11/3/2006 1:53:47 PM - Rich Galen
Here's the Merriam-Webster Unabridged entry for "Botch:"
Main Entry: botch
Inflected Form(s): -ed/-ing/-es
Etymology: Middle English bocchen
To make a mess of through clumsiness, stupidity, or lack of ability : foul up hopelessly : BUNGLE, SPOIL, RUIN
Who uses the word "botched" in regular conversation, anyway? Kerry, probably: "Theresa, m'dear, please sack the butler. He appears to have botched the martinis again."
Kerry's statement, and his refusal to admit he had said anything wrong, was so astonishingly … John Kerry, that even the Popular Press had trouble pretending the GOP was overreacting.
Not Kerry, though. His tortured non-apology was issued as a printed statement, instead of him saying it in front of reporters:
"I sincerely regret that my words were misinterpreted to wrongly imply anything negative about those in uniform …"
Which is perilously close to a botched apology because a close reading shows Kerry regrets the misinterpretation of his words … as opposed to apologizing for his actual words which he actually spoke.
According to the CNN coverage of the Kerry issue, when asked why every candidate in the solar system for whom he had been planning to appear had suddenly developed scheduling conflicts, his office said the cancellations were necessary to prevent,
"[T]he Republican hate machine to use Democratic candidates as their proxies in their distorted spin war in which once again they're willing to exploit brave American troops."
Ohhhhh Kaaaaayyyy, then. That should put this whole thing to rest.
As usual, the central point has been missed. Kerry's botched joke and botched apology will not be the drivers in Tuesday's election, any more than Mark Foley's botched morality will be.
What one has already become, and the other very likely will become, are symbols of larger and more important issues.
Putting aside for a moment about who knew what and when, the Foley matter provided a useful shorthand about what people are upset about with regard to the GOP leadership in the House: Republicans are no longer seen as being good stewards of their Branch of government.
Kerry's botched joke is likely to trigger in heartland Republicans and Democrats a sense that the elitist Liberals of the Northeast and California coasts are still, at their core, anti-military and soft on national security issues.
While that may not be true, that's what Kerry's remarks will signal.
As I have told you before, there is a strong feeling among Americans who do not live on the Upper East Side of Manhattan that the National Democrats have a powerful Peacenik gene which, in spite of the stage play put on at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, remains as a central element of their DNA.
If the New Jersey Supreme Court's decision on Gay Marriage energizes just one percent of Conservatives who would not otherwise have voted, that could mean an additional 850 votes for a Republican incumbent.
If the highly-touted GOP turn-out program produces an additional one percent, a Republican incumbent may get a total of 1,700 additional votes.
If John Kerry convinces yet another one percent that, no matter how angry they may be at the GOP leadership the Democrats cannot be trusted on the national security front, that may total to something on the order of 2,500 additional votes.
That won't help an incumbent who is behind by double-digits, but in a 50-50 race, that could well mean the difference, in a GOP district, of an incumbent losing by 500 votes, and winning by 2,000 - well outside the range of an automatic recount.
Republicans should be inviting John Kerry to campaign for them.
On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: A link to the CNN article; a Mullfoto which will soothe your soul; and the Catchy Caption of the day - a different twist on the HALP photo.