- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Kerry’s words

President Bush said last night that Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, should apologize to troops serving in Iraq for a joke that suggested those troops are uneducated.

Mr. Kerry refused to apologize, saying his harsh ridicule had been meant for Mr. Bush, not the military.

“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,” Mr. Kerry said Monday during a campaign rally for California Democratic gubernatorial candidate PhilAngelides.

At a campaign rally in Georgia yesterday, Mr. Bush injected the issue straight into the midterm elections, demanding an apology.

“The senator’s suggestion that the men and women of our military are somehow uneducated is insulting, and it is shameful. The members of the United States military are plenty smart, and they are plenty brave, and the senator from Massachusetts owes them an apology,” he said.

Mr. Kerry first issued an unapologetic press release yesterday in response to remarks earlier in the day by White House spokesman Tony Snow, who called the quote “an absolute insult” that “fits a pattern” of negative remarks from Mr. Kerry about U.S. troops.

The Democrat then held a press conference in which he angrily said his comments were a “botched joke” about Mr. Bush and his administration. Mr. Kerry said he didn’t mean that U.S. troops joined the military because they couldn’t get a decent job or education, but rather that Mr. Bush wasn’t smart enough to avoid getting the country stuck in a quagmire.

Mr. Kerry said the president is the one who owes U.S. troops an apology because he “misled America into war and [has] given us a Katrina foreign policy that has betrayed our ideals, killed and maimed our soldiers, and widened the terrorist threat instead of defeating it.”

McCain’s rebuke

Sen. John McCain yesterday chastised Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, for saying that those who are not well-educated end up fighting in Iraq.

“Senator Kerry owes an apology to the many thousands of Americans serving in Iraq, who answered their country’s call because they are patriots and not because of any deficiencies in their education,” said Mr. McCain, Arizona Republican.

“Americans from all backgrounds, well-off and less fortunate, with high-school diplomas and graduate degrees, take seriously their duty to our country and risk their lives today to defend the rest of us in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

“The suggestion that only the least-educated Americans would agree to serve in the military and fight in Iraq is an insult to every soldier serving in combat, and should deeply offend any American with an ounce of appreciation for what they suffer and risk … Without them, we wouldn’t live in a country where people securely possess all their God-given rights, including the right to express insensitive, ill-considered and uninformed remarks.”

‘Nut jobs’

Bloggers reacted with glee yesterday to Sen.John Kerry’s angry denunciation of his critics, including his characterization of conservatives as “right-wing nut jobs.”

At RedState.com, Moe Lane suggested, “Here’s a hint to Kerry’s handlers: it’s bad when the right wing nut-jobs have a quick fight over who gets the byline of publishing your press release.”

“Kerry’s suggestion that the troops in Iraq are dumb failures is not only reprehensible, but false on the facts,” Glenn Reynolds said at Instapundit.com. “In other words, a typical Kerry performance, just in time for the elections. Democrats must be wondering what they were thinking to nominate him in 2004, and why he won’t go away now.”

Ace of Spades HQ (https://ace.mu.nu) observed: “Hmmm … he presents us all with a dilemma. If we don’t join the military, we’re fat (‘doughy’ like Rush Limbaugh) cowardly chickenhawk nutjobs. If we do join it, we’re just drooling morons.”

At TownHall.com, Mary Katharine Ham wrote: “If he wants to make the case that he misspoke, fine. Make it. Don’t call the rest of us liars for hearing exactly what you said.”

“We have ourselves a meltdown,” Allahpundit said at HotAir.com. “Score one more for Lurch’s famous political acumen.”

Frist vs. Kerry

“Having just returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, I can tell you that the American troops I met were hard-working, intelligent and dedicated to victory,” Sen. Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican, said yesterday. “Maybe the reason that John Kerry is so eager to accept defeat in the war on terror is that he doesn’t share my opinion of our fighting men and women.”

Peach pickups?

“Two of the GOP’s best chances for pickups in the House of Representatives this year are in Georgia, where two former congressmen are embattled in races which are poised to go down to the wire,” Jeff Emanuel writes in a column at TownHall.com.

“In Georgia’s 12th Congressional District, where Max Burns is challenging incumbent Democrat Representative John Barrow, the most recent poll showed the candidates in a statistical dead heat with a week to go in the campaign. …

“The newly redrawn 12th District, which … no longer counts Athens-Clarke County, home of the University of Georgia and one of the bluest areas in the state, as a part, having replaced it with several more conservative, rural counties — should demographically favor Burns, who lost his seat to Barrow in 2004. …

“The polling data showing that Burns is in striking distance of Barrow was backed up by action on Monday, when President Bush made his second trip of the election season to Savannah to campaign for Burns — something hardly ever done for congressional candidates.”

“Another race Bush is hoping to influence with his second campaign visit to Georgia in as many months is the contest for [Georgia’s 8th District], which pits former Congressman Mac Collins against Democrat incumbent Jim Marshall.”

Kerry redeploys

An Iowa Democrat responded to Sen. John Kerry’s remarks about U.S. troops in Iraq by canceling a campaign event with the Massachusetts Democrat scheduled for later this week, the Associated Press reports.

Bruce Braley, who is running against Republican Mike Whalen in one of the most competitive House races in the country, said Mr. Kerry’s comments about the Iraq war were inappropriate.

No Republicans

“For the first time since before Watergate, the New York Times endorsed no Republicans for election to Congress this year,” the New York Daily News’ Ben Smith writes.

“It’s a sign of a few things: The polarized country, the end of a meaningful moderate wing of the GOP, and the Times’ own move left,” Mr. Smith said.

“A look back at the Times archives through 1972 finds that the paper’s powerful editorial page endorsed at least one Republican for the House or Senate every year. Some of these were well-known local moderates like Hamilton Fish and Bill Green. Others include a young Connecticut candidate named John Rowland in 1986.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]

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