An Open Challenge to John Kerry

By: Thomas Lindaman

To the Honorable Senator John F. Kerry (D-MA):

I read with great interest your recent speech at a rally for California gubernatorial candidate Phil Agenlides where you said the following:

“Education, if you make the most of it, you study hard and do your homework and you make an effort to be smart you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.”

By way of introduction, allow me to offer a bit of personal history. Unlike you, I did not serve in our military. However, I have friends and extended family who have either served or are currently serving. I have traced my lineage back to two relatives who fought for the Union during the Civil War. Even though I chose not to serve, I feel more than qualified to comment on your statements.

I found your statement deeply offensive. But your attempts to spin your ill-advised statement into an attack on Republicans and conservatives were even more offensive. Allow me to point out something else you said:

“I apologize to no one for my criticism of the President and his broken policy.”

Sir, your comment wasn’t criticizing the President or his “broken policy.” It was directed to college students. Nowhere in the statement you made about education did you reference the President by name or by insinuation. Your response is intellectually dishonest at best.

To compound the problem, you blamed your statement not on a momentary lapse of reason, but on a purposeful misinterpretation of your statement. Here is what you said:

“…my statement yesterday, and the White House knows this full well, was a botched joke about the president and the president’s people, not about the troops.”

First off, how would the Bush Administration know your intent? It was your statement, not theirs. Second, I have to point out again that you didn’t mention Bush or anyone in the Administration.

In an attempt to save face while still remaining on the attack, you made another statement that doesn’t make any sense:

“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.”

Call me crazy, Senator, but your original statement about the troops being “stuck in Iraq” if they didn’t get an education didn’t make it sound like you thought they were “heroes.” If anything, it made it sound like you believed they were caught in a situation not of their making. Last time I checked, sir, we have a volunteer military, meaning those people “stuck in Iraq” chose to join the military. And as a former military man yourself, you understand that there is always a possibility one might have to fight. The United States military isn’t a federal jobs program, and you of all people should know this.

Of course, this doesn’t stop you from mentioning yet again that you served:

“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.”

I’m disgusted, too, Senator, but for a different reason. I’m disgusted that you keep using the “I served my country” line as a shield from legitimate criticism. Your medals don’t give the power to speak without criticism, nor do they give your words any more power than anyone else’s. I’ll bet there are some soldiers serving right now who would love to compare educational achievements. And given what has already come out about your college years, I doubt you’d fare too well.

Perhaps the most offensive part of your post-education statement was how you attempted to showcase your machismo, as can be evidenced by the following section of your statement:

“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.”

Well, John, I still have a voter registration card that shows me as a Republican. So, I guess there’s only one thing left for me to say.

I’m calling you out, John Kerry.

That’s right, Senator. I challenge you, a real man, to a debate against me, a registered Republican. The topic: the war in Iraq. I’ll even let you choose the venue. We could even sell tickets with the proceeds going to charity.

My email address is at the bottom of this letter. If you’re so confident that a Republican can’t debate you, this should be a breeze for you. So, next time you swing through Des Moines, Iowa, why don’t you look me up and we’ll do this?

After all, you wouldn’t want to have your status as a real man revoked, would you?


Thomas Lindaman

Thomas Lindaman is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.

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