November 2, 2006 -- John Kerry did a full-frontal weasel yesterday, apologizing to anyone "who was offended" by his latest slurs on America's young fighting forces.
He especially regretted that his remarks were "misinterpreted."
Here's what he said Monday evening at a junior-college campaign rally for California Democrats: "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."
It's hard to take those words any way other than literally: If you're serving in Iraq, you're an idiot.
Still, Kerry claimed that it was a "botched joke." In what the Kerry camp released yesterday as the prepared text of his remarks, Kerry supposedly meant to say:
"It's great to be here with college students. I can't overstress the importance of a great education. Do you know where you end up if you don't study, if you aren't smart, if you're intellectually lazy? You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq. Just ask President Bush."
As Vice President Dick Cheney said yesterday, "I guess we didn't get the nuance. He was for the joke before he was against it."
Or, rather, the tens of thousands of young Americans in Iraq were morons before they were magnificent.
It is, of course, rather droll to hear John Kerry belittle the intelligence of George W. Bush - given that the future president got better grades at Yale than the future senator.
In any event, late yesterday Kerry posted his "apology" on his Web site - thus obviating the need to take questions in public:
"As a combat veteran, I want to make it clear to anyone in uniform and to their loved ones: My poorly stated joke at a rally was not about, and never intended to refer to, any troop.
"I sincerely regret that my words were misinterpreted to wrongly imply anything negative about those in uniform, and I personally apologize to any service member, family member or American who was offended."
Not exactly a profile in courage.
Typical Kerry, though: Clearly, the apology came only because the senator was inflicting political pain upon his fellow Democrats - a lot of it.
So let's be clear. Even if one takes Kerry's backtracking at face value - that the remark was intended to be a snotty jibe at Bush - it remains that he intended to undercut the president of the United States on a global stage in time of war.
And to convey to the troops his view that their commander-in-chief is an idiot - and, inferentially, that they are equally idiotic for putting their lives at risk in pursuit of national policy.
On the other hand, why should anyone take Kerry's temporizing at face value?
Given John F. Kerry's record, why shouldn't reasonable people believe he meant exactly what he initially said?
For he is a man who once wore the uniform of his country - but who, for whatever reason, despises America's military and those who serve in it. Harsh words. But true.
Moreover, Kerry has repeatedly made statements that give aid and comfort to the enemy in time of war. He did it Monday, at the campaign rally in California.
He did it in 1971, as Americans were dying in Vietnam, when he testified at a congressional hearing - telling of atrocities supposedly committed by American troops.
And, on a "Face the Nation" broadcast just last December, Kerry deplored what he termed "young American soldiers [who go] into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children [and], you know, women."
In each instance, his words were meant to undercut national support for troops in the field.
The effect of this, intended or otherwise, is to energize the enemy - to encourage them to kill more Americans.
But, hey, that's John Kerry being John Kerry.
But what of the party whose ticket he headed two short years ago? What about the Democrats?
Some offered the mildest of rebukes: New York's Sen. Hillary Clinton stated, "What Sen. Kerry said was inappropriate." Just "inappropriate"?
New York's senior senator, Chuck Schumer, couldn't even go that far, saying that the reaction was an attempt "to divert attention from [the president's] failed Iraq policy. Instead of going on television attacking John Kerry and everyone else under the sun, the president ought to be sitting at his desk coming up with a plan for Iraq."
James Webb, the Vietnam hero running for the Senate in Virginia, was substantively silent.
Other Democrats were more direct. Rep. Harold Ford, locked in a tight Senate race in Tennessee, said, "Whatever the intent, Sen. Kerry was wrong to say what he said. He needs to apologize to our troops."
In Missouri, Democratic Senate candidate Claire McCaskill called the comments "a dumb thing to say and [Kerry] should apologize."
Still, most of these Democrats voted for this war when the political winds were blowing in the other direction. Now they're in full retreat mode. Like Kerry, they say they "support" the troops - but not enough to actually, you know, support them.
In essence, the party as a whole is help ing to embolden the enemy by giving the indication that America's resolve is weakening - thus encouraging more attacks on Americans.
In that sense, John Kerry should get some credit: At least he says what he thinks, accidentally or otherwise - even if he doesn't have the courage to stand by his words.
Moreover, the incident highlights a key - the key - issue before the country as Election Day nears.
Can Democrats be trusted with the nation's security?