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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Damned By His Own Words

Update: Kerry said "...I personally apologize to any service member, family member, or American who was offended." Naturally this was greeted by wails of agony from the troop-bashing types, but I'm willing to shut up about Kerry. Now I'd like to see the rest of them grow up and get a grip.
End update.

The problem with the Kerry defenders is that they just don't get it. Their story is that Kerry truly meant to utter some slam against Bush, but "inadvertently" ended up saying:
“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.”
If it was a true mistake, and if Kerry didn't believe these words, he would have felt great shame and he would have apologized. But he won't, and he pretends to feel great rage at being unfairly impugned. It's not the Republican machinery that's pushing this - it's a wildfire of grass-roots wrath. To anyone who doesn't despise those serving in the military, this was a brutally contemptuous and false slur. If Kerry didn't truly feel contempt for those who have volunteered, he'd find his "accidental" comment brutally painful as well. Instead, we get self-righteous rage.

And all of his defenders are repeating Kerry's claims in one way or another. Check the comments on the YouTube video, or at DU, or read Ace's review of Chris Matthews' treatment of the matter. What does:
To fight without a draft is to support this war. The reason that no education makes people 'stuck' in Iraq is because (as statistics show us) those who finish school have too much opportunities to waste themselves fighting for a paycheck.
sound like to you?

I know that some people are obsessed with politics, and view this as a political gift against the Democratic party. But I don't feel that way at all. I absolutely know that some of those who have voted Democratic or intend to vote Democratic this year are as disgusted at this comment as I am, and some of them are serving in the military right now. This is not about politics; it is about lying about the motives of most of the people who have joined the military. And it is vile. To say these words is truly vile. But this is not, in my opinion, about political party, because historically the Democratic party has not stood for such sentiments. Gateway Pundit quoted JFK:
Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans—born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage—and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty. This much we pledge—and more.
This is about honor, and decency, and truth, as opposed to the contemptuous yappings of an elitist public culture deeply divided from the life of the American people.

Let's analyze the sentiments expressed. Does anyone who stops and thinks about it really believe that the grunts in Iraq working 12 hour shifts in searing heat couldn't make more money in private industry while exposing themselves to much less risk, given that they are willing to work that hard, travel away from home and live in those conditions? It's not true. Factually, it's just not true. You have to be an idiot to believe this.

Does anyone really believe that those who are going back for a second or third tour in Iraq or Afghanistan are too dumb to remember what it's like? You have to be an idiot yourself to believe this.

The reason why we have such a fantastic volunteer military and high reenlistments is that those who have served believe in values which are apparently as opaque to the academic/journalistic/political culture as Egyptian hieroglyphics. They believe in each other, because they have experience with each other. They know what they stand for. They know why they are doing this, and it's surely not for money. They are doing what they do because while might does not make right, in our world might is required to defend right, or right is overrun and defeated by a wrongful might. Military personnel have assumed this burden and carry it with pride, because they believe someone must. And they are right in that belief.

Most military personnel are motivated to serve a higher cause than their personal gain in defense of their country. To lie about who they are and why they serve is unconscionable. It is also incredibly disrespectful to their family and friends, who must bear their absences and losses sustained only by knowledge of the quality of character of those who they miss.

But there are the quiet, lonely hours, the first waking, the isolation and hopelessness of grief and separation. There are the moments when any human being wonders what it was all for, and whether anyone knows or understands the value of the person mourned or missed. The child growing up without a father must often find in that Medal of Honor only a question and pondering. That child asks, in lonely hours, "Why?" And in those lonely hours, the words cited above can only burn like acid.

To abuse the suffering and the mourning is not excusable, and that is why Kerry would be apologizing abjectly if he retained one iota of the military values embodied by the enlistment oath. There is a great divison in the United States today, and the dividing line can probably best be drawn by how an individual reacts to the words "I do solemnly swear to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies...." To some, these words are cause for ridicule. To others, these words contain the credo of a life or a credo of a life lost in that service.

If you do not understand what the fuss is all about, you are the impaired one. Spend some time at the website of the Medal of Honor, past and present, and learn something.

There are only 100 US senators, and one of them just insulted millions of people devoted to the preservation of the US constitution itself. Since we are now informed that smoking increases testosterone levels, I'm thinking of mailing Kerry a pack with helpful tips on how to use them. It would take some guts to face what he has made of his life, and he is running out of time to do it. In the end, we all die, and in the end, we are all judged by how we lived.

Hooah. Very well said.

Thanks for the link to the Medal of Honor site.
It should be required reading, especially for candidates for citizenship and elective office.
"But he won't, and he pretends to feel great rage at being unfairly impugned. It's not the Republican machinery that's pushing this - it's a wildfire of grass-roots wrath."


This was a manufactured crisis fanned into full flame by the GOP. Anyone who saw Kerry's quote in context - or who is even slightly familiar with his record of personal sacrifice to this country, some of it in uniform - has no doubt whatsoever about his true intentions.

Should he have apologized earlier, if for no other reason than to get his comments out of the news? Probably, but then it appears that a lot of people have forgotten the utter contempt with which a decorated combat veteran, highly respected prosecutor and ethical senator was treated by the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" and the media who gave constant voice to that bunch of hatchetmen during the 2004 election.

The man VOLUNTEERED for two terms in Vietnam. I don't think you or anybody from the batch of chickenhawks currently in charge needs to tell him what it means to serve.
Not buying it, Anon. For one thing, I did see it in context.

Why don't you stop by a military unit and see what those VOLUNTEERS have to say about it? Better yet, ask their wives!

It was a shameful thing to do, and he has now apologized - as he needed to do.
Not disagreeing that Kerry made an error, but the idea that it was some sort of intentional, shameful insult is hogwash, especially in an environment that has seen vets treated like dirt and harmed in far worse fashion by current leaders.

See: Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans for America Senate "Support the Troops" Rankings
and Deeds That Matter and Words That Don't
You are entitled to your opinion about what Kerry meant to say, but you are not entitled to your opinion that anyone who took him at his word believes in "hogwash". There are two reasons for that. The first is his past record of extraordinarily odd (that's the kindest way I can put it) statements about the US military. The second is that his official website now has published an editorial saying that he was right either way.

Either he's schizoid or he means it.
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