Blogwars: Me vs. Ace on Kerrygate

You are dead to me.

Just kidding. I thought Ace’s response deserved a link after I accused him of being in “nutroots territory” last night, which was in turn a response to him implying that I was “crazy” for thinking Kerry’s remark might have been aimed at Bush and not the military.

It might be that I’m tired and/or burned out, but I’m not sure I follow him in the latest post. I think he’s saying this:

1. Kerry would never have explicitly called the troops uneducated. If he was going to do it, he’d do it obliquely. Ergo, the fact that he made an oblique comment which could be interpreted as slurring the troops is evidence that it was a comment slurring the troops.

2. Ace has the actual words on his side whereas I’m depending upon the context of what Kerry said in the 45 seconds immediately preceding the education comment, although on second thought Ace has even more contextual evidence than I do because Kerry’s been smearing the troops for 35 years.

3. The temporal proximity of Kerry’s jabs at Bush to his comment about the uneducated is largely irrelevant, and to the extent that is relevant or “helpful,” they weren’t really that proximate. To which I reply, watch the video and judge for yourself. The second joke about Bush ends at around 1:55; Kerry starts his education comment at about 2:07. Twelve seconds.

4. The fact that Kerry twice criticized Bush in the 45 seconds immediately preceding the education comment means nothing because all Democratic speeches criticize Bush. Criticism of Bush is so omnipresent that it doesn’t even count as context. By that logic, if Kerry gave a speech on the military and began with ten jokes about the Bush administration with the statement “These morons are wasting their time in Iraq and doing no one any good” sandwiched in between, he’d clearly have to be talking about the military because digs at Bush are de rigueur, to be expected, and therefore discounted for all interpretive purposes.

5. Kerry’s comment was directed at Bush and the troops. He didn’t limit what he said to uneducated “politicians” who are stuck in Iraq, after all. He directed it at uneducated people generally, the unnecessary and unconscious generality of which betrays his true secret feelings about American soldiers.

Read his post in full as I might have misunderstood him. This debate is starting to remind me of the left wetting its pants earlier this year when Tony Snow said “hugging the tar baby” at a WH press conference. Because Snow’s a conservative and the phrase “tar baby” does in certain contexts have racist connotations, they made an assumption as to intent. So let me ask my fellow righties — assuming I’m still allowed to call myself a righty, given some of the remarks being tossed around in Ace’s comments: if Tony the Tiger had used that particular metaphor during, say, an address to a group of black journalists, would it prove he was a racist? It’d be unfortunate and groan-worthy, but would you attibute racist intent to his remark?

“But Tony Snow doesn’t have a 35-year history of racism,” you’ll reply. That’s true — but according to Ace, what does the context matter when the actual words are on your side?

Context does matter, and how you hear Kerry’s remark depends almost entirely on what context is preeminent in your mind: his history of being a troop-smearing douchebag or the remarks that immediately preceded his comment plus his antagonism towards Bush plus the fact that not even Kerry’s so stupid as to insult the troops the week before an election plus, ironically, the fact that Ace is right about Bush-bashing being so prevalent in left-wing speeches. That’s where he loses me. Democrats do nothing but deride Bush in their speeches, so when an oblique remark is made that could be interpreted as deriding Bush — we’re not supposed to interpret it that way?

Again, I quote Lileks:

It’s possible to view this outside of what people think Kerry has expressed before – gaffe-wise, sometimes a cigar is just a cigre. I mean zagar. I meant cigar, and it’s clear I meant cigar, and I will not sit here and have my spelling challenged by people who never correctly rattled off the letters in “antidisestablishmentarianism” while half in the bag on a bet in college. In any case, I don’t have any Outrage over the matter because I don’t particularly care what Sen. Kerry says, and don’t see him as a relevant actor in modern politics. I understand why great amounts of hay is being thrashed over the matter, this being an election season. I understand how some are using the gaffe to draw attention to a greater point re: the hard left’s attitudes towards the military, but if that wasn’t actually the point Kerry was making then I can’t jump on board and affirm the greater point. That smacks of fake-but-accurate.

Yeah, it does. But then, Lileks and I are cuh-ray-zee!

Update: Jim Webb just e-mailed me to say that we could heal this rift if I’d just take Ace, turn him upside down, and — you know.

Update: Ace IMs to say, “it’s good for my traffic, when you’re being a [wussy], and then you say, ‘Here’s Ace, not being a [wussy]’ — definitely an advertisement to click.”

I’m getting him one of these for his birthday.