Update: Kerry uncut at Hot Air. You be the judge. Was he insulting the troops or Bush? Frankly, I can't tell. I've thought it was possible he mispoke the whole time, but if so, why not just come out and say, contritely, "I screwed up. I didn't mean to offend anyone. My bad and my apologies"? He made things worse by going into attack mode.
If he did mispeak, he was not helped by the fact that he has a history of "mispeaking," always to the detriment of American troops, nor was he helped by the fact that the "poor, stupid soldier" line is pretty much a talking point on the anti-war Left. In this tape, you can hear a lot more laughing after the "joke" is delivered than in the other-- just another indication that the crowd he was addressing would have been receptive to such a nasty joke.
Here's the statement, found on his election site, which is fitting considering he was fighting a 2004 battle:
As a combat veteran, I want to make it clear to anyone in uniform and to their loved ones: my poorly stated joke at a rally was not about, and never intended to refer to any troop.
I sincerely regret that my words were misinterpreted to wrongly imply anything negative about those in uniform, and I personally apologize to any service member, family member, or American who was offended.
It is clear the Republican Party would rather talk about anything but their failed security policy. I don’t want my verbal slip to be a diversion from the real issues. I will continue to fight for a change of course to provide real security for our country, and a winning strategy for our troops.
I think this is probably done and done, now. As I said yesterday, if he had apologized first thing, this story wouldn't have gotten two days of news cycle.
The story's over, but the effects will last. He made a lot of people angry; he made a lot of people laugh at him; he solidified the feeling a lot of Heartland/rural/military voters have that the Democratic Party is led by a faction that finds them unworthy of respect; and, he reminded a lot of cranky Republicans that they really enjoyed beating him and his ilk in 2004.
That's a really good position for the Republican GOTV effort to be in going into the election's last weekend. Maybe we can make 2006 enjoyable as well.
Oh, and this will last forever: