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John Kerry politics: Enough is enough

By Frank Salvato
web posted November 6, 2006

John KerryAt a rally in California where he was to speak on the subject of education, John Kerry once again placed his foot squarely in his mouth when he attempted to wax comedic with an underhanded swipe he claims he directed at the Bush Administration. But the overriding issue has turned out not to be Kerry's comedic ineptitude and his poor command of the English language. Instead, the 400 lb. gorilla in the spotlight is the unyielding arrogance with which he defended his offensive remarks, an arrogance that has permeated the Progressive-Left and hijacked the Democratic Party.

Perhaps if Kerry had paid attention in his college English classes rather than skipping them to attend yacht parties with the Kennedys he wouldn't be in the predicament that he is today. Perhaps he would have come away with enough respect for the English language to understand that it matters which words you use when attempting to dabble in humor.

But there is little respect and nothing funny to be found in Kerry's statement:

"You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you can do well. If you don't you get stuck in Iraq."

This comment elicited immediate groans from the crowd, and from a Democratic crowd at that. It created a nightmare for his political handlers, provided a mother-load of grist for his detractors – and the opponents of Democratic candidates everywhere, and validated my suspicion that Kerry has no comedic talent whatsoever.

The criticism being leveled at Kerry for this ill-conceived and poorly delivered joke is valid, even if some of it is politically motivated. The rational person took his statement literally and in the context it was presented. From that perspective the statement appeared to be leveled at those physically in Iraq – the men and women of the US Armed Forces – whether Kerry intended that to be the case or not.

With so many people from so many different points in the American spectrum cringing at Kerry's remark, suggesting and in many cases demanding that Kerry apologize, common sense mandated that Kerry, if he were a smart man, would have used his hastily convened press conference to apologize to those who may have felt slighted while clarifying his statement. A smart politician would have viewed this opportunity as a win-win situation; an opportunity to showcase that he was strong enough to apologize when thought of as wrong and to conveniently take another center-stage swipe at the opposition party just prior to elections.

But then no one ever accused John Kerry of being smart.

Instead of utilizing this opportunity to score some political points that could have very well helped his fellow Democrats on November 7th, he once again displayed his elitist arrogance by not only refusing to offer an apology to those who took offense at his comment but by going on the attack:

"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. This is the classic GOP playbook. I'm sick and tired of these despicable Republican attacks that always seem to come from those who never can be found to serve in war, but love to attack those who did.

"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. It disgusts me that these Republican hacks, who have never worn the uniform of our country lie and distort so blatantly and carelessly about those who have.

"The people who owe our troops an apology are George W. Bush and Dick Cheney who misled America into war and have given us a Katrina foreign policy that has betrayed our ideals, killed and maimed our soldiers, and widened the terrorist threat instead of defeating it. These Republicans are afraid to debate veterans who live and breathe the concerns of our troops, not the empty slogans of an Administration that sent our brave troops to war without body armor.

"Bottom line, these Republicans want to debate straw men because they're afraid to debate real men. And this time it won't work because we're going to stay in their face with the truth and deny them even a sliver of light for their distortions. 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."

Wow! How many political talking points, personal attacks, opportunistic and misleading statements can one politician weave into a non-apology?

Kerry has since issued this statement, framed as an apology, although it leaves a bit of wiggle-room for blaming anybody but him for the words that came out of his mouth:

"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."

Quite frankly, the larger point to be taken away from Kerry's comments isn't that he has a deficient command of the English language or a pitiable sense of humor; it is that his elitist arrogance won't allow him to take responsibility for his words. Instead, there always has to be an excuse – a "botched joke," "misinterpretation" or a "partisan attack."

This shortcoming isn't limited to John Kerry; it is identifiable in most every member of the Progressive-Left. There is hardly a week that goes by when Progressive-Leftists aren't shouting down Conservative speakers, insisting that unfounded media reports are facts or posting profane and untruthful attacks on their opponents on websites like DailyKos, MoveOn.org or the Democratic Underground.

This over-modulated bullhorn mentality has hijacked the Democratic Party and it is precisely this type of haughty liberal elitism that has kept Democrats from winning elections.

Far be it from me to give political advice to the opposition, but if Democrats want to start making in-roads with the American people they must first purge their party of the liberal elitists and the Progressive-Left; they must exorcise the bullhorn mentality from their ranks, and they should do so "in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan." ESR

Frank Salvato is the managing editor for The New Media Journal. He serves at the Executive Director of the Basics Project, a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(C)(3) research and education initiative. His pieces are regularly featured in over 100 publications both nationally and internationally. He has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor, and is a regular guest on The Right Balance with Greg Allen on the Accent Radio Network, as well as an occasional guest on numerous radio shows coast to coast. He recently partnered in producing the first-ever symposium on the threat of radical Islamist terrorism in Washington, DC. His pieces have been recognized by the House International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for Conflict. He can be contacted at oped@newmediajournal.us. Copyright © 2006 Frank Salvato


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