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KERRY'S `JOKE' PUTS HIM OUT OF RUNNING.

Byline: CAROLINE MIRANDA Local View

WHEN Sen. John Kerry fired a verbal shot from Pasadena City College on Oct. 30 that was heard around the world before ending squarely in his foot, he didn't dream that he and Mel Gibson would share something in common: an embarrassing gaffe that probably revealed what they really thought about an issue.

Kerry told a student audience at a campaign appearance for Phil Angelides that the consequences of their not staying in school and making an effort to be smart meant they could get stuck in Iraq.

Not since Dick Cheney fired buckshot into his hunting companion has there been such an outcry. Having played out the Sen. George Allen ``macaca'' comment, and tiring of the Michael J. Fox-Rush Limbaugh flap, the media now have the Kerry feeding frenzy.

And what a feeding frenzy it is.

The power of this story reflects the power of alternative media -- talk radio and the Internet. In the old days, a minor item buried in a local paper and a fleeting news report would have ended the matter. But in today's world of instant communications and the blogosphere, the story took on major life, getting to the White House, Republican officials and a Democratic Party clearly shaken by Kerry's bad judgment.

The embers of this event caught fire locally the evening of Oct. 30, when KFI-AM (640) radio talk-show host John Ziegler played up the quote on the air. Internet commentator and reporter Matt Drudge linked to Ziegler's Web report, and within hours, talk-radio hosts and Web sites featured Kerry's appalling gaffe.

Kerry's meltdown in an initial, hastily called press conference -- in which he not only refused to apologize, but used the flap to attack Republicans -- only fanned the flame of his verbal misfire. Playing into long-standing Republican accusations about Democrats' disdain for the military, Kerry and the Democrats found themselves on the defensive. Kerry said that anyone who interpreted his comments to mean what they plainly said was obviously a mean right-winger.

On Wednesday, Kerry finally relented and apologized, saying that he didn't mean what he said. His remark was part of a ``botched joke'' about Bush's intelligence that was being ``misinterpreted.''

If that's the best excuse he can come up with, it's a pathetic commentary on a former presidential candidate. Kerry looks like the kid who accidentally breaks a neighbor's window with a baseball, and insists it was all the homeowner's fault for installing a window.

And as if Phil Angelides didn't have enough trouble, he now faces constituents wondering how much he agrees with Kerry's odd statement. Sen. Barbara Boxer, State Assembly leader Fabian Nunez and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa also share in the guilt-by-association as enthusiastic participants in the Kerry implosion at Pasadena City College.

The whirling sound you hear is Kerry's presidential aspirations going down the drain. And the sigh of relief you hear comes from Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, who unexpectedly face one less challenger for the 2008 nomination.
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Title Annotation:Editorial
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Nov 3, 2006
Words:500
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