Amid his snarky "corrections" of what he "meant to say", Kerry accidentally revealed that the supposed "real meaning" just wasn't there at all.
What he said (shortened a bit): If you don't study hard, you'll get stuck in Iraq.
His "correction" was: "I forgot to say us
. I meant to say they got us stuck in Iraq
, not they got stuck in Iraq
But the original sentence wasn't about any they
, it was about you
. He was speaking to students, advising them about their futures.
Let's try his correction: "If you don't study hard, they got us stuck in Iraq."
Nobody, not even a clumsy talker like Kerry or an aphasic like Bush, would speak that sentence. It's beyond ungrammatical; it's simply impossible for any native English speaker to produce that sentence.
Okay, so let's skip the they
entirely and just plug in the us
"If you don't study hard, you'll get us stuck in Iraq."
This could make sense if you know in advance that one of the students is going to become President, but the problem is that we're already
stuck in Iraq.
Well, does the they got
construction belong on the sentence Kerry claims he was trying to say?
"Because George Bush didn't study hard, they got us stuck in Iraq."
Nope, doesn't work either.
There is simply no way
to reach what Kerry claims he meant from what he said, by any combination of missing words or clumsy locutions.
I suspect Kerry's mind is still on Vietnam, not Iraq. In the case of Vietnam, several presidents got us stuck there, in an incremental process, so they
makes sense referring to Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon.