By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Kerry and the “S”-word

Isn’t it obvious that John Kerry was referring to President Bush — and not to American troops — as “stupid”? Well, not to some people, apparently. Kerry, hardly the political world’s most artful speaker, has managed to put his foot in his mouth once again. We’ll be hearing about this right up until Election Day.

Kerry responds here, calling his remarks “a botched joke about the president and the president’s people, not about the troops.”

Then again: I don’t know. Maybe I’m seeing this through the lens of what I know Kerry meant. But if you watch him actually speaking the words — wow: “Education — if you make the most of it and 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.”

I mean, I instantly knew what he meant. But that’s not what he said. I guess.

But he’s a funny guy! Let’s not forget this Kerry knee-slapper about Dan Quayle. Guaranteed to win you a home visit from the Secret Service.

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  1. JC

    Yep. And CNN is all over this complete non-story. It’s really just depressing. An incredibly complex political environment is boiled down to a verbal gaffe or a sex scandal. I can’t say I don’t think it was a boner by Kerry, though. Everyone used to complain about how Clinton would say a lot and yet not seem to say anything of substance, but what it really meant was that he was such a skilled speaker that he could get his point across without providing glib statements that could be taken out of context by the opposition.

  2. Mike from Norwell

    Botched joke yes, but…For someone of such high intellect, what he actually said was pretty offensive to anyone in the military or their families. Kerry could have diffused the situation by saying (to quote Glenn Ordway) “that’s not what I said”. But when John McCain (certainly no friend of Rove and the Bush White House) slammed Kerry this afternoon, this may have legs.

  3. Anonymous

    *Isn’t it obvious that John Kerry was referring to President Bush — and not to American troops…*Obvious?No, not at all.I don’t think the comment made much sense in any way.However, when I heard the clip, I thought he was referring to the soldeirs, not Bush.

  4. o-fish-l

    “Isn’t it obvious that John Kerry was referring to President Bush — and not to American troops — as “stupid”?”Abolutely not, especially considering Kerry’s grades at Yale were abysmal when compared to President Bush AND considering Kerry’s well documented anti-American troop statements in the past. “A leopard can’t change his spots” etc.–from the Boston Globe’s Michael Kranish 06-07-05In addition to Kerry’s four D’s in his freshman year, he received one D in his sophomore year. He did not fail any courses.”I always told my Dad that D stood for distinction,” Kerry said yesterday in a written response to questions, noting that he has previously acknowledged that he spent a lot of time learning to fly instead of focusing on his studies.”—-Please Dan. Kerry’s calling Bush “stupid” when Bush had better grades at the same school is akin to Rosie O’Donnell calling someone “fat.” Kerry would never risk re-examination of his own poor grades or pathetic 2004 election performance by calling a peer and the guy who just defeated him “stupid.” Clearly, he was once again condemning our troops. After his taped, unsubstantiated comments that troops in Vietnam “cut off limbs, cut off heads in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan…” and last year’s comments that US troops were raping and pillaging Iraqi villages in the dead of night, can you say PATTERN? If he was talking about the President, why didn’t he mention him?John Kerry is absolutely PRICELESS. Kerry Healey should immediately cut an ad asking Deval to denounce John Kerry’s comments, especially since Deval has allowed John Kerry on stage for every photo op. As ABC News quoted one frightened Dem, “John Kerry isn’t content with blowing 2004, now he has blown 2006.” Better yet, US Rep. Steve Lynch (D-Southie) summed Kerry’s comments best in one word “DREADFUL.”

  5. the WIZARD, fkap

    How is it possible that a supposedly smart man was UNABLE to simply say “I’m sorry I misspoke yesterday. I intended that my comment be addressed to George Bush and not our brave, bright and dedicated troops. I deeply apologize for anyone I’ve hurt.”This simple act of humility wouldn’t have diminished Kerry’s forceful attack on Bush. It would have enhanced it.Only John Kerry is this blazingly stupid.the Wizard….

  6. Dan Kennedy

    Give Kerry this: he never knows the right words to say. He’s absolutely consistent on that, anyway.

  7. o-fish-l

    The Wizard is absolutely correct. Not that Kerry’s comments would make any more sense aimed at the President who had better grades at Yale and defeated Kerry in a “gimme” election just two years ago, but at least a mea culpa would take the sting and stigma off our brave troops.

  8. metallicaMobes

    I certainly see a pattern here. Kerry has never been quite the “pro-troop” kinda guy, which puzzles me because he served in the Navy.But to put some personal perspective in here, as a Marine Corps Officer Candidate, as well as a more-than-enthusiastic military supporter, I can’t believe how offensive and/or stupid Kerry was- and to refuse to offer even the slightest bit of an apology, THAT is the real outrage. He very well may have not meant what he said, but instead, in order to not get “swiftboated” he has gone off the deep end to lash out. Thank You, Senator Kerry, for another gift that keeps on giving.Study hard or you just might end up stuck in the crazy end of the U.S. Senate.

  9. Peter Porcupine

    The Wizard hit it on the head.The man is too arrogant to EVER apologize, graciously or otherwise.This ‘in with the in crowd’ miasma is what keeps progressives from gaining any traction. For heavens sake, speak Engish, not shorthand!Frankly, Dan, if you knew what he meant, you need to be exposed to other points of view a little more often. Try vacationing in Oklahoma!

  10. Malott

    John Kerry is “stuck on Vietnam” and the 60’s -where if you didn’t go to college and make your grades, you got drafted. I think this explanation fits Kerry’s words better than simply “a quip gone awry” that was meant for Bush.

  11. Anonymous

    Once again, it takes a “very smart, very honest and candid” post from Mettalica-whatever to illicit a response.Many people here and beyond are working really hard to make it seem that this was outside of a joke context and a deliberate shot or at best, a Freudian slip.I am no fan of Kerry, with his self-serving self-aggrandizing manners. But there is no way an honest person who listens to the full 5 minutes preceding the one notorious line, NOT conclude that he was in the middle of a string of jokes aimed at Mr Bush…unless one is desperate….and dishonest.Even Kerry is not that dumb to be insulting the forces in that fashion. I am sure he has them in much higher regard, and even if he didn’t, he wouldn’t be THAT stupid to say such a thing when he still has so many grand plans in mind to run for Prez.We know how calculating and smart he is.Michale Barone’s ” “stuck on Vietnam” and the 60’s” explanation is not a true one, because Kerry was fully consciously NOT talking about that era but simply targeting Bush in a 2006 context. Going into Vietnam is overreaching even if it seems to conveniently match, dredging up another set of Kerry ‘slanders’ from the that whole debacle.Two more things:If Metallica-@$#%$ wants that statement to remain untrue, maybe he shouldn’t join the military. It seems education has not brought common sense nor intelligence to this young misguided Mettalica soul. So Mettalica joining it would actually start the impossible, ie making Kerry sound right.More importantly, if the Dems lose an election or the GOP gain in the same election because of such an innane episode then, if you love this country, our democracy has a deeper problem than first suspected and both parties are in deeper doo-doo that their operatives would have you believe.Lesson of the day: Kerry should NOT attempt ANY jokes and if he screwed one up, own up to it and don’t be hard-headed, becuase you are dealing with people who are not willing to ply with the figurative and hidden uses of speech and lanugage and oral political adversity, but with a black-and-white stubborn literal interpretation they thirst to use in desperate take downs, away from the substance of anything.N.

  12. neil

    By the way it’s silly of course to use college GPA as some measure of intelligence. So Kerry got some Ds in college. So did a lot of ahem, us. Not an indication of intelligence but rather immaturity, distraction, confusion etc., not uncommon at that age. When I returned to college at a later age my grades miraculously improved, but I was no smarter than before.Kerry’s not “stupid”, he’s merely political. Unlike Bush who is simply grossly inarticulate, Kerry is inarticulate from the other direction–muddled, too much equivocation. He is timid as he feels his way towards whatever point of view might get him elected. He’s expedient at his core. Of course as a pol he is not alone in this. It’s too bad–if you could transplant his mind into somebody with actual convictions, you’d have a real candidate.Worse to me than some folly at college age, and more dangerous, is a lifetime of incuriosity, which is the most obvious feature of our Dear Leader’s intellect I’m afraid.

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