Kerry's botched joke

Larry Elder
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Posted: Nov 09, 2006 12:01 AM

In the wake of the Democratic congressional victories, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. -- perhaps more than any other Democrat -- heaved a sigh of relief.

Speaking to students at California's Pasadena City College on Oct. 30, 2006, the former presidential candidate said, "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, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

As for the number of those offended, let us count the ways.

A straightforward reading of his remarks makes it pretty clear that John Kerry considers people in the military stupid, devoid of other options. Kerry attempted to dismiss the remark by calling it a "botched joke," an attempt to take a swipe at President Bush. You know, President Bush equals stupid, equals improperly analyzing the situation in Iraq, equals the U.S. getting "stuck" in Iraq.

Question: As between Bush and Kerry, which one actually made better grades in college? Answer: They both attended Yale as undergraduates, with Bush's GPA at 77 to Kerry's 76. Kerry received four D's in his freshman year, in geology, two history classes and political science.

What about Kerry's assertion that, in effect, called today's military enlistees dumb? The facts do not support Kerry's slam. Today's average recruit is more likely to have graduated from high school than a non-recruit. Many officers have graduate degrees.

Bill Carr, acting deputy under secretary for military personnel policy, said in December 2005 that more than 90 percent of recruits have a high school diploma, compared to 75 percent of civilian youth. And on aptitude tests, says Carr, today's recruit scores much higher average aptitudes than do non-recruit youths. The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test is designed so that the average young person scores at 50 percent. Yet in fiscal 2005, 67 percent of recruits scored above the 60th percentile on that test.

The "Today" show's Matt Lauer attempted to help the senator. After all, said Lauer, surely Kerry, a vet, did not intend to demean the military. Over at ABC, Charlie Gibson, too, offered up that damage-control opinion. But when it comes to demeaning the military, however, Kerry is a serial offender. Last year, he accused soldiers in Iraq of " . . . going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing women and children. . . . "

In 1972, Kerry opposed switching to an all-volunteer army, arguing that such an army would be "an army of the poor and the black and the brown. We must not repeat the travesty of the inequities present during Vietnam. I also fear having a professional army that views the perpetuation of war crimes as simply 'doing its job.'" Contrary to Kerry's prediction, middle-class young people comprise the bulk of today's wartime volunteer army recruits.

Tim Kane, an economics scholar and Air Force Academy graduate who prepared the report for a 2005 Heritage Foundation study on recruits, said, "We found that recruits tend to come from middle-class areas, with disproportionately fewer from low-income areas." The study found that " . . . on average, recruits in 2003 were from wealthier neighborhoods than were recruits in 1999." Never mind Kerry's insult to the poor, the black and the brown by suggesting that, were they the bulk of the all-volunteer army, they would happily engage in "war crimes" as a matter of policy!

Kerry also repeated the lie of "inequities" during the Vietnam War -- that minorities died in higher percentages than their numbers in the population. Not true, according to David Horowitz of the Freedom Center. During the Vietnam War draft era, blacks comprised 13.5 percent of the population. Of those who died in Vietnam, 12.5 percent were black, with blacks comprising 12.1 percent of men killed in actual battle.

When Kerry returned from Vietnam and testified before Congress in 1971, he accused the military of engaging in widespread atrocities and war crimes, recounting soldiers' stories that American GIs had "raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan. . . . "

Many of the stories Kerry recounted then and in a book he wrote turned out to have been fabrications. Tim Russert, in 2004, confronted Kerry on "Meet the Press" about his 33-year-old accusations.

Russert: You committed atrocities.

Kerry: . . . I think it's an inappropriate word. . . .

Russert: You used the word "war criminals."

Kerry: . . . It was, I think, a reflection of the kind of times we found ourselves in, and I don't like it when I hear it today.

Russert: . . . A lot of those stories have been discredited . . .

Kerry: Actually, a lot of them have been documented. . . . Have some been discredited? Sure, they have, Tim.

As for Kerry's Pasadena City College remark, he finally apologized -- that is, to anyone "offended" by his words, which he claimed were "misinterpreted."

The "botched joke" didn't hurt the Democrats on election night, but what about the military?