09/18/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Playing The POW Card

"The race card" is considered taboo. Even to suggest someone is using race to attack a black candidate, regardless of its accuracy, is condemned. Black candidates are forced to ignore racial overtones in an opponent's campaign, simply to avoid being accused of "playing the race card." This allows the opponent to state all manner of racial innuendos without consequences. When Senator Obama said "they" will say he is "risky" because he "doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills," the McCain campaign immediately accused him of "playing the race card." However, anyone who has received the hundreds of racist emails against Obama knows that Obama was right. He simply was not referring to the official McCain campaign; he was referring to "they," which includes anyone who doesn't want him to be president.

This campaign has a new twist. McCain's campaign is using "the POW card" like a weapon, beating anyone who criticizes anything about Senator McCain as if to say that any doubts of McCain's honesty, ability, experience, leadership, and even his issue positions is disrespecting his military service. We saw this with the attacks against Retired General Wesley Clark when he said, accurately, "Well, I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president." The accusation was that General Clark was questioning McCain military service and heroism in his quote.

On a recent FoxNews Hannity & Colmes show, the hosts were discussing John Edwards' marital affair with guest panelists. Colmes then asked the panelists, "...if that's true and you can't trust somebody who had an affair, how can we trust John McCain to be President of the United States -- he cheated on by his own admission on his first wife, he didn't keep his martial vows, he didn't keep his pledge to his first family?" Hannity used the POW card by replying, "Thirty years ago after five-and-a half-years of being a POW." The video shows the blind acceptance of the POW excuse for every McCain wrongdoing by his surrogates.

The most blatant POW card play to date happened after the recent Saddleback Church event on Saturday, August 16th. When people questioned why Senator McCain was not in the "cone of silence" Pastor Warren said he was in, and was instead in his motorcade, capable of listening to Obama's interview to hear the questions in advance, Nicole Wallace, a spokesperson for the McCain campaign, said, "The insinuation from the Obama campaign that John McCain, a former prisoner of war, cheated is outrageous."

Apparently ex-prisoners of war never, ever, lie or cheat. To even suggest Senator McCain might have arrived late simply so he could listen to the questions in advance means you dishonor his military service and POW status. We are supposed to believe that he accidentally arrived late to the most important event so far of the general election, while he and all his aids resisted the temptation to listen to Obama's interview on the radio or watch it on the limo television.

We have heard constantly that McCain is "reluctant" to exploit his POW experience for political gain. Yet it has been the central theme of his campaigns. McCain has been inconsistent on every issue from offshore drilling to abortion, he has reversed his position on immigration, has been for and against tax cuts, claims to be a Bush loyalist and a maverick against Bush. The one thing he has been consistent about is the fact that he was a POW. A simple Google search shows McCain exploiting his "hero" status from his first Senatorial election to today, at every opportunity.

The questions are simple. Does being a military hero automatically make you presidential material? Does being held prisoner by an enemy make you "know how to win wars" or give you foreign policy experience? Does it make you "ready to lead?" Does it make you honest, unquestionably honorable, for the rest of your life? Should we take every POW in America and put them into Congress so we can transform our government into a zero-corruption enterprise?

It's time Obama supporters start accusing the McCain campaign of "using the POW card," dismissing these ridiculous attacks against any criticism of McCain as unfair weapons in a campaign that should be about issues.