December 7,After reading this correspondence, I felt compelled to respond:
Mr. Leo Pusateri
Dear Mr. Pusateri:
Thank you for writing to me about the botched
joke about President Bush I made on October
30th. I appreciate the opportunity to clarify
First, it was a dumb joke and I slipped up,
dropped a couple words, and made it worse. I
take responsibility for my misstatement.
I still believe this Administration didn't do
its homework before going to war and didn't
study the lessons of history. But I shouldn't
have made a joke about it.
First and foremost, I regret that the men and
women of our military were swept into the
political spin storm that followed my
misspoken joke. The White House and their
allies spent a lot of time and energy trying
to convince our troops that I meant to insult
American troops have done a remarkable job in
Iraq and Afghanistan, and all of America
should be proud of their selfless service to
our country. I have had the opportunity to
visit with our soldiers abroad and was always
impressed by their high level of
professionalism, dedication and skill.
As a combat veteran, I was dismayed that my
misspoken joke about the President was taken
as an insult to our troops. I would never
intend to do anything but praise our troops.
My poorly stated joke was not about and never
intended to refer to any service member. I
personally apologize to any service member,
family member, or American who was offended.
I was also disappointed that my comments
detracted from the real tragedy; the
inadequate planning for the war, insufficient
body armor, and no real plan for success. I
will not be dissuaded from pressuring the
Administration to find a direction in Iraq to
get the policy fixed and bring our troops
home from an Iraq that's stable.
Thank you again for writing me with your
concerns. Be assured that I am committed to
our troops and their families, and will
continue fighting for their safety and well
John F. Kerry
United States Senator
Dear Senator Kerry:
Thank you for response.
I wish that I could tell you that I accept your "apology," but I could not begin to do that in good conscience. For to accept an apology is to accept the notion that the person making that apology is sincere.
Your insincerity is apparent immediately at the outset of your correspondence. You continue to maintain that the incident in question was a "botched joke." Mr. Kerry, if you had a history of true support for our troops, I may accept that explanation at face value; but your very history, both short- and long term, screams otherwise. Rather than support our troops, you are someone who has repeated ad nauseum that their mission has been a mistake (at least as soon as you found it politically advantageous to do so). Given also the grave disservice you did to our brave Vietnam veterans during your "Winter Soldier" testimony, I have no choice but to question the veracity and depth of your alleged sincerity.
I have seen the videotape of your "botched joke." Usually, when one tells a "botched joke," especially one so potentially damaging, one usually gets a sheepish look on one's face; and in recognizing the folly takes immediate measures to correct the verbiage on the spot. What I saw on the video was a man who told a joke, smiled, and waited for rimshot laughter connected to the punchline (laughter which, thankfully, never came). No attempt was made to correct nor clarify. While I have no doubt that the dearth of positive accolades in response to your "botched joke" made for an awkward moment, I nonetheless am led to believe that you meant every word you said.
To add insult to injury, you continue in your correspondence to perpetuate your disingenuousness and condescension by blaming the Bush administration for our troops' justified reaction to your "botched joke." Our troops (inclulding my son) are more intelligent and independent-minded than you think, Mr. Kerry. Make no mistake. In staging the now-infamous "Halp us Jon Carry" sign viewed 'round the world, our troops read your comments (and your sentiments) loud and clear.
You speak of the "real tragedy" of the Iraq war. Yes, in every war, tragedies happen. I have wept at the funerals of brave, young soldiers from my son's outfit who have made the ultimate sacrifice for a cause in which they believed; a cause that they were more than willing to die for.
Make no mistake; those are tragedies. But with respect to being an American, the "real tragedy" of this war is the fact that you, Jack Murtha, and other elected representatives of the People of the United States of America continue to dishonor our soldiers' efforts for reasons of political gain; and in doing so, give aid and comfort to our enemies. You have not once, to my knowledge, gone out of your way to proclaim any good that is being done in Iraq. Not once did I hear you talk about new schools being built. Not once did I hear you talk about new hospitals being built; or of infrastructure being not only replaced, but improved upon. Not even once did I hear you talk about any soldiers who heroically saved an Iraqi family from attack, or saved their platoon from slaughter, although such stories are no doubt legion. Rather, in your arrogance, you choose to portray them as "terrorizing Iraqi women and children in the dead of night."
Mr. Kerry, until this past year, never in my life would I have thought that I would live to see the day when elected officials would, during wartime, so cavalierly, publicly and seditiously go out of their way to speak ill of our soldiers' mission; while in the same vile sentences have the unmitigated gall to proclaim that they "support the troops."
Freedom of Political Speech, a gift given us not only by our Founding Fathers, but by the lifeblood of every Soldier, Sailor and Marine since the founding of our Nation, is a multi-edged sword that can cut in varying directions. A prudent, judicious American will recognize that with such an awesome freedom, comes an equally awesome responsibility to use it wisely. You sir, have wielded it with a reckless abandon befitting not a statesman, but a brigand.
Once again, Senator Kerry, at the very least, I wish to thank you for taking the time to respond to my correspondence. But accept your apology?
Thanks, but no thanks.
Leo J. Pusateri