It was as if John Kerry understood that now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the other party.
Whatever possessed him, he got up in front of a student audience in California and told them:
"You know, education - if you make the most of it, 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."
The worst of it was that not until the speech started drawing flak from a suddenly revived GOP did it occur to the senator that he had screwed up - bad.
And that he had some explaining to do. Even then, he resisted apologizing for an agonizingly long time.
It's remarkable when you think about it:
Here the country now has what may be our first dyslexic president in George W. Bush, a lead-tongued orator who can scarcely get through a presidential address or press conference without making word-salad of his speechwriters' finest efforts. His manful struggle with the English language is renewed every time he gets behind a rostrum, and it's a rarity when the language wins.
Yet offhand I can't think of anything George W. has said, or attempted to say in his clumsy way, as stupid - or as self-destructive - as this mangled "joke" from a supposedly sophisticated man of the world, a Beacon Hill Brahmin no less. But maybe that's precisely why John Kerry has such a problem communicating with the rest of us: He's so removed.
Windsurfing through his prepared text, the senator's mind and mouth must have disconnected. Sen. Kerry wound up insulting the troops - which may be the one thing in this long, bitter, bare-knuckle campaign season that the American people will not tolerate.
How like John Kerry. The man has a talent for political disaster. Of course he'd fall into a hole like this. He's the Joe Bfstplk of American politics; raindrops keep fallin' on his head. How'd you like to have him campaigning for you? Right now his endorsement would be toxic. As sharper Democrats immediately realized:
A Democratic congressional candidate locked in a close race in Iowa called off a joint appearance with his party's most recent presidential nominee. Canceled, too, was John Kerry's scheduled appearance with Bob Casey, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania. And with her eye already on '08, Hillary Clinton called Sen. Kerry's comment "inappropriate," which is schoolmarmish for Just Plain Awful.