Roger Simon, chief political columnist for The Politico, wrote that Sen. John Kerry had "botched a joke about the draft" in October 2006. In asserting that the botched joke was about "the draft," Simon echoed Republican claims that Kerry was disparaging U.S. troops, rather than President Bush, as Kerry has said.
In a January 24 column for The Politico, chief political columnist Roger Simon wrote that Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) had "botched a joke about the draft" when he said: "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." Simon's assertion that the botched joke was about "the draft" suggests that Kerry was disparaging U.S. troops by saying they lacked education, echoing the claims of White House and GOP officials, who attacked Kerry for allegedly slandering U.S. troops. Simon ignored the evidence and context that support Kerry's claim that the line from his October 30, 2006, speech was a "botched joke" intended to criticize President Bush.
As Media Matters for America noted, the Associated Press reported on November 7, 2006, that Kerry had delivered "several one-liners," including one in which he personally accused Bush of "liv[ing] in a state of denial," immediately prior to his "stuck in Iraq" comment. As Media Matters also noted, Kerry's staff stated that his prepared remarks demonstrate what he meant to say: "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 [emphasis added] stuck in a war in Iraq. Just ask President Bush." Furthermore, several prominent Republicans -- such as former Bush campaign chief strategist Matthew Dowd and former House Majority Leaders Dick Armey (R-TX) and Tom DeLay (R-TX) -- conceded that Kerry did not intend to disparage U.S. soldiers. Armey even acknowledged that Republicans were making political hay by "misconstru[ing]" what Kerry said.
On November 1, 2006, Kerry issued a statement saying that his "poorly stated joke at a rally was not about, and never intended to refer to any troop." He added, "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."
From Simon's January 24 column in The Politico:
While it never reached the proportions that Howard Dean's scream did, Kerry received a thorough lashing in the media when last year he botched a joke about the draft saying, "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."
Shortly after, Jay Leno said: "John Kerry has apologized for saying those who do not study hard and do their homework will get stuck in Iraq. Now, those that do not campaign well and are boring will end up stuck in the Senate."
Leno's words were more true than he knew. Kerry, who might have had a difficult time running simultaneously for the presidency and the Senate in 2008, will now run just for re-election.