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I have to say that while Kerry was extremely stupid, he has been just as much a victim as the pope of selective editing. The joke, such as it was, was about Bush's lack of intellectual nous.

"With your education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard, do your homework nad you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't you'll get stuck in Iraq."

This looks like an astonishing attack on the education of the troops, but it was intended as no such thing.

"President Bush lived in the state of Texas but now lives in a state of denial [haw haw]". This was one of a series of one-liners against Bush, leading up to the Iraq line. The context is that he's attacking Bush for not studying hard enough before entering Iraq, and so the joke reads like this:

With your education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard, do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, [ie all the things that Bush did not, and has not done, in relation to preparation for the war] you can do well. If you don't you'll get stuck in Iraq. [ie the consequences of not working and studying hard are that, like Bush, you will get 'stuck in Iraq' or some other similar terrible situation]

Basically, he's saying Bush didn't make an effort to be smart and so he finds himself in the current awful situation. American troops in Iraq were far from his mind.

Rather convuluted I know, but I think we can learn two things for ourselves: (1) with the media as it is today, all our frontbenchers must be extremely careful not to let themselves get caught in a similar situation (2) the reaction of the Republicans has been astonishing, and it is something we must be able to replicate should such an opportunity arise.

I don't believe Kerry's explanations for one nanosecond. I've no doubt he was preaching to the choir of angry left-wing nutjobs that seem to be controlling the Democrat base.

It isn't as if "Hanoi John" doesn't have form for bashing the military now, is it?

John Kerry is clearly an idiot, but the sudden outbreak of GOP-love on the ToryDiary is neither fitting nor in the interests of Britain or the Conservative Party.

Iain, your high-horse interventions are very boring. The good people of the Con Party are educated enough to cope with the honest and fair partiality that this site has.

Sorry, Henry. I don't buy your argument. Consider the reaction to the words (laughter and appreciation) and Kerry's acknowledging grin. The audience sure interpreted it as saying that the troops were thick and Kerry did nothing at the time to dissuade them from drawing that conclusion.

Henry's explanation is clearly right. Of course Kerry didn't intend to insult US troops. He stumbled over a joke, that's all.

Naturally, Bush & Co. want to make the most of it although even by his own stanards, Bush's self-righteousness on this is nauseating. He, afterall, is the one who landed his troops in this quagmire in which 100 are dying every month.

You can see 18 Doughty Street Talk TV's End of the Day Show with Rena Valeh online where Cherie Jolly from the Henry Jackson Society holds up her own little message to John Kerry. Click here to watch it and fast forward to about an hour in.

I tend to agree with Iain about the sudden surge in Pro-Republican stories on here.

I can't recall the same interest in US politics when God-fearing Republicans were trying to pick up teenage boys and/or cover up the scandal. Why was that I wonder?

Agreed, Gareth. I also fail to recall the posts about Republican house reps arrested for corruption/fraud (Ney/Delay/Cunningham) or beating up their wives (Sherwood/Sweeney).

Oh, and that picture is a blatant setup, little more than party propaganda. I wonder who could own the NY Post?

Even if Henry's is right Kerry was an idiot for not seeing how it would be taken. Also, if Bush is soooo stupid, how did Kerry fail to win the presidentials 2 years ago. Whatever his point, he is clearly guilty of gross misjudgement.

Clearly this is another "Ratner moment" where a joke doesn't come off and everything goes horribly wrong, and somehow reveals a deeper truth.

When I first heard the Kerry joke I also assumed he was trying to make a crass remark about Bush being thick (that's generally all Kerry says these days - not a shrewd move to belittle the man who beat you, John) but still a remarkably dumb thing to say. I'm sure Mr Ratner will be willing to explain that he didn't mean all his products were crap (from memory he was making the point that it is possible to make good profits on inexpensive items by delivering value-for-money) but he still ended up destroying his company. Even if Kerry wasn't trying to smear US soldiers as underperforming idiots he has at least uncovered the rather sneery self-preening nature of his wing of the Democrat Party.

Moral: if you don't do humour, don't try to be humourous.

Focusing like a laser beam on the real significance of this story: will Gordon Brown's advisers take the hint and now stop trying to pass off their chap as a warm, genuine human being? Will this mark a shift to serious issues in the UK?

Who on earth are these whingers who seem to hate the Republicans so much? This ain't liberalhome.com, you know! If you want to read all about negative aspects of the GOP, just go right on over to Daily Kos and Democratic Underground and fill your boots.

Here, we are conservative and the Republicans are our natural friends and allies. Some of us seem to be displaying distinctly fairweather tendencies in that department at present.

Aristeides - in fairness, they were all for the Republicans before they were against them.

Aristeides,

You are perfectly entitled to speak for yourself as a Conservative who feels an affinity to the Republican Party, but you're not entitled to speak for the rest of us.

I have no affinity with those Republicans who, in no particular order of odiousness, want to outlaw abortion; discriminate against homosexuals; allow unrestricted ownership of sub-machine guns; prohibit the teaching of scientific fact about the origins of mankind and replace it with unscientific nonsense, ludicrously called 'creationism' etc. etc.

For these reasons, and many more, were I an American voter, I would vote Democrat.

Apologies to those who object to my coverage of US politics. I'm about to put it on a seperate blog so this will be really ToryDiary again. More soon...

Ed,

It's the lack of balance in the topics chosen I object to, rather than the discussion of US politics per se.

Couldn't agree more with aristeides. If you want to read a hundred-odd stories about how evil the beastly Republican troglodytes are then just head over to DailyKos or virtually any British mainstream media outlet. With a few excpetions, the Democrats of today believe in all the same collectivist quasi-socialist policies that are every Labour/Lib Dems wet dream; its just that the bitter electoral experience of the past 40 years means they have to do a damn good job of covering up these convictions in meaningless, Cameronesque/Blairite/Clintonian fluff if they want to stand any chance in hell of winning an election: "We won't take your guns or your bibles away" etc, etc.

But that doesn't mean that given the chance, they won't enact some dotty llberal minded scheme at the first oppurtunity. Why is everyone so suprised that a website calling itself 'conservativehome' and promoting free-market, libertarian minded conservatism should shy away from these wannabe Swedes?

"If you want to read a hundred-odd stories about how evil the beastly Republican troglodytes are then just head over to DailyKos or virtually any British mainstream media outlet. With a few excpetions, the Democrats of today believe in all the same collectivist quasi-socialist policies that are every Labour/Lib Dems wet dream; "

Which is why I said on the other thread that neither side deserves to win. Against the corruption and incompetence of the Republicans, we have the Democrats' pandering to public sector interest groups, support for unrestricted abortion, and demands for affirmative action for every allegedly "oppressed" group that tends to vote Democrat.

In the absence of people of the stature of Reagan and Goldwater, it's rather a rotten choice.

One thing to remember. The US political system is constructed such that the Democrats and Republicans are basically two sides of the same coin. A North East Republican is more left wing than a Southern Democrat. Kerry is an effete patrician who used his wife's wealth to bail out a fading presidential campaign. FYI to Kerry: your education grade point average was markedly lower than the President's.

Gareth

Not that it is particularly my position to defend the Editor's choice of topics but I am a little perplexed by your suggestion that there is some sort of lack of balance in the topics that are covered here.

There appear to be three topics in the current ToryDiary concerning the US, out of a total of twenty. The titles of these are: "US troops hit back at Kerry", "The world cannot afford US isolationism", and "Neither the guts to rule Iraq, nor the guts to quit".

Please tell me where the lack of balance is here. Or are only Gareth's talking points balanced?

I'd agree with William Norton that this was Kerry's Ratner moment. Most reasonable people might look at what he said, see what he meant to say and have a little sympathy.

However the mass media and general public will take what he said at face value and he'll be crucified.

There was a good op-ed in either the Telegraph, the gist of which was that if you already have "a reputation as a haughty Boston Brahmin, a privileged, elitist, condescending careerist who cannot relate to ordinary Americans" then a slip like this is going to be taken as a snobbish, elitist attack on the working-class men and women in the front lines.

Have a look at this video titled:

Olbermann’s Special Comment : There is no line this President has not crossed — nor will not cross — to keep one political party, in power.

at http://www.crooksandliars.com/ It's fantastic. It's also posted on Guthrams blogsite.

Enjoy! BTW, I don't agree with the attack on Kerry!

John Kerry presumably as a Vietnam veteran (certainly I hope he didn't) intend to impune US Forces for the fine job they are doing in Iraq helping Iraqi Security Services until Iraqi authorities are fully in control of all parts of the country and the insurgents have been crushed. Certainly though he managed to stick both feet in his mouth, in fact it would have been better for him if he had done that before he started talking - I look forward to John McCain assuming the presidency and hopefully continuing Republican control of Congress.

The irony is that until recently the US military selection procedure, the AFQT, required a very high standard, basically if you did not score equivalent of IQ 90+ you would be rejected (that is harder than it sounds: on an IQ test normed so that the median US or UK IQ is 100, the global median is around 90). This meant that essentially every soldier in the US military was pretty smart and could handle complex weaponry and apply complex procedures; quite possibly it was the smartest regular military in world history. However thanks to the Iraq war, the US military has been forced to lower its AFQT pass mark considerably in order to meet recruiting targets - Bush is, quite literally, creating a dumber army.

Surely all the synthetic fuss in America over this (Kerry clearly was trying to make a joke at Bush's expense) comes from the fact that it has touched what's a very raw nerve, for some people? American servicemen and women are drawn from among the less 'well-educated'. Like it or lump, it's a bald fact. Personally, I'm with Bill Buckley, and would sooner trust the first 4000 names in the Boston telephone directory to run the country, rather than the Harvard faculty roll, for example. But comprised of Bourgeois Bohemians, the US army is not. I imagine a fair number of chickenhawks feel a bit guilty that they have high school diplomas, 1st, 2nd & even 3rd degrees, but unlike Kerry, say, no personal military experience. Hence all this rubbish about a joke.

Steve Sailer on isteve.com:
"As I've been pointing out for a long time, American enlisted personnel are pretty smart. From 1992-2004, virtually nobody was allowed to enlist who didn't have a high school diploma and who scored below the 30th percentile on the Armed Forces Qualification IQ test. Indeed, the typical enlistee had a 3 digit IQ, above average. They've been scraping a little closer to the bottom of the barrel recently, due to Iraq, but volunteers remain pretty strong. I don't think many in the media know this. You are supposed to say that IQ is a discredited concept, and the fact that the military is utterly devoted to IQ testing (and, in fact, most of the middle section of The Bell Curve came from data provided to Charles Murray by the U.S. military) is something you aren't supposed to think about."

Yeah because the story in Iraq is really a stupid joke by an idiotic Democratic Senator.

And not that the Republican dominated government failed to send enough troops to Iraq and failed to properly equip them with sufficient armour etc.

I think standing by your troops requires more than just words and the Bush administration has failed to provide more than words.

This story (did Kerry insult the US Army or not) isn't really about Iraq, it's about Kerry.

Hence my point about Ratner: a not very good joke misfires and it reveals the real truth - his company were able to sell decanters for 2p or whatever it was because customers thought them value for money, because of the value attached to the Ratner brand. One speech destroyed the value of that brand (and Ratner himself).

We could wander off at a tangent and discuss political brands (and how to destroy them) but Kerry is much more interesting. At best he was trying to say "students should study hard and do well at their exams or otherwise you do stupid things like letting the army get bogged down in Iraq" [and he probably meant being bogged down rather than the initial invasion; Kerry's had trouble in the past over whether he thinks the invasion per se was a good idea or not]. This is the old "Bush is a moron" theme.

Why is this interesting? Well, the Democrats have been trying the Bush=moron theme for about, oh, 7 yrs or so and it doesn't seem to have got them very far. When the Tory Party does that sort of thing it's called being a headbanger, or courting the core vote or failing to change-to-win or whatever.

Kerry really does think that he deserved to be President just because he is smarter than Bush and that the Republicans are all idiots. They still just don't get Bush and why he won, and the Democrats do think a pile of themselves in a rather narcissistic insiders-only manner. (A good example of which is available on Barone's blog:
>the Democrats are seriously thinking of appointing a convicted bribe-taker to run the Intelligence Committee)

The non-insult non-joke is a timely reminder of why Middle America put in Bush in the first place.

There was a very amusing vox pop on News 24 y-day evening, interviewing voters at some fair in Arizona. All 4 of the people who intended to stick with the Republicans cited their belief in the importance of staying the course in Iraq, because of 9/11 and, in particular, Saddam's support for Al Queda, as reasons for their choice.

The poor BBC interviewer (Jon Sopel) was lost for words in the face of this ignorance. He attempted to explain the reality to them but they clearly were utterly disinterested.

Kerry is a wishy washy flip flopper.
But, worse still he is that arch Washington creature, a leech, sucking up to the money and influence peddlers in his continual efforts to earn a living at everyone else's expense.
The present, and last campaign, comes courtesy of the wife, the widow of a Heinz billionaire, who is more than happy to shellout a few squids if it gets her into the Washington Salons.
A plague on Kerry and the whole corrupt US political system, which seems inexorably to be spreading its mephetic airs our way.

More to the Point:
"But comprised of Bourgeois Bohemians, the US army is not"

Maybe not 'bourgeois bohemians', but at least until very recently, US military recruits were both well-educated (minimum high school degree) and substantially more intelligent on average than the general US (or UK) population.

From isteve.com:
Average IQ of enlisted men: Following the latest John Kerry brouhaha, a reader asked what the average IQ of U.S. military personnel is. From table 2.8 of the is Department of Defense document, I estimate that the average for new enlisted men in 1998 was about 105, which would be in the 60th to 65th percentile compared to all the young people in America when the Armed Forces Qualification Test was normalized in 1980 on the National Longitudinal Study of Youth's sample of 13,000 people ages 15-23. (This is the same enormous study that provides the data in Section 2 of The Bell Curve.)"

Of course I agree with the many comments above questioning the pro-Republican bias on this site. Those Conservatives who disagree with demonising minorities, sleaze, incompetence, nastiness, massive spending and waste, screwing the environment etc will never have any time for Bush and Dick.

I feel sorry for David Cameron when I read comments like yours changetowin. He really has a tough job keeping people who see the world as differently as you and me in the same party. Poor man!

I think the current Republican administration has been notable for "sleaze, incompetence, nastiness, massive spending and waste", although I think there's a good chance that a future Republican president might be much better - appart from the massive spending I don't think the Reagan administration was guilty of much of that. I'm not sure they're really "screwing the environment" more than previous admins, but there certainly is a rather unpleasant meme on the US right currently that eg not driving a massive 4x4 is somehow 'unAmerican'. I don't think they have been generally "demonising minorities" - certainly not racial minorities, in fact they have been positively sucking up to Leftist Mexican-rights pro-immigration groups like La Raza, OTOH in order to 'mobilise the base' they have been promoting an anti-gay marriage agenda that often looks like anti-homosexual in general.

Simon,

Thanks for that. Yes, when I talked of unpleasant attitudes to minorities I was mainly talking about their treatment of the gay issue. They deliberately organised ballot initiatives over this issue well in advance in order to boost their vote at the election. They did this by promising a constitutional amendment they could never deliver. The gay issue, particularly given the number of gays working for them in DC, is just the most blatent example of Republican politics of dividing not uniting under Bush. Their politics is all about using fear and prejudice to push their agenda.

This is why I don't feel sorry for David Cameron, Editor. When it comes down to the central dividing line in modern politics - what divides us too - between hope and fear, David Cameron chooses hope.

As to your other point about this being more about Bush and less about the Republicans, I sincerely hope you are right. America is a great country: a country I love and respect. It is being horribly let down by the present administration. Decent and honourable Republicans such as John McCain (a notable victim of the Bush lie machine) could yet rescue their party and country.

All Conservatives must be wary of those who want to tie us to this most unpleasant, incompetent and oddly unconservative US administration.

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