Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I Wish I Could Fire off Retorts that Good

From the wacky world of inter-party shouting matches: John Kerry said something stupid (presumably on accident), and Tony Snow called him on it, then Kerry came back with a total zinger.

Kerry, who was speaking to a group of students, warned them that those who don't study hard or do well in school could "get stuck in Iraq." At today's White House press briefing, Snow said Kerry should apologize to US troops and their families for insinuating that those who serve in the military are not smart. "What Senator Kerry ought to do first is apologize to the troops," Snow said. "This is an absolute insult. And I'm a little astonished that he didn't figure it out already." Snow was clearly prepped and probably looking to fire up the Republican faithful with attacks on Kerry, one of their favorite punching bags.

Kerry, who has been appealing more and more to the Democratic left as he plots a second run for president, quickly fired back at Snow with an unusually strong-worded press release arguing that President Bush and Vice President Cheney should be the ones to apologize to the troops. "If anyone thinks a veteran would criticize the more than 140,000 heroes serving in Iraq and not the president who got us stuck there, they're crazy," Kerry said. "I'm not going to be lectured by a stuffed suit White House mouthpiece standing behind a podium, or doughy Rush Limbaugh, who no doubt today will take a break from belittling Michael J. Fox's Parkinson's disease to start lying about me just as they have lied about Iraq."

Oh snap! I should consult John Kerry next time my sister and I start bickering.

Seriously, though, I'm glad he fought back, especially given that his offensive remark was a mis-statement. He meant to say "if you don't study, if you aren't smart, if you're intellectually lazy... You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq." He left out the "getting us" part. So he meant to imply that George W. Bush is the dullard for getting us stuck in Iraq, not that the troops were relegated to life of military service because they weren't smart enough to get better jobs.


Thinker said...

According to the NY Times report, he also said,

“No Democrat will be bullied by an administration that has a cut-and-run policy in Afghanistan and a stand-still-and-lose strategy in Iraq,” he said in his statement. At his news conference, he accused Republicans of creating “straw men” because “they’re afraid to debate real men.”

Kenny said...

Still, the initial joke? Rather poor and incredibly forced. I'm actually disinclined to believe the botched joke explanation simply because, while in bad taste, especially for a politician, the botched version makes more sense.

Someone with no education is at risk to find himself with few options but the military (which is not to say that this is the only reason to join the military, which is where Kerry is taking flak, no pun intended). In the context of his speech, this could be seen as a motivator to pursue education with great vigor, which is what he was talking about.

However, I doubt that anyone is going to study extra hard because they fear that someday they will be President and find themselves inadvertently invading a country without a well-considered exit strategy. I can just see all the mothers across the country nagging kids to do their homework: "If you don't study hard you will grow up to be President and start an unpopular war. Why can't you be more like your brother Jimmy? He gets straight A's--when he is President he will have a much higher approval rating and history will look upon his legacy favorably."

What I am saying is that if Kerry really meant to slam Bush rather than accidentally slighting the troops, that was a long way to go for an out-of-place joke that is too depressing to actually earn a laugh. The fact that he delivered it with dour solemnity also did not exactly help "sell it."

Tommaso Sciortino said...

I find your interpretation incredibly stretched Kenny. Jokes don't have to be realistic and he "denigrate the troops" interpretation is especially ridiculous considering that John Kerry *volunteered* for service in Vietnam *twice* even though he studied hard and did do his homework.

And really, how can anyone believe Kerry would purposefully denigrate the troops? Do you honestly think his speech-writers are that insane? Isn't it much more plausible that John Kerry just flubbed a line?

It's really depressing that reasonable people would even contemplate this interpretation.

Sorry. I haven't been getting a lot of sleep lately and maybe this comment is meaner than it should be.

Kenny said...

Fair enough... personally and professionally it doesn't make much sense that Kerry would say that on purpose. I'm just saying that it doesn't fit at all in the flow or context of his speech. And if you were going to go that far out of your way for a political slam in an essentially nonpolitical speech, you'd think you'd at least take enough care to deliver it properly. On the other hand, the original line was too wordy and had an awkward rhythm--maybe that's why he stumbled.

Tommaso Sciortino said...

Sorry, my last comment was too mean. Let's just say that we call all agree that John Kerry isn't too good at speechifying.