Kerry Was Wrong, But Response From Bush, Radio Ranters Was Plenty Wrong, Too
John Kerry was wrong.
His series of jokes at the president's expense, including one that suggested those unable to navigate the country's education system "get stuck in Iraq," were ill-timed and unnecessary.
On the eve of an election -- in which Kerry's seat is not in play -- the junior Senator from Massachusetts gave the media, the conservative media and the White House a day to talk about nothing but his stupid comments. He gave the Republicans a chance for one day, and probably more, to talk about something other than the Iraq War, that Osama Bin Laden is still at large, the Mark Foley scandal, or any number of other more pressing issues.
To use sports parlance, you never give your opponent four or five outs in an inning as a result of your mistakes. With the Democrats leading in the 9th inning, Kerry just booted the ball, big-time, and gave the Republicans an extra chance to catch up.
But Kerry's stupidity doesn't excuse the response from the right. President Bush and his friends in the conservative media know full well that Kerry wasn't suggesting the troops were stupid. Yet that was the punchline that the President delivered, and the conservative media echoed, throughout the day.
"The members of the United States military are plenty smart and they are plenty brave and the senator from Massachusetts owes them an apology," Bush said during a Georgia appearance for a former GOP congressman, Mac Collins, who is trying to oust Democratic Rep. Jim Marshall.
You could almost hear Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman salivating. Finally, someone had given them a chance to pretend it was 2004 all over again.
For a whole news cycle, the talk could be about whether Kerry abandoned the troops during the Vietnam War, when he spoke out at a Congressional hearing. For a whole news cycle, the conservative media could pick apart every statement Kerry has made over the past three years, and turn it into an attack on the troops. For a whole news cycle, the conservative media could find every Republican who decided to take the party line and say that Kerry was calling the troops dumb. It even gave the conservative media a whole news cycle to point out that Bush got better grades than Kerry at Yale -- the supposed point of Kerry's botched joke.
Two wrongs don't make a right. But there's an election at stake, and as former President Clinton recently said, politics is a contact sport.