Scott Lehigh of the Boston Globe shares his view "that the people whose intelligence is really being insulted here are not US soldiers, but American voters"....not by... John Kerry, but by Republicans...
So now who's joking?
By Scot Lehigh | November 3, 2006
THANK GOODNESS John Kerry has finally apologized for his outrageous slandering of our troops in Iraq.
But let's put the credit for that apology where it belongs: with our valiant Republican officeholders.
Why, Governor Romney leapt into action almost as soon as Kerry's scandalous remarks surfaced on Tuesday.
"Senator Kerry owes an apology to the thousands of men and women serving in Iraq," said he.
Or rather, his press release. The Mittster himself was out west campaigning.
Romney, of course, knows how serious these matters can be. His father, George, saw his 1968 presidential hopes implode after an offhand remark. So it was good of him to review Kerry's comments and give the hapless senator some helpful advice.
But he was hardly the only Republican at the ready.
Senator John McCain, conductor of the Straight Talk Express, fairly oozed sincerity as he counseled that Kerry could put this matter behind him, but only if he apologized to the troops.
And there was President Bush himself. This president knows a joke when he sees one -- he, after all, starred in that hilarious video about his failure to find WMD in Iraq -- and Kerry's remark surely didn't qualify. So the president castigated his former foe on the stump and in a conversation with political philosopher Rush Limbaugh, who was taking a break from his invaluable work exposing Parkinson's poseurs.
As someone who applauds the P.C. police who patrol our colleges, demanding apologies and sensitivity training from and for anyone who says anything that someone might somehow construe as offensive, I was heartened to see so many Republicans embrace that mentality.
But what's with White House press secretary Tony Snow?
He actually broke into a grin on Wednesday when he insisted the White House, in demanding that Kerry apologize, was trying to help the senator put the issue behind him. Why, if you didn't realize the severity of Kerry's offense, you might have thought that Snow considered the Republican clamor just so much political theater.
Yes, it's true that Kerry claims he was trying to mock Bush, not demean our soldiers, by quipping that if you don't study hard and try to be smart, "you get stuck in Iraq," and that his jibe just came out wrong. And if you look at Kerry's prepared text, it's possible to conclude the president actually was his intended target. That text has this punchline for Kerry's joke about the fate of the intellectually lazy: "You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq. Just ask President Bush."
So I felt Kerry's explanation might be plausible -- until I asked our newly returned governor whether he really thought Kerry had meant to insult our troops rather than tweak the president.
"When I saw his comments, I was just astounded," said Romney. "What he said was offensive."
But wasn't Kerry's remark ambiguous enough to support the senator's claim?
"I'm sorry," said Romney. "The quote is extraordinarily direct. It is very, very, very direct."
You can't get any more direct than that, not without another adverb, anyway. And Mitt, don't forget, holds both a law degree and an MBA from Harvard.
So I guess that settles it.
Mind you, Romney was understanding.
"He may not have meant to say that," he allowed. "But that is what he said."
He even explained how Kerry should move forward.
"He of course should apologize for what he said, and then if he wants to make a joke about the president, he can do that."
But there are perils there, too.
"Calling the president stupid puts him in the category of Hugo Chavez," Romney said. "That is not a good idea, either."
No sirree. Why, if that rascally Chavez said it was a nice day out, I, for one, would insist a northeaster had struck, just to avoid his category.
Sorry, I'm being flip. Perhaps I should apologize for not treating this matter with the utter seriousness it deserves.
It's certainly true that John Kerry has an odd habit of putting his head on a golf tee and handing his opponents a driver.
And yet, deep down, I find myself thinking that the people whose intelligence is really being insulted here are not US soldiers, but American voters.
And not by a stumble-tongued John Kerry, but by Republicans desperate to conjure an imaginary insult out of the ether.