The controversial remarks made by Sen. John Kerry that appeared to insult U.S. troops in Iraq are covered on the front page in a story by Adam Nagourney and Jim Rutenberg, but over the non-responsive headline: "As Vote Nears, Stances on War Set Off Sparks."
Here's the set-up, which portrays a Kerry gaffe as a break in negative news for the GOP: "For at least a few hours on Tuesday, President Bush had a chance to relive his victorious campaign of 2004, taking a break from a bleak Republican campaign season as he attacked Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts over the war in Iraq."
The Times then suggests that attacking Kerry and defending U.S. troops is a badcampaign tacticfor Bush: "In the process, Mr. Bush brought renewed attention to the war in Iraq, which he defended with vigor while campaigning in Georgia, at the very moment that a number of Republican Congressional candidates, following the advice of party strategists, were stepping up their efforts to distance themselves from the White House on the war as the campaign enters its final days."
The Times lists several Republicans backing away from Bush and Iraq.
Halfway into the story, well after the hard-copy jump, the Times finally quotes Kerry's inane comment: "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. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."
Kerry now claims it was a "botched joke" and that he was really talking about Bush - which would be pretty lame, given that Bush actually got better grades at Harvard than Kerry did.
The title of an entry by Kate Phillips on the paper's political blogon the matter puts the onus on Bush, not Kerry."October Surprise: Bush Assails Kerry." As if Kerry saying something stupid was actually part of a dastardly Karl Rove mind-control plot.
"And the troops at home have been piling on. Speaker J. Dennis Hastert took a break from his leisurely stay-at-home approach during the height of the campaign season, to denounce Senator Kerry and demand an apology. Majority Leader John Boehner did the same thing. On the Kerry side of matters, Max Cleland, who was swift-boated nearly as much as Senator Kerry in 2004, issued this statement via the Kerry apparatus."
It's doubtful Phillips is using the term "swift-boated" in a flattering sense.