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With just a week left in the campaign, and almost all experts predicting huge Democratic gains in Congress, the Republicans pounced on a misstatement yesterday by Sen. John Kerry in which he told an audience of college kids to study and work hard or else they could end up “stuck in Iraq”. As it turns out, this was actually just a mangled version of one of Kerry’s favorite lines from the campaign trail: “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.”

True to form, critics from all reaches of the desperate GOP pounced on this bit of fresh meat, blasting Kerry for this seeming insult to the mental capacities of our troops and trying to discredit the entire party by association. House Majority Leader Boehner (R-OH) applied the usual Karl Rove attack formula:

These Americans who are risking their lives in the fight against terrorism in Iraq deserve better than to have their service demeaned by a United States senator. Our soldiers need John Kerry's support, yet John Kerry offers nothing more than disparaging commentary.

As if it wasn’t easy enough to see through this last-ditch election smear, Boehner went on to call on all Democratic candidates to denounce the comment. Amid a media firestorm and myriad calls for an apology, Kerry pulled an October surprise of his own. In an uncharacteristically bold and unapologetic response, Kerry went on the offensive:

If anyone thinks a veteran would criticize the more than 140,000 heroes serving in Iraq and not the president who got us stuck there, they're crazy. This is the classic G.O.P. playbook. I'm sick and tired of these despicable Republican attacks that always seem to come from those who never can be found to serve in war, but love to attack those who did.

I'm not going to be lectured by a stuffed suit White House mouthpiece standing behind a podium, or doughy Rush Limbaugh, who no doubt today will take a break from belittling Michael J. Fox's Parkinson's disease to start lying about me just as they have lied about Iraq. It disgusts me that these Republican hacks, who have never worn the uniform of our country lie and distort so blatantly and carelessly about those who have.

The people who owe our troops an apology are George W. Bush and Dick Cheney who misled America into war and have given us a Katrina foreign policy that has betrayed our ideals, killed and maimed our soldiers, and widened the terrorist threat instead of defeating it. These Republicans are afraid to debate veterans who live and breathe the concerns of our troops, not the empty slogans of an Administration that sent our brave troops to war without body armor.

Bottom line, these Republicans want to debate straw men because they're afraid to debate real men. And this time it won't work because we're going to stay in their face with the truth and deny them even a sliver of light for their distortions. No Democrat will be bullied by an administration that has a cut and run policy in Afghanistan and a stand still and lose strategy in Iraq.

YES!!! Where was this John Kerry in ’04?!

I was so excited I could’ve chest-bumped the junior senator from Massachusetts. While the incident will probably still do the Democrats more harm than good, Kerry’s resolute counter-attack signaled that he and the party have learned from past defeats; that the Republicans aren’t going to get away with attacking our patriotism or commitment to national security any more.

In perhaps the most impressive four-minute speech the Senator has ever given, he attacked the blatant hypocrisy of the Republican Party. Kerry showed Democrats how to fight back, even in the face of a glaring mistake, and inspired the party to stay on the offensive straight through Election Day. He also made a strong case for another run in ’08, inspiring the party faithful and going out of his way to demonstrate that he has learned his lesson from the ’04 campaign, claiming that he will not let the Republicans “swift boat” him again.

This episode will undoubtedly remind Democrats of our last presidential candidate, who, following a heartbreaking electoral defeat, similarly decided to grow a pair. Or perhaps, in the spirit of the holiday, Sen. Kerry was pretending to be someone else.


Adam Hearts Dems said...

kipp, i couldn't agree more, the counterattack kerry provided was brilliant, if only he had discovered his power of attack two years ago.