Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Ya know, my late granny used to always warn me about my tendency to run my mouth. She'd always ask "How ya catch a fish?" I'd laugh and say "His mouth Granny"....Kerry needs mint flavored shoes.
By David Jackson, USA TODAY
The White House pressed Sen. John Kerry Wednesday to apologize for a comment Republicans say was disrespectful of U.S. fighting forces in Iraq, saying he "put gasoline on the fire" of an already sizzling midterm election campaign.
"Sen. Kerry may have botched the line, but what he said was insulting to the troops, and what he ought to say is, 'Look, I botched the line, but I'm sorry for giving offense,' " press secretary Tony Snow said on CBS's The Early Show.
A bitter dispute about Iraq that dominated the 2004 campaign between President Bush and Kerry resurfaced Tuesday as they traded barbs a week before voters decide control of Congress.
Kerry told a college crowd Monday: "You know education, if you make the most of it, and you study hard, and 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."
Bush said Kerry's comments were "insulting" and "shameful" to U.S. troops. "The members of the United States military are plenty smart, and they are plenty brave, and the senator from Massachusetts owes them an apology," the president said Tuesday at a rally in Georgia.
Kerry, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, said his comments at Pasadena City College in Southern California were distorted by "assorted right-wing nut jobs." He said he was trying to make a joke about Bush and his team's preparations for the Iraq war.
The dust-up came a day after Rep. Charles Rangel called Vice President Dick Cheney "a son of a bitch" for saying the New York Democrat doesn't know how the economy works.
Stephen Wayne, a government professor at Georgetown University, said the barbs foreshadow "two years of strident, partisan rhetoric" regardless of who controls Congress after Nov. 7.
Polls show Democrats are in a position to win control of the House of Representatives and possibly even the Senate.
"It does not facilitate compromise," Wayne said. "It does not facilitate legislative output."
Thomas Mann, co-author of The Broken Branch, a book on Congress, said Kerry gave Republicans "a target" just days before the election, the outcome of which will affect the remainder of Bush's presidency. He's not sure, however, if the Bush-Kerry flap will have a long-term impact.
"These things have a shelf life of about a half-hour," he said.
The Cheney-Rangel spat began with the vice president's warnings about a Democrat-controlled House. If Democrats pick up 15 seats, Rangel is in line to lead the House Ways and Means Committee, which writes tax laws.
In two TV interviews Monday, Cheney cited Rangel's objections to Bush's tax cuts and predicted Rangel would block efforts to renew them. "I think Charlie doesn't understand how the economy works," Cheney said on Fox News.
Rangel responded, when asked by the New York Post, that Cheney is "such a real son of a bitch, he just enjoys a confrontation."
On Tuesday, White House press secretary Tony Snow said Cheney did not take Rangel's comments personally and "had a big hearty laugh" when told of them.
Rangel expressed regret in an interview with USA TODAY but did not back down. "It's not the first time the vice president has taken a cheap shot at me," he said. "I should have just ignored it."
A year ago, Cheney said Rangel might be "losing it" after the New York Democrat compared Bush to Bull Connor, the segregationist Alabama official who resisted civil rights in the 1960s. Rangel, a Korean War veteran, has also accused Cheney of "sending other people's kids to war." Cheney did not serve in the military.
Rangel said he tends not to deal with Cheney on policy issues and prefers to work on fiscal matters with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, whom he has praised.
While not predicting the results of Election Day, Rangel said Americans are tired of all the political bickering: "Republicans and Democrats are going to have to work together if we don't want gridlock."