Iraq: John Kerry’s last stand

By Andrew Mason

You knew it had to happen sometime. It’s written somewhere in the fates that at the precise moment Democrats are poised for success, their work comes undone thanks to a dumb remark by a party head with his head shoved.well, you get the idea.

Thanks to good ol’ John Kerry, the Democrats have once again served themselves up on a silver platter to Republicans like so many lobsters. In a college campaign rally for the Anti-Arnold California Gubernatorial candidate (his name isn’t important at this stage of the race), Kerry said, “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.”

His comments were immediately seized by the GOP, Massachusetts talk radio, veterans’ groups and the echo chamber of echo chambers, the Internet. For those keeping score, it only took ten seconds for the entire race to change.

His seeming reference to American servicemen and women in Iraq as being too intellectually challenged to escape the quagmire of Mesopotamia is hollow on the surface. Obviously it is not politically intelligent to call 140,000 troops stupid or lazy. For someone who is a military veteran and most certainly running for president again, it is completely illogical to even think that.

Ah, but logic is a fickle thing. Before clarifying that he meant the Bush Administration’s planners of the war lacked intelligence, the damage was already done. He tried to walk it back by first saying he “botched a joke” and then later refusing to apologize for his remarks. So which is it, Mr. Kerry?

I can hear talk radio now: “Kerry flip-flops on troops”, “Kerry shoots himself in the foot.again!” and “Democrats distancing from Kerry.” I’m not surprised, but then again, Mr. Kerry shouldn’t be either.

Didn’t he learn anything from the 2004 campaign? The mere scent of incoherence or inconsistency coming from Democrats allows Republicans the opening they need to hit them where it hurts. And it seems the left is making it easier all the time.

Kerry’s biggest mistake was trying to take on every opportunistic GOP member (including President Bush) who came out against it by himself. He fell further down the rabbit hole by trying to string together a two for the price of one slogan designed to invoke Hurricane Katrina and Iraq in one cheap package.

I understand that Kerry is trying to highlight Bush’s well-known failures, and to a certain extent his criticism is more than justified. But the context of his attack is akin to a boxer taking wild swings out of anger with his opponent side-stepping his attack and jabbing the ribs. Talk about knocking the wind out of Democrats.

While his assessment of a political feeding frenzy being perpetuated by the right and the so-called liberal media is on the mark, he has only himself to blame for starting it. Indeed, with Republicans in serious danger of losing Congress, they have lacked a coherent national issue to throw in Democrats’ faces. With Kerry’s misstep, they find themselves newly energized.

Like so many Tigers’ pitchers, Kerry tried too hard to make a relatively simple play and ended up throwing it away. Instead of shaking it off and apologizing he fell back into defensive mode, trying to nip away at any threats.

I take no pleasure in making this comparison, but it seems that Kerry’s dominant theme for his 2004 election bid was that Bush made a mistake in invading Iraq and in refusing to admit he was wrong, America is worse off. Unfortunately for the senator, it seems that he was guilty of the same thing until he finally relented and issued an apology three precious news cycles of hubris later.

It is commendable that a Democrat is finally showing some real fight. But this was the wrong fight in the wrong place at the worst possible time.