Clark’s McCain Comments: Full Media Jacket

General Wes Clark’s comments on John McCain were essential, needed, and to the point.  McCain has a record of exemplary military service and painfully poor judgment.  It is important voters not confuse his service with his judgment.

Predictably, the right wing elements in the media have gone into foaming reactionary mode and fired off a few rounds.  There now being a “controversy”, the rest of the media converges taking a page from the discovery institute:  Cover the Controversy.  Facts are the first casualty (Juliet Eilperin, Wash Post):

ABOARD THE McCAIN CAMPAIGN PLANE — Sen. John McCain defended his Vietnam War military service against Democratic attacks Tuesday, and he pressed Sen. Barack Obama to remove retired Gen. Wesley Clark from any role in his campaign.

When asked how his opponent should treat Clark, who has repeatedly questioned whether McCain’s military tenure qualifies him for the White House, the senator replied, “I think it’s up to Senator Obama now to not only repudiate him, but to cut him loose.”

Wes Clark did not attack McCain’s military service.  He attacked his judgment on current military matters like Iraq and Iran.

There was nothing inartful about his comments.  Obama slipped up in his response, he didn’t spot a bulltshit question and answered it head-on (Rick Klien, ABC):

This was the question asked Monday by a reporter from ABC’s Kansas City affiliate, KMBC: “Yesterday Wesley Clark, on ‘Face the Nation,’ said because John McCain got shot down that doesn’t make him a leader. That seems to be violating the very rule you talked about today about questioning the military service of anybody.”

Obama’s answer: “Well, which is why I was very clear that General Clark’s remarks don’t reflect my beliefs. I have consistently said that John McCain is a genuine American hero and his service deserves to be honored.”

His service was never attacked.  Another dishonest question, and a trap at that.  Barack walked right into that one.

McCain has terrible judgment on the war, and his record on military issues has very problematic weak points (VoteVets).  It is beyond insane to expect that simply serving in the military exempts one from any criticism of any and all military and foreign policy positions.  Senator McCain served his country as a public servant for many years after serving in the military.  Must one avoid criticizing him entirely to avoid criticizing his service as an elected official?

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2 Responses

  1. Hah. So our conversations are just fuel for your blog.

    Thank you for providing the background for Obama’s response to Clark’s comments. It was interesting to see how the tone of the question shaped the answer that was given and created the news story that subsequently came out. In a court of law I believe they’d object that the witness was being led.

    As a vet, I have to say that I found Clark’s comments to be a much needed breath of fresh air. While the smear campaign against Kerry’s service was incredibly disgraceful, our general reluctance to engage in honest conversation about military service and question its links to how people behave in the civilian world is regretable.

    One of the questions I was asked most frequently when I was on active duty was why, having college degree when I entered the service, I had not chosen to become an officer. My answer was that I didn’t see how a four year degree from a women’s college made me qualified to give orders and command respect within an organization that functioned according to a very different set of rules than that of a college campus.

    The same analogy applies here. While McCain has proven himself to be honorable and courageous in the military realm, I have yet to see how his skills learned in that setting have qualified him or prepared him to be the civilian leader of the United States.

    As I look towards the future and ask myself honestly who I want to be taking orders from as our next Commander in Chief, I can honestly say that I would infinitely prefer to be taking them from Barack Obama.

  2. Kate,
    I’m writing a piece on weirding out family members next 😉

    Leading the witness is a time honored, fair and balanced journalistic tact.

    Absolutely point on about his military service. Given the tendency to refer to Bush as “our” commander in chief, I think the civilian and military aspects of the Presidency are often conflated in the media. (He’s only the commander in chief of the armed forces). But I think its more that Republicans relish a chance to paint Democrats as derisive beasts who attack military personnel and their service. Its been an effective lie to target audiences for years.

    I hope he is the next President, simply because of the two he is far more likely to use military resources with respect and intelligence.

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