When I first heard John Kerry's statement that has provoked all of the furor and given George Bush and others fresh fodder to distract from the basic issues of the current campaign, I grimaced. Clearly, I said to myself, he was saying to the men and women in his youthful audience that not getting an education made it more likely they might end up joining the military and going to Iraq. Since I strongly supported his election in 2004, I was disappointed.
Then I saw AP reports that his remarks were in the context of several one-liners at the beginning of his speech that made it clear he was referring to George Bush himself, especially W's failure to educate himself on Middle East history and dynamics . I'm a bit chagrined that in getting out this "larger context" story, the media has failed to replay the entire introduction; in just repeating the controversial part, it has unwittingly bolstered the Bush/Republican position, which is nothing more than a desparate political ploy.
Nonetheless, Kerry should bite the bullet and issue an apology. Something like this: "I understand that my statement, taken by itself, could have easily been construed as demeaning our soldiers, something that I would never do. For needlessly appearing to do so, I apologize to the men and women of our Armed Forces and their families and friends."
Yes, his opponents will likely use that apology, out of context of course, against him in future campaigns. But that is the chance he takes for his careless joke telling. For now, the current campaign is NOT about John Kerry, and in any event, apologizing is the right thing to do. Given that the current Administration doesn't have the word "apology" in its political lexicon, who's to say it would be such a negative for him, anyway? What do you think?