The Scientific Activist

Am I taking crazy pills, or do people honestly believe that saying that being a prisoner of war doesn’t automatically qualify you to be president is the same as attacking someone’s service record? Because, this latest media flare-up over Wesley Clark’s remarks is getting exceedingly absurd.

John McCain went through hell in Vietnam, and he dealt with it in a way that demonstrated a tremendous amount of character. However, even if the sole responsibility of the President of the United States were to be commander-in-chief of the military, that experience alone would not qualify McCain to be president. And, given that the leader of the most powerful nation on the planet has a few other responsibilities as well, this point should be even more painfully obvious. Sure, McCain’s background is something that voters should take into consideration, and it does lend him additional credibility, although I’m not sure what kind of judgment he’s demonstrating by his recent unwavering support of the war in Iraq, for example

Even though McCain is going to continue to run in part on his experiences in Vietnam, I really doubt that we’re going to see a coordinated campaign to swiftboat him, because I’d like to think that the Democratic Party has a little bit more class than that. And, if such a campaign materialized, I certainly wouldn’t support it. Still, I just hope voters can see through the twisted logic currently floating around.

Comments

  1. #1 T. Bruce McNeely
    July 1, 2008

    Two words: Manchurian Candidate.

  2. #2 sdg
    July 1, 2008

    John McCain’s military service does not qualify him to be a pastry chef.

    That statement is equally logical but, stupidly, far less controversial than what Clark said.

    I think the last paragraph of this article puts it very nicely.
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/thenation/20080701/cm_thenation/45333587

    Arguing that a person’s record of military service is not a qualification for the presidency does not constitute “attacking” their military credentials; nor can it be described as invoking their military service against them, or as denying their record of war heroism. [Handling this basic idea] is not a very high bar for sophistication. But right now it’s one the press isn’t capable of clearing.

  3. #3 sdg
    July 1, 2008

    i just reread the article i linked and realized that i had missed that the bit i quoted was originally from cjr (which this blog’s author has praised). it’s a good (and quick) read. http://www.cjr.org/campaign_desk/attacking_mccains_military_rec.php

    coincidentally, i had thought of the silly analogy (pastry chef) before reading the cjr piece but roth does a similar thing.

    By this bizarre standard, if Clark were to point out that my record of writing for Columbia Journalism Review is not a qualification to be president, he would have invoked my writing for CJR against me.

  4. #4 JimFiore
    July 1, 2008

    Very simple. This is simply an attempt to smear Wes Clark as a way to make him unpalatable as Obama’s VP.

    I think Clark would be a good VP choice and I have read posts and articles by some respected voices supporting the idea. I’m sure the Repubs have noticed as well and are acting on it.

  5. #5 Pierce R. Butler
    July 1, 2008

    George W. Bush was not a P.O.W.

    GWB is unfit for the presidency.

    The logic is ineluctable.

  6. #6 Mike Convente
    July 1, 2008

    There is no question that General Clark’s comments were accurate, but there must be a fine line of how much questioning of McCain’s service the Obama campaign and its surrogates do. Questioning McCain’s service (rather than his policies) is apt to be a no-win situation, especially with the MSM blasting Obama and Clark already.

    Another aspect is the fact that Democrats are saying that McCain’s service doesn’t equate to being an effective “Commander-in-Chief”, and I agree wholeheartedly with that sentiment. Furthermore, it is the McCain campaign that is playing up the whole “military service = best for America” meme. That’s what makes it so frustrating, that we are not attacking a candidate but providing a differing opinion to a campaign ideal that the other candidate started in the first place!

    I still say keep pushing that 100 more years quote and focus on policies on Iraq, because last time I checked there still are a huge amount of incessantly afraid soccer moms that can be scared by anything…

    BTW, this is my first comment post here and I’m new to ScienceBlogs (in general), though I’ve been a member at DailyKos for about 18 months now.

  7. #7 tguy
    July 1, 2008

    I’m gonna dissent because I think you’re looking at the statement factually and logically when the emotional impact is the issue, as is usual in politics. The statement is insulting because it insinuates McCain is exploiting and cheapening his POW experience. It also flirts with being cheap and dismissive itself.

    Also, consider who really wants to visualize their president being a prisoner of war. No matter how heroic someone is or the courage he showed, POW is a situation of powerlessness. It conflicts with what people want in a leader, again not in a logical way but emotionally. If McCain is smart, and I think he is, he will deflect attention from it. Look at his response: this type of campaign doesn’t reduce the price of gas. Taking the high ground and changing the subject, two birds with one stone.

    I think Obama handled it fine, so far. Clark could still be VP candidate, but they need to iron out their differences and be clear who is boss.

  8. #8 tincture
    July 1, 2008

    A man who crashed 5 planes, only 1 in actual combat, should not be bragging about it. McCain, North Vietnamese Ace.

    The statement is insulting because it insinuates McCain is exploiting and cheapening his POW experience. It also flirts with being cheap and dismissive itself.

    I thought that’s exactly what McCain is doing.

  9. #9 Ahcuah
    July 1, 2008

    I just happened to flip by Fox news where the talking head was saying that any military service made one more qualified to be Commander-in-Chief than no military service.

    I wondering if he was talking about Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan? . . . Nah.

  10. #10 Paul Murray
    July 1, 2008

    “I really doubt that we’re going to see a coordinated campaign to swiftboat him”

    You have read the info on him being a flyboy who dropped bombs on civilians, then collaborated with the enemy when he was captured?

  11. #11 Tye
    July 2, 2008

    “You have read the info on him being a flyboy who dropped bombs on civilians, then collaborated with the enemy when he was captured?”

    Unfortunately this is the service record of many, many of those who fought in Vietnam. I believe that of the many former soldiers there are marks on their records that they would like to never come to the public, mistakes are made in the heat of a combat situation (especially when you’re dealing with teenagers and 20-somethings). Although there is probably room to debate the virtues of McCain’s service in the war and his accounts of events, I hope that the “swiftboating” never begins.

    There are a multitude of other reasons McCain will be shown to be an incompetent, directionless leader. His confusion on personal policies should not get such a fast wipe under the table, and his commitment to maintain the marriage with the oil/coal/gas industries is easy pickings for those with any thought towards future expansion and security.

  12. #12 sdg
    July 2, 2008

    it is totally unnecessary to try to characterize the quality of mccain’s service. even if it was exemplary (and i’m not saying it wasn’t), the argument is that the rank(s)/position(s) he held do not enhance his qualifications for the presidency. even a john mccain supporter (i am not one) might say that and could follow it up with X reasons why he IS the best candidate. i’m incredibly frustrated that people in the political sphere, politicians, staffers, and the media, lack the ability (or will) to separate issues. everything gets conflated into one issue. this happened in the democratic primary as well. if you didn’t support hillary, you were a sexist. everything gets “simplified”. the saddest part is, it is probably very effective.

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