Useful Notes / John Kerry

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"If Bush is shot, the Secret Service has orders to shoot Dan Quayle."
Senator John Kerry, 1988

The 68th and current United States Secretary of State to President Barack Obama. He was a United States senator (D-MA) from 1985 to 2013, and was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in which position he was preceded by Joe Biden. Kerry was the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party in the 2004 presidential election, but lost to President George W. Bush. In 2013, he was appointed Secretary of State to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton.


Tropes on John Kerry:

  • Ambiguous Syntax: Caused him a lot of trouble with his infamous "stuck in Iraq" gaffe. It came directly after a joke about President Bush, and the written text was, "Do you know what happens if you don't study hard, if you don't make an effort to be smart? You end up getting us stuck in a war with Iraq. Just ask President Bush." Due to botching the delivery, many misinterpreted "you" to refer to American troops, resulting in him having to apologize.
  • Badass: Won the Silver Star and Three Purple Hearts. There is some controversy regarding the legitimacy of his medals and claims he made about how he got them. And that's all we'll say about it.
  • Blatant Lies: Accused of this by other Vietnam veterans of various nationalities. Hard evidence supporting either side is slim, suffice it to say. Though some of the veterans who accused him of not deserving his medals have admitted that they weren't actually there during the events in question, and only one of his accusers actually served on his boat.
  • Brutal Honesty: His testimony to the Senate on behalf of Vietnam Veterans For Peace is full of this, at least according to his supporters. Suffice it to say, this is extremely controversial.
    • On the other hand, he was one of the organization's only "witnesses" who had actually been to Vietnam (if only for a few weeks). Many other outspoken members of VFP turned out to have lied about their jobs in the service, whether they ever went overseas, or if they'd even been in the military at all.
  • Conveniently Unverifiable Cover Story: According to his detractors. The fact that he's kept his military records sealed despite repeated promises to release them to the public hasn't exactly helped his cause.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: Took a lot of flack over the Dan Quayle joke, and wound up apologizing to the then-Senator. Then there was his botched joke about getting "stuck in Iraq" if you don't do well in school. It was meant as a dig at Bush, but he botched the delivery, and was misinterpreted to be insulting the troops. Needless to say, this caused quite a firestorm.
  • History Repeats: He was lieutenant governor to Michael Dukakis, who lost to George H.W. Bush in 1988, 16 years before Kerry would lose to the younger Bush.
  • Insult Backfire: His joke about getting stuck in Iraq directed at George W. Bush. Bush's academic performance was about the same as Kerry's, and Bush completed Air Force flight school (which requires a high level of technical and mathematical proficiency) and was reportedly a competent pilot in an F-106 interceptor (notorious for being a very complicated aircraft that was difficult to fly safely). Furthermore, as of 2016 Kerry has been one of the driving forces behind the Obama administration's anti-ISIS intervention in Iraq. So far, no meaningful gains have been made against ISIS (except by the Kurds, who barely get any American support), who control a large part of northern and western Iraq, the US-backed Iraqi Army has become notorious for running away from the fight, and the administration insists that they haven't actually lied about the number of US Military personnel deployed to Iraqnote . Kerry has (on the President's orders) been spending a lot of time in Baghdad since ISIS took Mosul in 2015. Looks like he's stuck in Iraq, too.
  • Quote Mine: In his anti-war testimony, he repeated stories he claimed to have heard from certain veterans about war crimes they said they had committed. The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth distorted this as him accusing all veterans of war crimes, including those held as prisoners of war. It's arguable that he wasn't "accusing" any veterans in his testimony, but merely condemning how the war was fought in a way that allowed or encouraged such things to happen.
    • Several SBVT members have since claimed that they were given chopped-up transcripts of his testimony, and wrongly thought that he was accusing all veterans who fought in the war.
  • Sarcasm Failure: The way the Syria chemical weapons issue was resolved. Paraphrased: "Sure, there are other solutions to the Syria chemical weapons issue. Like if Russia stepped up to the plate and took care of it." Sure enough, the next day, what does the Russian Foreign Ministry announce... (and it worked!)
    • Batman Gambit: Some suspect that the "sarcastic joke" was engineered to see if the Russians would take the bait. Either way, it's both good for the world and Actually Pretty Funny.
      • It seems to have backfired as of 2015, though, with the Russians sending a large force including tanks and heavy artillery to Syria to prop up the Assad regime, while the US insists on a handful of air strikes and a token ground force maintaining a "noncombat" role in Iraq. Both the strong Russian presence in the region and the fact that Russia was being seen as more willing than America to do something meaningful against ISIS had seriously hurt US foreign policy and national prestige, with Obama and Kerry saying they are "worried" and "closely monitoring" the situation. Then, the Russian forces withdrew, so the ultimate result is up in the air at the time of writing.
  • Theme Initials: John Forbes Kerry: He even made a few John F. Kennedy jokes in 2004.
  • The Vietnam War: A participant in it, Kerry spent years afterward denouncing it. The latter part may have lost him the 2004 election with the Swift Boat Veterans attacking him over it. Opinions vary regarding how truthful either side was. Both sides offered very little hard evidence to back up their claims, apart from testimony from people who may have been ideologically- or financially-motivated.
    • In fact, Kerry was the first Vietnam veteran to appear before Congress and speak out against the war.
    • Depending on who you ask, Kerry was either the Only Sane Man or a traitor. Other Vietnam veterans (especially Swift Boat Veterans for Truth) put him in the latter category, though their only significant evidence for this was his anti-war testimony and the fact that he had once met illegally with enemy leaders in Paris. On the other hand, Kerry's only evidence was hearsay at best.

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