Wow. Just wow:

In the Charleston Gazette Sunday, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-WV, who has endorsed Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., said that Sen. John McCain “has a temper” and, according to the story, “believes McCain has become insensitive to many human issues.

“McCain was a fighter pilot, who dropped laser-guided missiles from 35,000 feet. He was long gone when they hit. What happened when they [the missiles] get to the ground? He doesn’t know. You have to care about the lives of people. McCain never gets into those issues.”

If this sounds familiar to you, it should; it’s basically what the North Vietnamese said about McCain while they tortured him in the POW camps. It indicts everyone in the Air Force and the Navy whose job it is to fire laser-guided missiles now in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. Rockefeller also sounds an awful lot like Barack Obama, who claimed that the entire strategy in Afghanistan consisted of “just air raiding villages and killing civilians”.

Besides, fighter pilots don’t drop a lot of bombs; they protect bombers. They generally engage other aircraft and most of their targets are air-to-air.

So, note to our pilots and aviators: you obviously have anger issues if you enlisted in the Air Force or Navy. Senator Rockefeller and his fellow Democrats apparently believe that you hate humanity as evidenced by volunteering to conduct air campaigns against America’s enemies. In fact, Senator Rockefeller (D-WV) comes close to considering you war criminals. Of course, this would be much more offensive if Rockefeller had a single foggy clue as to what a fighter pilot actually does.

Oh, and one more note to Rockefeller: Laser-guided missiles and bombs actually reduce collateral civilian casualties. Just thought you should know.

Addendum: What was Rockefeller’s stance on Bill Clinton’s Bosnian intervention, which consisted solely of Air Force strikes?

Update: Added the Navy, which was McCain’s branch, after all … Also, Michael Goldfarb reminds Rockefeller that McCain got shot down on a low-level attack that was designed to minimize collateral casualties.

Update II: Be sure to read the comments for better clarification as to the role of fighters in Vietnam.

Update III: Rockefeller apologizes after Obama criticizes his statement:

Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a Barack Obama supporter, apologized to John McCain Tuesday for suggesting to a West Virginia newspaper that the Arizona senator does not care about “the lives of people” caught in the wars he champions, dating back to his Navy service in Vietnam.

The apology came after Barack Obama’s campaign swiftly criticized the West Virginia senator for the remarks quoted Monday in his hometown newspaper. Rockefeller told The Charleston Gazette that McCain is too far removed from the repercussions of war to deal with them. …

On Tuesday, Rockefeller issued a statement, saying, “I have deep respect for John McCain’s honorable and noble service to our country. I made an inaccurate and wrong analogy and I have extended my sincere apology to him.

“While we differ a great deal on policy issues, I profoundly respect and appreciate his dedication to our country, and I regret my very poor choice of words,” he said.

To be honest, I think the apology needed to be directed to our current and former military aviators more than John McCain.  McCain’s used to political hacks making stupid statements, but Rockefeller’s statement insulted the honor of every pilot who ever flew a war mission for the US.

Also, as I wrote last week, I’d rather the candidates quit asking for apologies for offenses against themselves and instead used the offenses as legitimate fodder for campaigning.   McCain’s no victim in American politics, and demands for apologies send the wrong message.  Let Rockefeller’s words stand in testament as to what leading Democrats really think about our military.