June 29, 2008


Clark blasts McCain's military service (JOSH KRAUSHAAR, 6/29/08, Politico)

Gen. Wesley Clark, acting as a surrogate for Barack Obama’s campaign, invoked John McCain’s military service against him in one of the more personal attacks on the Republican presidential nominee this election cycle. [...]

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

...still think John Kerry lost because his service to his country was attacked, rather than his disservice.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 29, 2008 6:16 PM

Is Wesley the best military man Obi can get as a surrogate? As head of NATO, his 2nd in command, a Brit said Clark was crazy, and refused to follow his order to stop the Russians in Pretina airport. The Brit saved NATO from the biggest post-WWII blunder, and Clark was fired by Bill.

Posted by: ic at June 29, 2008 7:15 PM

This is an important message to get out there. People need to realize how dishonorable it was for McCain to get himself shot down, and then to spend five years leeching off the toil of the Vietnamese people for his food and lodging.

I heartily applaud Wes Clark for hammering this message home. He is just the man to point this out, and I encourage him to keep it up.

Signed, McCain '08

Posted by: Andrew X at June 29, 2008 7:26 PM

I would have thought that the Dems would have learned their lesson, that they are just not credible on military and security matters. If military and national security become issues in the campaign, they will lose big.

Posted by: sam at June 29, 2008 7:35 PM

Wesley Clark, a MacClellan for the 21rst century.

Posted by: Mike Earl at June 29, 2008 10:05 PM

Mike: Nice Civil War reference.

"I need a man who will fight!"
-Abraham Lincoln

Posted by: Bartman at June 29, 2008 11:05 PM

Oh, by way the way Wes, McCain wasn't flying a fighter plane. He was in an A-4 Skyhawk. So much for his military credentials.

Posted by: Dreadnought at June 30, 2008 12:52 AM

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

But an imaginary trip ferrying CIA agent up the Meikong was.

Organizing neighborhood, getting pork for wife's employer, voting present in state legislature are definitely qualifications.

I think McCain should make an ad comparing his and Obama's qualifications, whatever they may be.

Posted by: ic at June 30, 2008 3:27 AM

McCain did about 8 years in the Navy AFTER Vietnam, retiring as a Navy captain..

Of course, one's professional knowledge, becomes dated. What matters is character and mind-set. What can I say, the man knows how to wear a baseball cap.

This wisecrack about the basepall cap has to do with the military bearing I see in McCain, at every appearance. He has the stance and expression of most of the Marine Colonels and Navy Captains I have know over the years. This is a big factor for those of us who can spot it. I would imagine that most veterans are McCain fans.

Posted by: Lou Gots at June 30, 2008 3:51 AM

McCain's military experience doesn't compare to that of, say, Eisenhower. In fact, it's so limited, it would only be an overwhelming advantage in the unlikely case that the Democrats nominated... what's that? No. Seriously? Less than Hillary?

Well. Looks like McCain's luck is starting to even out.

Posted by: Bob Hawkins at June 30, 2008 10:42 AM

At least St.Hillary! claimed she wanted to join the Marines. Has anyone ever heard Obama (pbuh) ever make a similar claim? Or does he consider living on the South Side in the early '80 to have been the equivalent of combat duty? (In the '70s, that might have been true.)

Posted by: Raoul Hussein Ortega at June 30, 2008 11:08 AM

"Gen. Wesley Clark, acting as a surrogate for Barack Obama’s campaign"

Nope. He's always been a Clinton surrogate, and this comment is completely consistent with the fact that the Clintons are going to do everything in their power to ensure Obama doesn't win.

Posted by: b at June 30, 2008 11:15 AM

Ike lost two peaces.

Posted by: oj at June 30, 2008 11:17 AM

Clark is speaking the truth and sometimes that hurts.

Posted by: h-man at June 30, 2008 1:38 PM

It can only hurt Obama.

Posted by: oj at June 30, 2008 2:30 PM

h: Note that Sen. McCain is just shrugging this off. Why? Because he knows that comments like this are political gold for his campaign. His military record is completely unimpeachable. Anything that draws attention to what he accomplished & suffered during his time in uniform will only help him with the electorate. Contrast this to Sen. Kerry, who tried to ignore the attacks not from complacency but out of the fear that they would spread, and then freaked out (by simultaneously welcoming the attacks thinking that his record was similarly impressive to voters, and loudly condemning them as out-of-bounds) when the MSM couldn't suppress the Swift Boaters because they were destroying the entire rationale for his campaign.

Posted by: b at June 30, 2008 2:30 PM

I was only pointing out the obvious, which is that being a POW does not prove any qualification for being President. Neither did Dole's losing his arm almost immediately after entering battle.
McGovern was a true war hero and you saw what that got him.

Comparisons to Eisenhower's service is of course beside the point, since his service did relate to actual qualities of leadership you want in a President.


Contra to what you say, to calmly and respectfully point this out to the public repeatedly will eventually hurt McCain, since that sympathy vote will slowly dissipate as people realize its irrelavancy.

Posted by: h-man at June 30, 2008 3:41 PM

H - It is not BEING a POW that is what McCain is being or should be judged on. It is his conduct therein. And no one has disputed such facts as that he was offered the opportunity to be released, and rejected it based upon a milatry code that said that one does not accept release while others captured before you remain, and one does not do so when it would give the enemy a propaganda victory. It is not disputed that McCain held his own through much torture, and generally conducted himself according to the highest ideals of the country and military under circumstances would likely have crushed many of us.

THAT is what Mcain is being judged on, and Clark is welcome to be critical of it. And we are just as welcome to accordingly judge Clark for it, and Obama for hanging out with him.

Posted by: Andrew X at June 30, 2008 3:55 PM

h: I really, really, really, really hope that Obama's campaign agrees with you that this is a fruitful line of attack.

Posted by: b at June 30, 2008 3:59 PM

No, the fact that the higher ranking military guys -- both Roosevelets, for instance -- have been such bad presidents is very much the point. Clark was comparing McCain to himself.

Posted by: oj at June 30, 2008 4:15 PM

Andrew, he was exceptional...or he wasn't.

"McCain was subjected to repeated beatings and rope bindings, at the same time as he was suffering from dysentery.[44] After four days, McCain made an anti-American propaganda "confession"

Posted by: h-man at June 30, 2008 6:24 PM

h: PLEASE apply for a job with the Obama campaign. They really need to hear your wonderful advice. You've hit on their ticket to the presidency!

Posted by: b at June 30, 2008 6:47 PM


There were others, who took considerably worse beatings, over many months, and still refused to sign those statements. I only brought it up because Andrew seemed to think McCain was particularly heroic.

Posted by: h-man at June 30, 2008 7:10 PM

You're doing great! A whole series of ads along the lines of your argument will sew this thing up for Obama!

Posted by: b at June 30, 2008 7:24 PM

H - "...he was offered the opportunity to be released, and rejected it based upon a military code that said that one does not accept release while others captured before you remain, and one does not do so when it would give the enemy a propaganda victory".... and thus suffered many a further torture that he could have avoided through dishonor

He was "particularily heroic". End of story.

Posted by: Andrew X at June 30, 2008 7:36 PM


Maybe you can help me. Why do you think McCain has he made his POW status, such an important part of his public persona? Is that why you are voting for him or is it that you think everyone else will vote for him for that reason, but you won't because you have better reasons. I'd like to know.

Posted by: h-man at June 30, 2008 7:43 PM


How exactly did he refuse? Threaten to beat them up.

b, Andrew,

General Clark pointed out that McCain's wartime experiences did not prove any qualification for the Presidency. I agree, it doesn't. Nothing either of you had said contradicts Clarks point.

Posted by: h-man at June 30, 2008 8:12 PM

H - The issue is the bone deep one of character. Character alone "does not qualify one for the Presidency", but it is extremely telling, and worthy of taking into account. Clark may be technically correct in what he said, as it would be correct for a prominent McCain advisor to say (hypothetically), "Hey, just because Obama is black is no reason to vote for him for President".

Also correct, also a really, really, really stupid thing to say, and also going to be looked at in a broader context that is going to be most unfavorable to the speaker and the candidate as well, should he not immediately and forthrightly distance himself from the words. Clark is being both politically stupid and militarily dishonorable in one fell swoop. Nice two-fer.

Posted by: Andrew X at June 30, 2008 8:27 PM

The funny thing is, h thinks he wouldn't have signed.

Posted by: oj at June 30, 2008 8:51 PM


Basically there were two categories of POW in Vietnam. Those who refused to sign propaganda statements after severe mistreatment and those who did. McCain was in the later group. His release or non-release was under the control of his captors. They already had his statement ("I am a black criminal and I have performed the deeds of an air pirate. I almost died and the Vietnamese people saved my life, thanks to the doctors"), so his alleged refusal was a moot point.

The entire POW episode does not prove his fitness to be President, nor does it disprove it. Likewise his callous abandonment of his wife, upon returning from the war is not dispositive of his strength of character. Nor is his accepting of bribes from Charles Keating. He could make a great President for all I know and I plan to vote for him, since I can't vote an untested muslim like Obama. Like you say, end of story.

Posted by: h-man at July 1, 2008 4:06 AM

No, there aren't. You can get any prisoner to do anything. There were two kinds: those whose torturers knew what they were doing and those who didn't.

Posted by: oj at July 1, 2008 6:13 AM

h-man, McCain didn't make his POW experience part of his campaign, it was Obama's disposable surrogates including the NYT who did so. McCain's record, the good and the bad, is and has been publicly accessible.

Unlike Obama, who's even hiding his birth certificate (usually not a confidential document). McCain's not hiding anything.

Posted by: erp at July 1, 2008 8:02 AM
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