U.S. Senator John Kerry detonated a hand grenade in his face while addressing Pasadena City College students Monday. Kerry said: “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, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.”
Kerry smeared as simpletons the 151,000 U.S. GIs who are fighting valiantly in Iraq. Tragically, 2,815 of these volunteers have perished in a noble struggle to transform Iraq from dictatorship to democracy.
Once criticism started, Kerry was defiant, not remorseful, claiming he had intended “a botched joke” about President Bush. He then deepened his self-inflicted wounds with a stunningly petulant statement excerpted here:
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.
Kerry also said, “Let me make it crystal clear, as crystal clear as I know how: I apologize to no one for my criticism of the president and of his broken policy.”
Late Wednesday, Kerry backed down with these words on his website: “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.”
Nevertheless, this is far from the first time Kerry has disparaged men and women in uniform. Indeed, his comments underscore his decades-long history of hurling insults and invective at military personnel.
Last December 4, Kerry told Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation: “And there is no reason, Bob, that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, you know, women…”
While running for president, Kerry put forth the self-contradictory proposition that Bush unilaterally took America into Iraq to lead a multilateral Coalition of hapless fighters.
On September 6, 2004, Kerry trivialized the international boots on the ground that march right beside ours. He called this “the phoniest thing I’ve ever heard.” At that time, 124 foreign soldiers had been killed in non-phony combat in Iraq.
In September 2003, Kerry said, “This President’s pride has brought us a coalition of the few, barely willing to do anything at all: 160 Mongolians, 43 Estonians, and 83 Filipinos isn’t a coalition; it’s a cover-up.”
On March 13, 2003, Kerry described the then-46 nations supporting America’s liberation of Iraq as “a coalition of the coerced and the bribed.”
Kerry infamously told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 22, 1971:
“We learned the meaning of free fire zones, shooting anything that moves, and we watched while America placed a cheapness on the lives of Orientals.”
Kerry decried what he called “war crimes committed in Southeast Asia, not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command….”
Kerry embraced the pronouncements of Vietnam War veterans at the so-called Winter Soldier Investigation in Detroit that he helped organize earlier that year. As Kerry put it:
They told the stories at times they 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, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.
Despite limited American atrocities in Vietnam, Kerry’s broad denunciation of his former comrades helped tar them as crazed American soldiers running amok through the jungles. This distortion is among the reasons why GIs received such cold and often hostile receptions once they returned home from Vietnam.
Kerry’s claim that he meant to joke about President Bush holds little water. Like Kerry himself, Bush graduated from Yale. Bush then went on to earn an MBA from the Harvard Business School, no small feat. An HBS MBA is no less impressive than Kerry’s Boston College law degree. Based on their military entrance exams, Human Biodiversity Institute founder Steve Sailer calculated that Bush has an IQ of 123, while Kerry has a 120. So, even on its own terms, Kerry’s “joke” is neither funny nor accurate.
As it happens, the Pentagon reports that 90 percent of military recruits possess high-school diplomas, versus 75 percent of their peers. In 2004, the Heritage Foundation discovered, “92.1 percent of active-duty officer accessions held baccalaureate degrees or higher.” Census Bureau data show that only 25.2 percent of civilians age 18 and over hold such degrees.
Kerry’s apology is welcome, though it should have come sooner. His comments Monday also would have been easier to dismiss as a verbal slip if they didn’t sound so familiar.
– Deroy Murdock is a New York-based columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution.