For the record and for those who have been on Mars (don't vote!), the 2004 Democrat presidential nominee said this to a college crowd:
"You know, education, if you make the most of it, you 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."
Now, his defenders (the AP?) note that before that he apparently slagged off on our fighting men and women,
The Massachusetts senator...opened his speech at Pasadena City College with several one-liners, joking at one point that Bush had lived in Texas but now "lives in a state of denial."
I just can't locate his remarks in toto, so it's tough to tell if it was just a typical Kerry bad locution or a total non sequitur. (If the tired "state of denial" riff immediately preceded the "stuck in Iraq" part, which would help it make some level of sense, you'd think they'd have found it by now. All we get is ellipses...but that's admittedly a provisional suspicion.)
So if we're to believe that Sen. Kerry wasn't just having a draft-era flashback to when only those without college deferments fought our wars, the explanation must lie elsewhere. (Yeah, this is a Barney Greenwald here):
Sen. Kerry claims the whole thing was a joke gone wrong, and admitted to CNN he needs some remediation in joketelling. And that's the problem. After 35 years in the public eye, he still doesn't know his strengths and weaknesses, or the simple fact of rhetoric and political life that you can't be outright nasty and funny at the same time. (He has specialized in the former, but has been a lifelong failure at the latter.)
What Sen. Kerry claims he meant is that if you stay in school and get good grades and make an "effort to be smart," you won't have a foreign policy that results in our current difiiculties in Iraq.
Now John Kerry fancies himself smarter than George W. Bush, but his own grades weren't any better than Bush's. John Kerry is tragic because he makes an "effort to be smart," but he doesn't get better grades and simply isn't any smarter than the next guy, even when the next guy is elected president of the United States. (Twice.)
So the only way I can accept Sen. Kerry's explanation about his remarks not being an insult to our troops is that he was unwise and a victim of his own overcleverness, trying to miscegenate Bob Woodward's now-cliche with an unrelated speech on education. This I can buy: it's in character. When faced with calling John Kerry unpatriotic or simply a twit, I prefer the latter. I'm a uniter, not a divider. Twits are people, too.