In "If Clark is the VP-choice, Here are Some Contrasts with McCain" (August 16, 2008), there was a list of contrasts to John McCain, each one of which could have been elaborated upon to fill an entire article. Some were military, others character, still others "civilian." By all those accounts McCain pales in comparison to Clark.
It could have been added that Clark had several appointments that required Senate approval. McCain never did. Clark was approved by a voice vote of the Republican-controlled Senate to be Supreme Allied Commander Europe. John McCain was part of that Republican-controlled Senate.
But, the selection of Wesley Clark as Barack Obama's VP running mate will have another consequence that the McCain camp could not survive.
Inevitably, inexorably, indubitably the military records of these two men will be opened, examined, sliced and diced and compared by the press. Enormous pressure will build on McCain to sign a release form that allows access to all his military records, a step he has never taken.
Even George W Bush was pressured into releasing his records, and shame on the Kerry campaign for not pointing out, for example, that Bush checked the "no" box when asked if he would volunteer for overseas duty; that Bush decided for himself not to take a physical, the first airman in military history to determine which regulations he would, and would not, follow, and so on.
The pressure on Bush came from his opponent being a war hero himself.
Despite his imprisonment in North Vietnam, there is reason to believe that McCain's entire military record will not look very good compared to Wes Clark's. Included in such documents will be the planes McCain crashed, his overall behavior and demeanor, comments upon his leadership potential by commanding officers, his temper and other events we can only surmise.
The Republican 527s will, as they did with John Kerry, feel compelled to bring down Wes Clark. After all, he was shot in 4 places while he continued to lead his troops out of harm's way and defeat the attacking Viet Cong contingent for which he was awarded a Silver Star. Clark rose in the ranks to become a 4-star General and, as Supreme Allied Commander Europe, conducted the entire Kosovo war without a single US casualty.
Democratic groups will have no choice but to insist that the sun shine on McCain's record as well.
As McCain's military record is shown not to match up to Clark's, his only appeal for the presidency will fade into the shadows.
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