November 2, 2006

The Kerry-Bush Flap

I know I'm late to the party, but the controversy over Kerry's remarks about not studying and Iraq remind me again of how awful the candidates were in the 2004 Presidential election. Those two guys were the best America could come up with?

Apparently, the prepared text that Kerry was supposed to read said:

"Do you know where you end up if you don't study, if you aren't smart, if you are intellectually lazy? You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq. Just ask President Bush."

Okay, well, not bad, although a little strange coming from a guy who voted to let Bush get us stuck in Iraq. And who had a slightly lower GPA than Bush during their overlapping careers at Yale. And who did a little worse than Bush on their military officer qualification tests.

But, Kerry didn't read what his staff prepared for him. Kerry never reads his speeches the way they are written. Kerry always riffs and improvises on his text. Why? Because John F. Kerry is the most vain man in America. He knows he can make up something better off the top of his head than what his professional speechwriters labored over. Chris Suellentrop wrote in Slate in 2004:

Kerry's health-care speech Monday in Tampa was a classic of the form. The written text contained a little more than 2,500 words. By the time he was finished, Kerry had spoken nearly 5,300 words—not including his introductory remarks and thank-yous to local politicians—more than doubling the verbiage. Pity his speechwriters when you read the highlights below. It's not their fault.

Kerry's Script: Most of all, I will always level with the American people.

Actual Kerry: Most of all, my fellow Americans, I pledge to you that I will always level with the American people, because it's only by leveling and telling the truth that you build the legitimacy and gain the consent of the people who ultimately we are accountable to. I will level with the American people.

Kerry's Script: I will work with Republicans and Democrats on this health care plan, and we will pass it.

Actual Kerry: I will work with Republicans and Democrats across the aisle, openly, not with an ideological, driven, fixed, rigid concept, but much like Franklin Roosevelt said, I don't care whether a good idea is a Republican idea or a Democrat idea. I just care whether or not it's gonna work for Americans and help make our country stronger. And we will pass this bill. I'll tell you a little bit about it in a minute, and I'll tell you why we'll pass it, because it's different from anything we've ever done before, despite what the Republicans want to try to tell you. [More]

So, what came out of Kerry's mouth?

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.

Not surprisingly, the troops in Iraq didn't take well to this. As I've been pointing out for a long time, American enlisted personnel are pretty smart. From 1992-2004, virtually nobody was allowed to enlist who didn't have a high school diploma and who scored below the 30th percentile on the Armed Forces Qualification IQ test. Indeed, the typical enlistee had a 3 digit IQ, above average. They've been scraping a little closer to the bottom of the barrel recently, due to Iraq, but volunteers remain pretty strong. I don't think many in the media know this. You are supposed to say that IQ is a discredited concept, and the fact that the military is utterly devoted to IQ testing (and, in fact, most of the middle section of The Bell Curve came from data provided to Charles Murray by the U.S. military) is something you aren't supposed to think about.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

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