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.)
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.
Salt Lake City, UT
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.
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.
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.
San Francisco, CA
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.
Colorado Springs, CO
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.
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