After decades in the news business, Bob Schieffer may have thought he’d heard it all — until yesterday on Face the Nation, when he interviewed Wesley Clark. Clark came as a surrogate for the Barack Obama campaign and attacked John McCain’s military service, saying that he was “untested and untried”. After Schieffer pointed out that McCain commanded the largest naval air squadron, had honorably endured over five years of torture as a POW in Vietnam, and had been on the Senate Armed Services committee since Obama was in college, Schieffer asked how Clark could claim that McCain was “untested and untried”. Clark stunned him with this answer:
Because 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. I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands of millions of others in the armed forces as a prisoner of war. He has been a voice on the Senate Armed Services Committee and he has traveled all over the world. But he hasn’t held executive responsibility. That large squadron in the Navy that he commanded wasn’t a wartime squadron. He hasn’t been there and ordered the bombs to fall. He hasn’t seen what it’s like when diplomats come in and say, `I don’t know whether we’re going to be able to get this point through or not. Do you want to take the risk? What about your reputation? How do we handle it publicly?
At which point, Schieffer — after a stunned moment — pointed this out to Clark:
SCHIEFFER: I have to say, Barack Obama has not had any of those experiences either, nor has he ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down. I mean…
Let’s point out a few things about Barack Obama:
- In “the matter of national security policy making.” Barack Obama hasn’t ever done anything.
- In the matter of gauging your “opponents”, Obama wants to meet with them without preconditions despite having no national-security, military, or diplomatic experience.
- Barack Obama hasn’t been on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
- Barack Obama hasn’t had any executive experience.
- Barack Obama hasn’t commanded anything, in wartime or not.
- Barack Obama hasn’t dealt with diplomats in any capacity at all.
- Barack Obama hasn’t ordered the bombs to fall, although to be fair, he has associated himself with someone who has — William Ayers.
Not only can every argument Clark made get applied more to Obama than to McCain, he has now made it clear that the Obama strategy is to demean and belittle McCain’s military service — and by extension, military service in general. This will undoubtedly play very well among Obama’s nutcase fringe supporters as well as idiotic fired commanders of NATO, but that’s a mighty thin list of voters. The rest of the nation will hear these attacks and stand aghast at the dishonorable and outrageously stupid disparagement of a lifetime of service to this nation and understand with crystal clarity the radical nature of Barack Obama and his team.
Nor is this the first such attack on McCain’s service. Democrats have belittled it on several occasions now. In May, it was Bill Gillespie, another Obama backer in Georgia and a candidate for the House. In the same month, Senator Tom Harkin questioned McCain’s mental state for having willingly served in the military. In April, Jay Rockefeller accused McCain of being more or less a coward for being a military pilot, and again in May the New York Times quoted unnamed Senate colleagues of McCain suggesting that he didn’t understand the Vietnam War because he didn’t fight on the ground and spent most of it lounging around Hanoi in a POW camp.
John McCain put his life on the line for his country. Barack Obama has not. While I have never thought that military service was a prerequisite to public office, it certainly gives one a lot more experience and is an asset for the presidency. And as a bottom line, a candidate whose campaign denigrates military service shows himself as unfit for the role of Commander in Chief.
Wes Clark has done Barack Obama no favors, and as the record shows, it’s not just Wes Clark. The Democrats plan on attacking the military throughout this campaign. Obama cannot expect anyone to buy his claims of “a new kind of politics”, unless Obama means that he plans to plumb new lows in class and intelligence in 2008.
Update: The legendary Lt. Col. Joe Repya (ret.) of the 101st Airborne — a man I’m proud to have as a friend — responds in his new Eagle’s Nest blog:
Barack Obama and the National Democratic Party should immediately denounce and dismiss General Clark from any future campaigning in this election year, but he and the Democrats will not! As Ed Morrissey points out, this is a planned attack on John McCain’s character.
The Obama Campaign, using their surrogates, have attacked McCain’s age, mental state, bravery and honesty. Is this the “change” that everyone wants in Washington? A ambitious young politician bent on personal destruction of an opponents record and accomplishments? How dare Obama and his minions attack the military record of John McCain. Where and when did Obama serve? What sacrifice has he or his family made on the battlefield? ….
Listen people, I have met General Wes Clark and I can tell you he is no General David Petraeus, anymore then Barack Obama is the quality of John McCain!
Col. Repya is not one to mince words. Expect to hear more about this from Joe, and keep an eye on his new blog as he gets settled into the (obsessive) routine of blogging. (And yes, I warned him about the obsession ….)