Thomas Friedman Warns Against Being Stupid

John Kerry never claimed the troops were stupid, but those who fall for this smear might be. Thomas Friedman warns against being stupid:

George Bush, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld think you’re stupid. Yes, they do.

They think they can take a mangled quip about President Bush and Iraq by John Kerry — a man who is not even running for office but who, unlike Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, never ran away from combat service — and get you to vote against all Democrats in this election.

Every time you hear Mr. Bush or Mr. Cheney lash out against Mr. Kerry, I hope you will say to yourself, “They must think I’m stupid.” Because they surely do.

They think that they can get you to overlook all of the Bush team’s real and deadly insults to the U.S. military over the past six years by hyping and exaggerating Mr. Kerry’s mangled gibe at the president.

Friedman lists many things which are “injurious and insulting” to the troops, including sending them without enough men, sending them without the proper equipment like body armor, and sending them to war without a coherent postwar plan. Rove has sold this stupidity in the past, but Friedman doesn’t think Americans are stupid enough to go along with it again:

Let Karl know that you’re not stupid. Let him know that you know that the most patriotic thing to do in this election is to vote against an administration that has — through sheer incompetence — brought us to a point in Iraq that was not inevitable but is now unwinnable.

Let Karl know that you think this is a critical election, because you know as a citizen that if the Bush team can behave with the level of deadly incompetence it has exhibited in Iraq — and then get away with it by holding on to the House and the Senate — it means our country has become a banana republic. It means our democracy is in tatters because it is so gerrymandered, so polluted by money, and so divided by professional political hacks that we can no longer hold the ruling party to account.

It means we’re as stupid as Karl thinks we are.

I, for one, don’t think we’re that stupid. Next Tuesday we’ll see.

Final Question on the Kerry Smear

Now that the facts have come out on the latest smear on John Kerry the biggest question remaining is why this was ever a story to begin with.

Let’s look at the progression. Kerry makes comment. Right wingers distort comment to attack Kerry. Press repeats right wing attacks–so much for the myth of a liberal news media. I could see why journalists might take a look at this story. The manner in which Kerry went off script does leave open some question as to what he meant until clarified. On the other hand, those attacking him are basically the same people with a long track record of distorting Kerry’s statements to smear him. You’d think the reporters would learn by now (if they care).

If we had a news media which actually reported, rather than repeating what each side says, considering this to be balance, the matter could have been dispensed with quickly. If they weren’t sure what Kerry meant, they could have simply ask him. They’d quickly find it was just one of many jokes he’d been making about George Bush on the stump. John Kerry is a far more reliable source as to what he meant to say than right wing attackers.

If asking Kerry wasn’t enough to demonstrate that there was no story here, all they had to do was to look at the prepared text which said, “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.”

There can be no doubt that this was a comment on George Bush, not the troops. It is so clear that the right wingers determined to continue to smear Kerry are now resorting to rather lame arguments such as that the reporters who reviewed the prepared text are lying. The right wingers are also twisting statements made by John Kerry in 1972 to be an explanation for this statement made in 2006!

Fortunately even some conservatives realize they have absolutely nothing on Kerry here and it is best to drop this attack. I previously quoted Bill O’Reilly as saying he doesn’t believe “believe John Kerry meant to demean any American military member.” National Review editor Jay Nordlinger disagrees with everything John Kerry says or thinks, is offended that he was insulting George Bush, but has “no doubt” that Kerry was referring to Bush and not the troops. Andrew Sullivan has “been thoroughly persuaded by John Derbyshire and Christopher Hitchens that John Kerry’s words were indeed a botched joke.” He was especially convinced by the prepared text as reported by Jon Stewart. While Stewart was certainly not the only one to report on the prepared text, once again fake reporter Stewart out-performed many real reporters.

Andrew Sullivan: Bush Unhinged

Andrew Sullivan sees George Bush’s unconditional support for Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld as “the most powerful reason for voting Democratic” in the midterm elections:

The president, in other words, has just proved that he is utterly unhinged from reality, in a state of denial truly dangerous for the world. He needs an intervention. Think of this election as an intervention against a government in complete denial and capable of driving the West off a cliff. You can’t merely abstain now. Bush just raised the stakes. And he must be stopped.