Jul 1 2008
09:47 am

As a veteran (Desert Storm) myself, I get cranky when Democrats tuck tail on issues related to the military. As Brandon Friedman states eloquently on the Vote Vets blog, there is no reason to cede authority on military matters just because of John McCain's service during Vietnam. Republicans sure didn't respect John Kerry's service during Vietnam. Wes Clark came home from Vietnam wounded, too. Let's respect his view, not only as a wounded vet, but also as a senior commander who handled the Balkans and Kosovo.

more from votevets: votevets.org blog, vetvoice.: (sorry, can't make links into the specific blog post work.)

Brandon Friedman:
We've heard from the pundits, the "strategists," and the politicians all day long on Wesley Clark's recent comments.
That said, I've been terribly disappointed by the Democratic "strategists" who've fallen all over themselves in order to talk about how sacred military service is--specifically John McCain's--and how awful General Wesley Clark's comments were, even though not one "strategist" that I've listened to today has ever served a minute in uniform. These ignorant, knee-jerking consultants on TV have been in an apparent race to concede ultimate authority on military matters to John McCain and the Republican Party since Sunday night. It's disgusting. And these concessions have been so over-the-top destructive to our long-term plans for running the country, that I'm not even sure where to begin.

The bottom line is this: If Democrats tuck tail and run from Republicans in this instance, we run the risk of ceding authority on military issues to John McCain for the rest of the campaign. Whether you like Clark or not, everyone has an interest in defending him vigorously in this case. We cannot allow the Right and the media to get away with trashing the first guy to come out in prime time to slam McCain's military "expertise." If our organizations don't defend Clark as being right in this case, we give in to the idea that Republicans are the parents in terms of national defense, and Democrats are the children--something those on the Right will be more than happy to reinforce.

This idea that we can't question someone's expertise on military matters simply because they served could very easily become the next "whoever is against the war is unpatriotic" mantra. And that's not something I'm prepared to accept.

more after the flip.

Here are a handful of the messages we've received at VoteVets.org since this morning. Judge for yourselves what the troops who are left-of-center think about this whole deal.

General Clark was right. Service as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces is only one of the roles of a president. General Clark did not attack Senator McCain's ability to be president, he simply pointed out that his military service does not inherently qualify him for that role.
Chris LeJeune
Salt Lake City, UT
Iraq Veteran

General Clark is right. We should honor the service of any veteran who has suffered in war, but I don't think that in itself qualifies one to be the Commander-in-Chief. And that's the point General Clark was making. He wasn't attacking Senator McCain personally, and anyone who says otherwise is being disingenuous.
Patrick Almand
Dallas, TX
Iraq Veteran

General Clark is on point in his comments about Senator McCain. There are many fine leaders in the military. Some--like Senator McCain--have persevered through the most terrible of circumstances. They are all heroes, but they do not necessarily possess the skills to lead the free world. If Senator McCain really wants to show his Commander-in-Chief credentials, perhaps he should start advocating for a sound national security strategy, rather than marching in the proverbial formation of eight years of failed Bush administration policy.
Richard Smith
Huntsville, AL
Afghanistan Veteran

Combat veterans understand that General Clark did not denigrate Senator McCain's honorable service to this nation. In fact, it's Senator McCain's lack of support for the troops--like his opposition to the new GI Bill until recently--which dishonors and dismisses the selfless sacrifices made by our brave men and women in uniform. General Clark understands these things and is never hesitant to speak out about them. General Clark has our back and I have his.
Ernesto Estrada
San Francisco, CA
Iraq Veteran
Marine Corps

General Clark's criticism is accurate and well-founded. No one is disputing the fact that Senator McCain served his nation with honor, and I am forever grateful for his sacrifice. That being said, the question at hand is whether the senator's military service alone qualifies him to serve as Commander-in-Chief. Despite Senator McCain's horrific experiences in Vietnam, during his tenure in the Senate, he has been a staunch advocate of the disastrous war in Iraq and the Bush administration's failed foreign policy. Senator McCain did not support the Webb-Hagel G.I. Bill or the dwell-time amendment, either of which would have reduced some measure of the emotional and financial stress on active duty service members and veterans. General Clark was not attacking John McCain's military service--he was questioning whether he learned anything from that experience.
Casey Howard
Colorado Springs, CO
Iraq Veteran

In no way has General Clark questioned the honorable service or the patriotism of Captain McCain. Rather, he questioned the judgment of Senator McCain who has foolishly endorsed the failed neo-conservative foreign policy of the Bush administration.
Peter Granato
Washington, DC
Iraq Veteran

Sven's picture

I like Wes Clark, and the

I like Wes Clark, and the McCainiac reaction to his comments is, as usual, romper room stupid. But as Andrew Bacevich points out, Clark is responsible as anyone for the recent surge of unthinking militarism into politics.

The Democrats have got to figure out a way of projecting competence and confidence in military matters without reinforcing this man-on-a-horse, Tippecanoe-and-Tyler-Too bullshit.

tin cup's picture

No reason to tuck tail.......

Squirrel, here's the problem. The Dem's can say there's no reason to cede authority on military matters. The fact is they have ceded credibility on military matters - and patriotism whether they like it or not - to the GOP. It has nothing to do with John McCain's POW status or his military record. In fact, it has nothing to do with John McCain at all. Rather, it has to do with Moveon.org's "General Betray Us" ad and the party leaders' unwillingness to denounce it (including Hillary, Barrack, Harry, et al). It has to do with John Murtha's quick guilty judgment of our military personnel when in fact they turned out to be innocent. It has to do with 04 Dem candidate John Kerry's statement about our military terrorizing innocent women and children in the Iraqi night. Oh, and yea, it did get under people's skin that he threw his medals away out of protest and sold his fellow military buddies out on TV. It has to do with the Clinton's statement about "loathing the military" in the 90's. It has to do with Obama's preacher of 20 years denouncing (and blaming) America (G.D. America!). But Barrack couldn't have known...Huh?! It has to do with the Left's glee with the Supreme Court decision to allow POW's at Guantanimo the right to trial in our court system. It has to do with the Left's willingness to hamstring our intelligence community from conducting surveillance without the threat of lawsuit.

What's laughable is that with these last two issues, the Left will say that they're protecting our constitutional rights even though it may be painful. These same hypocrits have no problem, in the next breath, favoring the so-called "fairness doctrine" which blatantly removes first amendment rights.

I'm sorry, Squirrel. Call me an ignorant hillbilly or even racist as some have. I don't respect John Kerry. I don't respect Wes Clark or Hillary or Harry or Nancy P. or Barrack. The only thing I respect about what you wrote is your service. I thank you for that.

Konalicious's picture

There's some truth there...

I agree that it's sad that Dem. party leaders, in their cowardice, chose to condemn MoveOn for being truthful.
But that's how it is in Righty land. The truth means nothing. It's what Righty wants to hear that's important.

Don't try to turn it around, man.
The Dems haven't ceded credibility on military matters. How could they? They're the ones who served. How many Repigs in our government served in the military? Five maybe? Six?

No, the problem is that Democrats see the military as a force to protect America and the Repigs see it as a force to wipe their fascist ass with.
That's why a majority of Americans are against the way BushCo has manipulated and abused and essentially murdered our military personnel.

It's all about McCain and the Dems should stand up for what's true. McCain's alleged military experience is no more a qualification for the white house than Bosnia Betty's sniper fire was.
If anything, it just means he's a lousy pilot.

Rachel's picture

It has to do with the Left's

It has to do with the Left's glee with the Supreme Court decision to allow POW's at Guantanimo the right to trial in our court system.

Are you referring to the most recent habeas decision? Because that's not what it did. It simply gave the detainees (and BTW, the U.S. does NOT consider them POWs - then they'd be covered by the Geneva Conventions) the right to go to court to challenge the basis of their detentions - in other words, to force the govt to tell them WHY they are classified as unlawful combatants.

And BTW, like Wes Clark, I honor John McCain's service. But I don't think that being shot down in a fighter jet qualifies someone to be president.

Carole Borges's picture

I think the saying went...

"My country right or wrong."

I guess that's the way you see things, but I wish more people could realize everything doesn't have to be black or white like that.

The instances you cite are hardly instances that prove Democrats lack military credibility or a deeply patriotic past. They're just things people said, not what people did. The Republican admiinstration under Bush has actually acted in ways that were not only unpatriotic, but also criminal.

General Taguba reported when investigating torture. "There is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account."

Compare that to any offhand comment made by a Democrat and the whole he-said, she-said bit seems ridiculously silly.

ma am's picture

Fight back

It is the media. The Dems then cowtow to the media, swallowing their false assertations that "the people" are upset with Wes Clark (or whatever is the controversy of the day).

We can change this. Take action by 1) commenting on media message boards 2) writing the media to express your displeasure with their "liberal bias" 3) writing your politicians 4) turning off the media 5) turn to blogs instead 6) spread the word -- revolt against the media!

tin cup's picture

A lousy pilot?????

A guy goes to Vietnam to fight for your freedom and mine, flies very dangerous missions over Hanoi, gets shot down and spends 5 years being tortured by the communists. "If anything, it just means he's a lousy pilot?!"

All you L-Wingers have to do is open your mouth and you answer your own questions. I'm offended by such a cavalier remark about a true American war hero.

As far as the way "BushCo has manipulated and abused and murdered our military personnel"......Let's bet on how the military votes in this election. Military personnel voted overwhelmingly for Bush in 00 and even more overwhelmingly in 04. (Even though Gore did try to disenfranchise them in Florida in 00.) McCain will win at least 60% of the military vote in this election. Those mean fascists!!

tin cup's picture

Not POW's

Take another pill, Rach. If they're caught fighting our troops on the battlefield without a uniform, they should be executed by firing squad on the spot (i.e., blind folded and shot in the head on the battlefield). That's how these things were handled in past wars. Look it up. Whether it's about POW's or a habeas decision or just forcing our gov't to tell ALL of them why they're being held as unlawful combatants, this is a loser for the demos.

And I never said McCain's service or having been shot down and tortured as a POW qualified him to be president. In fact, I don't believe that. I do believe he's earned the right and respect not to be written off as a "lousy pilot" by some left wing kook like Kona-head. "McCain's alleged military experience?!!!" Do you think Konalips really means that, Rach?!

R. Neal's picture

Uh, oh. He called her

Uh, oh. He called her "Rach".

Rachel's picture

Yup, and that means war. Or

Yup, and that means war. Or something.

As to the POW/unlawful combatants/habeas etc. issues, it just seems that if you're gonna yammer about something you should know what you're yammering about.

Don't understand why I need to take a pill for just stating the facts.

rocketsquirrel's picture

y'know, beyond what Wes

y'know, beyond what Wes Clark said about just being a fighter pilot not qualifying one to be president, it is indeed possible that McCain's 5 and 1/2 years in captivity don't make him the best possible choice for president. let's discuss that. or is that off the table?

I'm concerned that my president not have emotional or mental problems as a result of being a POW.

Sarge's picture

Hey rocketsquirrel, you just

Hey rocketsquirrel, you just nailed the right issue, McCain could be the Manchurian Candidate as far as I know.

Bbeanster's picture

It's Republicans who have

It's Republicans who have smeared McCain over his military service.

Nothing Wes Clark said compares to what Rove did to McCain during the South Carolina GOP primary fight in 2000 -- the Bush campaign cranked out push polls full of insinuations that McCain's years in captivity had left him mentally unhinged and were a campaign staple.

That and stories about his "black" adopted daughter.


Johnny Ringo's smart and fun to argue with, Half Cup. Why don't you ask him to teach you how.

ANGRYWOLF's picture

I don't see it as a smear...

Being a fighter pilot who scored low at the academy and was disliked by his peers doesn't make McCain a wise person in the mantel of past great American Presidents.He has already shown poor judgment with Charlie Black, Phil Graham and several of Bushco's neocons and now this foul swift boat fellow on his side as well....and he has a 95 percent voting rating with Bush in the last year or so.McCain is not the maverick he claims.He's simply more of the same.The same neocons who were like rabid dogs, foaming at the mouth to attack Iraq are foaming at the mouth to attack Iran and we simply can't afford another mistake of that magnitude.

tin cup's picture

I repeat

I repeat.....a "lousy pilot" and alleged military experience???!!! Now we're talking possible mental problems as a result of 5 1/2 years in captivity? Is there evidence of that?

I am an undecided voter. I know I will not vote for Obama. I may not vote at all so I'm not exactly on McCain's presidential bandwagon. But to use Squirrel's term, I get cranky when I see L wingers like Bean Head whining about who they like to argue with while ignoring the fact that all their friends are throwing BS mud at a decorated war hero.

Hayduke's picture

I haven't seen any evidence

I haven't seen any evidence of mental problems. He was a jerk when he was young and it still comes out some times, but he seems to have been improved by the experience in captivity. He deserves credit sticking it out when he had the option to come home. Credit, not the presidency.

Lousy pilot is probably fair. "Ace" McCain went through four planes before he got shot down in the fifth. He was cleared of any wrongdoing in the Forestall disaster, but the flameout joyriding to a football game is suspicious and the illegal low flight into power lines was all him.

And he finished 8th from the bottom of his Naval Academy class (which he made it into only because his father and grandfather were admirals). Surely we can do better than another C student.

Factchecker's picture

(Possible OT alert!) Mr. Tin Pan Alley...

I get cranky when I see L wingers like Bean Head whining about who they like to argue with while ignoring the fact that all their friends are throwing BS mud at a decorated war hero.

But you obviously don't mind thowing "BS mud" if it's directed at a Democratic war hero. Or if it's being thrown at McCain by the hard right.

Factchecker's picture

Another view

See this Slate article for a rationale, but here's an excerpt:

McCain, as [Clark] noted, has never held a position of command. Clark, on the other hand, has held many—not just as a company commander in Vietnam and at Ft. Knox but also as the supreme allied commander in Europe and, in that capacity, as the commander of the air war in Kosovo.

Johnny Ringo's picture

And yet another

Also from Slate:

But at the same time, his [Wesley Clark's] methods led him into a propagandistic press strategy that was transparent to anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to the war. And they hurt him in U.S. military circles, where he was considered a showboating egotist and a devious political operator.

rocketsquirrel's picture

Republican Senator Thad

Republican Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi reports witnessing John McCain assault a foreign official in 1987, according to MSNBC.

I'd put that in the "mentally unstable" department.

And this is not coming from leftwingers, either. This was a diplomatic mission to Nicaragua led by Senator Bob Dole.

The fact that it was an associate of Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega, who was indeed re-elected in 2006, does make this an issue for today. Who will be the first in the media to ask McCain, "if elected, do you plan on physically roughing up foreign officials when you travel on diplomatic missions?

"McCain was down at the end of the table and we were talking to the head of the guerrilla group here at this end of the table and I don't know what attracted my attention," Cochran said in an interview with the Sun Herald in Biloxi, Miss. "But I saw some kind of quick movement at the bottom of the table and I looked down there and John had reached over and grabbed this guy by the shirt collar and had snatched him up like he was throwing him up out of the chair to tell him what he thought about him or whatever ...

"I don't know what he was telling him but I thought, 'Good grief, everybody around here has got guns and we were there on a diplomatic mission.' I don't know what had happened to provoke John, but he obviously got mad at the guy ... and he just reached over there and snatched ... him."

Factchecker's picture

Here we go

Except your Slate opinion was written in 2001 by a senior editor at The Weekly Standard. I'll put Kaplan's credentials up against Christopher Caldwell's any day of the week. Caldwell's bio is short enough to copy here:

Christopher Caldwell is a senior editor at The Weekly Standard, as well as a regular contributor to the Financial Times and Slate. His writing also frequently appears in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, where he is a contributing editor to the paper's magazine, and the The Washington Post. He was also a regular contributor to The Atlantic Monthly and The New York Press in the past.

Caldwell is a graduate of Harvard College, where he studied English literature. His father-in-law is the journalist Robert Novak. He has five children.

Wow. That's impressive. They forgot to put the quote marks around journalist in front of Novak's name, though. I added the bold.

But feel free to trot out your Clark bashing as soon as he gets on Obama's ticket. More relevant, I think you'd do better to get over your obsessive hate for Obama. It's clearly unwarranted and maybe pathological.

Pam Strickland's picture

I agree w/ what Clark said

I agree w/ what Clark said about McCain's military experience. I don't, however, agree that he should be on the Obama ticket. He's got a bit of a temper, and a bad habit of putting his foot in his mouth.

Pam Strickland

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." ~Kurt Vonnegut

Johnny Ringo's picture

More relevant, I think you'd

More relevant, I think you'd do better to get over your obsessive hate for Obama. It's clearly unwarranted and maybe pathological.

If you want to search my posts here or anyone else regarding Obama, I think you'll find that the only things I've said about him is that he's nothing more than an ordinary politician, with some pretty ordinary standard-issue liberal-Democratic party ideas, albeit a politician possessed of extraordinary communication skills and charisma. I guess for some, however, suggesting that Obama isn't the Second Coming qualifies as "obsessive hatred." I guess I'll let others judge for themselves.

Making wild, false, uninformed and unsupported charges that a politcal party has done away with the civil tort damages system, however, qualifies as obsessive and perhaps pathological hatred of that political party in my book, but hey - YMMV.

Johnny Ringo's picture

Here's some more obsessive

Here's some more obsessive and perhaps pathological hatred of Obama, for your teeth-grinding pleasure. Enjoy!

Factchecker's picture

Hot-heads are DISqualified

...grabbed this guy by the shirt collar and had snatched him up like he was throwing him up out of the chair to tell him what he thought about him or whatever ...

"I don't know what he was telling him but I thought, 'Good grief, everybody around here has got guns and we were there on a diplomatic mission.' I don't know what had happened to provoke John, but he obviously got mad at the guy ... and he just reached over there and snatched ... him."

Very nice. Just the guy you want to have a finger on the nuclear war button.

tin cup's picture

Well said, JR.......

Well said, Johnny Ringo. I'm told you can be my mentor. At least give me lessons..............

I do think the real Obama will do himself in. And, no, he's not terrorist as Mr. [Democrat] Hobbs has suggested. But he is very liberal (OK if that's what you want), very inexperienced (not OK in today's world), not principled (flip flopper for political expedience - to lapel pin or not to lapel pin, that is the question), questionable judgment (20 yrs with Rev. Wright?), etc., etc., etc.

The real shame = if Obama loses, McCain wins.

Factchecker's picture

...charges that a politcal

...charges that a politcal party has done away with the civil tort damages system, ...

They have tried and want (proudly, I might add) to do that. What's the real difference? I do hate the GOP, at least the modern hard right, neocon, fundamentalist one. Not the one Goldwater knew. They've earned the scorn of all patriotic Americans. Ditto Bush and Cheney. They earned it too in damages to country and Constitution.

I won't dignify the rest and Tin Alley's tripe with comment.

Johnny Ringo's picture

They have tried and want

They have tried and want (proudly, I might add) to do that. What's the real difference?

If you had thanked the GOP earlier for the virtual extinction of the right to abortion, what would the difference have been? Nothing. It would be equally true that the GOP has sought such things, and that they have failed in both regards.

The difference between a party standing for something and actually accomplishing it is, I think, pretty major. To suggest that it has been accomplished simply because it has been advocated is reckless at the very least.

FWIW I don't hate Obama or the Democratic Party. And I agree with Tin Cup that McCain ain't no prize either. But I will always try to at least have some factual basis when I make an accusation. If I came on this board an asserted that the US had paid reparations to the decendants of slaves for the sin of slavery, and then tried to justify the fact that I was dead wrong factually by saying "well, some Democrats have advocated for it, so what's the difference?" I would get hooted off this board, and rightfully so.

You have the right to your own opinions. You do not have the right to your own facts. That's the difference.

Hayduke's picture

>>You do not have the right

>>You do not have the right to your own facts. <<

That's pre-911 thinking.

Johnny Ringo's picture

That's why you love me.

That's why you love me.

Factchecker's picture

You're splitting some very

You're splitting some very fine hairs. A major plank of the modern GOP has been to gut the ability for citizens as individuals or groups to legally challenge corporate behavior and its effects. They're proud of this. I think it's digusting. What do you think of it?

I'm not sure anyone knows all the shit the GOP has stuck into federal legislation to achieve this, but at best there's a bad name associated with anyone who wants to challenge business, and he/she is ridiculed and demeaned, at least by Republicans like yourself. Witness John Edwards.

Moreover the intent and motives are still there. There's a difference in effect between murder and attempted murder, but the latter is still a crime. Do you want to coddle attempted murderers? I want to charge them with attempted murder.

You are hooted off this board. Routinely. Are you a masochist?

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