Try as I might not to immerse too many of my commentaries into the deep and murky waters of politics, something is inevitably said or done that compels me to don my editorial goggles and tread the waters of political doublespeak and rhetoric. The latest issue of political contention that has managed to raise my eyebrows and stir my interest was the comment made by retired Army General Wesley Clark on the CBS network show Face the Nation.
General Clark, a Democrat and Obama supporter, was asked by program host Bob Schieffer how he could categorize Republican presidential candidate John McCain as “untested and untried” given McCain’s experience as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, his role as a naval squadron commander, and his years of service on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
While being gracious in his acknowledgement of McCain’s service to and sacrifice for his country, Clark tempered his accolades with the assertion that POW status and non-wartime military command notwithstanding, John McCain has not had the experience in executing the decision-making and risk assessment strategies necessary to formulate national security policy.
Bob Schieffer quickly pointed out that “Barack Obama has not had any of those experiences either, nor has he ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down.” To which General Clark responded “Well, I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.”
With that response, Clark suffered the predictable political backlash, was effectually characterized as a military blasphemer and a general’s truth about a general truth became Barack’s latest burden.
Despite how all this played out, including the Obama camp publicly rejecting Clark’s statements, as a person possessing some semblance of intelligence, I can see clearly that General Clark represents just another casualty in the political war against logic and truth.
John McCain is a true American hero. His harrowing experiences in the military and horrific treatment at the hands of the enemy Viet Cong – while a reluctant resident at the POW camp known as the Hanoi Hilton – are all reasons to respect and admire John McCain. In no way, however, can it logically be construed as a pertinent entry on his resume to lead this country.
In the Republican world where war and conflict are seen as being part and parcel of our status as a world power and global policeman,
McCain’s war portfolio may be an attractive skill set that is consistent with his prophetic sentiment of an American troop presence in Iraq for the next 100 years.
For the rest of the country eager to end the futile carnage of the Iraqi war and those of us chomping at the bit to experience the novel governmental approach of fixing our own house and helping our own citizens, being a prisoner of war represents a manifestation of the problem and not a prerequisite for a solution.
Despite the efforts of McCain disciples to categorize the comments of General Clark as disrespectful to the legacy of a war hero, the truth and logic of his statement are undeniable when it comes to scrutinizing relevant experience for the next American president.
There was no intent to slight or trivialize the service of John McCain, only the voice of another decorated military leader who apparently did not realize that the truth by any other name is still the truth; unless you’re dealing with politics.