Patterico's Pontifications

11/1/2006

Kerry: We Sent Too Few Troops — and Also, We Sent Too Many Troops!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:49 pm

John Kerry was on Imus this morning. The transcript is here.

He said Bush didn’t send enough troops to Iraq:

These guys have failed America. The people who owe an apology are people like Donald Rumsfeld, who didn’t send enough troops, who didn’t listen to the generals, who has made every mistake in the book.

and also that Bush sent too many troops to Iraq:

John McCain says we ought to send another 100,000 troops over there. First of all, we don’t have another 100,000 troops. Secondly, if you send them over there, it’s going to do exactly what’s already happened, which is attract more terrorists and more jihadists. Our own generals are telling us that it’s the numbers of troops that are the problem.

Hoo-kay then.

The trouble with John Kerry is not that he deliberately insulted the troops — a claim I consider dubious in light of the entire video. Rather, his trouble is that he and his party have no alternative to Bush’s policies.

They have only one consistent message: Bush is wrong.

Without a coherent alternative, I don’t think that’s a winning message.

P.S. Although it doesn’t make much sense to me as an argument, I suppose he may have meant that we sent too few early on, and have too many there now. He is known for nuance, after all . . .

P.P.S. Allah noted this contradiction earlier.

UPDATE: I inserted the word “deliberately” above to make the point clearer, in response to an on-point comment from nk.

23 Responses to “Kerry: We Sent Too Few Troops — and Also, We Sent Too Many Troops!”

  1. “The trouble with John Kerry is not that he insulted the troops — a claim I consider dubious in light of the entire video.”

    He did insult the troops. The question is whether he intended to or whether he misspoke.

    nk (d7a872)

  2. John Kerry thinks you sent too few soldiers to Iraq before you sent too many?

    Christoph (9824e6)

  3. I agree with nk. He insulted the troops whether he intended to or not. More importantly, he then insulted anyone watching the news with his fake apology (“I’m sorry if anyone was offended”). Bleh.

    sharon (dfeb10)

  4. There is no contradiction. It is possible that, tactically and strategically, we did send too few troops into Iraq at the beginning of the war when they would have been useful in preventing or quelling a budding insurgency. It is also possible that sending more troops into Iraq today might have deleterious effects. The reason that there is no contradiction is that conditions are not the same now as they were at the beginning and so the effects of more troops today as opposed to more troops early will not necessarily be the same.

    Logically speaking, it’s only a contradiction if Kerry had said “we should have sent more troops in at the beginning of the war” and “we sent too many troops in at the beginning of the war”.

    Craig R. Harmon (6b02be)

  5. It’s interesting, Craig, that you can never just listen to John Kerry and determine what he’s saying, you have to fill in the blanks, mindread, assume his words mean the opposite of what he’s saying, ignore his past words and actions, etc., to reach the conclusion that he’s saying what he later says he meant (but half his most devoted supporters still think he meant the first thing).

    He is a master of communication.

    Christoph (9824e6)

  6. Craig,

    2+2=5

    Well, it does if you realize that the first 2 represents the slope of the tangent of the 2nd 2, which is the arc co-tangent of the imaginary parallel eigenroot.

    So 5 is the correct answer after all, just like John Kerry said.

    ras (c7dc18)

  7. Holy Crap! Kerry can’t help himself…he’s compulsive about it, and he’s just turned into a damn joke…and Bush is the one who gets the “Stupid” comments, when Kerry can’t even keep track of a single thought process.

    The Stout Republican (f758e9)

  8. I personally, however, lean more toward the view of Michelle Malkin, AJ Strata, and N.Z. Bear.

    “Notice the perfect, seamless delivery of the ‘botched’ joke. I’m with Dafyyd.”
    — Michelle

    “No, the apology is not acceptable because it is not real or sincere. It was delayed to check polls overnight. It was made under pressure. It was not made in person. There is no indication it was Kerry’s true feelings at all. And it came with calls to not be distracted from the Democrat message. Kerry never apologized once for his disparaging comments from the Vietnam War, so I doubt his shallow little ego was able to muster one now. And you do not say your sorry because people took your words the wrong way. You say your sorry for using the wrong words.”
    — AJ

    “The key phrase we’re looking for here is ‘never again’. If people like Kerry — and indeed Kerry himself — had not been responsible for destroying the morale and reputation of the American military after Vietnam, we wouldn’t have to be sensitive to jokes like his failed one. But they did, and we do, because we absolutely cannot allow what happened to the soldiers of that era to begin happening to those of ours.

    “And the source here matters. If John McCain had made Kerry’s remarks, we’d be astounded, but McCain’s history would argue in his favor and we’d grant him the benefit of the doubt. But Kerry’s history does the opposite: his past exploits and efforts to drag the reputation of American soldiers through the mud are absolutely relevant and mean he doesn’t get to pretend that nobody could ever think he’d say something denigrating about the military. If you’ve never been known to raise your hand in anger towards a woman, you can crack a joke about beating your wife and get away with it (even if you shouldn’t). But if you’ve got a history of beating your wife, you don’t get to make jokes about beating your wife without bringing the full weight of society’s suspicion and opprobrium down on you.”
    — N.Z.

    Christoph (9824e6)

  9. I miscoded the links. They should be:

    Link 1 — Michelle Malkin

    Link 2 — AJ Strata

    Link 3 — N.Z. Bear

    Christoph (9824e6)

  10. Christoph,

    I don’t know. He sounded pretty compelling during the Presidential debates. No nonsense, focused and on target. Bush, by comparison, especially in the first debate, the one on foreign affairs, the one that was supposed to be all his, was often addled, repeated “hard work” about 117 times and generally sounded like a high-school freshman in his first debate, one for which he was ill prepared.

    Wm. F. Buckley has said of J. F. Kerry that he is the second best debater he’s ever seen and I believe it. The problem is that the media doesn’t operate, for the most part, in large chunks of information. It prefers sound-bite sized bits so that, when Kerry’s nuanced speeches hit the press or the air-waves during the campaign, what people got was the sound-bite version of what Kerry was about. In order to understand him, most of the time, one didn’t need to be a mind-reader, one only needed but rarely got the larger context that surrounded the sound-bite.

    A good example was the “I actually voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it.” A numb-skull thing to say knowing how the press works because he should have known that they would give that but not the larger context in which the comment makes sense.

    The recent case of getting stuck in Iraq is another case in point. It was delivered in the context of other criticisms of the administration. As a criticism of the intellectual abilities of the troops it made little sense in that context.

    Now I’m not saying that this one was the media’s fault, it was all Kerry’s fault but the context, along with his initial explanation that it was a botched slam at Bush would have alerted people that that was exactly what it was intended to be.

    As for his being a master of communication, I’d have to ask, as compared to whom? Compared to Bush, yes, Kerry IS a master communicator. It’s just that, being a right leaning centrist, I usually don’t like what it is that he’s communicating but that’s my problem with his point of view, not his problem with communicating.

    Craig R. Harmon (6b02be)

  11. Comment 10 is a response to comment 5.

    Craig R. Harmon (6b02be)

  12. Ras,

    Sorry, my trig is rusty. All I can say is…huh?

    Craig R. Harmon (6b02be)

  13. I’m not saying he never communicated clearly, Craig. I am saying he blurts out his true anti-military feelings — the same ones he went to great pains to indulge in — and this is why his realistic Presidential aspirations are now at an end.

    The other thing he blurts out frequently, and this may have been the case here, is his hatred for the man who honestly beat him in the last election — George W. Bush — and that this lack of personal discipline and respect for the office of the Presidency also tends to make him unfit to serve.

    Which is moot.

    Christoph (9824e6)

  14. Craig, it was a sarcastic exageration. I’m saying that Kerry often says boneheaded, offensive things about the military. And when he does, he blames everyone but himself.

    Christoph (9824e6)

  15. Christoph,

    I’ve no doubt that what Kerry actually said he actually believes. I don’t think he has any more respect for the fighting forces today than he displayed 30+ years ago. However, I’ve seen the line as he usually delivers it and in that version, it is perfectly clear that the line is intended to be and is a slam at Bush’s supposed low IQ and Bush’s responsibility for our troops being, in his opinion, stuck, as in ‘buried to the axles in mud’ stuck, in the war in Iraq. It’s quite possible that this was a Freudian slip but it is one that he would never, at this juncture of his life and career have made publicly.

    What surprises me is the number of Liberals whose only problem with Kerry’s statement is with the fact that Kerry backed off of it. They think the comment is 100% correct. It leaves me flabbergasted.

    As for his apology,I agree with you. It should have come early and been unequivocal. Had it been, this would have barely been a blip on the radar screen. As it is, it was just a stupid, self-inflicted wound.

    Craig R. Harmon (6b02be)

  16. Craig,

    If he feels about the troops the way he did 30+ years ago what difference does it make who the joke was about? The issue isn’t whether he can make a run for hosting “The Tonight Show”, but whether he thinks the military is filled with people who “can’t do anything better with their lives”.

    As far as your original post on what he might have meant, I think it shows he is so possessed by hate for the president that even if he has a logical point he muffs it.

    But, when he says, “Our own generals are telling us that it’s the numbers of troops that are the problem”, I always thought that meant that President Bush doesn’t send in enough troops like the generals are telling him to do.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  17. MD,

    I guess it matters what the joke was about because, well, I believe him when he says it was intended as a slam against the President and not against the troops. I don’t like Kerry but I think a person is entitled to be taken at his word unless there’s strong evidence to the contrary. I don’t see it. For all his bluster, he was right in his point, if not in the way he said it, when he said that a person would have to be crazy to think that he was criticizing the troops and not the President in a speech such as that. You don’t have to be crazy to think that, since he’s no stranger to criticizing troops, but you do have to ignore some pretty strong evidence to the contrary. The evidence being

    (a) he’s used the line numerous times before in a different version that is unequivocally about Bush and not about the troops,

    (b) the line was delivered in the context of other slams against Bush and not about the troops and

    (c) he’s seriously considering another run for Commander in Chief and it beggars belief that he would publicly and intentionally denigrate the troops in this way.

    To me, the issue is what did he intend to say, not whether I can divine how he inwardly feels about the troops. I can’t do that. All I can do is examine the evidence and draw my conclusion.

    I’ve no doubt that he hates Bush but it’s not like Kerry makes nearly the number of verbal gaffs that Bush does. On the other hand, anyone who makes his living speaking in public and on the record eventually says some pretty silly things. This happens to be one of those which he then compounded by attacking rather than apologizing, calling crazy those who simply read his words as he spoke them and interpreted them according to the most natural meaning of the words and thus adding insult to insult as it were. He’s usually a very disciplined speaker.

    As for which generals he’s speaking of and what, specifically they are saying about troop levels at this time, I simply can’t say since I’m not privy to the specifics. On that part, he could be making it up but I doubt it. I mean, if it isn’t true that generals are saying this, it’s too easy for Republicans to come back and say, “Which generals?”

    I mean, I understand that there have been some generals who have advised larger troop strengths but I don’t think that that is by any means the universal consensus. It may be that there are also generals who are saying the opposite. I know that that’s what Rumsfeld has said all along. Surely some generals agree with Donald on that point.

    Craig R. Harmon (6b02be)

  18. The trouble with John Kerry is not that he deliberately insulted the troops — a claim I consider dubious in light of the entire video. Rather, his trouble is that he and his party have no alternative to Bush’s policies.

    1. Thanks for admitting the obvious. I have found no small amount of amusement over the fact that George Bush’s misstatements have filled 365 day calendars over the last several years, yet John Kerry’s obvious misstatement is supposed to be taken absolutely verbatim. In short, we give the dumb guy a pass (or should I say “uneducated?”), but for the serious stuffy guy it should be assumed that everything he says is absolutely as he intended it to be.

    2. Regarding “no alternative,” it is true that the Democrats have not adopted nor are unified behind one particular plan on Iraq. However, the Republicans clearly have no solution either, other than “stay the course.” Worse, they offer no opposition or scrutiny to whatever Bush/Rumsfeld propose that should mean in the meantime.

    But clearly, the first step to fixing the problem is to elect a Congress who will not simply rubber-stamp everything the Bush administration wants.

    Tom (eb6b88)

  19. The trouble with John Kerry is not that he deliberately insulted the troops — a claim I consider dubious in light of the entire video. Rather, his trouble is that he and his party have no alternative to Bush’s policies.

    Wrong. When he’s talking about Rumsfeld policy of less troops, he talks about the missed chance to control situation. But now, three years later, more troops simply won’t help.

    BTW, “Katrina foreign policy” formula is quite precise. There were too many “heck-of-a-job” people and decisions in Iraq.

    Just a small example. When this summer Al-Maliki came to Washington and made it quite clear that he’s on the Hezbollah side of the Lebanon conflict, Democrats boycotted him, while Hastert &co gave him a warm welcome and blamed Dems for opportunism. And now it’s becoming increasingly clear that Iraqi government loves USA as long as it gets money and weapons from them, but is in fact loyal to Iran. A big chance of bin Laden’s “freedom fighter turned enemy #1″ story sequel. Maybe Democrats have bad ideas, but these ideas should at least be discussed. The problem with Bush and Cheney is that they just live in the dreamworld disconnected from reality, where equipping and funding your future enemies is a good way to fight the Terror.

    Nikolay (939eb6)

  20. Come on, Patterico! Do not buy into the “no one would say such a thing” excuse or the “look at the rest of the speech and then you can figure it out” excuse!

    He was pandering to a liberal college audience. Look at the remark in terms of WHO he was talking to. He said, “They are in Iraq because they are stupid. You are here because you are not.” It is a comparative statement.

    Defending him, you are saying he picked out one person to compare Bush to, “if you, yes! you right there, are smart, you won’t get us stuck in Iraq!”

    No. He pandered to and compared his audience to the troops in Iraq. The “you” was plural and does not compare to a singular. I wish you would see that. “If you are a college student, you are smart. If you are in Iraq, you are not.”

    Thats the big, misunderstood joke.

    y7 (1185a2)

  21. And he is a scumbag, maybe not as big a scumbag as the senior senator from Ma. but a scumbag none the less.

    gbear (c22f1c)

  22. No. He pandered to and compared his audience to the troops in Iraq. The “you” was plural and does not compare to a singular. I wish you would see that. “If you are a college student, you are smart. If you are in Iraq, you are not.”

    That makes sense, right? College students are liberal. John Kerry is liberal. Therefore, John Kerry invoked the Unspoken Liberal Truth that Must Not Be Named (“we hate the military”)–just to make himself look cool for the college kids.

    y7, I think you are allowing your politics to cloud your reason.

    Even if John Kerry believed what you claim (which I reject because I hold no preconceived stereotypical notion about liberals hating the military), I can’t believe that Kerry, or any other politician, or any of us for that matter, would somehow have not considered the political fallout of making such remarks.

    Put another way, who do you honestly believe Kerry would rather bash on the stump: the troops or the president?

    Are you are so deeply rooted in the caricature that liberals hate the military that you willfully deny this obvious political reality? I would hope not.

    Tom (eb6b88)


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