Kerry responds to right-wing chickenhawk "nut-jobs"; Update: Source says comments were a joke gone wrong

We have ourselves a meltdown.

Senator John Kerry issued the following statement in response to White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, assorted right wing nut-jobs, and right wing talk show hosts desperately distorting Kerry’s comments about President Bush to divert attention from their disastrous record:

“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…

Bottom line, these Republicans want to debate straw men because they’re afraid to debate real men…”

There’s more. The nutroots will eat this up with a spoon, of course, but you almost have to pity the poor bastards at the DNC. This is the last thing they want to be talking about this week. Score one more for Lurch’s famous political acumen.

What’s got him so agitated this morning, anyway? Bennett knows.

One of those Republicans who never can be found to serve in war and have never worn the uniform — namely, John McCain — will, I hear, be addressing Kerry’s comments at 1 p.m. We’ll have video.

Update: Here’s a snippet of video of what Tony Snow had to say at the daily press briefing. I’ll post the full transcript once it’s available.

More from Snow:

Snow said the quote “fits a pattern” of negative remarks from Kerry about U.S. soldiers and suggested that whether Democratic candidates — particularly those running on their military service backgrounds — agree with their 2004 standard-bearer should be a campaign litmus test…

Snow said a lot of Americans have joined the military since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“As for the notion that you can say this sort of thing about the troops and say you support them, it’s interesting,” the press secretary said.

Update: CNN’s run the Kerry clip a good four or five times within the past hour. Gotta give them some credit here, especially after the Juan Williams post this morning.

Update: Greg Tinti takes a video stroll down memory lane with Waffles.

Update: Waffles responds with a bravura performance guaranteed to delight nutroots members young and old. He didn’t mean that the troops are lazy and uneducated when he implied the troops are lazy and uneducated; he meant that Bush’s policy in Iraq is broken. Also, Iraq is Vietnam and Republicans are chickenhawks who can’t admit their mistakes and are constantly changing the subject. In contrast to “real men” like him, who … can’t admit their mistakes and are constantly changing the subject.

Oh, and Republicans have a “cut and run” strategy in Afghanistan. Says the guy who brought a resolution to the Senate floor calling for withdrawal from Iraq by the end of the year.

All in all, though, surprisingly shrewd. The nutroots will be wanking to this for days, and since he can’t run to the right of Hillary or Obama, this at least gives him a shot to outflank Gore on the left in ’08. Whereupon he’ll be promptly torpedoed in the primaries.

Update: Vets for Freedom has called upon Kerry to apologize.

Update: Are soldiers really less educated than the rest of the population?

Update: Escalation — CNN reports that Bush will comment on Kerry’s remarks at 5 p.m.

Update: Bill Frist gets off the line of the day:

While America’s servicemen and women are fighting and dying against our adversaries in the global War on Terror, John Kerry has the gall to criticize their intelligence, their education, and their motivation for service. His comments represent the absolute worst in Democrat scare tactics and present a grave insult to our all-volunteer Armed Forces.

Senator Kerry clearly owes an apology to our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines serving in Iraq. But Mr. Kerry has refused to do so. Instead, he’s claiming that Republicans are “desperately distorting” his comments. Watch the video yourself … it is perfectly clear what Mr. Kerry said … what’s unclear is whether Mr. Kerry ever means what he says. Perhaps he was against his comments before he actually made them.

Update: You’ve got to be kidding.

A source close to Kerry tells NBC News that he was trying to make a “tough and honest joke” about Bush and that in the process he omitted two words which changed the intended meaning. Per the source, Kerry meant to say that he can’t “overstress the importance of a great education” and that “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.” Kerry mistakenly dropped the “getting us” from his initial remarks.

Update: Via Slublog, you’ve got to be kidding — part II.