Conservatives should not let this Clark moment pass. Barack Obama should distance himself from efforts to dishonor McCain’s military service. Obama should be disappointed and saddened. This is not the Wesley Clark he knew. And he should drop Wesley Clark as an adviser. That would be general progress away from the paranoid style of American politics.
In his excellent speech this morning Obama did exactly that:
"For those like John McCain who have endured physical torment in service to our country no further proof of such sacrifice is necessary," Obama said. "And let me also add that no one should ever devalue that service, especially for the sake of a political campaign, and that goes for supporters on both sides."
James Joyner is more temperate:
On one level, Clark has a point. Commanding a training squadron isn’t the same as running a wartime theater. And, as I argued when John Kerry was relying too much on his Vietnam experience and I’ve continued to counsel vis-a-vis McCain, being a war hero only goes so far in making a case for a presidential candidate. Nor is Clark “Swift Boating” McCain; he’s not questioning his wartime accomplishments.
Still, at the larger level, this strikes me as a poor argument. While “getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down” might not be sufficient qualification to be president, it’s certainly more than Barack Obama ever endured. And, while Obama has experience at the community level that McCain can’t match, it’s a dangerous game for him to send out surrogates to minimize McCain’s service. As Bruce McQuain asks, “if the willingness to fight for your country, put your life on the line and suffer the brutality McCain suffered as a POW doesn’t make the cut as far as qualifications go, how far below that does a community organizer’ show up on the list of non-qualifications?"
Malkin is less temperate:
If Gen. Wesley Clark had vice presidential aspirations, they went out the widow yesterday when he opened his mouth and removed any lingering doubt about his idiocy.
My take here.