
You've got to love James Carville's snappy wit:
"It is much easier to say, I botched a joke, than to say, I botched a war."
Ask a Democratic politician seeking office on November 7th who's been to the Iraq war. Tammy Duckworth, a major in the Illinois Army National Guard who lost her legs in the Iraq war and is now the Democratic candidate for the open 6th District seat in Illinois, said had this to say:
“Nobody needs to tell me the quality of the men and women I served with in Iraq. I know....What our troops need isn’t more political rhetoric and either party playing games with this. What our troops need is a plan for how to get them out of Iraq safely, responsibly, while providing the Iraqis with the security forces that they need. If you really want to support the troops then let’s come up with a measurable plan for how to get out troops out of Iraq.”