Thursday, July 3, 2008

Wes Clark And The Morons

Image credit: WesPAC/Securing America

It's been fascinating to watch the dustup over Wesley Clark's remarks about what John McCain's service record in Vietnam qualifies him for. Clark's statement is here, in its entirety, along with the question he was answering:

SCHIEFFER: Well, you went so far as to say that you thought John McCain was, quote, and these are your words, "untested and untried." And I must say, I had to read that twice, because you're talking about somebody who was a prisoner of war, he was a squadron commander of the largest squadron in the Navy, he's been on the Senate Armed Services Committee for lo these many years. How can you say that John McCain is untested and untried, General?

Gen. CLARK: Because in the matters of national security policy making, it's a matter of understanding risk, it's a matter of gauging your opponents and it's a matter of being held accountable. John McCain's never done any of that in his official positions. I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands of millions of others in the armed forces as a prisoner of war. He has been a voice on the Senate Armed Services Committee and he has traveled all over the world. But he hasn't held executive responsibility. That large squadron in the Navy that he commanded wasn't a wartime squadron. He hasn't been there and ordered the bombs to fall. He hasn't seen what it's like when diplomats come in and say, `I don't know whether we're going to be able to get this point through or not. Do you want to take the risk? What about your reputation? How do we handle it publicly?'


Gen. CLARK: He hasn't made those calls, Bob. So...

SCHIEFFER: Well, General, maybe--could I just interrupt you?

Gen. CLARK: Sure.

SCHIEFFER: I have to say, Barack Obama has not had any of those experiences either, nor has he ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down. I mean...

Gen. CLARK: Well, I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.


Gen. CLARK: But Barack is not--he is not running on the fact that he has made these national security pronouncements, he's running on his other strengths. He's running on the strengths of character, on the strengths of his communication skills, on the strengths of his judgment, and those are qualities that we seek in our national leadership.

Transcript: Face The Nation, June 29, 2008

It's clear from this that Clark wasn't attacking McCain's service record, as some blowhards have suggested. He's making the point that being able to fly a fighter plane, and being shot down in one, doesn't automatically qualify you to be President. It's what you make of that experience, and what you do afterward, that are important.

No one needs to remind me of what John McCain went through in Vietnam. His best day at the Hanoi Hilton, at least before the day he was released, was probably worse than the worst day of my life. I'm sorry that he had to go through that, and grateful that he had the courage to face it. He deserves respect for what he did there. But then, John Kerry deserves respect for his service, and that didn't stop some of the same people from trashing him who are now whining about what Clark (didn't) say. I think the hypocrisy of that contrast speaks for itself. Ezra Klein makes the point well:

[T]here's nothing to reject in Clark's remarks. He not only failed to say anything untrue, he didn't even say anything controversial. John McCain would be the first to tell you that getting shot down doesn't prepare you for the presidency. When folks ask him about his war heroism, he's even got a stock reply: "It doesn't take a great deal of effort to get shot down," he laughs. But it does take a lot of effort to constantly remind the media and the voters that you're a WAR HERO. Which is why the McCain campaign is gearing up against Clark's comments. Whether it's relevant to McCain's fitness for office or not, his war heroism is central to his chances in this election. In that, Clark simply answered the wrong question. Getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is not a qualification to become president. The McCain campaign, however, is hoping that it's a sufficient qualification to be elected president. And if the media happens to helpfully conflate the two, well, then, that's not exactly McCain's fault, now is it?

Mean Old Wesley Clark

Wes Clark stood up and told the truth. We like that around here. Sadly, the guy he was doing all this for, whose character he was extolling, didn't exactly live up to the billing:

“Inartful” was the word Obama used Tuesday to characterize remarks Gen. Wes Clark made over the weekend and subsequently about McCain’s military service.

Obama Call's Clark's Remarks "Inartful"

"Pissant" is the word I'd use to describe Obama's remarks. Someone comes to your defense and you don't even have the courage to back him up when he's right? Some leader of the free world you're going to be.

UPDATE: Dana Hunter, as she puts it, unleashes her Smack-O-Matic on various members of the press who have been misrepresenting this episode from the start.


Dana Hunter said...

Beautifully done, sir. But then you had to go and ruin a masterpiece by bringing rabble like Dana Hunter into it... ;-)

Seriously, though, this was an excellent piece. Completely agree that Obama showed a remarkable lack of character and integrity. Not that his lapse isn't dwarfed by the antics of the press...

Cujo359 said...

Somehow, I think they're all part of the same process. The press are imbeciles, so our political candidates go along. Obama's just pandering to them, and hurting his own brand in the process. Sadly, far too late in the process to matter, people are starting to realize this is who he is.

What I think is lamentable is that many of those folks who supported Obama because they thought he was different from other politicians are going to now tell themselves that politicians really are all the same. What they should be telling themselves is that they should have looked deeper, and seen what some of us saw a year ago, and realize they need to do better. Many won't, though.

As a people, I think we really do get the government we deserve.