Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

November 1, 2006

Why isn’t Kerry “stuck in Iraq”?

Filed under: — Different River @ 10:57 am

In case you’ve haven’t heard the news for the last 24 hours, John Kerry’s been at it again. Campaigning at Pasadena City College for the Phil Angelides, Democratic candidate for Governor of California, John Kerry said:


“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. And if you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.”

The clear implication of this is that if your in the military, it’s because you were too lazy or stupid to “do well.”

Kerry is “defending” himself in classic Kerry style, saying, “I’m sick and tired of these despicable Republican attacks.” It’s a despicable attack on Kerry indeed, to quote Kerry’s own words. Kerry is also defending himself on the grounds that he was not referring to the troops, but to President Bush — as claiming that Bush is stuck in Iraq because he didn’t study hard is some sort of a reasonable argument against the war.

It’s especially disingenuous because Kerry arguably didn’t study as hard as Bush — as this blog documented, Kerry and Bush both went to college at Yale, and Kerry’s Yale grades were worse than Bush’s.

The real scandal is that Kerry — perhaps like many liberals — thinks is a reasonable thing to say that “study[ing] hard, do[ing] your homework, … be[ing] smart” is somehow the opposite of being in the military. It’s as if the joining military is a punishment for doing poorly in school.

If that was ever true, it isn’t now. The military rejects people who don’t do well in school. It’s virtually impossible to enlist without a high school diploma, or with bad grades, or if you’ve gotten into trouble with the law. It’s hard to get promted to the senior enlisted ranks without a college degree — and the military will send you to college to get one. You can’t become an officer without a college degree, and you almost can’t get promoted beyond major without a master’s desgree, and you certainly can’t get promoted to General or Admiral without a master’s degree. Most Generals/Admirals have two masters degrees, and a substantial percentage have a doctorate.

I teach economics to senior military officers. They are studying for a master’s degree. For some it is their second. Not one of them is a “classroom dud” — they do all the readings, they work hard, they show up to class with good questions, they write well, and they are clearly interested in learning, even if at the beginning of the term they weren’t sure what economics had to do with their jobs. (They know now!) One of my fellow instructors is an Army Colonel with a master’s degree in management and Ph.D. in operations research (that’s a field of math, for you Kerry people!). I know a Marine Lieutenant General with an Ed.D and four (!) master’s degrees. I was once in a training session with a Marine Lieutenant Colonel who was a lawyer — he not only had a J.D. (the regular law degree), but an L.L.M., indicating a level of education higher than probably 90% of lawyers.

Study hard, John Kerry. You aren’t good enough to get “stuck in Iraq.”

UPDATE: (11/1/06 4:00pm) Matt Drudge has this picture posted on his web site. I think this tells us what the troops think of all this:



UPDATE: (11/2/06 2:05am) The guys in the picture above are from the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 34th Infantry Division (1/34th BCT), a unit of the Minnesota Army National Guard.

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