A reader comes to my defense (and I'm unrepentant, by the way):

You're right.

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

The problem is not the correctness of the statement.  It's the tone-deafness and the insult implied.

"...riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down..." makes it sound as if John McCain's imprisonment and torture is somehow John McCain's fault.  It makes it sound as if McCain were some dilettante who happened to be riding around in a fighter plane and that it was his incompetence that got him shot down.

I am a devoted Obama supporter, I have never served in the military, and I won't be voting for John McCain, but that sentence pisses me off.

Me too. And yes, I know he was parroting Bob Schieffer. And I do think that the MSM meme that anyone who was in combat is automatically more qualified on foreign policy than a civilian is brain-dead. But the way you put things matters. And Clark is one of the most ham-fisted politicians in the US today. My reader continues:

Obama needed to denounce Clark's statement, and I consider it neither cowardly nor politically opportunistic to do so.

If Clark had made the point more precisely- something along the lines of, "Why do we think that serving in the military automatically gives someone greater insight into the complicated political, military, and diplomatic calculus it takes to formulate a foreign policy?" that would be a good point to make.

If Clark had pointed out that McCain tries to equate military experience with foreign policy judgment, and that tactical judgment as an aviator is quite different from the strategic judgment required to be a general, an admiral, or a commander-in-chief, that would be a good point to make. But this statement obliterates what could have been a very good point to make for Obama at this point in the campaign (military service does not automatically equal superior judgment on foreign policy), and screws it up so badly that Obama has to step all over himself on the day of his big patriotism speech.

Clark screwed up, and Obama had to denounce him so that Clark's statement wouldn't dominate the day any more than it did. You're right, and Obama was right.

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