Boy, talk about your echo chamber in the media. Yesterday, General Wesley Clark went on CBS' Face the Nation, and repeated something he's said many times before. If you missed it, here's the full quote in context :
Bob Schieffer: Well you, you went so far as to say that you thought John McCain was, quote, and these are your words, "untested and untried," And I must say I, I had to read that twice, because you're talking about somebody who was a prisoner of war. He was a squadron commander of the largest squadron in the Navy. He's been on the Senate Armed Services Committee for lo these many years. How can you say that John McCain is un- untested and untried? General?
GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: 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-'
Bob Schieffer: Well-
GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: ' -it publicly.' He hasn't made those calls, Bob.
So, in short, General Clark respects John McCain's service, calls him a hero to millions, but notes that experience doesn't make him qualified to be Commander in Chief.
Now, VoteVets.org isn't getting into the presidential race, but I don't see what is so wrong about what General Clark said. And yet, immediately and unsurprisingly, the McCain campaign let loose with a response that expressed shock and dismay. Almost right after that, all of the media was up in arms about how 'wrong' this was. Pretty disappointingly, even progressive surrogates couldn't muster the strength to back up General Clark on TV.
This wasn't a swift boating, or any low politics. General Clark called McCain a hero to millions for his sacrifice. And, that's a pretty big statement coming from a man who, himself, left Vietnam on a stretcher. But, facts 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.
Senator McCain is running on his experience, saying it makes him ready to lead right away. By doing so, he is asking people to look at what that experience taught him. By looking at Senator McCain's positions and votes (or lack of them), it seems that experience has not given him the right judgment on important issues of our time. And, while we should all honor Senator McCain's service, that doesn't mean we should necessarily honor it by putting him in the White House to take up George W. Bush's third term.
So, General Clark is 100 percent absolutely right, and he should not back down. I'd hope that some of the so-called progressives on television back him up on this, and not get intimidated by the media and McCain campaign press releases. These are important times, and deserve a blunt and honest debate.
In some circles, that's just called 'straight talk.'
UPDATE: Since a lot of you are sending words of support on here for General Clark, we started a petition where you can sign to thank him, and tell him to keep it up. We will take the petition to General Clark, personally. Also, it's important to sign, so we can show the media that we've got his back.