Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Tangled Up In Blue

Here's my take on the recent remarks by Massachusetts Senator John F. Kerry. (Rumors that the "F" actually stands for Frankenstein and not Forbes have not been substantiated.)

According to an article on cnn.com, this is what he said: “You know, education - if you make the most of it, you study hard and 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.”

According to the same article, this is what he was supposed to have said: “I can't overstress the importance of a great education. Do you know where you end up if you don't study, if you aren't smart, if you're intellectually lazy? You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq.”

Kerry claims that the remarks got mangled in the delivery and that the remarks were supposed to be a joke about President Bush. I don’t know about that, because what he was supposed to have said doesn’t sound all that funny to me, and doesn’t really do much to dig on the President. It’s no secret that Bush isn’t intellectual or sophisticated. He’s cosmopolitan in about the same way Turkey Creek Jack Johnson and Texas Jack Vermillion were cosmopolitan when they came stumbling out of the saloon with their guns a-blazin’ early on in the movie Tombstone.

No...I think the other remarks, the ones he actually made, are much more jarring, much more of a swipe at Bush - and at the world in which he has helped to situate America since the Supreme Court decided he should be President after the badly-botched “election” in 2000.

(As a quick aside, I wonder if anyone ever came up with a bumper sticker that said: “George W. Bush - The REAL Milennium Bug.” I wouldn’t mind having one of those if they’re out there somewhere.)

Here’s what was meant (by the comments Kerry actually made): That kids who don’t do well in school often wind up choosing military service as a way to get a good job right away, or as a way to make some money to go back to school. In today's world that means Vietraq - we can only hope that it does not within the next two years also wind up meaning Iran or North Korea (either of which would require that we bring back the draft).

Here’s what the Republicans are spinning: That Kerry basically came out and said that the people getting killed in Vietraq are stuck doing that job because they weren’t good enough to do anything else at home, that he thinks all the people getting killed in Vietraq are bottom-of-the-barrel losers, that he has absolutely no respect for the people Bush is using in Vietraq.

Which is not what he said, of course. What he said - whether it was what he meant to say or not - was more of a shot at a system that is set up to fail those kids who don't have much of a chance in the world - a system that Bush helped to create with bad education policy and even worse foreign policy decisions.

Kerry’s actual remarks are an indictment of what has happened to two countries, Vietraq and the United States, during George W. Bush’s presidency; they call attention to how desperate people are to find good work (which means good-paying, secure jobs) in the United States, how desperate these kids must be if they are looking at Vietraq and thinking that it’s the best option they have.

Kerry - who inherited a nomination for President that I don't think he ever really wanted after Howard Dean imploded - is still mad that he lost an election he might not have even wanted to run in in the first place; and he has been mostly a blowhard sore loser since then. In this case, however, he is correct - especially with the specter of returning to the Selective Service draft lurking in the distance as a real possibility if things get much worse between the United States and either Iran or North Korea.

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