I’ve been stuck at home for almost two months, and it’s made me a bit crabby (turning forty in the midst of it didn’t help, let me tell you). So when I heard the latest tempest in the foot in mouth teapot, my hackles rose and my fingers itched to type a response. John Kerry, as we all know by now, made a comment about kids finishing their education or they’d end up “stuck in Iraq.”
Okay, not the brightest thing to say, and his first impulse to withhold the obviously needed apology didn’t make matters any better, but give me a break! Kerry was in the military (and he didn’t get his Daddy to defer active service in Vietnam; he went there, he served), and I find it difficult to imagine that he feels himself ill-educated or stupid for having done so. Besides, he didn’t say, you’ll end up serving in the United States Armed Forces. He said “stuck in Iraq,” so I do tend to think it was a dig at the Bush administration, a dig that went awry somewhere between his brain and his mouth. But look who’s calling that particular pot black; the most syntax/grammar/diction-challenged boob in the history of American politics: whether you love him or hate him, you can’t deny the fact that W. has said some pretty insane and just downright stupid things himself.
My main gripe with all this is not so much the attention it has received, for that is to be expected a week before mid-term elections, but it’s the constant media attention to everything everywhere. Big Brother may not be watching, but the media is and so is anyone with a video camera or cell phone. Any gaffe, any moment of anger or “not your normal you behavior” is open to intense and global scrutiny. I think that takes holding public officials to a higher standard too far, and I certainly think it’s a shame for the rest of us.
How long before your office colleagues or neighbors or students or patients or customers are taping you or snapping pics of your worst decisions and broadcasting them on Youtube? Culpability is one thing, taking responsibility for our actions and words is one thing, but being held to an unattainable standard of perfection is quite another. Who among us hasn’t misspoken, said something stupid or hurtful in a moment of haste or anger, who among us doesn’t have some sort of regret? I don’t want to get all cast the first stone-y, and that seems to be where I’m heading, so I’ll step off my soapbox now.