Clark’s Dismissal of McCain’s Military Service Part of Coordinated Pro-Obama Smear Campaign

It appears pretty clear that there is a concentrated effort to attack and undermine John McCain on his greatest strength as candidate for president: his military service and his war record. Wesley Clark became the latest Obama surrogate attempting to undermine McCain’s military record Sunday on CBS’ Face the Nation:

(CNN) — Retired U.S. Gen. Wesley Clark, a supporter of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, on Sunday questioned whether Sen. John McCain’s military experience qualified him to be commander-in-chief.
Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, who ran for president in 2004, questioned John McCain’s qualifications Sunday.

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, who ran for president in 2004, questioned John McCain’s qualifications Sunday.

The McCain campaign called for Obama to condemn the remarks.

The dust-up began with Clark’s appearance Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” where moderator Bob Schieffer asked him about his interview with the Huffington Post earlier this month.

In the interview, Clark said McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, was “untested and untried.”

When Schieffer asked to explain the comment, Clark said he was referring to McCain’s experience, or lack thereof, in setting national security policies and understanding the risk involved in such matters.

“I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands and millions of others in the armed forces, as a prisoner of war. And he has traveled all over the world. But he hasn’t held executive responsibility,” said Clark, a former NATO commander who campaigned for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004.
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“He hasn’t been there and ordered the bombs to fall. He hasn’t seen what it’s like when diplomats come in and say, I don’t know whether we’re going to be able to get this point through or not,” Clark said.

Schieffer noted that Obama did not have any of those experiences, nor had he “ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down.”

“Well, I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president,” Clark said.

Clark’s comments are clearly part of a trend. Consider Democratic Senator and Obama surrogate Jay Rockefeller’s attack on McCain’s record in an April 8, 2008 interview with the Charleston Gazette:

Rockefeller criticized Sen. John McCain, the presumed Republican nominee for president. “Senator McCain does have a temper. But today, he speaks in a monotone on the campaign trail.”

Rockefeller believes McCain has become insensitive to many human issues. “McCain was a fighter pilot, who dropped laser-guided missiles from 35,000 feet. He was long gone when they hit.

“What happened when they [the missiles] get to the ground? He doesn’t know. You have to care about the lives of people. McCain never gets into those issues.”

And we can also find Democratic Senator and Obama Surrogate Tom Harkin attempting to directly undermine McCain on the basis of his military background:

Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin is catching grief for suggesting John McCain’s family history of military service makes the presumptive Republican presidential nominee unfit to be commander-in-chief.

Harkin, who has a history of embellishing his own military record, told Iowa reporters last week that McCain’s background as the son and grandson of Navy admirals creates a “dangerous” situation because he can only view the world through the prism of the military.

“He has a hard time thinking beyond that,” Harkin said, according to The Des Moines Register. “I think he’s trapped in that. Everything is looked at from his life experiences, from always having been in the military, and I think that can be pretty dangerous.”

The paper also quotes Iowa’s junior senator telling reporters, “It’s one thing to have been drafted and served, but another thing when you come from generations of military people and that’s just how you’re steeped, how you’ve learned, how you’ve grown up.”

There is clearly a continuing campaign trend going on here. Each of the attacks is aimed at a particular facet to undermine McCain on what ought to be his greatest strength.

Harkin suggests that McCain is so steeped in the military worldview that his judgment as a civilian Commander-in-Chief should be questioned. Harkin comes right out and calls McCain’s military background “dangerous.” Rockefeller cuts down McCain – a Navy aviator and fighter pilot who was shot down in Vietnam – as some kind of robotic high-altitude push-button killer who couldn’t care less about human life. And now we have Wesley Clark suggesting that getting shot down and ending up being tortured for 5 1/2 years doesn’t really amount to squat, and that his command of the Navy’s largest aviation squadron doesn’t amount to real leadership.

And yes – although I will not link to that kind of crap – I also found attacks directed at McCain’s military career that suggested that he attained his success because of his Navy admiral father, and that he cooperated with the North Vietnamese Army interrogators.

So Obama surrogates have left no stone unturned in attempting to undermine, throw dirt at, discredit, and insult John McCain’s war record and military career.

Now, I’m sure that liberals will point to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign and argue, “Republicans did the same thing to John Kerry!”

Well, no, they didn’t. The Swift Boat Veterans were just that – veterans. They served with John Kerry. And they responded to what they believed were distortions, exaggerations, and flat-out-lies by a man who had outraged them by turning on American servicemen and accusing them of war crimes during a career as a war protester that was actually longer than his career as a Navy officer. The fact of the matter is, the overwhelming majority of the men who served with John Kerry had a very different view of the man than the John Kerry (who put himself up for all his decorations) had of himself.

A Washington Post story on the Swift Boat episode by Michael Dobbs does a pretty fair job of sorting out the convoluted history and the claims and counter claims.

In any event, you don’t have a case of prominent Republicans attacking John Kerry’s war record and service the way you have of prominent Democrats doing such to John McCain. And, in order for the Obama surrogates “Swift Boating” of McCain to in ANY way be parallel to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth “Swift Boating” of John Kerry, you would have to have a similar overwhelming majority of men who actually served with – and rotted with in the Hanoi Hilton – John McCain. Do we have any such? Not even close.

While John Kerry couldn’t wait to mention what he hero he was and brought his “band of brothers” with him on the campaign trail to sing his praises, “John McCain rarely speaks about his experiences as a POW in Vietnam.”

But at least one man – who’s reputation is unimpeachable, has spoken out:

John McCain rarely speaks about his experiences as a POW in Vietnam, but one of his cell mates at the Hanoi Hilton on Thursday described some of the conditions and character traits that earned McCain the commendations he received for his war service.

Col. George “Bud” Day, 83, is the most decorated service man since Gen. Douglas MacArthur, with more than 70 medals. A living legend, Day was blown out of the sky two months to the day before the North Vietnamese shot down a propaganda prize, whose father and grandfather were renowned American admirals.

One of those 70 medals is the Congressional Medal of Honor.

I’ll take Bud Day’s account on John McCain over any other, thank you very much.

Another, more detailed account on John McCain’s military career, is found in an LA Times story.  You’ve got to figure that the Los Angeles Times – which is decidedly leftist in its orientation – would have dug up whatever dirt they could have.

The story dings McCain wherever possible on minor points, but it begins this way:

THE POST-POW YEARS: FIRST OF TWO PARTS — When John McCain limped home from a Hanoi prison camp in 1973 with a badly injured knee that he could not bend, Navy doctors gave him the bad news: His 15-year career as a jet pilot was over. He would never fly again.

But McCain surprised his doctors by making a dramatic comeback. With a ferocious determination to fly again and a tough physical therapy regimen, he got his wings back and not long after was awarded command of the Navy’s largest aviation squadron, VA-174, at Cecil Field in Florida. Blue-chip connections in the Nixon administration helped.

These days, when the presumptive Republican presidential nominee is asked about his qualifications to lead and manage, he points to his command of that squadron as proof he has the right stuff to be president.

“I led the largest squadron in the United States Navy, not for profit, but for patriotism,” McCain said at a candidate forum in New Hampshire. “I’m proud of that record of leadership.”

McCain’s bravery during his 5 1/2 years as a prisoner of war is a well-told story. But how he regained his career after the Vietnam War has received less attention in his autobiography and other writings about his life.

A review of Navy records and interviews with more than a dozen of his former colleagues paint a picture of a commander who was lionized by his troops as a war hero and respected by aviators as a fair and effective manager. He had rugged good looks and a common touch, and was fiercely loyal to those who worked for him, his former colleagues say.

There is no question: John McCain is a legitimate war hero.  He suffered for his country as few men have suffered.  And in his determination to return from trauma and injury to continue to serve his question leave no question as to his character and courage.  Anyone who attempts to undermine such a man’s military record undermines himself.  But there is little question now that Democrats and Barack Obama surrogates are out there doing everything they can to do just that.

And John McCain’s record – when compared to Barack Obama’s complete lack of a record – speaks for itself.  John McCain’s service qualifies him as Commander-in-Chief.  He has executive level leadership experience that Barack Obama clearly lacks.  And John McCain’s lengthy career in the Senate likewise serves to further underscore the fact that one man has far more experience and credibility to serve as President than does Barack Obama.

Wesley Clark, Jay Rockefeller, and Tom Harkin’s attempts to undermine a genuine hero are genuinely despicable.  And – when three Barack Obama surrogates come trickling out to attack McCain – it is more than worth asking as to what the Obama campaign’s role has been in this campaign to question, attack, and trivialize a clearly exemplary military career.

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3 Responses to “Clark’s Dismissal of McCain’s Military Service Part of Coordinated Pro-Obama Smear Campaign”

  1. Christina West Says:

    It’s pretty hard for the NObama campaign to pretend they have any argument in this case – John McCain’s got the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and isn’t afraid to use them! McCain 08!

  2. minuteman 76 Says:

    We’re right about Clark:

    Read about McCain’s maverick reputation from a retired NAVY COMMANDER who served with him as a FELLOW POW at the Hanoi Hilton.

    Just have a look at

    and search Phillip Butler’s story for when he served with John McCain as a POW in Hanoi…. Butler was a POW for 8 years!!!

    It would make a great testimonial for the McCain campaign…..,15202,164859_1,00.html

  3. Michael Eden Says:

    Bud Day – the second most decorated American veteran in history – gave a testimonial about John McCain’s courage, honor, and integrity several months back. Both men were badly injured, and received almost no medical care. Day described a serious injury to his hand, how he couldn’t move his fingers, and how McCain helped him regain the use of the hand. Day said that when he was finally able to wiggle a finger, both men wept together.

    I don’t love McCain’s brand of moderate politics. But his heroism is beyond question, having been established by men such as Medal of Honor recipient Bud Day and Phillip Butler.

    As I tried to say in my article: the difference is that the men who served with McCain – and who suffered with him in the Hanoi Hilton hell – testify to his character. In the case of John Kerry, the overwhelming majority of men who actually served with him despised him and argued that he was unfit to be president. Big difference.

    I’ll read the link to Phillip Butler’s story with interest.

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