I know this has been all over the media, and I know it’s a bit aged now that Ted Haggard has taken center stage. But I wanted to weigh in with a few thoughts…
What happened? In a recent commencement speech before a graduating class, John Kerry made the following ridiculous comment, “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.” Of course, many were outraged at the implication that our troops are all a bunch of dunderheads with no other (better) future, so they’re “stuck” in the military. Here’s my analysis of the situation.
First, remember when Mel Gibson made his asinine, drunken remarks about Jews being the cause of every war in history? Remember how people debated whether alcohol had caused him to say something stupid that he didn’t really mean or whether he was freed by the alcohol to say what he actually thought, with no inhibitions? Well, I view the John Kerry thing in the same light. I *do* believe that both Gibson and Kerry said what they were really thinking. Mel Gibson was freed up by the booze to spout off, and what came out was a glimpse of the dark anti-semitic thoughts in his heart. The Bible is clear, “out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks”. I think Kerry is in the same boat. No alcohol involved, but I think the principle was the same.
Kerry said this was a joke gone wrong, and he’s probably right. I’m also sure that he consciously intended the comment to be aimed more at Bush than at the troops (which is how many took it). I think if he had really thought through the impact that this would have, he wouldn’t have said it. But here’s the deal. I think John Kerry does have a pretty deeply ingrained belief that our military leaders are corrupt, and that we generally go to war for invalid reasons (not just to Iraq). I think he does believe that many of our troops are just that stupid. And I also think that he is so rich and so privileged and so superior (in his own mind) that he doesn’t really have much of a grasp on the reality of who most Americans are. Perhaps more inflammatory is this… I also believe that John Kerry is a man of very little integrity, as demonstrated by his recent run for the presidency. The whole “flip-flop” thing was very well-deserved. Never once did I hear him state a principle and then stand by it. I have very little respect for people, including politicians, who walk around with their finger in the air trying to determine which way the wind is blowing. This has defined Kerry … except in the case of this particular comment, one might argue. It’s also my experience that a man with little integrity will project that weakness onto others. He will assume that others have weak characters as well.
So, do I think John Kerry’s comments really matter that much? In most ways, no. In two senses, yes… First, they demean our military, which has for the most part fought with honor not only in this war but in many past wars. These brave men and women keep all of us safe and free, including John Kerry. That he would make such a dumb comment reflects badly on him and on his political advisers (who should never have let something like that make its way into a speech). Secondly, I think it has the potential to affect the outcome of this week’s elections. I think the average American is pretty fed up with this kind of talk. There’s just no reason for it. It betrays an underlying bitterness and hatred (of Bush, mostly) that’s so bad that it overrules way too many other things. Even people who are firmly against the war won’t want to hear Kerry demeaning the troops — even if that’s not really what he intended to do.