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.