Monday, June 30, 2008

What General Wesley Clark Said About Senator John McCain

Let's get the truth squad out and call a spade a spade.

This past Sunday, General Clark answered one of Bob Schieffer's leading questions thusly,
Because 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. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands and millions of others in Armed Forces as a prisoner of war. 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 Air- in the Navy that he commanded, it 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 it-publicly?'
This evening, Clark issued a statement not, clarifying, amending or withdrawing his statement, but reiterating it:
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.
I think anybody who serves in uniform who serves their country in wartime and has gone through the hardships like John McCain should be honored for their character and courage. I think people look for character and courage in their pres, but I don't think you' have to have been at war to have shown character and courage. I think you can see that in other candidates. I think you can see that in Barack Obama's life.
Iraq Veteran Jon Soltz agrees with Vietnam veteran General Clark. Facts, Soltz says, are facts:
  • Senator McCain's service and experience, both as a POW and as a Senator apparently hasn't infused him with a dose of good judgment.

  • Senator McCain's experience hasn't led him to realize that the war in Iraq and it's continuance has empowered and emboldened Iran, and destabilized the region.

  • Senator McCain's experience hasn't caused him to recognize that we're losing ground in Afghanistan, and Osama bin Laden is still out there, plotting.

  • Senator McCain's experience didn't lead him to support the 21st Century GI Bill -- he opposed it. It didn't even make him feel the need to get back to Washington to vote on this -- one of the most important veterans' bills this Congress. He twice skipped votes on the GI Bill, to fundraise.

  • Senator McCain's experience didn't help him empathize with troops are overstretched and overdeployed, when he voted against the bipartisan Webb-Hagel "Dwell Time Amendment," which would have given troops as much time at home as in the field.
Lt. General Robert G. Gard Jr. (USA, Ret.) agrees with Soltz:
As a retired military officer and a soldier who served his country for over thirty years, I can tell you that there's nothing in what Wes Clark said with which I disagree. He has not only stated the facts, he knows something about them. John McCain was a prisoner of war, an officer who served as a squadron commander, and has been and is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. John McCain can put his service to country up against anyone's. But General Clark has served also -- and with great courage: he was wounded four times in Vietnam -- and like John McCain, he has met and seen the enemy.

..... being a prisoner of the Vietnamese and serving on the Senate Armed Services Committee does not automatically qualify one for the position of Commander-in-Chief -- understanding risks, gauging your opponents and being held accountable does. We must end this glib obeisance to sacrifice and ask deeper questions: is a man who sings "bomb, bomb, bomb ... bomb, bomb Iran" a man who understands risks? Is a man who says that we must keep our troops in Iraq until we achieve an ill-defined "victory" really know how to gauge America's opponents. If we want to hold people accountable, then let's stand behind my friend Wes Clark -- and hold John McCain accountable for what he's said.
General Wesley Clark, patriot and war hero, can take the full measure of the GOP's straw man candidate, John McCain. That's why the Republicans are desperate to disqualify Clark as a possible Vice-Presidential candidate.

But Progressives are standing up for the man who will stand up to John McCain. Here's a petition to Thank General Clark for His Straight Talk & Tell Him To Not Back Down. I have signed it, and so should all Progressives.

23 Moderated Comments:

Blogger Petrosexual said...

And thus the swiftboating of John McCain begins.

7/01/2008 06:19:00 AM  
Blogger Boris said...

No. It's just our heroes against your zeroes. McCain couldn't equal his father's and his grandfather's attainment of admiral. When told he would never make it, he retired from the Navy. Clark, OTOH, made it to become General. Four stars. Clark is presidential. McCain will always just be senatorial.

7/01/2008 06:29:00 AM  
Blogger Bob Keller said...

Gen. Clark's ego greatly exceeds his judgement. By making and repeating these comments Clark put himself on the center stage, hurting the Obama campaign and actually helping McCain.

Obama has now specifically rejected Clark's comments:

"HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Democrat Barack Obama rejected a retired general's suggestion that Republican John McCain's military experience didn't necessarily qualify him to be president"

And while you've lined up a nice series of supporting comments, the mainstream media, not to mention hundreds of conservative blog sites, have hundreds of retired military officers whose quotes are just as eloquent and, frnakly, more compelling.

One was Senator John Warner (whom you have often prised in this blog)

From the same AP article "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.

I've beaten this very dead horse enough. As I said over in my blog, you can bet the internal management of Obama's campaign has been seething over Clark's remarks. There is now zero chance of Clark being named VP, and the Secretary of Defense job is certainly no longer a lock.

7/01/2008 07:45:00 AM  
Blogger Yellow Dog said...

I have yet to find Obama's complete statement. The way I heard it, though, is that Obama didn't exactly slam the door in Clark's face. It's been common place in presidential politics for the vice-presidential candidate to be the attack dog. Obama could be the good cop and Clark the bad cop. IMO, Obama needs a little more fight in his campaign. Clark is a Clintonista, too!

7/01/2008 08:38:00 AM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Wizard, I've not begun to beat this horse to death. I'm convinced this hysterical reaction to Clark's words is just a preemptive attack on him, facilitated by the moronic stenographers who pose as journalists and pundits in our MSM. They have a vested interest as fight promoters. Their attitude is "Let's you and him fight!" They are useful idiots of some hidden hand that wants to see the aristocracy retain its grip on its awesome state power. And they have sucked you - of all people - into their maelstrom.

Look for yourself. I have taken the trouble to boldface what you have surely missed: General Wesley Clark has not disrespected Captain McCain. Far from it. He has paid dues respect.

You call yourself a Wizard? You are a dupe.

I like you. But some times you leave me completely befuddled.

7/01/2008 08:01:00 PM  
Blogger Buckeye said...

If anyone thinks Wes bashed McCain they ought to give this bad-ass a listen;

He makes Wes look like he's holding back so he gan get the veep seat.

I'd say McCain ought to be glad he's up against the Democrats considering how the republicans shredded him in '04.

7/01/2008 10:10:00 PM  
Blogger Blogging4Food said...

Vigil, you were too harsh on Wizard. Wiz just likes to push your buttons to get things started up. You shouldn't take things so seriously. Lighten up and play with your puppy more. You should treat us bipeds even better than you treat your quadrupeds! (Bark-Bark!)

7/02/2008 05:51:00 AM  
Blogger Indicted Plagiarist said...

Cold War Vet links to Vietnam Vets Against John McCain. This site was started by the late Col. David H. Hackworth, a very highly decorated vet from the Korean and Vietnam wars.

7/02/2008 06:12:00 AM  
Blogger Indicted Plagiarist said...

BTW, General Wesley Clark is also a highly decorated soldier: This is his Presidential Citation for the Silver Star:

The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star Medal to Wesley K. Clark, Captain (Armor), U.S. Army, for gallantry in action while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Company A, 1st Battalion (Mechanized), 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, on 19 February 1970. On this date, Captain Clark was serving as the platoon leader with his unit on a ground reconnaissance operation in an area of known enemy activity. As the friendly force maneuvered through the treacherous region, it was suddenly subjected to an intense small arms fire from a well-concealed insurgent element. Although painfully wounded in the initial volley, Captain Clark immediately directed his men on a counter-assault of the enemy positions. With complete disregard for his personal safety, Captain Clark remained with his unit until the reactionary force arrived and the situation was well in hand. His courageous initiative and exemplary professionalism significantly contributed to the successful outcome of the engagement. Captain Clark's unquestionable valor in close combat against a hostile force is in keeping with the finest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, the 1st Infantry Division, and the United States Army.

Headquarters, 1st Infantry Division, General Orders No. 2586 (February 26, 1970)

7/02/2008 06:22:00 AM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

That's good advice, Food-Blogger.

7/02/2008 08:53:00 AM  
Blogger Adynaton said...

If this means that General Clark is not going to be the VP, it's a shame. He might have brought the right-wingnut-vote for Obama big time and done a good job as well. Anyway, there is no such thing as a qualification for President of the United States to begin with, so I think that particular discussion is moot.

7/02/2008 09:02:00 AM  
Blogger Stella by Starlight said...

General Clark posted the McCain comment on his own blog, WesPAC 07.01.08.

John Roberts: Wesley Clark is not backing down. The retired Army general reiterates something that has ignited a political firestorm. Clark says, while he respects John McCain's military service, that military service does not automatically qualify McCain to be Commander in Chief. General, thanks for being with us today. You've been under a lot of fire since Sunday over some comments that you made talking with my former colleague Bob Schieffer on ...on Face the Nation. You were talking about John McCain's wartime experience and how you believe that that did not qualify him to be president on ...on its basic merits. Let's play that particular part of the interview where Bob Schieffer asked you a question about qualifications and you responded.



Bob Schieffer: I have to say, Barack Obama has not had any of those experiences either, nor has he ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down. I mean ...

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well, I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be President.

I voted for Clark in 2004. And, no, this isn't swiftboating. The swiftboaters lied their asses off: Clark is simply stating his opinion. Whether or not Clark becomes VP, I will still maintain my respect for him. And, yes, Vig, let's keep exposing anti-choice, kill 'em all McCain for what he is: McBush.

Oh, did I say great article?

7/02/2008 04:26:00 PM  
Blogger Stella by Starlight said...

McCain Watch

McCain Uses Swift Boat Vet Bud Day To Rebut Wesley Clark
June 30, 2008 06:05:31 AM EST

Sen. John McCain's campaign on Monday launched the McCain "Truth Squad" - a group of political and Vietnam contemporaries [goons?] who would counter attacks on the Senator's military record.

In hopes of nipping any criticism in the bud, the campaign brought on board a man quite familiar with how these types of attacks gain legs: Bud Day, a fellow POW who was part of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth that worked so hard to defame Sen. John Kerry's own Vietnam record.

That's the Swiftboating we're talking about, so, yes, it's the Swiftboating of McCain. Is he too inane to come up with another political tactic?

7/02/2008 05:09:00 PM  
Blogger Bob Keller said...

Barack Obama dropped 3 points in the latest Gallup Daily Tracking Poll, down to a lead of only 2 points (46% to 44%), well inside the margin of error and Obama's smallest lead since the tracking poll began.

You can lay that entire loss at the feet of General Clark, whose ego has him continuing to fuel a fire that is knocking Obama off the front page.

Obama planned (and executed) three brilliant speeches on Patriotism, Faith and Service and General Clark did something John McCain could never do... he upstaged Obama and stole the spotlight.

If Clark was any kind of a team player he would have kept quite for a few days and let the fire die. Instead he is still trying to fuel the fire.

My guess is that Clark never read Shakespeare who wrote, "Discretion is the better part of valor."

7/02/2008 09:59:00 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Thank you Stella, for your valuable, point-on support.

I'll say a few things before my 3rd Unit asks to be let out for the last time tonight.

1. I don't at all buy Wizard's claim that the Obama camp is alarmed or should be alarmed by Clark's statements about McCain. This claim is built on hearsay and inference. Obama is sufficiently adept to remain above and aloof over this fray (Clark vs. McCain) without having to 'renounce or denounce' Wes Clark. Wes Clark is already demonstrating his perfect fit as a Veep candidate: saying eloquently what the head of the ticket is reluctant to get into. It's not at all surprising that Wes Clark is the Republicans' least favored Democratic candidate for Vice President. Clark is their lightening rod. They have to disqualify him. No one else takes McCain's full measure as a military hero.

2. On Obama's choice of Vice President, I'll use a football metaphor. McCain lacks depth. Therefore, I do not want to see Obama, as quarterback, throw short passes, especially into the 'flats', for short yardage to attain field position. That would be playing it safe just to get elected. Barack should go long and score touchdowns. A lot of them, to run up the score. This is not a time to play it 'safe' and pick a Sam Nunn role player! Barack Obama should not be trying to 'balance a ticket' to insure a 13-12 final score. It's not being elected which should be Obama's preoccupation at this point. It should be ruling. He needs to put the best team on the field to help him govern. To fix up the FUBAR mess Busheney have left us with, he needs to suit up the varsity. And Wes Clark is a certified member of the Democratic varsity.

If Obama chooses a Sam Nunn or a Bill Richardson as a veep, I will fucking punt.

7/02/2008 11:02:00 PM  
Blogger GetaLife-ReadUrNews said...

Vigilante, the so-called rebuke of Clark comes from Obama spokesman Bill Burton:

"As he's said many times before, Senator Obama honors and respects Senator McCain's service, and of course he rejects yesterday's statement by General Clark."


7/03/2008 08:15:00 AM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

The Candidate, himself, said the General was artless. I don't agree. But 'artless' hardly rises to the level of renunciation, denounciation, repudiation, or rebuke. Still, I'm not replacing my Gore 2008 bumpersticker until such time as I can get a Obama-Clark '08 sticker. Wizard thinks that day will never come. I won't give up on Obama yet.

7/03/2008 09:45:00 AM  
Blogger Stella by Starlight said...

Wizard, this may be the one time I agree with Dick Cheney—"I think you cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls." I loathe the fact that he was speaking about the 2/3rds of Americans are against the war, and he doesn't give a damn. But he makes a point about polls.

Better yet, as Mark Twain wrote, "There's lies, damn lies, and statistics."

I suppose Clark DID slightly upstage Obama, but that speaks all the more to his dynamism. Obama immediately countered with his Obama vow: [to] boost funds to faith-based organizations.

Since the religious right is not prone to vote for McCain, I'd call this a canny move on Obama's part. Do I agree? No. I strongly believe in separation of church and state. But this move may shift the polls back.

Barak's proposed VP? I don't know. I do know that Obama's done a great job in this campaign despite the odds and attacks. So, let's not get ahead of ourselves. Clark or whoever, I think he'll probably make a good decision.

Campaigns are good to test the candidate's mettle and character to hold his/her ground. Except Bush, who had the presidency handed to him. There are a lot of factors that can shift polls. The best comment I can make about Obama's decision on VP is, "I just don't know."

Vig? “Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, Cocksucker, Motherfucker, Tits.” And a good weekend to all.

7/03/2008 11:52:00 AM  
Blogger J McKiernan said...


I've been out of the loop for a little while, and am glad to come back to such a great discussion.

Perhaps it's been said to death, but I wanted to throw a few words of support your way...

Vig, you are about as spot-on as you have ever been in your analysis of this Wesley Clark situation. Everything you have written is brilliant, and I echo every word of it.

I have taken issue with some of Clark's past statements, but this one was not only appropriate, fair, and completely within his rights to make, it is also not even astonishing that the right-wing hatchet machine has become so eerily vigilant that they are now jumping on Clark's ass for comments that aren't even inflammatory!

This uproar is utterly ridiculous, but it is just the beginning. The thugs will continue to nit-pick every last syllable that comes out of the mouth of anyone even tangentially associated with Barack Obama in an effort to take him down and continue their destructive agenda through electing John McCain...a candidate who, by the way, most die-hard conservatives refused to even consider mere months ago. And now, for the sake of continuing their catastrophic cause, they are back to defending him as if he were Dubya's twin brother.

7/03/2008 12:04:00 PM  
Blogger K McKiernan said...

Um, Excuse me?

I may go into a long dark depression if McCain is elected, but how can we talk about him not being a worthy candidate in general? He is not MY candidate, but how is he less entitled to run than any other candidate? McCain seems to have more experience and presidential guile than Huckabee or even Romney for goodness sake. And, what executive fodder does Obama have?

Please, don't make me have to defend McCain... that makes me wanna puke.

I want Obama since Clinton is out. But he is no more "presidential" than McCain, he is just a better human being with a more humanistic perspective on HOW to handle things than the old conservative codger would be.

7/03/2008 12:20:00 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

J-Mck, it's always gratifying for me to encounter your comments. Few people 'get' me more than you.

K-McK writes,

McCain is elected, but how can we talk about him not being a worthy candidate in general? He is not MY candidate, but how is he less entitled to run than any other candidate? McCain seems to have more experience and presidential guile than ... [others, etc.]

J-Mck has already answered your questions:

John McCain...a candidate who, by the way, most die-hard conservatives refused to even consider mere months ago.

That is exactly the point. Someone summed up the '08 Primaries as the Democrats choosing which candidate they wanted the most, and the Republicans choosing which candidate they disliked the least. McCain won that dubious honor.

It is not that he is less entitled to run, it's just that he capable as a candidate. I don't mean because of age, but because he's a sitting Senator of some longevity. For whatever reason, incumbent senators with one or more terms under their belts do not make successful Presidential contenders. Look at history. McCain is reprising John Kerry and Bob Dole before him. This circumstance is what disqualified Chris Dodd and Joe Biden from serious consideration. To a certain, lesser degree, this dragged at Hillary's sleeves. All these are good people, even very good people. They are simply disadvantaged as presidential candidates.

That McCain is the 'presumptive' winner of the Republican nomination is a sign of the GOP's extreme desperation this year. In short, actuarially, they picked a sure loser. They picked him because there was something worse with all of their alternatives.

I made some of these points when I wrote The Temporary Concession of the G.O.P.

I'm not saying Obama can't lose in '08. He can. I'm saying that he is not only the presumptive nominee of the Democratic party, he is also the presumptive winner of the general election. His is not to be messing around with minimalist preoccupations of a 'ticket-balancing' Veep nomination. He should be concerned about how to maximize the performance of his first four years in office. Circumstances call for bold and decisive measures. As a QB, he is well advised to go deep. The wide receiver he wants to find in the McCainsters' backfield is Wes Clark.

7/03/2008 08:58:00 PM  
Blogger Yellow Dog said...

I recommend Arianna Huffington's Post, Memo to Obama: Moving to the Middle is for Losers. Memorable bumperstickers:

.... the Obama campaign is making a very serious mistake. Tacking to the center is a losing strategy.

..... Fixating on -- and pandering to -- this fickle crowd is all about messaging tailored to avoid offending rather than to inspire and galvanize.

..... Realpolitik is one thing. Realstupidpolitik is quite another.

I hate to make a sour grapes statement at this point, but Hillary had more fight in her than Barack shows now.

7/05/2008 07:11:00 AM  
Blogger K McKiernan said...

Amen, Yellow Dog... A-fucking-men.


7/05/2008 07:03:00 PM  

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