John Kerry says that he "botched a joke" about President Bush when he said the following
at a political presentation at Pasadena Community College in Southern California yesterday:
You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq.
Just for fun, let's give Kerry the benefit of the doubt. His attempt at making a joke was muffed and was supposed to be about Bush, not our American soldiers, sailors, airmen/women & Marines (and let's not forget the Coast Guard!).
Let's try to rewrite the joke the way Kerry may have intended it:
You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you, you can do well. If you don't, like President Bush, you get stuck in Iraq.
Wow, that's a howler! If that's Kerry's idea of a good, leg-slapping "good-un" then he might need to get out a little more often. "Life of the Party" he ain't!
If Kerry had
told the joke that way, I suppose that it may not have been considered worthy of comment on the news or internet at all.
But, assumming this was
what he meant to say, what does this joke reveal about Senator Kerry and what he apparantly thinks about things that really matter to us these days in the United States. My take is as follows:
1. Kerry doesn't take the "war in Iraq" seriously. Even the most vitriolic critics of the Vietnam War (Kerry among them) did not crack jokes about that war. Americans were dying and sacrificing their lives. Vietnam critics were uniformly serious, sober and angry about that war. They believed that the issue was too serious to trivialize by turning what they perceived as needless suffering and tragedy into a joke.
Apparently times have changed and this time around Kerry sees the "war in Iraq" and those elected by the American people to lead us in ths war as worthy of a "joke." Kerry seems to find it appropriate to say that the death of American troops and the wanton slaughter of hundreds of innocent Iraqis is a subject that he can introduce by making fun of the situation.
Sort of like, "Hey, before I talk about the horrors of death and destruction that is needlessly taking place in Iraq and Afghanistan because of the deluded and deceitful policies of our President and his ilk, I'd like to lighten things a bit by telling a joke about the need for a good education (after all, you are students here) and what a doofus our President is to have gotten us into this silly mess. . . Did you hear the one about the Commander in Chief who was so dumb ("How Dumb was he?) . . . He was so dumb he got us into this big mess in Iraq with people getting killed and terrorism on the rise and . . . and . . . uh . . . THAT'S how stupid and dumb he is!" (cut to laugh track here)
How can we take a man seriously about his position on a serious matter when he cannot stop himself from telling an unfunny joke about it? And, to top it off, botching the joke . . . as if someone else had written it and he had never bothered to read it ahead of time! Now THAT'S up-close and personal!
2. Kerry's memory is apparently failing to the point where he cannot remember the amusing revelations during his 2004 Presidential campaign that compared his academic record with that of George Bush . . . a comparison that showed Kerry to have been LESS of an achiever than "W." (And that is no mean feat, considering how badly average Bush was in school!)(Aside): I'm reminded of an appropriate and self-effacing joke President Bush told a group of Texas high school students shortly after being elected President for the first time, "I am standing here before you today and living proof that, in America, anyone, even someone with a "C" average, can become President of the United States."
Can anyone see Kerry telling such a joke on himself and his own academic mediocrity? Of course not! As I recall, someone even found their respective IQ scores and Bush edged him out there, too!
Why tell a joke that degrades the President of the United States when the objective facts of history prove that Kerry himself is even more qualified to be the "brunt" of it? Is it because Kerry's memory is that bad? Or is it that what Kerry wants to believe is true is more real to him than objective reality itself? Either way, it does not speak well to Kerry's qualifications to be a leader or a critic of our national foreign or demestic policies.
3. Kerry is completely unaware of how this sort of joke goes down with the troops that he so vehemently claims to "support."
Joking about how only a stupid idiot could have gotten us into the "war in Iraq" will not sound particularly "supportive" to a Marine Private hunkered down on a Baghdad rooftop searching for snipers who are trying very hard to kill him.
It's as though Kerry said, "You poor soldier. I feel so sorry for you. There you sit in harm's way, placed there by stupid orders from an idiot President telling equally moronic and incompetent military Generals and Defense Secretaries what they should be doing and how they should do it. You shouldn't be where you are doing what you are doing. It is a waste of your time and, quite possibly, a waste of your life. If any of your buddies have died, that was a waste, too. You are, of course, "heros" (perhaps just like those US soldiers in Vietnam who raped and pillaged and murdered like Ghengis Khan and cut off people's ears and brought shame and humiliation to our nation years ago). If I were President you wouldn't be there at all . . . or else you would be there with 50,000 more troops . . . or maybe with lots and lots more troops (which I could have accommodated without a draft, of course) . . . or maybe you would be just redepoloyed to Taiwan or Okinawa or along the Iraqi border perimeter or sitting inside a protective enclosure while the Iraqi forces that you would not have been allowed to train would be carrying the burden of their country instead of us. Something like that. But it would be different than what we have now . . . and better. Whatever it might be. I can promise you that because I have a plan!"
Now, maybe this isn't very fair. But, knowing as I do, many military folks who have served or are still serving our country in Iraq and/or Afghanistan (or both!) I can tell you that this is what most of them "hear" when they listen to what Senator Kerry actually says . . . or means to say . . . whichever suits him at the moment.
4. Kerry is a threat to the peace, unity and security of the Democratic Party in the United States. He is a liability and a fool's fool . . . especially if he actually believes the sort of things he has said both yesterday and today (in his unhinged official press release
). Perhaps, as Dean Barnett
(guest blogger at Hugh Hewitt) puts it, Kerry is a secret Karl Rove operative timed to undermine and destroy the Democrat attempt to take over the U.S. Congress in next week's mid-term national elections.
But the odd thing is that many in the Democratic Party will be cheering him on for attacking Bush straight on and for not "backing down" or apologizing for something he actually said but, as everybody knows, did not actually mean
to say which is a very different matter entirely.
5. Kerry's lack of character was shown not so much by this joke, whether misspoken or not--but by his volcanic reaction to criticism of his gaffe.
When a man blames everyone else when he makes a (supposed) mistake then that man is either in denial or otherwise suffering from some sort of neurotic delusion.
When a man's motivation in national affairs is more driven by anger and hate and ridicule of others than a driving passion for what is good or right then that man is clearly lacking in both focus and substance.
Kerry strikes me as almost a caricature of a man of substance. He is T.S. Eliot's "hollow man
." He is not a "bang" but a "whimper." He is Shakespeare's
"tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing."
And, most of all . . . he is not funny.
Update: The BBC
has an interesting take on this matter . . . one with which I wholeheartedly agree!