I was mildly surprised this ridiculous Kerry-gaffe story made news at all—I’m kind of blown away it’s actually stretched into a second day. And I’m into triple-takes at stories like this on how Democrats are joining the pile-on:
Whatever the intent, Senator Kerry was wrong to say what he said,” said Democratic Rep. Harold Ford Jr., running for Senate in Tennessee.
“Sen. Kerry’s remarks were poorly worded and just plain stupid,” said Montana Senate President Jon Tester, a Democrat trying to unseat GOP Sen. Conrad Burns. “He owes our troops and their families an apology.”
Now, pace John Derbyshire, I don’t think you have to be nuts to have read what Kerry said the “troops-are-dumb” way. Lacking in interpretive charity and unwilling to stop for a second to consider what would realistically slip through the vetting process for an elected official’s prepared remarks, maybe, but not nuts. Still, you’d think the clarification would put an end to it, given that the lame-jibe-at-Bush reading is the more plausible one anyway.
Actually, scratch that: I don’t expect hardcore partisans to stop attacking, because hey, that’s what they do. I do find it weird that Democrats who apparently believe that Kerry meant his remarks the way he says he meant them are still calling for an apology. Because how can you possibly tender a sincere apology in a case like this? Sure, you can regret having used ambiguous phrasing, or that people misapprehended you in a way that led them to take offense. But you can’t be genuinely sorry—the most you can do is offer one of those pathetically disingenuous “I’m sorry if anyone took offense” sort of apologies. And even then, it seems inevitable that any apology is going to get read as confirmation that you were insulting the intelligence of the troops after all. And, more importantly, what kind of crazy M.C. Escher painting are we living in when I, who generally find him repulsive, am more ready to defend John Kerry than Harold Ford is?