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I seem to have tapped into some deep vein of insanity here.

A reader:  “Just admit you want to have a gay marriage with John Kerry… And stop digging yourself a deeper hole like he is.”

I just watched the clip again.  It was a botched anti-Bush joke.  I don’t see how it could be plainer.

If you’re all going to go nuts here, I’m off to do a little shopping.

Stuck in Iraq


I don’t mean to belabor this — I certainly did not expect to be spending time writing about JOHN KERRY this week — but….a reasonable person could listen to Kerry and think he’s talking about a guy who enlisted for an education-break and got himself stuck in Iraq. Heaven knows we’ve all heard that before. Not everyone watching a clip will go through the “Who is stuck in Iraq? Not the common soldier, who just does a tour of duty” think through John has. And not everyone will, even doing that, come to the same conclusion. Again, who’s stuck in Iraq? I think given the work hard and study advice, it’s pretty logical to conclude some poor kid who drank too much in college and doesn’t have too many alternatives. Stuck for “only” a tour? Bad enough if you’re heart ain’t in it. And some don’t come back, of course. So again, I don’t think those of us who concluded he was aiming out our troops were being unreasonable.

And, yes, John Kerry served in Vietnam, and for that I am grateful. But it’s also not “crazy” of me (Kerry’s word) to think that the vet might criticize serving military. He has, after all, been known to do that.


The Kerry Effect


I don’t think conservatives and Republicans should get too excited about the prospect that the Kerry gaffe is going to change things. If anything, it gives Democratic candidates a chance to do a little Sistah Souljah thing and say, “I’m not a Northeastern liberal like that John Kerry guy, you independents can trust me.” That’s clearly why Harold Ford in Tennessee and Jon Tester in Montana leapt so quickly to denounce Kerry, and why their denunciations may help them in the coming days. If I were Clare McCaskill’s campaign manager, I’d be issuing a statement right about now too.

Web Briefing: July 29, 2014

Fox News All Stars


From last night’s Special Report with Brit Hume:

On the Kerry Gaffe

MORT KONDRACKE: I think that he was criticizing the troops, but I don’t think that he meant to do it, you know. . . . [Y]ou have to be a mind reader in this case. Look . . . the one thing that the Democrats have learned is that you don’t criticize the troops . . . the way that they did in the Vietnam War.

HUME: Doesn’t he have some history here? . . . [D]idn’t he as recently as a week ago criticize the generals and the troops for a mission in Baghdad, and hasn’t he said, just to get it on the record here . . . two years ago he said that they’re terrorizing children.

BARONE: . . . [T]he obvious meaning of his words was something that was derogatory about the character and quality of the troops and inaccurately derogatory. So, of course, he should have apologized for that and if he could make a plausible claim that he misspoke, he should have done that.

In 2006 I think that the effect of this is that it’s going to gin up the enthusiasm of the Republican base because they’re seeing a figure there that they deeply dislike, they’re seeing him make what are on their face inaccurate charges that are slanderous of the military and he’s slandered them in the past as you noted, in ‘05, he said that the American soldiers were terrorizing kids and children and breaking historical customs and religions . . . I think this might have effect on increasing enthusiasm of the Republican base, slightly demoralizing the Democratic base.

On the House Elections

BARONE: [I]f the election were held today, the Democrats would probably win a narrow House majority. . . . I think there is another 19 or 20 seat that are held by the Republicans that are in danger . . . that could plausibly go to the Democrats based on what we know today. I think there are very few Democratic seats that are in that position. Republicans are looking at targeting five, probably the best one they have is Georgia 12, where I believe President Bush was yesterday.

FRED BARNES: Republican and Democratic pollsters and strategists and so on they all pretty much agree it’s around 15, 16, 18, 20, somewhere in there, they’re in the bag for Democrats.

HUME: Except the fact that you’ve got two pretty respected, pretty neutral guys Stuart Rothenberg and Charlie Cook . . . their view is if it were today, we’re talking dozens.

BARONE: Charlie Cook is relying, in part, on the new polling from R.T. Strategies, which I think is associated with him and their polling has shown Republicans in danger of losing more — behind in more seats than most of the other polling for non-partisan polling. So, if you go with that kind of polling, you would see a wave as Charlie does.


Writing In Capital Letters and Dashes...


 …won’t avail you, Derb, when you’re wrong.

Harold Ford




…from several readers — and, obviously some of my Corner colleagues — that I would dare to suggest that John Kerry was not slandering our troops.

 But he wasn’t. He may regard them with contempt (my personal impression is that JK regards most of the human race with contempt); he may despise them; he may think they’re dumb crackers; but T-H-A-T-’-S N-O-T W-H-A-T H-E S-A-I-D.

What he said was: “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.”

Who is stuck in Iraq? Not the common soldier, who just does a tour of duty, as Kerry himself knows from (sorry to bring it up) experience. Who’s stuck in Iraq? George W. Bush is stuck in Iraq. That was the point of Kerry’s joke. Which he botched. No fair-minded person, watching Kerry deliver those lines, could think otherwise.

I’m not carrying any water for John Kerry. I wrote this about John Kerry, and a good deal more uncomplimentary stuff besides. I don’t like John Kerry. I didn’t vote for John Kerry. Truth is truth, though, even when applied to John Kerry. If you can’t handle the truth, that’s your problem.

The Mood


We hear a lot about voter frustration with Iraq — which there certainly is. But this is an interesting quote from a Democrat in New Jersey, talking about Tom Kean Jr.: ‘’He’s saying the things everyone wants to hear. They want to hear lower taxes, and he doesn’t want amnesty for illegal aliens.”



I’ve corrected an error in my story about Mike Stark and the Internet-fueled attacks on George Allen.  Stark was not the guy wearing a monkey suit in one anti-Allen stunt.  Turns out he was too busy calling up a radio show to heckle Newt Gingrich about his divorce.

House Boxscore



“Fake Outrage”


Guess when Senator Kerry was talking about dimwittery he should have been talking about me too then.

On Hardball last night, Chris Matthewes saw it the same way Derb did — but only after, he admitted, watching it multiple times. It seems to me that my read of it is a certainly reasonable — and one, by the way, that certainly was not part of any kind of coordinated response (Karl Rove totally forgot to call me). 

It’s Obvious?


 Sorry, Derb, but you’re just wrong, wrong, wrong. Kerry was not referring to Bush, and the outrage is not fake. 

Senate Boxscore


3 new PA polls. Click through for complete results.


Dovish Smarties


Whatever he meant by them, John Kerry’s remarks have struck a nerve.  But why?  Well, for a lot of reasons.  Of course we think of anti-war activist John Kerry’s long-standing tensions with his fellow Vietnam Vets.  Then there’s the insulting stereotype of the dumb soldier.  But to understand the tensions thrown up by Kerry’s remarks, we also need to have a look at the reverse of the medal: not the “soldiers are dumb” theme, but the notion that smart people don’t become soldiers and don’t support wars.  No matter who he meant the dumb folks were, the idea that smart college kids become dovish Dems is a powerful sub-text in Kerry’s remarks.

A big part of what’s going on here is the taken-for-granted sense that young people who correctly absorb the lessons taught on America’s college campuses must be anti-war.  More deeply, there’s a conflict between what author David Lebedoff calls “The New Elite” and “The Left Behinds.”  According to Lebedoff, The New Elite who populate Blue America aren’t necessarily smarter than Red State “Left Behinds,” but they nonetheless build their identities around a belief in their own intelligence and education.  The contrast between hard working folks who rise up through higher education to be smarties against war, and poor dumb schlubs who become soldiers because they aren’t smart enough to cut it in college, is an almost perfect instantiation of Lebedoff’s distinction between The New Elite and The Left Behinds.

I reviewed Lebedoff’s book, The Uncivil War: How a New Elite is Destroying Our Democracy, for the October 11, 2004 issue of NRODT.  Here’s an excerpt from that review.  (Substitute the example of a soldier for the lawyer named Edward, and you will see John Kerry’s comments come to life.):

…Lebedoff believes that our political and cultural struggles are being driven by a conflict between two groups, “The New Elite” and “The Left Behinds.” Let’s have a look at a couple of representatives of these competing social camps.

Growing up in Allentown, Pa., Charlene had felt a bit ashamed of her hand-me-down clothes and less-than-cultured parents. Yet this bright girl blossomed in college, proud to be accepted as an equal by a circle of friends who made concerts, foreign films, and lectures their mainstay. On getting her doctorate in microbiology, Charlene married a physicist and moved to Seattle. Charlene and her neighbors are culturally sophisticated and fairly well off. They feel they’ve earned their position in life by dint of talent and intelligence. Having risen above their backgrounds, they’re suspicious of tradition and impatient with those who don’t see things their way. After all, Charlene and her neighbors have proven themselves to be among the brightest and most knowledgeable of citizens; they are members of “The New Elite.”

Edward grew up in Mankato, Minn., a prosperous town of 30,000. His IQ is actually higher than Charlene’s, yet he doesn’t see his intelligence as the key to his place in life. Edward’s father, like his father before him, was a respected lawyer and leader in Mankato. Edward values his family’s place in the town, and returned to Mankato to practice law. After an indifferent performance in college, Edward had applied himself and done quite well in law school. Yet he knew that, either way, a desk would be waiting for him at the family firm. Edward sees himself as a leader in Mankato, heir to the standards of his profession, and an admirer of the American way of life. Although a prominent citizen and financially well off, Edward is part of what Lebedoff calls “The Left Behinds.”

What sets these portraits apart from a typical contrast between “blue” and “red” America is Lebedoff’s focus on intelligence. Edward may be smart, but he doesn’t define himself by his intellectual accomplishments; yet Charlene and her neighbors in Seattle became professionals by virtue of their grades and SAT scores. What’s more, they know it. Deep down, these sophisticates take their intelligence and success as proof that their anti-traditionalist world-view is right–and that those who see things differently are both ignorant and mistaken.
This, says Lebedoff, is the downside of our meritocracy. A laudable democratic desire to ensure equality of opportunity prompted us to make tests like the SAT a decisive determinant of success; an unintended consequence of this change has been to create an elite that is suspicious of democracy itself. Democracy depends on majority rule, but–without quite admitting it–our elites have lost faith in the wisdom of the majority. They think they’re smart enough to decide what’s right for all of us. These elites don’t realize that most political decisions depend on values, not intelligence. Their unshakable faith in their own intelligence leads them to mistake their own imperfect preferences for the truth.

The tension between the New Elites and the Left Behinds is everywhere in our politics, says Lebedoff.”

Kerry Story on the BBC


The BBC Newshour also headlining the Kerry story, and is having a bit of fun at Senator Aristo-Slacker’s expense.  Asks the anchor, “Not the cleverest thing to say at this point, was it?”

Yes, But


John Kerry is awful, and anything we can do further to degrade his political prospects is worth doing.  But really, I saw a clip of him making the much-deplored remark, and it was obvious that the dimwit in Iraq that he referred to was George W. Bush, not the American soldier.  It was a dumb joke badly delivered, but his meaning was plain.  My pleasure in watching JK squirm is just as great as any other conservative’s, but something is owed to honesty.  There’s a lot of fake outrage going round here. 

First of the Month


White rabbits.

it was too good to be true, wasn’t it?


Kerry’s Casey event is no more

Kerry On Imus


From a reader:

Jonah,   You have got to get the end of Kerry’s comments on the Imus program this morning. He said ‘they owe us all an apology for the disaster that is V…. Iraq’. You have to listen closely but he started to say Vietnam, I swear. Check it out.             

Kerry Can’t Apologize


If you take Kerry’s two statements — the written and unwritten — in their entirety, I really don’t think he can apologize at this point. I really do think he could have defused this whole thing, maybe not entirely, by simply saying “I botched the joke and I’m really sorry it sounded like I was diminishing the talent and work of our troops, something I would never do. I take a back seat to no one in my respect for blah blah blah…” But now he’s questioned the sanity, the integrity and the manliness of anybody who could have possibly taken him the wrong way. That means, in effect, that he’s calling all these servicemen who understandably took offense at the plain meaning of his words, wusses and nutters. That makes Kerry a tool of the first order. And, if he apologizes now, with some Gilda Radneresque “never mind,” it will once again reinforce his metaphysical toolishness. The guy thinks he can be president and he thinks he’s doing what  the “fighting Dem” base wants him to do. The problem is he has basically radiated himself with the isotope Asinine-90 and the only way the rest of his party can protect itself from radition poisoning is to sequester the guy in some lime-pit for 10,000 years until his asininity half-life deterioates to managable levels.  


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