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Moments Like This Make Me Proud of the Tennessean

I usually loathe the Tennessean. It's often nothing more than conservative religious news filled with AP reports and little investigation. Worst of all is their opinion page, with local ranting about traffic and Titans and very little dialogue about real issues like poverty, education or the economy.

But today, they made me proud. They ran the following piece in response to the (already oversaturated) John Kerry debacle:

The sharks -— or are they Swift Boats? -— are circling.

Republicans are feverishly seizing on Sen. John Kerry's remark about President Bush's Iraq policies and trying to distort it into a slap against U.S. troops in order to sway voters in next week's elections.

The Massachusetts Democrat apologized for his statement yesterday, but he needn't have, because he said nothing to offend soldiers or veterans. In the speech to a group of California college students on Monday, Kerry said, "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."

On Wednesday, Kerry said that he erred by changing the prepared text, which said, "I can't overstress the importance of a great education. Do you know where you end up if you don't study, if you aren't smart, if you're intellectually lazy? You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq. Just ask President Bush."

The sad fact is, young men and women without a college degree usually earn less, as much as $23,000 a year less, according to a recent U.S. Census report. And many of those have-nots, lured into the military by enlistment bonuses, find themselves in Iraq. Then, in many cases, their tours of duty have been extended, because the U.S. military is currently overextended with troops needed on numerous fronts.

"Stuck in Iraq" says it pretty well.

Don't expect to hear that from a soldier who has experienced it, but they have little choice. The Uniform Code of Military Justice prohibits active-military officers from criticizing the president, and other young service members will feel it prudent to follow the same course. Kerry, the Vietnam War veteran and hero, knows this all too well.

His apology, coupled with cancellation of campaign appearances on Wednesday, are probably an attempt to help fellow Democrats who are locked in close races next Tuesday by distancing himself.

He would do better to ask the White House and other Republicans how they can continue to wage this senseless war at the risk of so many American lives.

Well said. Let's be honest. Does anyone base their vote in Tennessee on what Kerry says or what Foley does? The sins of each party an be levied against one another until the bullets of insult have riddled us all blind and disenchanted.

Voting is important. So choose wisely.

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