The Kerry Flap Keeps Flapping

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Nov 02, 2006 10:13 AM

First I want to point out that the Washington Post front-paged this story today:

Scandals Alone Could Cost Republicans Their House Majority

But, according to Howard Kurtz, they didn't front-page the Kerry flap yesterday. Meanwhile, the NYT is straight-up lying to its readers about what Kerry said, and Hugh notes that only the NY Post ran the picture seen 'round the world.

More on the funny troops who delivered the best jab of the week on the Massachusetts Senator:

The picture was first revealed yesterday on the blog Web site of Milwaukee talk radio host Charlie Sykes, who said he got it from a listener who had a buddy in the unit.

The picture soon raced around the Internet, and it got much of the nation chuckling when it went up on Drudge Report later in the day.

Staff Sgt. Erik Holtan, a member of the Minnesota National Guard, says he saw the picture and recognized the insignia as that of his fellow Minnesota guardsmen - and he immediately put it up on his own blog site.

"It's awesome," he told The Post. "The troops over there have to be livid because of what [Kerry] said. I don't know why he would say that."

Holtan, who works at Guard headquarters, said he believes the troops behind the Kerry sign are in Iraq, since all the members of the unit in the shot - the 1/34 Brigade Troops Battalion - have been deployed.

There's still debate going on about whether Kerry meant to smear the troops. Michelle, for one, thinks he did. LaShawn says he didn't.

I watched the uncut tape last night, and it's really hard to tell what he meant, even with the context. My gut is that he may have mispoken and then just handled the response COMPLETELY wrong. It could go either way, and he fell victim to the fact that he's "mispoken" badly about the troops several times in the past, and that his "joke" or whatever it was about the dumb troops is a talking point for the anti-war Left. He also perpetuated the thing by fighting back, nutroots-style instead of owning up to what he'd done. 

I know plenty of people on the Left who do have contempt for the troops. I know people who think serving is not a legitimate career choice, who think Army officers shouldn't be allowed to speak at career week in local schools. They do not make a secret of it, and to pretend as if it's "inconceivable" that Kerry would insult the troops while talking to a group of college-aged Californians seems silly to me. It wasn't inconceivable, which is why it became a story. Kerry has shown in the past that he carries around that kind of contempt regardless of the fact that he served. His statement, mistake or not, served to remind a whole bunch of people why they elected President Bush over him in '04, and by proxy why we should probably stick with Republicans now while troops are in danger overseas.

Now that he's apologized, though? I think the story's over, but the effects remain. The apology came too late, politically, and came probably 30 years too late for the troops, but they can decide whether he's forgiven. It feels like a bit of a stretch to keep this story alive until Election Day. It was undoubtedly a timely reminder, however, of why many regular Americans don't much care for the condescension of the Democratic Party.