The Corner

Kerry Me Home

Zowie. I left the computer for a few hours and things got testy around here. My last word at least on the merits of the thing — as opposed to, say, the politics since Kerry might do something else fun to keep this going — is that I don’t think his intent matters any more. Derb’s initial “fake outrage” comment aside, lots of people took him on the plain meaning of his words. Kerry is the sort of person who one would expect to believe the sort of thing he actually said (just see some of the liberal blogs who insist Kerry’s gaffe was accurate). In other words, it made sense coming from Kerry. I seem to recall Derb once noting that he wouldn’t use the word “niggardly” in racially mixed company because it might be misconstrued even when his usage and intent were benign. Well, when John Kerry offers a statement like the one he did yesterday, a reasonable person might well say, “there he goes again.” And a fair-minded person might expect him to apologize for any unintended offense. Kerry refused because Kerry has the self-awareness of carpet mold. So, rather than apologize for what he claims was a miscommunication, he insists instead that no fair-minded person in the world could have thought Kerry was the kind of guy who would haughtily denigrate the troops, even though Kerry has done exactly that on more than one occassion. It would be like Bill Clinton suddenly getting his dander up that anyone might even think he’d be unfaithful to his wife.

I’ve gotten grief from readers for giving Kerry the “benefit of the doubt” about his intent. I don’t think they’re suffering from “fake outrage.” But I think Occam’s razor leans toward us thinking it was a mistake. The beauty of Kerry’s self-immolation yesterday is that his intent now doesn’t matter.

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now.

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