Clark Denigrated Kerry's Military Service in 2004

Something struck me as oddly familiar about Wesley Clark's attack on John McCain's military service. Then I remembered that Clark has a history of doing this before. Running against John Kerry for the Democratic nomination in 2004, Clark said he was the better qualified because while Kerry had been a lieutenant, Clark had swapped hats with Ratko Mladic as a general:

General Clark could not resist taking a few jabs at Mr. Kerry, however. During an appearance on CNN's "Larry King Live" as the Iowa results rolled in, former Senator Bob Dole said to General Clark that he thought the success of Mr. Kerry, also a decorated Vietnam War veteran, might have turned the general into a colonel.

"Well I don't agree," General Clark said. "Senator, with all due respect, he's a lieutenant and I'm a general. You've got to get your facts right."

Asked later about the exchange, General Clark acknowledged Senator Kerry's military background. But, he added: "Nobody in the race has got the kind of background I've got. I've negotiated peace agreements. I've led a major alliance in war. It's one thing to be a hero as a junior officer. He's done that and I respect him for that. He's been a good senator. But I've had the military leadership at the top as well as at the bottom."

Back then, this came off as pure rankism. It takes on a different dimension when you're comparing your experience running wars by remote control from Belgium to someone who tortured for five and a half years.

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Obama Is The Target Not Clark

Every blog post and television commentary that uses space and time to highlight this "controversy" with General Clark, benefits Obama. Last night, I saw Rick Santorum on O'Reilly debating the merits of Clark. I have read countless blog posts by Right wingers going after Clark.

None of this time and energy being expended will result in a single new vote for McCain. Santorum tried to pin Clark's comments on the OBama campaign without any hard evidence. A neutral observer would have been unimpressed.

My bottom line is that the Right needs to  train all its fire on Obama because exposing him is essential for victory. I am confident that McCain will not transform himself into the darling of the Republican grassroots before November. Our only hope is that Obama's liberal ideas will allow conservatives to hold their noses and vote for McCain.

The advantage of cutting Clark out of the picture

is that it eliminates a potential VP candidate with credible military leadership experience.  Unless the Obama camp has a pool of similar candidates other than Navy Cross and Silver Star war hero Jim Webb, I think that will ultimately be good news for McCain.  And while I have great respect for Webb's service and his desire to maintain a strong Navy and Marine Corps, he may not have the temperament, commitment or inclination to seek the VP position.  So even though I don't disagree with your points, I still see a bright side to Clark removing himself (via the media and McCain surrogates like Colonel Bud Day) from any possibility of being named as Obama's Vice Presidential candidate. Since he has never served his country in the military, this could weaken him in a very vulnerable area.

Very True

Despite the fact that Clark is a raving lunatic, having a 4-star General on a Democrat ticket would have been a big boost to Obama's campaign.  I think Clark just destroyed his VP chances, and his future political career by going after McCain the way he did.  I'm amazed at how clumsy a politician Clark is, if he played his cards right, he really could have been a future leader of the Democrat party with his resume.

This discussion questioning McCain's service only helps McCain.  I can think of no leader in U.S. history that has sacrificed more for their country than John McCain.  Attempting to "swift boat" McCain's service is an impossible task, and will only backfire on the Democrats.  The media discussing McCain's POW experience just highlights what an empty suit Obama is compared to McCain.



I guess you forget that your boy ..

Karl Rove .. denigrated McCain in 2000 ...  or is that something you guys sweep under the rug?

Oh My Goodness!

Did Karl Rove denigrate McCain's service in Vietnam. I don't remember that, would you mind showing us a quote.

No one thinks McCain can't be denigrated, no politician is above criticism.

What we're criticizing is Clark attacking McCain on his service to his country, basically dismissing it as "unheroic" and blown out of proportion. This is coming from a general who was relieved of his command for incompetence.

If there's nothing wrong with Clark's attack, why did Obama apologize and distance himself from it?

Karl Rove is an absolute genius

but don't assume that we all think of him as "our boy".  I think that ship has sailed, with George Bush as the captain.  Some of McCain's biggest critics in the GOP are going after his unwillingness to engage in Rovian tactics.  Some of us think that McCain is "dumb like a fox" by taking the high road, and the fact that he's willing to use this election as a test case of whether that strategy works is heroic in and of itself, never mind his military record.  If McCain succeeds without knee-capping his opponents, he'll change the political landscape for years to come. 

It does appear that Karl Rove's brain is being put to good use as an analyst, but if the days of pit bull politics can be eclipsed by focusing on the issues for a change, many people would find that refreshing - the anxieties of some "traditionalists" in the GOP notwithstanding.