right-wing nut jobs reduce everything to politics!

As anyone who's been to law school knows, one of the things that lawyers are trained to do is argue inconsistent theories in the alternative. Not that this makes much sense in real life, but in a legal setting it is sometimes necessary, because if one argument fails, why, you still have the other one.

John Kerry's remarkable defense of his political gaffe yesterday strikes me as a classic. Here's the now famous statement, made before a college crowd:

"You know education, if you make the most of it, and you study hard, and you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."
On its face, the statement asserts a relationship between educational proficiency and service in Iraq (if not military service generally) as one of logical cause and effect. If A, then B. If no A, then C. But no sooner was the statement treated that way than Kerry asserted that it was really an attack on Bush -- which had been "distorted" by "assorted right-wing nut jobs." I guess that's another logical assertion. If you think he meant other than what he says he meant, you are a distorting member of the right-wing nut job assortment.

So I want to be fair, and I will attempt to examine the statement in the context Kerry asserts he made it. Today's Inquirer headlines the admitted gaffe not as a gaffe, but as an "exchange of fire" between Kerry and Bush:

'04 foes exchange fire anew on troops, war, education

Bush says Kerry bashed military. Kerry says he bashed Bush.

If I didn't spend so much time on the Internet and I'd read that, I'd have thought this was not a gaffe at all, but some sort of debate between Kerry and Bush. The headline supports Kerry's assertion that he really meant to attack Bush. The words of the actual gaffe (that started it all) do not appear on the front page; they're at the bottom of page A-12. Before we even read the remarks, we read that that they were being misconstrued by lying Republican "hacks" as a statement that allegedly stupid soldiers who didn't get good grades in college get stuck in Iraq.

And when we finally get to the actual remarks, they are coupled with another remarkable assertion from Kerry -- that they were not political:

[...]"You know, 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. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

That, Kerry said, was meant as a reference to Bush, not to troops. Kerry said it was Bush who owed U.S. soldiers an apology - for "a Katrina foreign policy" that he said misled the country into war in Iraq, failed to adequately study and plan for the aftermath, had not properly equipped troops, and had expanded the terrorist threat.

Kerry called the White House attack "a classic GOP textbook Republican campaign tactic" that he said revealed Republicans' "willingness to reduce anything in America to raw politics."

So, not only is Bush now involved, but so is Katrina!

But remember, it's not about politics!

Why do these mean Republican distorters always try to make everything political?

This is what I mean about arguing in the alternative. The problem is that even if I bend over backwards and go along with Kerry's later interpretation (dumb Bush and not dumb students), by what stretch of the imagination can an attack on Bush for being stupid be said to be anything other than "raw politics"?

I don't see how. I just can't bend over backwards that far without falling down.

But this may be evidence that Kerry spends his time with the crowd of people I posted about yesterday. For all I know, Kerry is one of those people who think that political attacks on the president or the war are not political at all. But if you disagree, then you're the one who's making it political. As Judith Weiss put it,

In other words, they brought up politics, but they are the only ones who get to play. If you join in, you are the one who soured the conversation by bringing up politics.
Might Kerry actually be thinking that it was the Republican liars who soured the conversation he was having with students?

(I can think of no other explanation, and I have to say, I'm glad I didn't vote for him.)

Before Kerry's non-political remarks were transformed by Republican liars into "raw politics," Donald Sensing [HT Justin] had been trying to avoid politics:

Since the 2004 election, I decided to avoid posting about partisan politics, that is, issues attached to candidates or holders of office. I decided to discuss issues as before, but without discussing the personalities behind those issues except, as far as possible, in a non-partisan way.

Until today.

He heard Kerry's remarks while on the way to a funeral of a family friend killed in action in Iraq recently, and he's now planning to hold his nose and vote Republican:
This Youtube video of Sen. John F. Kerry laying the most grievous insult upon Lance Cpl. Buerstetta and his peers explains why, as much as I will hold my nose to vote Republican next week, I cannot possibly bring myself to vote at this time for any Democrat.
Sensing shares the Anchoress's view that Kerry should simply apologize -- and he sees Kerry's failure to do so as a reminder of the way he tried to blame others for the remarks in his infamous "Ghengis Khan" speech.
....would not a proper gentleman, to say nothing of an astute politician, do this [apologize]? Yes, a proper gentleman or astute politician would - but remember, we're talking about John Kerry here.

Also, this man's open contempt for American troops and his overt willingness to flat-out lie about them goes back more than 30 years.

It certainly looks that way to me.

But I guess I'm just displaying a "willingness to reduce anything in America to raw politics."

UPDATE (10:54 a.m.): Senator Kerry has canceled his Philadelphia campaign visit, as well as other visits:

"We made a decision not to allow the Republican hate machine to use Democratic House candidates as proxies in their distorted spin war in which once again they're willing to exploit brave American troops," Kerry spokesperson David Wade said. "We've canceled campaign events in Pennsylvania today as well as for House candidates in Minnesota and Iowa today and tomorrow."

He told the talk show host Don Imus that he was returning to Washington D.C. to deal with the issue.

I think if he really wanted to help his party, he'd do better to apologize than to accuse people of being part of the "Republican hate machine" because they didn't like his remarks.

And gosh darn it, Kerry's cancellation nullifies all of my carefully laid plans to use Democratic House candidates as proxies in my distorted spin war to exploit the troops!


Tonight's Kerry appearance was supposed to be a plug for Democrat Bob Casey, who's a Senate candidate. (Maybe Kerry's left an undistorted loophole in the proxy spin war....)

AND MORE: Glenn Reynolds has an interesting roundup of Democrats like Harold Ford and others who are demanding apologies.

I guess the Republican hate machine's distorted spin war has claimed many victims.

AND MORE: Glenn also links La Shawn Barber, who thinks Kerry the war veteran couldn't have been so clueless in an election cycle as to have actually meant what he said, and that his remarks were in fact an attack on Bush which came out mangled. It's possible that he did intend an attack on Bush (which is why I attempted to analyze the remarks that way), but it's all the more reason Kerry should have simply -- and immediately -- apologized.

However, by hurling accusations and saying an attack on Bush for being stupid wasn't political, Kerry not only made it worse, but he has convinced me that he might very well have meant the remarks precisely as he said them.

Sure, Kerry is a war veteran. But he was also a war veteran when he said his fellow veterans had "personally 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, [and] razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan."

I guess it's some comfort that no matter what he meant yesterday, at least Kerry has grown more tolerant of his fellow veterans over the years.

MORE: I'm remembering Kerry's inappropriate remarks when he fell down and accused the Secret Service of knocking him over.

"I don't fall down," the "son of a b*itch knocked me over," were Kerry's words at the time.

It sounds to me as if Kerry suffers from a chronic inability to admit mistakes of any kind coupled with a failure of ordinary social graces.

This might explain Kerry's failure to apologize, regardless of whether he made a mistake or said what he said deliberately (or, possibly let slip what he thought even though he might not have intended to say it).

MORE: Kerry has apologized:

Fearful of damaging his own party in next week's elections, Sen. John Kerry apologized Wednesday to "any service member, family member or American" offended by remarks deemed by Republicans and Democrats to be insulting to U.S. forces in Iraq.

Six days before the election, the Democrats' 2004 presidential nominee said he wanted to avoid becoming a distraction in the final days of the battle for control of Congress. He added he sincerely regretted that his words were "misinterpreted to imply anything negative about those in uniform."

MORE: Did the Democrats make him apologize? Another Glenn Reynolds link to a huge list of right wing nutjobs in the Democratic Party demanding apologies makes me suspect that they did.

I think the real story is this vast right wing conspiracy in the Democratic Party.

posted by Eric on 11.01.06 at 07:32 AM


Right, Donald Sensing avoids politics.

Right, Donald Sensing wasn't going to vote Republican but now he is.

Right. John Kerry hates our troops and, of course, so do all Democrats.

I thought you couldn't bend over that far without falling down.

Pug   ·  November 1, 2006 10:30 AM

So Kerry's excuse is he didn't intend to bash the more educated than average troops serving in Iraq, he intended to bash Bush with his BA from Yale, and MBA Harvard.

It is easier to believe that everything Kerry said is a lie, including "and", "or", and "but".

Has Kerry signed his form 180 yet, so we can see his dishonorable discharge, changed into an honorable during the Carter amnesty?

Don Meaker   ·  November 1, 2006 11:39 AM

That was my thought all along: if he intended to bash Bush, did he mean that if you don't get an education you ... end up at Yale and Harvard ??

Regardless of what Kerry *really* wanted to say, he makes absolutely no sense.

He either offended the troops, or he made such a lame joke that only a lame camel would laugh.

locked closet   ·  November 1, 2006 12:09 PM

Kerry's remarks are a legitimate political issue because they remind voters -- less than one week before the mid-term elections -- that way too many Democrats -- way too many in their leadership and way too many of the hardcore leftists that would make policy from staff positions -- hold a negative opinion of members of our armed services. These negative opinions run the gamut from condescension, to willful ignorance, to outright loathing and disgust. John "in a fashion reminescent of 'JEN-jus' Khan" has a history of slandering and maligning our men and women in uniform. (He slandered himself, too, for good measure, calling himself a "war criminal.")

Not all Democrats are so depraved. Montana Senate candidate Jon Tester, for example, has been particularly blunt in criticizing Kerry. Thank you, Mr. Tester! And Rep. Ford. And that guy running in the Iowa 1st Congressional District. You're patriots who have earned respect.

But too many Democrats -- too many who will be in (or would be advising) a Democrat leadership share the opinion that military service is limited to the stupid, the dead-enders, and victims who have no other alternatives. You know that's true. Kerry's comment (joke?) resonates because it reminds us of an awful truth about too many leaders of one political party. Sorry. But that's just the way it is.

Rhodium Heart   ·  November 1, 2006 1:55 PM

Thank you Pug and Don, for pointing this out: Before Kerry can insult anyone, he has to first make sense, and this doesn't. The best I can figure is he had a flashback,to 1969, when it would've made sense.
Bush used it rather adroitly though to deflect the heat, didn't he?

Lyssa d   ·  November 2, 2006 12:03 PM

Again...I find myself shaking my head in dismay and disbelief at the principles of convenience of the left and their sniveling toadies in the media.

John Kerry is not now, was not in the 60's and at no time in between...anything other than an effite, opportunist, cloying, faux-elitist, windsock.

Is THIS the best the left has to offer? He was a D student himself, had the infinite "wisdom" to MARRY his way into the upper class...and no matter how often he reverts to the stiff-jawed Thurston Howell III linguistic affectation...he will always be a flunky political hack.

He either meant what he said out loud, or had a Freudian slip of his Jenjhis Khan tongue...no matter. He thinks the "little people" are there to serve his bloated ego and Herman Munster over-swelled hat size.

And here's the rub...the left doesn't have the moral courage to stand up and say "right is right, wrong is wrong, fair is fair". They didn't with Ted Kennedy and his frolic and detour into a cold stream of unconsciousness, they didn't when Jimmy Carter the anti-Semitic coward broke the Logan Laws several times, they didn't when Michael Moore basically preached anarchy amidst brutal lies, they didn't when Clinton got caught trashing a 20 year old intern and called her a liar, they didn't when Joe Lieberman stood up and showed what real moral courage was all about and they didn't once again when John Kerry let slip what they really feel about our troops.

Ask Sy Hersh what the left really feels about our troops.

The left has no moral grounding when it comes to our soldiers. They hate them and WANT to call them rapists, baby-killers, monsters...it's just not in the current leftist playbook...because it doesn't play well in Peoria.

Let's quit trying to whitewash where the left really lives.

The right has their issues...but failure to support the troops isn't one of them.

cf bleachers   ·  November 2, 2006 8:02 PM

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