I’m not sure what to do with this. Obviously what he said raised someone’s eyebrow at ABC, but they don’t give us enough of a quote to know exactly what he’s saying.
While Barack Obama was urging supporters not to devalue the military service of rival John McCain on Monday, a top Democratic voice on foreign policy argued at the political arm of a liberal think tank that the former POW’s isolation during the Vietnam war has hobbled the Arizona senator’s capacity as a war-time leader.
The comments were made by Rand Beers, Sen. John Kerry’s, D-Mass., top national security adviser during his 2004 presidential run…
His voice rising, [a] questioner wanted to know if McCain understood that the public would not go along with a protracted US troop commitment to military conflicts that were not premised strictly on self-defense but rather on the expansion of freedom or democracy.
Beers said that because McCain was in an unfortunate state of “isolation” during much of the Vietnam War, his national security experience is “sadly limited.” McCain spent five years in captivity as a POW in North Vietnam.
Beers said the McCain limitations are reflected in “some of the ways he thinks about the ways in which US forces might be committed to conflicts around the world.”
Sounds like a rehash of that notorious NYT article from last month in which McCain’s anti-war colleagues in the senate who served in Vietnam tried arguing that being a POW made him less sensitive to the horrors of conflict, not more. It’s a subplot of the “McCain = Bush” narrative the left’s trying to build: Each man’s hawkishness has to be explained away as some sort of indifference to troop sacrifice, which in Bush’s case means calling him a draft dodger who was safely cloistered away from the front lines in the Texas air national guard and in McCain’s case means calling him a nutjob who was safely cloistered away from the front lines in a North Vietnamese tiger cage. That’s the only way the Democrats can somehow spin his experience as a liability vis-a-vis Obama’s. (Actually, there’s another way, but only nutroots halfwits are stupid enough to touch it.) Is that what Beers was trying to insinuate here, or was he making the more Harkin-esque point that the McCain family doesn’t understand anything except fighting, or was it more of a standard “McCain’s torture left him a dangerous lunatic” smear? Can’t tell yet from the tiny bit here. E-mail me if you see a fuller transcript.