Here's Warren Bell's excellent take on it.
If you say something to me, and I look hurt, and you say, "Just kidding," that does not make what you said a joke. It has to be a joke in the first place. And Kerry's line is very clearly, both in its wording and in its delivery, not a joke. It's a warning. He's talking to students. He says it with an even graver-than-usual, flatter-than-usual tone, and he's telling them what can happen to them if they don't study hard. Is he warning them that they might someday be President and make decisions leading to a quagmire in Iraq? Of course not. You can get stuck in Iraq. Personally.
Senatorial embarrassment John Kerry finally backtracks on calling American troops stupid. Sort of. He just screwed up the joke, according to a Kerry spokesman. From Reuters:
WASHINGTON, Nov 1 (Reuters) - Democratic Sen. John Kerry said on Wednesday he was sorry about a "botched joke" that drew election-year fire from President George W. Bush and other Republicans who accused him of insulting U.S. troops in Iraq.
Kerry said he was returning to Washington from a trip campaigning on behalf of Democratic congressional candidates because he did not want to be "a distraction."
A day after rejecting calls to apologize for his remarks, Kerry, appearing on the "Imus in the Morning" radio show on MSNBC, declared: "I said it was a botched joke. Of course, I'm sorry about a botched joke."
While campaigning in California on Monday, Kerry told a college crowd: "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."
Kerry's office said the senator had misread his prepared remarks. They said he had intended 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 stuck in a war in Iraq. Just ask President Bush."
Really, now. That's an awful joke - I mean just not funny. I think Kerry, thinking he was in California among the college crowd just slipped and spoke his mind. Does one really need to ask why so many veterans loathe him?