If students have been suffering lately from a lack of motivation to do their homework, John Kerry sure gave them a reason to do well this past week. The Massachusetts senator said to a group of college students regarding education, “If you make the most of it, you study hard, 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.” This caused an uproar in the country with angry Americans taking offense to Kerry’s comment, which implies that those in the military are uneducated.
But what was his intention? Kerry later issued a statement, apologizing for having offended any Americans, especially those in uniform. His poorly delivered “joke” was allegedly intended to be a jab at President George W. Bush. Kerry’s statement, which can be found on his Web site, johnkerry.com, also included one final cheap shot at the Bush administration: “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.” This is a bold statement from a man in hot water right now.
Looking at the responses to this backhanded apology, it seems as if there are still a lot of people in America who still love and support Kerry and hope to see him move into the White House after the 2008 election. The most common responses from supporters included comments along the lines of how anybody with “half a brain” would have gotten right away that the joke was directed towards Bush, not the troops, and that Kerry was under no obligation to even issue an apology to begin with.
With so much continued support from the Democrats, it looks like the mid-term elections will not sway in the direction of Republicans – not easily, anyway.
But just because a large group of people were not offended and were able to pick up on the whole point of the joke, that does not mean that an apology is not necessary to all those who were offended, including the troops themselves. There are people who now conveniently forget that they wanted to go to war, and there are men over there who want nothing more than to serve their country. Given the fact that America is in the middle of this war and struggling to cope with all who have been lost or still fighting, Iraq is a touchy subject and certainly nothing to joke about at this point in time. The comment, whatever its intention, was distasteful, and it reflects Kerry’s poor judgment. He should have realized that this nation needs hope right now, and by attacking Bush and defacing the Republican security policy, he ran the risk of sacrificing this country’s already depleted morale.
In this day and age politicians have to be careful of every word that leaves their mouth, because inevitably somebody is going to be offended. However, there are certain topics that common sense should tell are no laughing matter. John Kerry learned that joking about the troops is one of them. Instead of apologizing for the fact that his quote was misinterpreted, as he did, he should be apologizing for joking about it at all.