Friday, July 04, 2008

The Wesley Clark "Scandal:" Democrats Get Sucked Into the Same Old Republican Trap

General Wesley Clark created a tempest in a teapot during an appearance last Sunday on CBS's Face the Nation. Here's what the former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe told host Bob Schieffer about the GOP's presumptive nominee, Sen. John McCain, when discussing his military record as relating to his quest for the presidency:

..."in the matters of national security policy-making, it’s a matter of understanding risk. It’s a matter of gauging your opponents and it’s a matter of being held accountable. John McCain’s never done any of that in his official positions.....He hasn’t made the calls......I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president."

Now here's what a key McCain surrogate, retired Col. George "Bud" Day, told reporters afterwards:

"This backhanded slap against John as not being a worthy warrior because he just got shot down is one of the more surprising insults in my military history."

But just exactly where is this major diss that Day is so sanctimoniously condemning? Where exactly is the part about McCain not being a "worthy warrior?" Don't waste your time looking, because it's not there. It's simply another "If you're against the war you're against the troops" framing job from the "do as I say, not as I do" crowd. We should remind Day of his own appearances in the morally-repugnant 2004 Swift Boat ads that attacked the military record of Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry. "My view is he basically will go down in history sometime as the Benedict Arnold of 1971," the good patriotic colonel said of Kerry at that time.

In the wake of Clark's comments, Democrats immediately fell back into familiar patterns of subjugation and appeasement. The party's presumptive nominee, Sen. Barack Obama, was quick to throw Clark under the bus:

"I’m happy to have all sorts of conversations about how we deal with Iraq and what happens with Iran but the fact that somebody on a cable show or on a news show like General Clark said something that was inartful about Sen. McCain I don’t think is probably the thing that is keeping Ohioans up at night," he said in Zanesville. He then went on, as he's done so many times lately, to lavish such effusive praise on McCain and his military record that he could be on the Arizona Senator's payroll.

It's one thing when Republicans twist and distort the truth, but when Democrats do it to themselves, as Obama did this week, it's a mystery that's only explained by the party's gargantuan inability (unless your name is Clinton) to successfully fight back against the right-wing attack machine. Here's what Obama should've said in defense of Clark:

"I stand behind Gen. Wesley Clark and agree that while my opponent's military record is indeed honorable and courageous, it does not in and of itself qualify him to be president of the United States or commander-in-chief. The right-wing's attempt to distort the General's very clear point is just another example of the Republican Party's desperate need, at any cost, to distract Americans from the harsh truths about the war, the economy and the fact that voters overwhelmingly are signaling they they want change in Washington come November."

Instead, Obama gave us another incredibly frustrating "I voted for the war before I voted against it" gaffe. He gave us his version of Kerry's embarrassing inability to fight the Swift Boat attacks. In what could've been a very seminal moment, Obama donned the familiar wuss-suit and once again demonstrated that Democrats just can't play rough.

You can bet your ass that if the situation were reversed, and it was Obama being attacked by the McCain camp, not only would McCain fail to publicly rebuke his surrogate, but he'd likely pile on for some cheap shots of his own. Why then do Democrats always have to take the higher ground? Why on Earth would Obama feel so compelled to condemn a loyal surrogate like Clark for something he didn't even say? It was as if he wanted so badly to appease McCain and his supporters that he forgot he's in the midst of a firce battle for the presidency. And it was one of those awfully frustrating liberal Kumbaya moments that Democrats are unfortunately famous for. Moments that can ultimately kill an election.

In the past couple of weeks Obama has reversed course on a number of key issues in a centrist ploy to out-McCain McCain. Be careful, Barack, that and a few more episodes in the wuss-suit and you'll be waking up empty-handed November 5th.


Anonymous said...

How sad and how true. One Republican I know made this point. "How can I trust the Democrats to fight for this country when they cant even fight for themselves?"

Anonymous said...

I can't understand the Democratic Party leadership and have not been able to for several years. They are either extremely fearful; extremely unintelligent; extremely insecure; or, have a narcissistic opinion of their superiority and therefore feel they don't have to fight.

Gore and Kerry didn't fight, but let Donna Brazile manipulate them into wardrobe and sports concerns to "fake" an image. Our country was betrayed and truly harmed by the stupidity, cowardice and superficiality of those campaigns. Howard Dean, too, ran a really dumb campaign and even dumber DNC leadership. Forget The House and Senate Democrats -- mostly all spineless. Then fastforward - all in the Party, starting with Ted, threw Hillary aside to pick a candidate who simply could not win. Obama was handicapped from the beginning by his inexperience; and now he's crawled under the bus to join those he's thrown there with his total lack of principle, consistency, loyalty to his base; and, his spinelessness.

I've been a Democrate all my life and really proud of our Party's history -- FDR alone, is enough to make a person a Democrat. I simply don't know what has happened and I don't see any hope.

Anonymous said...

If I hear the expression "Thrown under the bus" one more time in this election cycle, I think I might strangle someone.

Anonymous said...

The joke here,is that it isn't that being a fighter pilot and being shot down that makes Mccain more presidental. It's the fact he could of come home a few years earlier when the north vietnamese found out who he was.But unlike Obama(the empty suit) who can never step up to plate.Mccain stood up for what was right and let other's come home before him. You can beleive the libs. won't mention that to anyone.BUT IT"S TRUE

Anonymous said...

Oh, JJBerg, you elitists are all alike. You're really extreme though, because you'd, so to speak, "throw people under the bus" because they say "throw under the bus." Would you prefer we use "strangle" instead and all should then say "Obama 'strangled' Clark for his remarks". That's really apropos since it pertains directly to the ability to speak and far better than, "cut him loose." I wish you'd also complain about Obama's grammatical mistakes which reflect badly on his elite education. It's annoyed me since "day one". "Yes we can" improve the level of communication in our country if "we all get involved."

Anonymous said...

Democrats need to learn that when Republicans make false smears, you attack the republicans for making false smears and you attack back hard, harder, and hardest.

Anonymous said...

Democrats need to learn to fight back; Democrats need to learn to attack; Democrats have to stop being "people pleasers"; Democrats have to stop being "politically correct"; Democrats need to develop a backbone; Democrats have to get smarter.

But they don't need to become Republicans like Obama is doing.

Anonymous said...

McCain may not be the hero one commenter here thinks here is. Check this out.

Republican Bob Dornan addresses the iasue of McCain coming home early. Basically if he had, his career would have been over because those that were considered collabortors. McCain himself called those that came home in 1968 as the "Slippery, slimey and sleazy." Remember his father was an Admiral and it would have looked very bad if his son had been released early.

Anonymous said...

McCain came home early because of "who he was" all right: NOT because he had unusual courage but because he had unusual heritage: i.e.: the son of an admiral who was hiimself the son of an admiral.

Nepotism doesn't work, never will and is absolutely ruining the USA.

What everyone here is missing is that the MAINSTREAM MEDIA is the underlying problem. If the MSM wasn't totally owned by the Repugnicans, they would never have been able to succeed with "re-framing" events in the totally absurd and completely inaccurate ways that they have. Note that it is only the Repugnicans that succeed at such appallingly inaccurate re-framing. The Democrats can't even get the simple unvarnished truth out.

Bush is not the problem, he is only a symptom. Rupert Murdoch is the problem. He was allowed to openly buy out control of the MSM and it was then and there that we lost our democracy.

And if YOU pay for a service that carries ANY Fox or Newscorp station or service then YOU are supporting your own destruction. Whether you watch the channels or not. It is the bundling that has allowed Rupert to get away with everything. YOU pay for the Fox/Serbian news whether you watch it or not while it brainwashes the idiots.

Anonymous said...

6:34 If what you say is true, why has the MSM pushed for Obama from the very beginning and continues to do so. I never even see or rarely hear McCain's name mentioned. Are you suggesting that the MSM is Republican-biased, and so Obama is pushed because he is the wearker candidate? I really don't understand your argument.

Anonymous said...

McCain stayed in the war and Obama stayed in his church. What their motives and rewards were seems to be the question.

Anonymous said...

Beyond the visceral reaction to the situation, which I understand and share, Andy, because I not only want to win, I want to beat down the Republicans for what they've done to my beloved United States, let's look at it in other ways:

Does a candidate want to spend a bunch of time defending the comments of surrogates or supporters while on the campaign trail? I don't think so. What is the one item on McCain's resume that is sure to be respected by a vast most Americans? His service and POW status in Vietnam.

Being seen, truthfully or not, as attacking this service is not helpful to the Democrats and it is the equivalent of the argument that one cannot attack Obama on certain issues without being charged a "racist". It's better to acknowledge and praise McCain's service at every opportunity so as to diffuse its perceived advantage as well as give Obama standing to attack McCain everywhere else.

Truth and accuracy in an argument or statement such as Clark's often falls by the wayside when faced with the knee-jerk bullhorn calls of the "offended" which are then scooped up by a compliant MSM constantly in search of the latest "controversy" to drive ratings. In my political judgment, Obama was right in denouncing the perceived slap at McCain's service and it is telling that General Clark apologized to Obama for his comments becoming a distraction. It is also telling that Clark did not apologize to McCain and that Obama said Clark does not owe McCain an apology.

In the end, what could have been a much bigger dust-up lasted all of about 2-3 days and the new topic of discussion is how McCain's campaign is having a devil of a time figuring out how to put Obama in a box. All the while, the state by state polls continue to trend in Obama's favor, Republicans don't want the sitting President to even attend their own convention, more and more are acknowledging that the GOP brand is in the toilet and Democrats are able to fight them in territory (Western and Southern states) and with constituency groups (evangelicals and military) previously almost completely conceded to the GOP.

The Ostroy Report said...

Good grief, are a perfect example of how Democrats over-intellectualize everything to the point of losing the audience in a swirling sea of political gobbledigook. Democrats often fall in love with the sound of their own progressive, PC voices (see John Kerry, Joe Biden, Al Gore, Michael...) that they don't ever realize that they've put their audiences to sleep. Honestly Michael, I can't even remember what your point is..if in fact you actually have one.

Some advice to both you and Democrats in general (a) don't try to sound so freakin' smart (2) don't take yourself so seriously (3) learn to speak in soundbytes (4) show some personality and don't drone on and on; and (5) stay on message.

Anonymous said...


Since this is your blog, I'll do as you ask. How's this for laying it out in soundbytes for you:

1. Barack Obama is a million times smarter than you politically.
2. He's proven it with his actions in this affair, versus your suggestion, as well as over the last year and a half of campaigning.
3. Your blog entry indicates you are of the knee-jerk reactionary crowd that engages pure emotion instead of cold political calculus. The latter is what is needed in order to defeat the GOP, not bitching.
4. I'm on message, thanks.

Now, should I drop in a "freakin' wuss-suit" reference to appeal to the kidz or should I just suggest you get your panties out of a wad?

Anonymous said...

Thanks Ostroy.

In rhw NY Times today Frank Rich gently criticized Obama which is an all-time-first since he's been such a loud supporter. And, two cartoons were extremely unfavorable to Obama. Today's cartoons and the editorial the other day in the Times, would indicate to me Obama's lost favor in that paper and with a large number of his supporters. In one of the cartoons Obama wants a "first Bush term", since he is supporting Bush's programs. The other cartoon referred to the Clark issue.

Obama has lost and not not just because he wears a "wuss-suit", but because he speaks out of "both sides of his mouth." So much for "political smarts." and so much for his helping the country most of us love out of its mess.

Anonymous said...

"would indicate to me Obama's lost favor... with a large number of his supporters."

The Gallup organization's findings do not support your contention:

Scott Rasmussen's work also debunks your thinking:'s average of the national polls has Obama with the biggest advantage he's had all year over McCain:

Anonymous said...

I am not 6:04 but I agree with him, He, like me, probably doesn't "do" polls. I read about shifts in support and draw conclusions. I agree with his conclusion. The NY Times is a major support for a Democratic nominee.

We'll see, won't we.

Anonymous said...

How do you know 6:04 is a he?

Yes, we will see. We'll see that the NY Times will endorse Barack Obama in mid-to-late October.

Anonymous said...

People criticizing Obama in this instance are missing the point: the MSM has a clear double standard (compare their coverage of the Swift boat lies against Kerry's honorable military record to their coverage of this manufactured controversy.) If Obama counters in defense of Clark in the way you suggest, the media would create an even bigger maelstrom over the bogus charge that Obama himself is dissing McCain's _heroic_ war record.

Obama made the right call: minimize the damage, even if he was in the right. As we know, the MSM is still effective in swaying elections with this kind of crap. Instead of handing the MSM a bigger hammer to club them with, the Dems need to find ways around the MSM. I would prefer a full-frontal assault on the legitimacy of the MSM, but I'm not sure if the inattentive masses are ready for that yet.

We are laying the groundwork with the netroots, and things may change, maybe even in time for November. However, until the rules of the MSM game are changed, it seems that Obama is being very smart in the battles he is choosing and his tactics.

Anonymous said...

If the Democrats were an actual opposition party, there is no way these criminals in the executive branch would still be in office. They have no interest in removing the greatest threat to our national security, so one can only assume they are a part of that threat.

Anonymous said...

What the "inattentive masses" won't be "ready for" -- that is -- if they stop their bitter concerns with guns and religion and pay attention -- is "just another politician", even one disguised as a "savior" - to follow the Democratic Party policy of "join them " or "cave in". Obama has "joined them" and "caved".

9:07 is right.

Anonymous said...

Dems who caved: Read Krugman's column in NY Times today where he explains that the Democrats helped the Republicans ruin the economy by joining them.

Anonymous said...

Krugman only mentions Democrats in one of two areas (energy v. health care) and specifically points to Dems with ties to energy - most of whom were Southern Dems who no longer hold political office.

He called them out for not supporting conservation efforts, which are now supported by virtually all Democrats and resisted by a goodly number of Republicans.

Anonymous said...


So what is a conservative?

Apparently you'll support a candidate who has willingly joined the GOP Bush/Borg collective which has raped this country and has it on the brink of economic collapse. It has also withered our hard-fought reputation and standing in the international community, stretched our military capabilities to the brink and routinely spit on the Constitution.

I'm fine being called lame by someone conclusively proven insane.

Anonymous said...

Bush inherited a recession from Bill Clinton. We were attacked every 18 months by Al Qaeda under Clinton's watch.

"Environmentals" should be called "former communists" have major contributions to the current economic state. We are an economy based on oil yet enviro-communists prevent us from drilling. The same enviro-communists prevent us from generating energy using nuclear, solar, wind and every alternative energy source out there.

I admit the GOP screwed its conservative base by spending like Democrats, but it doesn't mean a conservative should vote for a Democrat because it will only be worse.

Obama will stay in Iraq. Obama will raise gas prices. Obama will tax corporations which will result in higher unemployment. Obama will appease the enviro-communists which will result in higher food prices. Obama will pander to the unions. Obama will not do anything to stop the Mexican invasion of America. Obama will give "free" healthcare to any illegal that comes into the country.

There is no end in sight to the spending if Obama becomes President. There is no end in sight to the level of taxation if Obama becomes President.

Anonymous said...

Oooh! The commie card!

By the way, the fathers of the neo-conservative movement were bona fide communists at one time (Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz).

Drilling in the US is still allowed and encouraged. Federal lands have increasingly been opened to drilling but the oil companies are not doing so. Quite possibly because they know refining is at full capacity in the US. Even McCain admitted his pandering by acknowledging his call to open ANWR is merely a psychological in nature and not a real solution - just like his gas tax holiday.

Democratic "spending" in the 90s produced a balanced budget. Every single GOP president in the last 40 years has overseen budget deficits due to increased spending (and don't trot out the BS line that Congress spends the money. The President submits his budget to the Congress and not once did Reagan, Bush or Bush propose a budget that was in balance).

McSame proposes to continue this legacy and you support it. It's expecting different results from the same activity - aka insanity.

Ed Encho said...

Vietnam Redux AGAIN!

Can't we all just get past that damned war once and for all, the GOP is once again going to be invoking Hanoi Jane, spitting on the troops and ripping the scabs off of the national wound that never heals for political gain.

As if McCain, a self admitted "war criminal" somehow has a monopoly on patriotism because he got the shit kicked out of him by Charlie in some Hanoi hellhole and then came out and did his part to show his condemnation for torture by planting a big sloppy kiss on the fascist asses of the Bushreich and their through the looking glass Jack Bauer torture state now known as Der Homeland.

Sick society this is and showing no signs of recovering if once again we are refighting the Vietnam war.

Just my two cents


Anonymous said...

I have never heard that McCain, or his wife, or his mentor, or his spiritual advisor, or any of his friends or acquaintances have ever said "God Damn America." or accuse the USA of spreading AIDS. "Words" do count. I've never heard that anybody McCain hangs with bombed NY.

And, if the country thinks Bush is a traitor, or worse, the impeachment process should begin at once. Being a "facist ass" should be as serious a reason for impeachment as oral sex.

Ed Encho said...

Coming Soon:

John McCain's Greatest Hits Vol 1


He may not have explicitly said GOD DAMN AMERICA but his little propaganda films that he made for the VC for favorable treatment were far more treacherous than anything that ever came out of the mouth of the Reverend Wright - who incidentally didn't say one damn thing that was not correct - and it is guys like the charlatan war criminal McCain who are responsible for our blood drenched crimes against humanity in the name of some bogus fight against the phantom menace 'communism'.

As for impeachment let's not just stop with the Bushreich, McCain, Pelosi and all of the rest of the Vichy collaborators in that snake pit Congress should all be charged with treason.

Just my two cents


Anonymous said...

I hadn't heard about these McCain tapes mentioned by 7:20. Tried to find out more at Google, but didn't have any luck. I can't wait to see them. Why haven't they been shown so far. I'd like to see just how tortured he was and if he had been drugged and perhaps didn't know what he was doing. I'm sure that will show up clearly one way or the other when we see them. Surely they'll be on TV soon.

Anonymous said...

Now Obama has bashed MoveOn. He criticized them for their "Betrayus" ad. He's never learned that it's dumb to bite the hand that's feeding you. I wonder if the Repugs are dumb enough to believe their new champion really thinks as they do. I guess there's no way of knowing until he's president.

Anonymous said...

What Obama should have said: "I apologize....for not going further than General Clark. McCain is a disgrace, McCain is a KILLER - of Americans!!!!

Anonymous said...

Don't you people worry.Obama will never apologize because he never makes a mistake or mis-step. He just has to appear and "refine" his remarks that offend or worry. We got a candidate with character.

Anonymous said...


Follow this link:

Watch the second video. It'll explain for you why we're not likely to ever see transcriptions of McCain's statements while a POW.

On the same note, John Kerry was hounded for quite a while by the GOP for not releasing his military records. Ultimately he signed the Navy SF 180 and the records were made available.

John McCain still refuses to release his military records.