Wednesday, November 01, 2006

John Kerry's bad joke

Massachusetts Senator John Kerry recently said the following during a speech on behalf of California gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides:

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.

Conservatives pounced on this immediately and demanded an apology because this was An Insult to Our Troops. I agree that, as it's phrased, Kerry's remark can't be interpreted as anything other than such an insult. But Kerry claims his remarks were a joke he had "botched" regarding the sitting president; he wasn't aiming at US troops.

Annika thinks Kerry's claim is bogus. She writes:

Listen, I want to believe the argument that John Kerry didn't really mean to insult our all volunteer military servicemen and women. If it were any other guy, without John Kerry's history, I might be inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.

But given that John Kerry began his political career by throwing his military ribbons over the White House fence in protest over a military service which he claimed led to widespread and systematic atrocities — which he later admitted that he never witnessed, and which were later proven to have been completely made up — I sincerely doubt that his "explanation" is genuine.

If John Kerry intended to insult the president with his "botched joke," why then are the words "president" or "Bush" nowhere to be found within the text of that joke?

If John Kerry really fucked up the script so badly, why then didn't he immediately clarify himself? We've all been in that situation. When I mis-speak, and inadvertently give offense, that's what I do. It's customary, even through embarrassment, to say, "I'm sorry, what I meant to say was..." But Kerry didn't do that until the firestorm began this morning. Now that he's busted, it's a little hard to believe his denials.

Annika may have a point, but psychologizing is always a risky business. Kerry, like Bush, has a history of putting his foot in his mouth, and is, along with Howard Dean, emblematic of the Democratic party's apparent desire to shoot itself repeatedly in the foot.* This could have been a jin-you-wine blunder.

I'm willing to give Kerry the benefit of the doubt, simply because (1) I don't have ESP, and (2) even if Kerry is trying to lie his way out of a stupid gaffe, the gaffe itself will do little to change matters. The pro-Dem public will remain pro-Dem, and the Republican machine will keep mobilizing voters and solidifying its own base. This minor flap isn't about to change anyone's mind; at this point, most people already know whom they're voting for.

People keep saying that modern politicians have to learn how to work the media, how to play to the camera and navigate the treacherous minefield of opposing sensibilities. I therefore recommend that all campaigning should henceforth be conducted in a porn video format. In this format, politicians would strip down, get paired up with a porn actress, and say what needs to be said in the time it takes them to get aroused and spooing (some sort of electronic verification system might have to be applied to the female candidates; "faking it" should be right out).

No one would ever mistake such a format for actual pornography: the sight of ugly politicians banging porn stars would be too horrifying. An October-length parade of sidewalk-dragging mantits and Flaccid Assidosis would keep the average voter focused on the issues, not the action. The beauty of this method is that people like the late Strom Thurmond would be eliminated quickly: a sexually impotent candidate would never make it past the first round. Unfortunately, people like Bill Clinton would probably do quite well in a porn-off, which is why we'd have to introduce "sperm limits."

You know I wrote this entire post just to be able to use that pun.

*I'm happy to report that the GOP is catching up, though.


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