Opinion: Quick Takes

John Kerry

Kerry reminds us again why security best left in Republican hands

Veterans Day, the day on which America honors the sacrifices of its military men and women, falls on Nov. 11, only four days after Election Day. As one who served during wartime, I personally would like to thank Sen. John F. Kerry of
Massachusetts for expressing his opinion of our servicemen and women in time for veterans to remember it when they go to the polls.

Here’s what he said to students at Pasadena City College on Oct. 30:

“You know, education, if you make the most of it, 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.”

After realizing the insensitivity of his remarks and the potential damage to his party immediately preceding an important election, Kerry tried to squirm his way out of the trap that his mouth put him into. “No harm done,” he said, he just botched a joke meant for President Bush.

You have to give the senator a hand: He demonstrated the timing of Fat Albert on “Dancing With the Stars.”

The senator’s words, I predict, will live in infamy as among the most insulting and unpatriotic any American ever uttered about the nation’s service personnel during wartime. I can guarantee you that Kerry’s words — and his tardy equivocal “apology” — won’t be forgotten by a vast majority of veterans, and the relatives and friends of veterans. Kerry’s bite will be especially painful for the survivors of veterans who paid the supreme sacrifice.

I say that not because I consider myself a spokesman for veterans. I say it because the backlash from veterans across the land screams that they feel used, abused, and betrayed.

I say it also because of a talk I had with a longtime friend who wore some hard-earned stars on his uniform. The general said he resents Kerry’s statement. The general thinks the young men and women who served under him resent it, too, regardless of how Kerry tried to weasel his way out of the situation.

My friend and I talked about how Kerry’s words reflected an attitude, apparently an unwritten policy, prevalent in the Democratic Party. Radical Democrats, who control the party, repeatedly say they “support our troops, but condemn Bush’s war.” Now, Kerry — the would-be commander-in-chief — tells the troops otherwise.

Wasn’t it John Kerry who flip-flopped before the 2004 election while attempting to explain his voting record on the war in Iraq? Wasn’t it John Kerry who said last year “… there’s no reason…that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids, children, women….” Or did he botch those “jokes,” too?

The general and I also talked about the old days. We discussed how difficult it has been to serve under the last four Democratic commanders-in-chief. First, President Lyndon Johnson initiated the “quagmire” in Vietnam. We also recalled President Jimmy Carter’s impotence when the Iranian leadership, the Ayatollah Khomeini, held the U.S. Embassy staff hostage for 444 days until Ronald Reagan’s administration came to the rescue. Unfortunately, Reagan rode in too late to prevent another Carter fiasco — the ignominious helicopter rescue attempt that was bungled in the Iranian desert.

We discussed President Bill Clinton, who reneged on a pledge to enlist in the military and reportedly received preferential treatment from his hometown draft board. American troops chafed under his anti-military administration, and U.S. troop morale suffered yet another broadside with “Black Hawk Down,” Clinton’s tour de farce.

Forget about all of these events, we are told by Democratic political ads. They are the party of national security, they insist. But it was in the interest of his own party’s security that Kerry went into hiding after his remarks in Pasadena. He had become a liability to any Democrat seeking office on Nov. 7. Some Americans might not remember Johnson’s, Carter’s, Clinton’s and Kerry’s record on national security on Election Day, but I and many other veterans will.

Richard C. Wagner is the editor of Carolina Journal.