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Clark Questions McCain's Military Experience — Off-Limits?

Clark Questions McCain's Military Experience — Off-Limits?

It's been the untouchable topic thus far this campaign — even Democratic opponent Barack Obama has avoided the hot potato calling McCain "honorable" — until now: retired General Wesley Clark has criticized John McCain's military experience. A former candidate himself, Clark said yesterday on CBS' Face the Nation:

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. . . but he hasn't held executive responsibility. That large squadron in the Navy that he commanded — that wasn't a wartime squadron.

He went on to finish with this unequivocal statement in response to moderator Bob Schieffer pointing out that Obama hadn't had those experiences:

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

The McCain campaign manager has responded to the comment strongly saying:

I think all the promise that Barack Obama made about trying to change the political dynamic and run a different kind of campaign is evidenced by the fact that he's completely changed his political strikes and become sort of a partisan hack. Sending Wesley Clark out as a surrogate for your campaign and attacking John McCain and his war record and his military experience and his service is, I think, just the lowest form of politics.

Is it the lowest form of politics? Does Clark have the credentials to make a statement like this both valid and acceptable? Should a critique of McCain's military service be off the table this election?


Join The Conversation
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 9 years
Here Here!
steldog1 steldog1 9 years
Clark is a failed candidate. Could his comments possibly be sour grapes. McCain knows one thing better than Obama. He knows how to stand up for his country in time of war. That takes guts. McCain knows only too well what it is to suffer terribly during a war. He was severely tested, and came through with flying colors. While our soldiers were fighting and dying, Obama and his rich buddies were snorting cocaine at a fancy university. Wonderful preparation for becoming a president, and certainly far superior to anything McCain has accomplished in his 20 + years of political service to out country. I don't necessarily embrace McCain as a presidential candidate, but I find Clark's comments demeaning McCain's experiences to be quite offensive.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
Very well said lilkim. I agree that McCain's service is not above scrutiny, just as any serviceman's record isn't. It's a part of what brought that person to this point in their life.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
Anyway, I think in the end we can agree that McCain's service is not above criticism but that Clark's comments were pointless and really did more harm than good.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
Sorry I left the battle of the little people for so long! Anyway, lili, I will admit that McCain uses his service more often than he should, but I still don't think he constantly uses it as a shield. I have heard him answer questions without bringing up his service countless times, many, many more times than he has answered questions by bringing it up. And to those who are bringing up Kerry, no one (in this group) said it was OK to criticize Kerry in the way he was. As I stated before, McCain defended Kerry against those criticisms. Bringing up what Bush did does not relate to McCain. I know it was brought up that McCain has hired one of the Swift Boat people. I believe you can hire someone who is good at what they do and who you generally respect even if you do not respect one thing they did.
liliblu liliblu 9 years
I never said McCain had not earned the right to talk about his POW experience. I'm saying that he should stop using it as a shield against real questions about his policies or experience. The Woodstock quote was just an example of how he uses his time as POW whenever he wants to seem superior. The quote on health care is important. Elizabeth Edwards was discussing the fact the McCain like all other military personal recieved health care through the government for most of his life. His father was in the military as well. Instead of discussing why he is against universal care he says, "It's a cheap shot, but I did have a period of time where I didn't have very good healthcare, I had it from another government."
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 9 years
And liliblu, I don't think the healthcare or woodstock comments are out of line. Not one bit. And I am no McCain fan. But like I said before, that man has EARNED the right to talk about it. Being a POW is like nothing else. None of us can even remotely understand what he went through.
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 9 years
kmwertz: "You say McCain's navy squadron wasn't a wartime squadron? Well, Obama's squadron . . . oh wait." Exact-freakin'-ly!! And McCain deserves to be able to speak about his POW times and experience whenever he pleases. He's earned it and it has shaped who he is. Trauma does that. It shapes how you grow from that point on. And as far as his comment on not voting for the bill, I don't think he was out of line at all. I think he was defending his stance. Should he just have whipped the crowd into a frenzy with chants instead? Passionate speeches written by a nameless writer? Ugh.
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
Didn't Bush attack his record in 2000? I mean, wasn't that why they thought he actually won against McCain?
True-Song True-Song 9 years
Was Kerry's military service off-limits? Of course not. I don't think anything is off-limits these days.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
I agree Harmony. "Also, there are so many things a president is expected to do that he or she might not have direct experience in! They must deal with energy and environmental issues, and it's been a long time since a physicist has been president! They must deal with social welfare issues, but not all of them will head nonprofits...etc..." Good points, bunny!
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 9 years
I think Clark is definitely in a position to criticize McCain's military experience, and I don't think McCain's experience is above critique. However, Obama fan that I am, I don't find the critique very powerful. Yes, the president needs to be able to command troops in wartime, but neither of them have that experience. McCain is the most experienced when it comes to the military, obviously, and his comments just brought attention to that fact! Also, there are so many things a president is expected to do that he or she might not have direct experience in! They must deal with energy and environmental issues, and it's been a long time since a physicist has been president! They must deal with social welfare issues, but not all of them will head nonprofits...etc... So yeah, the comments were pointless and just gave more fodder to idiots like Rush Limbaugh...
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 9 years
I agree with Hypno. These statements are by no means helping Clark's candidate. Why on earth would you criticize the rival candidate's extensive military experience when your candidate has none? It's completely counter-intuitive and frankly stupid. He should've pointed out Obama's specific strengths.
kastarte2 kastarte2 9 years
Obama has disowned the statements by Clark. "Obama told an audience in Independence, Mo., that McCain had 'endured physical torment in service to our country' and 'no one should ever devalue that service, especially for the sake of a political campaign, and that goes for supporters on both sides.'
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Hey if that was an option I might run.
nyaradzom2001 nyaradzom2001 9 years
:rotfl: "I don't think riding..for president" best quote ever!!!!!
liliblu liliblu 9 years
"Also, I think it's important to note that McCain vehemently defended Kerry against the Swiftboat attacks." Yes he did lilkimbo. That's why I'm surprised that McCain has tied himself to Bud Day. Day was a member of the "Swiftboat Veterens for Truth". Day is a part of McCain's so called "Truth Squad".
liliblu liliblu 9 years
The battle of the lil people. I really like that hypno.
liliblu liliblu 9 years
During a primary debate,"Senator Clinton tried to spend $1 million on the Woodstock concert museum. Now, my friends, I wasn't there. I'm sure it was a cultural and pharmaceutical event. I was tied up at the time." His campaign later used the quote in an ad with pictures of McCain in a POW camp.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Wow, looks like the battle of the lil people.
liliblu liliblu 9 years
"It's a cheap shot, but I did have a period of time where I didn't have very good healthcare, I had it from another government," John McCain said after being asked about a statement made by Elizabeth Edwards where she stated that McCain had benifited from government health care.
liliblu liliblu 9 years
"Even the Vietnamese didn't question my ethics." McCain said this when questioned about the Keating Five scandal.
liliblu liliblu 9 years
I'll find the other quotes where he used his service as a shield.
liliblu liliblu 9 years
Here is an article lilkimbo that discusses McCain avoiding critism by using his military record. I was looking for a paticular quote and was surprised to see the article. I never read the Washington Times. "The place I lived longest in my life was Hanoi." It was simple, brutally effective and set the groundwork for what Sen. Barack Obama found out last week - Sen. John McCain's 22-year military career, and particularly his 5 1/2 years as a North Vietnamese prisoner of war, is a potent political weapon the senator has not been shy about using throughout his career. Mr. McCain deploys it tactically to answer charges, claim moral credibility and occasionally to launch an attack of his own, a trifecta he achieved when Mr. Obama accused him of not showing enough care for veterans' educational needs.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
the bottom line is these remarks were pointless.
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