Chickenhawk v2.0: Gloria Steinem, Wes Clark shrug at McCain's military service

Hey, remember four years ago how we needed a vet at the top of the ticket since only people who’d seen the horrors of war could appreciate the human cost of sending men into battle? Late-breaking caveat: Having seen the horrors of war isn’t quite as valuable experience-wise as picking out White House china patterns. Would a man who endorsed Waffles in 2004 explicitly on the basis of his military service really dare try this double standard vis-a-vis, of all people, John McCain? Believe it:

In the national security business, the question is, do you have — when you have served in uniform, do you really have the relevant experience for making the decisions at the top that have to be made? Everybody admires John McCain’s service as a fighter pilot, his courage as a prisoner of war. There’s no issue there. He’s a great man and an honorable man. But having served as a fighter pilot — and I know my experience as a company commander in Vietnam — that doesn’t prepare you to be commander-in-chief in terms of dealing with the national strategic issues that are involved. It may give you a feeling for what the troops are going through in the process, but it doesn’t give you the experience first hand of the national strategic issues.

If you look at what Hillary Clinton has done during her time as the First Lady of the United States, her travel to 80 countries, her representing the us abroad, plus her years in the Senate, I think she’s the most experienced and capable person in the race, not only for representing am abroad, but for dealing with the tough issues of national security.

Mind you, this is the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee he’s talking about. Consider it a Greenwaldian revision of the chickenhawk meme, one that’s been in the works ever since it dawned on the left that they wouldn’t have a vet at the top of the ticket this time while the GOP very well might: It’s not military service that’s important, it’s the right kind of military service. The Christmas in Cambodia kind.

At least Clark concedes the merits of some sort of service. Question: What’s more impressive, bearing up under routine bastinadoing by the North Vietnamese for five years — or being Bill Clinton’s secretary? You guessed wrong.

And she claimed that if Clinton’s experience as First Lady were taken seriously in relation to her White House bid, people might “finally admit that, say, being a secretary is the best way to learn your boss’s job and take it over.”…

“Suppose John McCain had been Joan McCain and Joan McCain had got captured, shot down and been a POW for eight years. [The media would ask], ‘What did you do wrong to get captured? What terrible things did you do while you were there as a captive for eight years?’” Steinem said, to laughter from the audience.

McCain was, in fact, a prisoner of war for around five-and-a-half years, during which time he was tortured repeatedly. Referring to his time in captivity, Steinem said with bewilderment, “I mean, hello? This is supposed to be a qualification to be president? I don’t think so.”…

I am so grateful that she [Clinton] hasn’t been trained to kill anybody. And she probably didn’t even play war games as a kid. It’s a great relief from Bush in his jump suit and from Kerry saluting.”

Follow the link for insights into, um, “gynocide.” Anyone here think, incidentally, that a female soldier who survived internment in McCainian conditions would be treated worse by the media than McCain was, especially in light of the way the Jessica Lynch saga was handled? Never mind hard news treatment; how many episodes of Oprah would be devoted to it? Barbara Walters specials? Beyond that, is Steinem’s ignorance of McCain’s ordeal affected, do you think, or genuine? The character credential it provides lies not in the fact that he took a beating but in the fact that he didn’t have to but preferred it to using his father’s credentials to get out of jail free while other guys stayed behind. Death before dishonor, literally.

Ed adds: Hillary Clinton has five years on the Armed Services Committee, less than a quarter of the tenure of John McCain, who has been on the panel since 1987. Not only has she never served in the military, neither did her husband, on whose administration she supposedly soaked up all of this military readiness. In terms of strategic experience, which is what the ASC addresses, McCain runs laps around Hillary Clinton.

Furthermore, it’s not as if John McCain sat silently in the Senate on foreign policy and national security issues. As he notes sometimes ad nauseam, McCain came out early to demand a change in post-invasion strategy and tactics in Iraq. He understood that the nature of the conflict had changed to a counterinsurgency and foresaw the strategy necessary to conduct it.

What did Hillary Clinton do to show her prowess at military leadership? She called General David Petraeus a liar to his face when he reported the improvements in Iraq. To date, she has refused to apologize for it, despite Petraeus being proven correct in the sharp drop in violence and the return of normalcy to Anbar and Baghdad. That kind of treatment certainly signals something to current military commanders, but not the kind of leadership in which they can have confidence.

Exit questions from AP and Ed: This’ll make for a nice pair of headlines for Hillary tomorrow, when she’s trying to keep people focused on Big Tuesday, huh? And if they’re making such lame arguments for Hillary as C-in-C, can you imagine the silliness they will offer on behalf of Barack Obama?