Gen. Wesley Clark released a statement today that sought to clarify that he wasn’t referring to McCain’s service as a P.O.W, but how Vietnam doesn’t equate to executive experience. “There are many important issues in this Presidential election; clearly one of the most important issues is national security and keeping the American people safe. In my opinion, protecting the American people is the most important duty of our next President.”
He said that McCain is a hero for his war experience, “As I have said before I honor John McCain’s service as a prisoner of war and a Vietnam Veteran. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands and millions of others in Armed Forces as a prisoner of war. I would never dishonor the service of someone who chose to wear the uniform for our nation.”
However, Clark stood by his statement that this experience alone does not make McCain qualified to be president. “John McCain is running his campaign on his experience and how his experience would benefit him and our nation as President. That experience shows courage and commitment to our country – but it doesn’t include executive experience wrestling with national policy or go-to-war decisions.”
Clark said McCain’s judgment is flawed, “And in this area his judgment has been flawed – he not only supported going into a war we didn’t have to fight in Iraq, but has time and again undervalued other, non-military elements of national power that must be used effectively to protect America But as an American and former military officer I will not back down if I believe someone doesn’t have sound judgment when it comes to our nation’s most critical issues.”
The McCain campaign tried to make political hay out of this by accusing Obama of tolerating and encouraging Clark. “It’s clear that the Obama campaign isn’t telling Wes Clark to apologize, and are either encouraging or tolerating his attacks on John McCain’s military service. The Obama campaign even said they were ‘glad’ that Gen. Clark ‘clarified’ a comment they supposedly repudiated. If this kind of wink-and-nod game is how Barack Obama wants to run his campaign, then fine. But spare us the empty talk of ‘new politics’ and raising the dialogue in this country,” McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said.
I know that the Obama campaign is terrified of getting into this issue, but what Clark said is true, and he shouldn’t apologize. Military service alone does not make one fit to be president. Although the Republicans want to promote the myth that McCain is a hero, who should never be questioned, the American people need to look beyond McCain’s bio at his judgment and decision making. McCain has constantly changed his mind on dozens of issues to move closer to the positions of George W. Bush. While the GOP wants to wrap McCain in the flag, patriotism should be used as a shield for the politics of Bush.