Monday, June 30, 2008

Am I missing something

Of course not, never do. But I am wondering about the whining that's going on about Wesley Clark supposedly disparaging John McCain's military service. Here's the exchange Clark had on Face the Nation:
CLARK: 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 — that 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 this publicly? He hasn't made those calls, Bob.

SCHIEFFER: Can I just interrupt you? I have to say, Barack Obama hasn't had any of these experiences either, nor has he ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down.

CLARK: I don’t think getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to become president.

I guess I tend to look at McCain's foreign policy blunders like being one of the biggest cheerleaders for the Iraq War or his inability to figure out the difference between Sunni and Shiite and think those matter a little more than his experiences in Vietnam. Of course we live in a world where a flag pin means you're patriotic and any hungover asshole waiting to get into the 11worth Cafe can end up standing in front on an American flag and look like a patriotic George F-ing Patton.

Where was I? Oh yeah, the Republicans get the usual vapors whenever something innocuous like this happens:
"I was utterly shocked," Sen. John Warner, R-Va., told the conference call, "... that he would in such a disrespectful way attack one of his fellow career military officers."

"Beyond comprehension ... further erosion of our nation's political discourse," said former Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., in a written statement.

"Complete silliness," retired Navy Lt. Cmdr. Carl Smith said on the call.

Retired Marine Lt. Col. Orson Swindle said Clark was "denigrating the character and the experience and the integrity and the performance" of McCain.

"A very indecent thing," said retired Air Force Col. Bud Day.

What really annoys me is that Obama immediately started ripping on Clark for it saying he "rejected his comments." I understand he can't be seen as ripping on someone's service record (what kind of horrible people would ever do that? You'll notice the last guy quoted is Bud Day who happened to be one of the members of the Swift Boat group that attacked Kerry. Odd.) however, this shouldn't really even be that controversial, right? Democrats have made a career of folding in the face of these types or ridiculous attacks and it's disappointing that Obama seems eager to fall into that trap now that he's in general election mode. As a 4 star general Clark could be an important Democratic voice in the foreign policy debate so why kick him to the curb over something this dumb? If you handle this right you can make a point about McCain's horrible foreign policy record without getting yourself in trouble.

Here's Clark's statement. Seems pretty sound.
"There are many important issues in this Presidential election, clearly one of the most important issues is national security and keeping the American people safe. In my opinion, protecting the American people is the most important duty of our next President. I have made comments in the past about John McCain's service and I want to reiterate them in order be crystal clear. As I have said before I honor John McCain's service as a prisoner of war and a Vietnam Veteran. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands and millions of others in Armed Forces as a prisoner of war. I would never dishonor the service of someone who chose to wear the uniform for our nation.

John McCain is running his campaign on his experience and how his experience would benefit him and our nation as President. That experience shows courage and commitment to our country - but it doesn't include executive experience wrestling with national policy or go-to-war decisions. And in this area his judgment has been flawed - he not only supported going into a war we didn't have to fight in Iraq, but has time and again undervalued other, non-military elements of national power that must be used effectively to protect America But as an American and former military officer I will not back down if I believe someone doesn't have sound judgment when it comes to our nation's most critical issues.

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