John McCain’s campaign continues its pushback against Wes Clark’s comments regarding McCain’s fitness for the presidency.  They scheduled a press conference call to address Clark’s continuing criticisms.

Lindsey Graham started off by asserting that the primary consideration for a nation in two wars should be to choose the candidate most ready to be Commander in Chief.  Graham says that McCain is the best-qualified candidate for this position since Eisenhower.  “Senator McCain has walked in the shoes of the military,” Graham stated, and says McCain understands the language and the culture.  “Nobody expects John to be elected because he was a POW,” Graham says.  “Quite frankly, he has the courage of his convictions.”  Graham underscored McCain’s understanding of military strategy and history, which led him to call for the counterinsurgency strategy now in place three years before it got adopted.

Yesterday, the Obama campaign issued a weak rebuke, not even bothering to mention Clark by name.  When Clark reiterated his criticisms, the Obama campaign fell silent, Graham noted.

Next, LTC Orson Swindle took the microphone, and noted that a “similar kind of slander” came from Jay Rockefeller, Tom Harkin, Ed Schultz, Keith Olbermann, and others.  Swindle also called it a measure of Democratic desperation that these comments attack McCain’s extensive experience for the benefit of a completely inexperienced candidate in Barack Obama.  The first job of a President is to keep the country safe, and McCain has decades of experience in this area.  Obama has none at all.

“Give me a break, folks,” Swindle says when talking about the lip service he has heard from Democrats about honoring McCain’s service.  Their actions speak louder than their words. Clark, Swindle says, should be ashamed of himself.

Questions:

  • Me: Executive experience? — Graham says that he’s been a JAG, and knows that a squadron commander is a powerful figure in the Navy.  He has the ability to end careers, conduct discipline, has tremendous responsibilities for all of the people under his command.  John McCain advocated the surge, which was executive experience and leadership on display, and even John Edwards recognized that by deriding it as the McCain Surge until it started working.  His support for the Iraq War showed selfless leadership, since it almost ended his presidential aspirations.  On detainee rights, McCain showed the same kind of leadership based on his convictions.
  • Me (cont’d) Col. Swindle says that the role of squadron commander has “enormous responsibility”.  In McCain’s case, he trained new and transitional pilots on carrier missions, which is very difficult.  When he first took charge, the squadron had a terrible morale and maintenance record.  He transformed that squadron to make it a first-rate unit.  He got rid of the deadwood in its officer corps and brought in new blood.  That’s real executive leadership and real results.
  • Matt Lewis, Townhall: Is their a subtle attempt to smear pilots as cowards, and is this a concerted effort by the Obama campaign? — Graham says he doesn’t know what motivates Clark to say these things, but Obama has to show some leadership and either tell Clark to shut up or agree with him.  This is now about Obama and his leadership abilities.  Will he cut Clark loose?  Col. Swindle says Obama should say publicly, “Knock this crap off.”  If he can’t even lead his surrogates, he can’t lead the nation.  John McCain has never said that being a POW qualifies him to be President, which Clark derisively suggests.