Why Barack Shouldn’t Have Apologized for Wesley Clark’s John McCain Attack
Posted by pozlife on July 5, 2008
By Ross von Metzke | Article Date: 7/01/2008 12:30 AM
So the McCain campaign is up in arms because retired Gen. Wesley Clark took their war hero and his prisoner of war sob song he’s been singing for the last God knows how many years and downplayed the actual significance it plays in his ability to turn the rapidly faltering United States around with one fell pot shot.
Tough shit—this is politics, not some third grade spelling bee. I, for one, applaud Clark’s honesty, even if Barack Obama campaign was forced to—predictably—distance himself from the comment.
So what exactly did Clark say? Frankly, nothing we haven’t heard/thought/pondered several hundred times before, it’s just that Clark talked off the cuff rather than formulating his point into some bullshit, PR quote making it all easier to swallow.
Appearing on CBS’ Face the Nation over the weekend, moderator Bob Schieffer asked Clark to clarify comments he made in a recent interview with the Huffington Post in which he called McCain “untested and untried.”
Clark answered rather matter-of-factly, “I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands and millions of others in the armed forces as a prisoner of war. And he has traveled all over the world. But he hasn’t held executive responsibility. 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.'”
When Schieffer countered that Obama had no more experience with national securtity measures nor had he “ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down,” Clark dropped his bomb and said, “Well, I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.”
What a low blow, don’t you think?
Oh please—it’s true, and it’s not.
Still, the McCain camp came out swinging, screaming things like it’s “the lowest form of politics” (McCain campaign manager Rick Davis) and telling Obama to “not hide behind his campaign surrogates” (retired Adm. Leighton “Snuffy” Smith—you know, because it takes someone who served his country to check someone who served his country). McCain himself said he found the comment “unnecessary” but left the decision of an apology up to Obama.
We all know what happens next.
At almost the exact same time, as has become standard in this election, Obama had to immediately distance himself from the comment and, quickly, shift the focus.
“I will never question the patriotism of others in this campaign. And I will not stand idly by when I hear others question mine,” he said in a speech Monday.
And that’s where I beg to differ. Clark wasn’t questioning McCain’s patriotism one bit—he clearly begins the conversation by saying he has the utmost respect for the man… he even calls him a hero—and I don’t think anyone in the Obama camp would dare question McCain’s service in the military. But to say that fighting in a war doesn’t make him an authority of foreign policy, nor does it make him ready, willing and able to lead this country out of war is a valid accusation.
It’s the sort of accusation politicians should be making—not apologizing for.
Frankly, Clark’s comments are a breath of fresh air. The man clearly isn’t someone who bows to pressure—anyone else remember Clark posing for the cover of The Advocate during his failed presidential bid in 2004; the military practically die and turned over in its collective grave—nor is he one to mince words when he has a point to make. Clearly, Obama can’t afford to make comments such as those made by Clark; the American public is far too fickle. But he shouldn’t feel compelled to apologize for Clark either.
Truth be told, I’d welcome more folks on Obama’s team to come after McCain for some of his more shining moments of glory. No, really, can’t you see it now. Michelle Obama, taking to the stage, telling McCain, “Well, I don’t think calling your wife a cunt and getting it posted on YouTube is a qualification to be president.”
Oh yeah—the media just glossed over that one, mostly because Obama wouldn’t dare bring that one up in a public place, but in part because there’s no video to accompany the audio, and McCain’s camp would work tirelessly to convince voters it wasn’t actually his voice on the tape. But anyone familiar with McCain’s all-too-well documented temper knows it’s him, and that it’s but one isolated incident in a string of emotional tirade that leads me to believe he’s a scary choice to lead this country.
Someone could always take him to task on his flip-flopping on gay rights (broke with the Republican party to strike down the federal amendment banning same-sex marriage, but felt compelled to say he disagreed with California’s ruling that ban was unconstitutional—so much for states rights) or the War (just how long do you plan on keeping us there, Mr. McCain?). But then, they’d just sweep that under the rug—or chalk it up to a matter of policy, not preference.
So what exactly is fair game, then? Hey, if they can impeach Clinton for screwing an of age intern and lying about it, I’d say just about anything is fair game. And while I respect McCain immensely for his service to this country—and, for that matter, every last one of the soldiers who fights for this country’s freedoms—that doesn’t change the fact that I, like Clark, don’t think going down in a fighter plane makes you qualified to assume the role of president.
Only I’m not apologizing.
While writing this, I was listening to “Blood Makes Noise” by Suzanne Vega