Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Stuck in second place

I'm guessing that the local blogosphere will be debating the placement of the story about John Kerry's suggestion that the uneducated will get "stuck in Iraq." The piece is placed on page three and the headline provides no clue as to what the controversy is about.

The question is a fair one. It may be that Kerry intended to take a swipe at Bush, but political gaffes often involve statements that were intended one way but can be taken in another. If those statements can be understood to offend anyone of a number of minority groups, they become big stories, e.g., Ronald Reagan's reference to "you people" at the NAACP convention or Trent Lott's praise for Strom Thurmond at the old coot's 643rd birthday party. If this isn't a big story, doesn't it reflect a judgment that young people who serve in the military are fair game in a way that certain minority groups are not?

The answer can't be that Kerry's statement can't be understood as a shot at the education and motivation of our troops. His alternative explanation is plausible, but it is not obviously correct. In fact, when I first heard his remarks, it did not even occur to me.

This will have political legs because it is consistent with what a lot of people fear about the Democrats, i.e., that they are anti-military. Whether or not that belief is fair, voters have been reminded of it on the eve of an election. My own sense is that the Democrat's momentum is stalling. This won't help.

Some people will suggest there is an irony here in that Kerry was a Yale man who joined the Navy. But the reason that this doesn't insulate him is that people care more about what he'll do now then what he did then. Kerry threw away the political advantage of his war record when he threw away his purple hearts. There is no getting it back.

The other reason that it won't help him is that he exudes arrogance. Let's say that he did mean to take a shot at Bush. He meant to say that the war has gone poorly because Bush is stupid. This recalls his presidential campaign in which he essentially said that, had he been running the war it would have gone better, not because of any particular ideas that he had about how it might have been more effectively prosecuted, but because John Kerry is oh so smart.

That also plays into a public stereotype of liberals, i.e, that they have this smug belief that they are smarter and morally superior to other people. It's not attractive, guys. His refusal to apologize makes it a double-shot.

A week before the election, John Kerry has given the GOP a two-fer.

3 comments:

tom47 said...

First the preliminaries:

What is this suppose to say?
"I molding young minds from the mush that they are to the cold steel traps they will soon be as an adjunct professor at Marquette Law School."

I do not disagree with your Kerry post. However your comment "This will have political legs because it is consistent with what a lot of people fear about the Democrats, i.e., that they are anti-military" is about to become dated.

Among the biggest stories on Wednesday morning when the national media wakes up will be, "Veterans propel Democrats to victory." "Rookie Veterans Become a Major Bloc Within Democratic Majority"

That is assuming the media wakes up on Wednesday morning.

Anonymous said...

A little history lesson for the Adjunct Professor. Wisconsin State Senator Gordon Roseleip (R-Darlington), a World War II veteran, served with honor in the legislature until he was defeated in 1974.

During the 1973 session, he appeared at a public hearing on a bill which would have amended Wisconsin law to permit condoms to be openly displayed in retail establishments. (Prior to the repeal of this law, condoms were classified as "indecent" articles which had to be kept out of sight, behind the counter, which meant that anyone who wishes to buy a condom had to request them from a store clerk, which had the effect of making condoms much harder to purchase, due to the embarassment factor).

Roseleip came out four-square against repeal of the law, and against making it easier for people to buy condoms.

His rationale? The armed forces had traditionally drawn members disproportionately from the ranks of the poor, and that making condoms more generally available would therefore weaken our national defense, as there would be fewer poor people to serve in the military if people could more easily prevent pregnancy.

Roseleip drew quite a bit of press attention at the time for these comments, but he stood by them.

Rick Esenberg said...

Tom

Either I am trying to rip off the Borat craze or it's s typo.

As for the rest, Tuesday will tell.

The story about Sen. Roseleip is fascinating but, ironically, may have been more true of our old conscripted military than of today's volunteer force.