2006-11-23 / View From the Middle

View From The Middle

Sen. Kerry And His Elitist Slip Of The Lip
By Charles Rogers


Senator John Kerry finally came out of hiding this week and intimated he might put himself in a presidential bid again. You'd think by this time he'd have learned that the race is just too tough for him. We can suppose he should get some points for being such a fighter, but, as educated as he is, it doesn't make him smart. But he's rich, don'tcha know, so setting up an exploratory team probably won't hurt anyone but himself.

Frankly, I think he would do well to go back into hiding, since he almost sank a few Democratic takeovers in the recent mid term elections. Luckily, his foot-in-mouth speech, where he appeared to suggest that only the uneducated members of the military get deployed to duty in Iraq, didn't seem to be as big a deal as other Democrats (and hopeful Republicans) felt at first.

As we know, he apologized a day after the remark - and everyone wondered why he waited a full day - saying he had been telling a joke on President Bush and he "botched" the joke. I think we all knew right away the real meaning of his mis-mouth, and that his intentions were strictly anti-Bush and not anti-soldier.

To set it straight, what he meant to say was: "I can't overstress the importance of a great education. Do you know where you end up if you don't study, if you aren't smart, if you're intellectually lazy? You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq."

What actually (smugly) came out of his mouth was: "You know education, if you make the most of it, 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."

But the damage was done, with ALL Democrats running like hell away from him in droves, including those who had an interest in seeing him run (walk?) for the presidency in 2008. Some Dems were still just getting over Kerry's 2004 defeat. After all, one of the gaffs that floored him then was the way he appeared to flip-flop on issues ("I voted for it before I voted against it!"), so it was a no-brainer that, when he apologized, it was a matter of flip-flopping again.

But according to a report issued a couple of months ago by the Associated Press and published in the Daily News, aptitude standards for recruits were cut - which is a stupid move by recruiters, by the way - because the number of those joining the military, mostly the Army, had been falling. The News article stated "the Army missed its recruitment target last year by the widest margin since 1979." So what did they do? They increased bonuses (always a good start!) upped the number of recruiters (not really such a good move, since you need good soldiers on the battle line) and, yes, lowered the aptitude scores.

Say, what? What was that last one? Lowered the aptitude scores?

Until Kerry said something, it was obvious that we had a smarter military. Voluntary, of course, and, therefore, full of men and women who wanted to enlist. Their reasons were good ones: Being offered a college education; learning and having a good profession. Making the military a career was not a bad idea either (if you could get around that war business), and those bonuses helped a lot.

Recently, in deference to Kerry's remarks, all kinds of statistics were released from the Armed Services regarding aptitude and/or education of their personnel, such as a whopping 97 percent of all enlistees in the past three years - 2003, 2004 and 2005 - were high school graduates. The prestigious Heritage Foundation released a report saying that, in recent years, service men and women are better educated than their civilian peers. Just about 98 percent of all recruits, until a couple of years ago, had high school diplomas. Then, because recruitments were low, they lowered the standards and the percentage went down to something like 94 percent. Maybe it's even lower now.

Once again, we all knew what Kerry meant when he botched the joke; and the apology stands.

But doesn't it get to ya when you know this guy is an out-and-out elitist who, with his Vietnam experience as an officer, continues to look down on the common soldier, the common enlisted man?

Let's face it: When you have a holier-than-thou mindset like Kerry's, a slip of the lip comes easy.

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