Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Irony of Reversal

In 2004 we had one candidate who had served valiantly in Vietnam, and another candidate who hadn't and who had to be eager to nullify this advantage. In 2008 we have one candidate who served valiantly in Vietnam and another candidate who hadn't and who has to be eager to nullify this advantage.

In 2004 we had a group come out and tell a lot of phony baloney stories about John Kerry, saying that he wasn't really a war hero. They defamed his character and attacked him viciously. This was all fair play.

In 2008, General Wesley Clark has suggested that, despite his service, Senator John McCain may not be the ideal commander in chief. He made some comments on Face the Nation in regards to John McCain's readiness to serve (to watch the video, via Talking Points Memo, click here). People went crazy about this bizarre attack on the qualifications of a veteran, so he released a press release clarifying his position.
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.
This is of course an unprecedented attack on the patriotism of a legitimate war hero. Worthy of discussion for several days. Heck it got so bad, that McCain had to bring in Bud Day, formerly affiliated with the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, to defend himself.

Of course some niggling nebbishs have pointed out that the attacks of Wesley Clark are far from as personal and nasty as the attacks launched by the Swift Boat Vets. I mean they called into question his service and his honor, saying he hadn't earned his medals and that he was kind of a coward and braggart. They attacked his service directly.

Well the right has an answer to those nebbishs; the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth were telling the Truth. They have truth right in their name. Now granted, any reasonable person who looked at the factual claims of the Swift Boat Vets and compared them to the counter evidence would come to the conclusion that the Swift Boat Vets were full of crap. But you aren't one of the reasonable people are you? Of course not.

I suspect this will be a short term issue. I think it's great that Clark is standing up to the attacks, and I agree with him.

Look McCain's service in the military is a mark of courage. It's a mark of character. I can't imagine the torture that McCain went through and chose to stay with to support his fellow troops. It shows character. If we were electing somebody to go to show courage in a prisoner of war camp, I'd elect McCain over Obama in a heart beat.

But you have to look at the full picture. Yes McCain is heroic, yes he loves his country, yes he has great character. But Obama, while not having the same opportunity to prove his physical courage, has shown that he loves his country and that he has great character. And when comparing Obama's judgment to McCain's, well, Obama comes up as a winner, in my opinion.

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