Monday, June 30, 2008

Wrong again Obama

By Libby

I just don't get it. I'm beginning to think that the Democratic party has entered into some kind of unholy pact to lose elections. What happened to that savvy candidate I voted for in the primary? I mean, I understand the need to push back against bad narratives in the internet age, but Obama's rapid response on Wes Clark's remark is so wrong. Michael Scherer reports:
Sure enough, just as I was about to publish this blog post, I got an email from Obama spokesman Bill Burton: "As he's said many times before, Senator Obama honors and respects Senator McCain's service, and of course he rejects yesterday's statement by General Clark."
I've already addressed this both at the Detroit News and at Newshoggers this morning. McCain's military service record shouldn't be an issue in this campaign but McCain himself has made it a central part of his "experience" argument and the media echoes it ad infinitum. You can't just ignore it when he's using it as his prime qualifier for office.

Clark was right. Getting shot down and spending five years as a POW is not the kind of experience that qualifies someone to make command decisions in military conficts. Nothing in McCain's military past qualifies as high level leadership experience and Obama allows him to paint it as so at his own peril.

I would go even further and say, in agreement with Jill, that McCain's POW status doesn't even qualify him as a "war hero." He was a victim of the war, he didn't save any lives while he was sitting in a cage in the jungle. That's not to say his contribution to that war wasn't worthwhile, or lacking in courage, just that it wasn't heroic in the customary sense. In fact, the claim diminishes the real heroism of the men who spent their years in the Nam in actual combat.

I don't expect it's politically expedient for Obama to go that far in challenging McCain's "war credentials" but in meekly accepting the false experience narrative he leaves himself looking afraid to fight back against McCain's implication that he lacks the guts to make tough decisions.

Update: I see Fogg and I are on the same wavelength here but as usual, Fogg says it better.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree completely, Libby. But the easily swayed American public, who don't know any better, equate "any" military service with heroism for some reason and I think Obama's handlers were afraid that any criticism of McCain's service will be viewed as unpatriotic by a largely ignorant voting public. And they're probably right.
You're best point is that this emphasis on his POW time as heroic undermines the true heroism of so many who were in ground combat and helicopter duty. As if somehow, getting caught is the sign of a hero.

5:23:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

That point has been bothering me today. I kind of just made the connection and realized how it disses the men and women that actually did commit acts of heroism.

6:09:00 PM  
Blogger rockync said...

I think most of us with more than two brain cells understand what Gen Clark was saying and that was simply that being a fighter pilot shot down and held as a POW doesn't make him any more capable of being president than someone with no military service. This was not meant to minimize McCain's service or his suffering - just a statement of clear fact. I am disappointed that Obama caved so quickly. I'm beginning to get disillusioned and am not looking forward to this election at all.

7:37:00 PM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

Even Randi Rhodes was yelping at Clark on Air America this afternoon. Some kind of blabber about how one man's service is as good as another's - but of course that's not the point is it? This isn't a hero contest and we're not looking for a hero, and we're not having a patriotism contest -- we're looking for a president: a competent president who knows how things work.

10:18:00 PM  
Blogger Swampcracker said...

I will not second-guess Obama on this issue; he has run a nearly flawless campaign while maintaining a high ethical standard ... even in the face of an anticipated sleazy Republican counter offensive. Have some confidence in Obama if, indeed, he is your choice.

Meanwhile, Clark is sticking to his earlier statement: A former POW is no more qualified to be president than a mugging victim is qualified to be mayor.

So why should Obama engage in a mud fight when the generals will do the job for him? Friends and countrymen/women, meet your new commander-in-chief.

11:38:00 PM  
Blogger QueersOnTheRise said...

The motives of those who want to portray McCain as a hero, (or those who said Kerry was a hero before the Swift Boat fiasco), or Bush 41 or Bob Dole, or JFK, etc., etc., are irrelevant.

The fact of the matter is that if Obama were to publicly agree with Clark, he would be crucified, and it just might be the beginning of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. If Obama wants to win, and then serve EFFECTIVELY, he will have to play these games from time to time. While sad and pathetic, complete honesty in election campaigns is a nearly impossible winning strategy.

My fellow Obama supporters, or McCain detractors -- it's good to be right, but not dead right.

7:13:00 AM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...


I like your take on this - maybe I've been underestimating Obama.

8:12:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

I understand the delicate balance Obama has to strike between pushing back on the experience meme and being portrayed as a war hero basher by the media. I still think the initial response was wrong in undercutting Clarke. They should have noted immediately that the remark was taken out of context and Clarke was clearly NOT attacking McStain's war record.

They did better in the followup. I have a link to Axelrod on some teevee show that made the distinction more clear and I found a statement by Clarke this morning that was really good. All of which I'll be posting somewhere today.

But great points everybody. It's good I suppose to remember that it's early in the game yet and all of this will be mainly forgotten by Sept.

9:51:00 AM  
Blogger talzhan said...

John McCain did honorable service in Viet Nam, and survived tortures that would have driven me mad, or dead. He was a hero of mine for years, until details of the Enterprise fire leaked out. That was tough.

I've wondered over the years, what torture could do to a man, how things might get rather twisted up in the mind that has to deal with
unrelenting pain, and suffering. More than a few medical careers have been built on these concerns.

So, it is with respect for my country's future that the question needs to be addressed, fully in the public view.

Why does John McCain have an anger management problem?

1:13:00 PM  
Blogger rockync said...

Good question, Talzhan. And I think this goes back to what Gen Clark was trying to point out; while his service and suffering should not be minimized, they should NOT be used as qualifications to be president. He wasn't the only POW during the Viet Nam War. He was fortunate to have plenty of money and influence through his parents and his current wife to deal with or cover up lingering issues, unlike many other vets who end up homeless, mentally ill or dead from suicide.

2:02:00 PM  
Blogger Swampcracker said...

He was fortunate to have plenty of money and influence through his parents and his current wife to deal with or cover up lingering issues

rockync, actually McCain was still married to his first wife, Carol, who had a terrible accident while John McCain was still a POW. The full story is here

And here is a quote from the above referenced article:

But Ross Perot, who paid her medical bills all those years ago, now believes that both Carol McCain and the American people have been taken in by a man who is unusually slick and cruel – even by the standards of modern politics.

‘McCain is the classic opportunist. He’s always reaching for attention and glory,’ he [Ross Perot] said.

A sinister picture, one might say. This aspect of McCain's personality needs to be spread around the Internet.

4:18:00 PM  
Blogger Swampcracker said...

An article just appeared at Huffington reminding readers that John McCain campaigned AGAINST Tammy Duckworth, the young war hero who lost both her legs in the Iraq War:

In 2006, the Senator appeared at a late-stage but crucial fundraiser for Illinois Rep. Pete Roskam, who was being challenged by Democrat Tammy Duckworth, a veteran who had lost both her legs in Iraq. The nail-biter campaign for the open seat, which was won by Roskam with 51 percent of the vote, was marked by heated rhetoric over service and war. Roskam, who won the endorsement of the organization Veterans of Foreign Wars, accused Duckworth of wanting to cut-and-run from Iraq. McCain held his fundraiser shortly thereafter.

See, folks, there is enough dirt on McCain for the netroots to muster. Meanwhile Obama can keep his hands clean.

4:31:00 PM  
Blogger QueersOnTheRise said...

But McCain's Roskam-Duckworth defense will be easy: McCain's a Republican campaigning for a Republican.

Talzhan - can you give me a link that summarizes the Enterprise fire? I'm unfamiliar with it.

6:47:00 AM  
Blogger Swampcracker said...

QOTR, is this the story you were interested in? Excerpt:

WMR also cited the potential that McCain's Navy records were used against him by the neocons in control of the Pentagon, 'The neo-cons, who have had five years to examine every file within the Department of Defense, have likely accessed documents that could prove embarrassing to McCain, who was on board the USS Forrestal on July 29, 1967, and whose A-4 Skyhawk was struck by an air-to-ground Zuni missile that had misfired from an F-4 Phantom.'

WMR has been informed that crewmen aboard the Forrestal have provided additional information about the Forrestal incident. It is believed by many crewmen and those who have investigated the case that McCain deliberately 'wet-started' his A-4E to shake up the guy in the plane behind his A-4. 'Wet-starts', done either deliberately or accidentally, shoot a large flame from the tail of the aircraft.

In McCain's case, the 'wet-start' apparently 'cooked off' and launched the Zuni rocket from the rear F-4 that touched off the explosions and massive fire. The F-4 pilot was reportedly killed in the conflagration.

'Wet starting' was apparently a common practice among young 'hot-dog' pilots. McCain was quickly transferred to the USS Oriskany (the only Forrestal crewman to be immediately transferred). After the disaster, McCain was shot down over North Vietnam on October 26, 1967.

10:41:00 AM  
Blogger talzhan said...

QOTR, glad to...Ooops, meant USS Forrestal

You know,I still feel for the guy. He did some awful time...but, there's more to John McCain than meets the eye...and what you don't know CAN kill you!

National hero? Yeah, maybe. But you gotta factor in his public service, which is a mixed bag, at best. Lobbied up like he is, there's a big question of where his loyalties lay. (Lie?) The fact that he is the son of an admiral who is the son of an admiral means there is a long line of military service to live up to. McCain, no genius, must have embarrassed himself and his family, by not living up to the high standards set by his dad and granddad. Fortunately, they were also very respected and his father was in a position to cover up for Johnie boy, as needed from time to time. And, after that mistake, he needed some real special handling.


12:27:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Sorry I dropped out of this conversation, but you folks rock. I learned some stuff I didn't know.

11:09:00 AM  

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