I honestly don't believe Kerry was joking when he warned students they better stay in school lest they wind up in Iraq, nor do I believe, based on his initial reaction of indignation, that he was sincere in the apology that he was browbeaten into giving. Those questions aside, the more important point is that Kerry's statement has had the effect of placing the Democrats' approach toward defense, the war on terror and the military under a microscope, and nothing could be worse for them -- politically.
That Kerry doesn't share a high opinion of our military is born out by his categorical defamation of his fellow Vietnam vets upon returning from Vietnam. Indeed, he launched his political career on the backs of those soldiers, whom he fraudulently alleged had routinely committed atrocities. Very recently he reaffirmed his remarks by emphasizing that he had "told the truth" when he came back from Vietnam.
Kerry also wildly accused our troops in Iraq of terrorizing women and children in their homes. Viewing his remarks in the light most favorable to him, he was "throwing the soldiers under the bus" for the sake of trashing our operation in Iraq. The reputation of our troops was an acceptable casualty for him when he returned from Vietnam. Why not today as well?
Kerry's remarks and his intent are relevant, not only because he still has presidential aspirations, though he's pretty much sabotaged those, but because he was the Democrats' presidential nominee in 2004. The party chose him well aware of his proclivities, and its own.
Kerry's statements might well mark a turning point in the campaign, following which Democrats will no longer get a pass from voters on their notorious softness on national security and the war and their arrogant refusal to offer an alternative agenda on Iraq.
This heightened voter scrutiny will remind voters that it was the Democrats who conspired to disqualify military ballots in 2000. It is Democrats who embrace far-left anti-war groups like Moveon.org and leftist blogs like Daily Kos. It is Democrats who have glorified Michael Moore, who publicly rooted for the enemy in Iraq. It is Democrats who have rushed to judgment to presume the guilt of our soldiers in Iraq accused of crimes. It is liberal professors who sneer at the military and the ROTC. It is Democrats who have essentially indicted the military by saying we haven't done enough to train Iraqi troops and haven't wisely conducted the Iraq war, since President Bush has largely delegated the running of the war and the training of the troops to the generals.
Worse yet for Democrats, Kerry's statement will invite voters to compare the parties' respective positions on the war, including Iraq. Enough voters surely know that if we lose in Iraq, which we will if Democrats have their way, terrorists will be emboldened and we'll sustain a dramatic setback in the war on terror. Kerry's remarks have also energized Republican voters and further increased their intensity.
Hillary Clinton says no one wants to see a replay of the 2004 elections. "It's in the past," she says. No, Sen. Clinton, you couldn't be more incorrect, and thanks to your colleague, John Kerry, voters are waking up to your error. Democrats have been running, but they can no longer hide. The pivotal issue in 2004 was national security. It remains so today and will remain so into the indefinite future.
Will voters restore congressional control to the party that has consistently obstructed our prosecution of the war on terror and who will ensure, like they did in Vietnam three decades ago, that a bloodbath will follow our premature withdrawal? Will the voters during time of war embrace a party that reflexively distrusts the military?
I am cautiously optimistic they won't. But in the meantime, we should take the opportunity presented by Kerry's intemperate and elitist remarks to reflect on the valor, dedication, patriotism, sacrifice and quality of our fighting forces.
The best single volume I've found paying tribute to the American military is "Don't Tread on Me," a sweeping, fast-paced 400-year history of America at war by my friend Harry Crocker.
When you read this book you will be reminded of how much we owe our military and how vigorously we must support them -- now more than ever, and especially when we go to vote. Our fighting men deserve better than a Congress led by John Kerry's party; they deserve a Congress that believes, as Harry does, in a foreign policy of Don't Tread On Me . Let's elect a Congress committed to victory, not defeat.