Democrats Attacking McCain’s Military Record: Is A Pattern Emerging?

Jim Geraghty is not buying the notion that Wes Clark’s attempts to diminish John McCain’s military service was done without coordination with the Democratic Powers that Be.

After statements by a half-dozen high-profile Democrats and Obama surrogates, you cannot persuade me that there is not a concerted effort on the part of Obama Democrats to criticize McCain on his war record. George McGovern, Jay Rockefeller, Tom Harkin, Democratic congressional candidate Bill Gillespie, Ed Schultz, Tony McPeak, and now Clark. Way too many to be coincidence. We’re seeing a lot more derisive comments about McCain’s wartime service than we are about Obama’s race.

To those examples, I’d add the “McCain didn’t learn the lessons of Vietnam because he was a POW during the worst years” meme that floated around recently.

OTB commenter Bithead isn’t buying Obama’s attempts to distance himself from Clark.

Obama’s been doing this all along; Surrogates end up saying the smears and other trash talk the campaign needs to spread, and when things get too hot because of what gets said, Obama simply tosses the speaker under the bus, and claims he’s running a ‘clean campaign’, and he’s shocked…. shocked… that any of his people would come up with such a comment.

Let’s leave Ed Schultz, a radio host who one reasonably presumes isn’t coordinating with anyone and Gillespie, of whom I’ve never heard, out of the mix.  Do the remaining attempts to dampen McCain’s trump card, his military experience, constitute a pattern?  And, even if they do, is doing this, as Dale Franks suggests, beyond the pale?

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Hal says:

    Can someone please explain, succinctly and clearly, what Wes Clark did to attack McCain’s record? If we’re going to be arguing about something, shouldn’t we agree about what we’re arguing about?

    The right is claiming that saying “military experience does not, in itself, qualify you for the office of the president” is besmirching the millitary record of someone.

    Seriously, dudes, you have gone off the rails. Way, way, WAY off the rails.

    Oh, and quoting Bithead? That’s the cherry on the cake.

  2. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    And, even if they do, is doing this, as Dale Franks suggests, beyond the pale?

    Perhaps, but just don’t question their patriotism.

  3. just me says:

    Well at some point people are going to start noticing the number of bodies under the bus and wonder who is driving it.

  4. Hal is correct–I don’t think that McCain’s military record, per se, has been “attacked” (as the headline note) but there is clearly an attempt to “diminish” it as (the first paragraph states).

    Of course, I suppose it depends on what one means by “attack.” I don’t think it is being attacked in the same way that Kerry’s was, for example (not that I think that James is saying that it is).

    Regardless of all that, I continue to think, as I wrote yesterday, that the whole thing is ultimately a net negative for the Obama camp.

  5. Hal says:

    Steven, I agree with your reasoning, but clearly that doesn’t apply to Clark’s case. His “attack” such that it is labeled in this Orwellian world on the right, was in response to a question.

    But clearly, if McCain is making military service his crown jewel of leadership and experience (and really, what else does he have besides that?), then it’s going to come under fire. I doubt the “leave it alone” strategy will actually work. Just from a game theory perspective, you have to attack this. Leaving it alone is ceding the argument which will have even worse repercussions.

    Still, it’s interesting that the only thing McCain has going for him is something that happened decades ago. Pity he doesn’t have any thing recent and far more relevant to point to.

  6. James Joyner says:

    Can someone please explain, succinctly and clearly, what Wes Clark did to attack McCain’s record?

    Attack may be too strong a word but certainly, “I don’t think getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to become president” is an attempt to downplay what McCain did during the war. First, as Geraghty notes, McCain didn’t merely “get in” his plane, he flew it into harm’s way. Second, he didn’t merely “get shot down” but he was captured and acquitted himself with honor during five and a half years of torture.

    I agree with Steven that this is an unproductive tack and with you that the second part of the equation — he was a hero but that alone’s not sufficient qualification to be president — is a necessary and reasonable case for Team Obama to make. I just think they’re going about it in a somewhat hamhanded, meanspirited way.

  7. yetanotherjohn says:

    If this is a coordinated strategy on Obama’s part, it is a pretty poor one. Other than preaching to the choir (the far left who can see no good in anything associated with the military), the average American is going to look at the evidence and come to the conclusion that what ever Obama is trying to do to ‘diminish’ McCain’s experience it just points out the huge vacuum in Obama’s experience. Clark and Harkin don’t have some special expertise that would make people question their own judgement on the issue. The more the story is about McCain sacrificing his personal advancement for the good of the country (e.g. forgoing the chance to be released from captivity and staying to build up POW morale), the worse it is for Obama. Further, McCain’s response that all of the attacks against him don’t do anything to lower the price of gas by a penny are likely to find a receptive audience.

  8. Hal says:

    is an attempt to downplay what McCain did during the war.

    Precisely how? This has *nothing* to do with qualifications for being a president. Nothing. That does not downplay his achievements and accomplishments during Vietnam.

    I just think they’re going about it in a somewhat hamhanded, meanspirited way.

    Meanspirited? Really? I mean, seriously James. If attacking Obama’s community service as credentials for being president is okay, why on *earth* isn’t questioning military credentials?

    The only reason I can come up with is a deep abiding belief that the military is sacred and even remotely questioning it is verboten.

    Well, unless you’re a democrat. Then the rules seem completely reversed.

    Mean spirited? Geebus. That’s rich.

  9. od says:

    Both sides denigrate opposition candidate’s military backgrounds … remember Kerry? The rule is simple: for any given issue, if it helps our guy it’s relevant, if it doesn’t it’s not. You try your best not to get cynical about politics, but its almost impossible if your memory goes back even a few years.

    Whether the official campaigns are behind it is harder to determine – was Bush’s campaign behind the Swiftboaters? Its just as likely that it was an independent group in both cases.

  10. Bithead says:

    Well, let’s add to this mix the charges that McCain is guilty of war crimes…

  11. Hal says:

    Again, OD, where’s the “denigration” from Clark wrt McCain? Please, dear god, please point it out. It simply isn’t there. The “denigration” is simply, as James points out, the mere suggestion that McCain’s valiant military service isn’t relevant for being President.

    I do not think this word “denigration” means what you think it means.

  12. Hal says:

    let’s add to this mix the charges

    Great. Let’s talk about Obama being a Muslim.

    Geebus. Talk about changing the subject…

  13. Hal says:

    Dear god, Bithead. Your link is about Code Pink and Noam Chomsky.

  14. Jeffrey W. Baker says:

    In regards to the substance of the article, it’s clear that McCain did _not_ learn the lessons of the Vietnam war. Chiefly, that the military will lie their butts off to get a bigger, more explodey mission, and that the politicians will direct the mission in response to domestic political concerns instead of battlefield realities. McCain hasn’t learned either of these lessons. He’s willing to expand the Iraq war, and take it to Iran, so he can look tough to American voters, without regard to the costs and risks abroad. And he’s willing to repeat the reports of the generals at face value, having not learned the lessons of the Harkings/McNamara propaganda machine that misled Kennedy into believing that the ARVN was winning the war in ’63.

  15. Bithead says:

    Dear god, Bithead. Your link is about Code Pink and Noam Chomsky.

    So it is, Hal. So it is. and yet in it we find:

    Critics have accused McCain of war crimes for bombing targets in Hanoi in the 1960s. Sunday, a widely read liberal blog accused McCain of “disloyalty” during his captivity in Vietnam for his coerced participation in propaganda films and interviews after he’d been tortured.

    So, are we to take your reaction to suggest that Obama… who is, by the way, unarguably the farthest left candidate the Democrat party has ever coughed up, isn’t in line with Code Pink and Chomsky? I think you’ll find that’ll be a hard sell, even among a lot of Democrats, Hal

  16. Michael says:

    Can someone please explain, succinctly and clearly, what Wes Clark did to attack McCain’s record? If we’re going to be arguing about something, shouldn’t we agree about what we’re arguing about?

    It was the part that commanding a squadron during non-combat doesn’t count. At least, that was the part that struck me as offensive.

    Attack may be too strong a word but certainly, “I don’t think getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to become president” is an attempt to downplay what McCain did during the war.

    The “getting into a fighter plane” would be a good quality, the getting shot down part, however, doesn’t strike me as a good quality. I think Clark’s intent was to say that just because McCain suffered for this country, doesn’t mean that suffering is indicative of his ability to lead. McCain’s time in a POW camp wasn’t self-imposed exile, he didn’t have much of a choice about getting tortured or not, so I don’t see how events outside of his control can be made into positive character attributes.

    For me, there were only two things he did that should be considered, #1 he got into the plane knowing he could be shot down, and #2 he didn’t break under the stresses of being a POW. The fact that he was a POW isn’t what is important.

  17. Ed says:

    Wingnut dishonesty on steroids is the only way to describe the right’s response to Clark’s comments. Here’s a transcript of the Schieffer interview:

    http://mediamatters.org/items/200806300001?f=h_latest

    Clark opens his interview with an argument that Obama’s better communication skills make him a better candidate.

    It is then Schieffer who raises the question that McCain’s experience in the military makes him more qualified. Clark’s response is as follows:

    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 Air — in the Navy that he commanded, it 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?

    If there is one thing that is factually inaccurate in this statement, or disrespectful to McCain, I’d be very interested to have someone point it out.

    And then to the point that Clark’s description of “riding” in a fighter plane diminished McCain’s service… let’s go back to the transcript:

    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 —

    CLARK: Well, I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.

    Well what do you know. Clark has simply tracked Schieffer’s language exactly in responding to the question.

    The vitriole of the right, the crazed dissembling and distortion of Clark’s comments speaks volumes. The determination to make controversy out of anything and everything.

    There is NOTHING here. NOTHING. AT. ALL.

    But you all go Malkin-stupid nonetheless. What a bunch of tools, thank God I got the hell out of this party in the last decade.

  18. Hal says:

    It was the part that commanding a squadron during non-combat doesn’t count. At least, that was the part that struck me as offensive.

    Again, please explain *how* this is offensive? Because you think it is qualifications for being president? Fine. Just because I or Wes Clark disagree you find that *offensive*? That’s quite bizarre. It’s an assertion and we, who disagree, certainly have the right to disagree and say so, correct? You find our disagreement *offensive*.

    Geebus.

  19. Bithead says:

    Doesn’t it strike anyone as odd, that Clark, whose only claim to fame was that he as a general… albeit one that got his butt canned for gross incompetance… ran for president as “General Wesley Clark”, turns around four years later to question the idea that military service isn’t a great addition to a resume for someone running for POTUS?

  20. Hal says:

    isn’t in line with Code Pink and Chomsky?

    Man, you really just rely almost completely on the tactic of changing the subject, don’t you? It’s rather childish, but this one is particularly so. First, the National Journal? Geebus, Bithead, that is so frickin’ obviously debunked even if it didn’t come from the gaping maw of a right wing nut house.

    Second, please stop arguing by innuendo – I know it’s like asking the rain to stop falling, but really. Your assertion that because he’s the most liberal (by a subjective measurement pushed by loons) senator means he must be in collusion with Code Pink is merely evidence that you’re completely unable to make anything resembling an argument in this matter.

    Really, dude. It’s just completely embarrassing.

  21. Michael says:

    Again, please explain *how* this is offensive?

    Because there are a lot of people who served in command positions during times of peace, and their service shouldn’t be diminished. The fact of the matter is that they were trained so that they would be able to perform their duties during war time. To say that McCain’s experiences don’t equate to war-time experiences is to imply that he couldn’t have performed his duties during war time. That I find offensive, both to McCain and to the Navy that trained him.

    Because you think it is qualifications for being president? Fine. Just because I or Wes Clark disagree you find that *offensive*? That’s quite bizarre.

    I think that military service is valid, regardless of whether it is during times of peace or war. I find it offensive to imply that those who did not serve during times of war were somehow less trained, less able, or less honorable than those who did. Clark’s statement hit the first two.

    If you want to say that military service, either during peace or war, is not a qualification, then fine, make that point. But it’s all or nothing, don’t discount peace-time troops just because they were peace-time troops.

    Geebus.

    We get it already, repetition doesn’t make your point.

  22. Bithead says:

    Man, you really just rely almost completely on the tactic of changing the subject, don’t you?

    Hardly ever, actually. What you refuse to recognize is they’re all part of the same liberal mantra.

    And offering up mediamatters as proof of anything, is… what was the phrase… That’s the cherry on the cake.

  23. Benedict says:

    The irony here is that the Democrat political strategy can be explained by a military aphorism; namely, that “generals are always fighting the last war”.

    Many on the left remain convinced that it was the Swift Vets and POWS for Truth that cost Kerry the 2004 election. They figure that if the attack on Kerry’s claims about his service worked in 2004, then attacking McCain’s service in 2008 will work for them.

    The problem, of course, is that McCain does not equal Kerry. Hal, in his noon post, is clearly conflating Kerry with McCain where he writes that “McCain is making military service his crown jewel of leadership and experience (and really, what else does he have besides that?)”? Somehow, I don’t think we’re going to see John McCain lead off his acceptance speech with a bad salute and a sanctimonious “Reporting for duty.” For better or worse, McCain has McCain-Feingold, his now-vindicated early and outspoken support of the surge in Iraq, his participation in the Gang of 14, etc, among many other legislative accomplishments over the course of his career.

    Obama voted “present” a lot.

    Who is the leader between those two?

  24. Bithead says:

    The problem, of course, is that McCain does not equal Kerry.

    Well, sure. Which is why I said, earlier in another thread…

    There’s a major difference between someone serving because he holds the American ideal larger than himself, and one gaming the system for his own glory. Most of the American people knew that for what it was in John Kerry; Kerry was not about true service. His actions upon his return confirm this. That’s what annoys vets so about Kerry. THEY certainly understand. That’s also a major reason he’s not president.. even those who are not vets understand.

  25. Hal says:

    Because there are a lot of people who served in command positions during times of peace, and their service shouldn’t be diminished.

    It’s is only “diminishing” if you feel it is the *right* and the *privilege* to be president based on this skill set. I’m sorry, I don’t think it does, nor do I think that my statement “diminishes” their command positions. Your reaction is one of privilege and presumption not of rational discourse.

    To say that McCain’s experiences don’t equate to war-time experiences

    Um, where in the heck did Clark state that because that’s not anything resembling Clark’s statement. Seriously, dude, you seem to be projecting something and completely ignoring reality.

    But it’s all or nothing, don’t discount peace-time troops just because they were peace-time troops.

    Again, where the F did he even come close to saying that?

    Geebus.

  26. Hal says:

    Well, Dr. B. You certainly don’t fail to entertain.

  27. Hal says:

    Somehow, I don’t think we’re going to see John McCain lead off his acceptance speech with a bad salute and a sanctimonious “Reporting for duty.”

    Well, we’ll see. It’s pretty darn clear that he brings up his POW service and military service every chance he gets, at town halls, speeches and interviews. So, he may not have the sanctimonious “reporting for duty”, but my guess is he’ll have the equivalent – although it won’t be “sanctimonious” because, you know, he’s a republican. Seriously, you honestly think McCain hasn’t made his military career as the centerpiece of his “experience” campaign?

    For better or worse, McCain has McCain-Feingold, his now-vindicated early and outspoken support of the surge in Iraq, his participation in the Gang of 14, etc, among many other legislative accomplishments over the course of his career.

    roflmao. Okay. That’s a whole lotta presidenting going on there, I’ll give you that.

    Wow.

  28. Bithead says:

    To say that McCain’s experiences don’t equate to war-time experiences

    Um, where in the heck did Clark state that because that’s not anything resembling Clark’s statement.

    Hmmm. You know, I think you may have something there. After all, Clark never said anything even remotely resembling…

    That large squadron in the Air — in the Navy that he commanded, it wasn’t a wartime squadron. He hasn’t been there and ordered the bombs to fall.

    ..right, Hal?

  29. Hal says:

    Wow, even a blind pig finds a chestnut. Touche’ Bithead!

    Okay, Clark said that it wasn’t a war time squadron and that he hasn’t been there and ordered the bombs to fall.

    Which makes Michael’s line of reasoning somewhat more understandable. However, I can’t – for the life of me – understand why that’s *offensive*. I mean, he *hasn’t* been there and ordered the bombs to fall. I would claim that “being there and ordering the bombs to fall” isn’t qualifications for being President, either. But apparently, merely claiming that any military service isn’t automatic determination of presidenting is apparently offensive to those in the military.

    Which is what I find offensive, personally.

    But hey, you go Bithead. Stopped clocks and blind pigs! They give you hope for some form of relevance – however trivial.

  30. Benedict says:

    Hal –

    You’ve certainly got the l33t sp33k down. You roxxors! I’ve been pwned!

    Leaving aside the juvenilia, the problem with your line of, ahh, “reasoning” is the same as that faced by every idiot sports fan who wants to get rid of the manager or head coach of their favorite team. Getting rid of the guy is easy; the problem is that you then need to replace him with someone else.

    So after you dismiss McCain’s military and legislative accomplishments, you turn to your candidate and find zero of the former and an infinitesimal fraction of the latter (and I’m grading on a curve). Under your scheme, if McCain is not qualified to be president, then Obama is even less qualified.

    Your move, d00d.

  31. Bithead says:

    Wow, even a blind pig finds a chestnut. Touche’ Bithead!

    Apparently, you’re the only one who didn’t find it.

  32. Bithead says:

    I should add that given that missing element, it’s not hard to imagine why you find the rest of it so hard to fathom.

  33. Michael says:

    It’s is only “diminishing” if you feel it is the *right* and the *privilege* to be president based on this skill set.

    You’ve missed my point entirely. I don’t believe that having commanded a squadron during war time makes you any more qualified to be President than having commanded one during peace time. It was Clark’s distinguishing between the two that I found offensive.

    Your reaction is one of privilege and presumption not of rational discourse.

    If you take away the McCain and POTUS angle, and you just have Clark saying that a peace-time squadron commander doesn’t have the same qualifications as a war-time squadron commander, I would still find it offensive. It’s not about privilege, and the only presumption I make is that both commanders were equal in training and ability, regardless of the times they served.

    And “Geebus” hardly gets you credit for rational discourse either, Hal.

    Um, where in the heck did Clark state that because that’s not anything resembling Clark’s statement.

    Clark said: “But he hasn’t held executive responsibility. That large squadron in the Navy that he commanded — that wasn’t a wartime squadron”, which reads to me that Clark thinks if it was a wartime squadron, then it would count as executive responsibility. If you take a different meaning from that statement, please clarify it for me.

    Wow, even a blind pig finds a chestnut. Touche’ Bithead!

    Translation: “Wow, I was wrong after all and was totally called out on it. Of well, better get off one more insult while I admit my mistake.” Is that what passes for rational discourse these days?

    Which makes Michael’s line of reasoning somewhat more understandable.

    It’s funny how that happens when you actually read what is being said.

    I would claim that “being there and ordering the bombs to fall” isn’t qualifications for being President, either.

    And that I wouldn’t find offensive, because you’re not making a judgment on the men who serve based solely on the times they served in.

  34. Hal says:

    Under your scheme, if McCain is not qualified to be president, then Obama is even less qualified.

    Hmmm. Got me there! Gee, it’s as if we should just stop now because obviously we don’t have military record or the Keating five or full throated support for the Iraq invasion or a fox hole conversion to taxes or a flip on tax cuts or support for drilling to fall back on.

    My oh my. What will the American public do? You’re right! They’ll have nothing to look at other than experience as a POW, creating a campaign financing law which barely registers in anyone’s brains, his participation in the gang of 14 which no one outside political junkies even remembers and whatever legislative accomplishments that don’t piss off his base that McCain can point to.

    Going to be tough this year for Democrats, that’s for sure.

  35. Hal says:

    It was Clark’s distinguishing between the two that I found offensive.

    Yes, now that Bithead has pointed that out to me, I understand your offense. However, I still find this quite bizarre. Clearly, even within the military there is a quite clear bar of actual combat experience and decision making under combat. I don’t make those distinctions, but it’s quite clear the military does and I understand why. To claim that it’s offensive to you, as a military man, to make those distinctions seems to be quite clearly breaking with the tradition in the military but hey. It’s your beef. To be consistent, though, you’ll have to be offended by the countless others in the military who make this same distinction all the time. I’m guessing that it’d be a safe bet that you won’t be?

    Translation: “Wow, I was wrong after all and was totally called out on it. Of well, better get off one more insult while I admit my mistake.” Is that what passes for rational discourse these days?

    No, I admitted my error. Thank you very much. It’s something I’ve yet to see from Bithead in any discussions with him. I insult him because he’s completely immune to any self criticism or feedback. Yes, it stings slightly that he’s the one who pointed it out. But that’s just life. He’s still an idiot, regardless of his little zinger.

    It’s funny how that happens when you actually read what is being said.

    Translation: Let me just get another kick or two while you’re down to show you what a great guy I am.

    Thanks!

    And that I wouldn’t find offensive, because you’re not making a judgment on the men who serve based solely on the times they served in.

    Again, I’m pretty darn sure that the entire military makes this same judgment and does so without shame or remorse. But again, feel free to be offended by the entire military. It’s kind of weird, but what the hey.

  36. There is an antipathy to most things military amongst some of Obama’s supporters. There really doesn’t have to be any coordination for the meme to show up over and over again. That’s just one of the features of the echo chamber.

  37. brainy435 says:

    Hal, it’s very easy to debunk you when you answer your own queestions.

    “‘But it’s all or nothing, don’t discount peace-time troops just because they were peace-time troops.’

    Again, where the F did he even come close to saying that?”
    1:04

    “But he hasn’t held executive responsibility. That large squadron in the Air — in the Navy that he commanded, it wasn’t a wartime squadron. ”
    12:39

    Pretty clear Clark tried blowing off McCains whole record and when he got into specifics he realized he screwed up. He then tried to twist what he said to not make it look TOO insane and ended up slamming all peace-time commands. If you have an exectutive position in the military, how does it not count because it wasn’t in combat? Hell, he was even confused about which branch McCain served in initially.

    McCain has experience in many areas the President will be expected to preside over. Obama does not. Military experience is not a sole requirement for the presidency, but how the hell can you not admit it is a positive experience for a President?

    As Hillary said, McCain would bring a lifetime of experience to the Presidency and Obama would bring a speech he gave this one time.

  38. Michael says:

    To claim that it’s offensive to you, as a military man, to make those distinctions seems to be quite clearly breaking with the tradition in the military but hey. It’s your beef. To be consistent, though, you’ll have to be offended by the countless others in the military who make this same distinction all the time. I’m guessing that it’d be a safe bet that you won’t be?

    You make far too many assumptions in your posts, Hal. Parsimony makes for better arguments.

    No, I admitted my error. Thank you very much.

    I never said you didn’t, I just pointed to your need to insult the person who pointed out your error. You’re smarter now than you were 30 minutes ago because of Bithead, you should be grateful not resentful.

    Translation: Let me just get another kick or two while you’re down to show you what a great guy I am.

    See, the difference between sarcasm and straight-out insulting is that, with sarcasm, I make fun of the situation you found yourself in, but not you directly. You’re a smart guy, Hal, you just post faster than you think sometimes.

  39. Hal says:

    Hal, it’s very easy to debunk you when you answer your own queestions.

    late to the party.

    Military experience is not a sole requirement for the presidency, but how the hell can you not admit it is a positive experience for a President?

    Amazing how simply changing the subject works.

    Look, read the title of this post. The issue is not whether military service is or is not positive experience for the president. Reasonable people can disagree on that. What is amazingly bizarre is finding it offensive that one disagrees that John McCain’s service record is not a qualification for being president.

    Claiming that this is “denigrating” McCain’s service record, or “attacking” his military record is simply insane.

    That is what we’re discussing here. Or would be, if the subject wasn’t being swapped out all the time.

  40. brainy435 says:

    Well, I guess I should type faster next time…. Michael beat me to it by a mile.

  41. cian says:

    Obama… who is, by the way, unarguably the farthest left candidate the Democrat party has ever coughed up,

    And you’ll never guess who the farthest left candidate in 2004 was.

    Yeah, Kerry, and in 1993 it was Clinton, and in 1989 it was…

    Its scary, the same BS for 20 years and they’re still not bored. Thank God the country is.

  42. Bithead says:

    Hmmm. Got me there! Gee, it’s as if we should just stop now because obviously we don’t have military record or the Keating five or full throated support for the Iraq invasion or a fox hole conversion to taxes or a flip on tax cuts or support for drilling to fall back on.

    Man, you really just rely almost completely on the tactic of changing the subject, don’t you?

    No, I admitted my error. Thank you very much. It’s something I’ve yet to see from Bithead in any discussions with him.

    Then, once again, you haven’t been watching very closely. Something of a pattern, developing there, too.

    There is an antipathy to most things military amongst some of Obama’s supporters. There really doesn’t have to be any coordination for the meme to show up over and over again. That’s just one of the features of the echo chamber.

    Well, now, that’s a fair point, Charles. Certainly, there’s a common overarching philosphy amongst those James pointed out in his original post. But perhaps that’s part of the point of those objecting to it?

  43. Hal says:

    You make far too many assumptions in your posts, Hal. Parsimony makes for better arguments.

    Really? Those in the military make no distinction between those who’ve served in combat and those who don’t? They don’t believe that a command tested under combat is somehow different in quality and desirability than someone who has only commanded during peacetime? Well, drop my drawers and bend me over! Imagine all this time I’ve been under the amazing delusion that combat experience and command under combat doesn’t actually mean more to the military than the same under peacetime.

    You’re smarter now than you were 30 minutes ago because of Bithead, you should be grateful not resentful.

    Whatever.

    You’re a smart guy, Hal, you just post faster than you think sometimes.

    Granted. Fine. I stand humiliated not only by Bitheads fine sleuthing techniques in pointing out what I missed but also by my inability to recognize his contribution and humbly accept the trove of wisdom which I was missing and now am enriched by.

  44. Michael says:

    Claiming that this is “denigrating” McCain’s service record, or “attacking” his military record is simply insane.

    That is what we’re discussing here. Or would be, if the subject wasn’t being swapped out all the time.

    That’s what you were discussing here. Obviously the rest of us were discussing something different the whole time.

  45. Bithead says:

    Its scary, the same BS for 20 years and they’re still not bored. Thank God the country is

    You’re right; they are which is exactly why Kerry lost. And BTW… I do.

  46. brainy435 says:

    “Look, read the title of this post. The issue is not whether military service is or is not positive experience for the president. Reasonable people can disagree on that. What is amazingly bizarre is finding it offensive that one disagrees that John McCain’s service record is not a qualification for being president.”

    No, reasonable cannot disagree on that. Unless you really screwed the pooch while you were in, how can service to the nation not be a positive experience in a President? They can disagree that it’s a sole qualification or that not having served is a disqualification, sure. But saying that military service is is no way a positive attribute? That’s insane. ESPECIALLY from a party who 4 years ago ran a candidate solely on his much thinner service record.

  47. Hal says:

    Man, you really just rely almost completely on the tactic of changing the subject, don’t you?

    Yet another round of “rubber and glue” and “I know you are but what am I”.

    Just let me know when you learn about modus ponens and modus tollens, k?

  48. Michael says:

    Really? Those in the military make no distinction between those who’ve served in combat and those who don’t? They don’t believe that a command tested under combat is somehow different in quality and desirability than someone who has only commanded during peacetime?

    Again, you’re making assumptions about what assumptions I was pointing out. And again, your assumptions are wrong.

    Whatever.

    Yes, maybe that was an unfounded assumption on my part. I’ll follow my own advice next time and not assume things about you.

    Granted. Fine. I stand humiliated not only by Bitheads fine sleuthing techniques in pointing out what I missed but also by my inability to recognize his contribution and humbly accept the trove of wisdom which I was missing and now am enriched by.

    There’s nothing humiliating about learning something you weren’t aware of before. Nor is there anything humiliating about being wrong, regardless of who points it out. The point of the comment thread isn’t to prove how awesome you are, it’s to talk, debate, argue and get smarter by doing so (and to earn James some ad revenue, of course).

  49. Hal says:

    And again, your assumptions are wrong.

    You stated that

    I don’t believe that having commanded a squadron during war time makes you any more qualified to be President than having commanded one during peace time. It was Clark’s distinguishing between the two that I found offensive.

    So, distinguishing between the two is what you found offensive? Pray tell, where did I get this one wrong? Again, the military distinguishes between the two literally all the time from what I can tell.

    The point of the comment thread isn’t to prove how awesome you are, it’s to talk, debate, argue and get smarter by doing so (and to earn James some ad revenue, of course).

    Hmmm. So, my flippant remark about a blind pig is now a deep psychological issue. Thanks.

  50. Eric says:

    OTB commenter Bithead isn’t buying Obama’s attempts to distance himself from Clark.

    Obama’s been doing this all along; Surrogates end up saying the smears and other trash talk the campaign needs to spread, and when things get too hot because of what gets said, Obama simply tosses the speaker under the bus, and claims he’s running a ‘clean campaign’, and he’s shocked…. shocked… that any of his people would come up with such a comment.

    Oh, yeah, because conservatives never coordinate anything. Why, just today, a McCain surrogate did not attack Wes Clark’s military record. And if he did, why, he did it all on his own with no coordination from the McCain campaign.

    I’m just curious if any of Wes Clark’s detractors actually watched the exchange between him and Bob Schieffer? It was actually Schieffer who stated the “shot down in the plane” remark, which Clark then merely repeated. Tell me, is Bob Schieffer now coordinating with the Obama campaign?

    See how silly these ridiculous conspiracy theories get?

  51. Bithead says:

    Man, you really just rely almost completely on the tactic of changing the subject, don’t you?
    Yet another round of “rubber and glue” and “I know you are but what am I”.

    No, simply using language you’re sure to understand. Having used it yourself it seemed a sure bet. Amazing thing, how using the same terms and phraseology as those you’re in discussion with, aids in the understanding process.

  52. Bithead says:

    Tell me, is Bob Schieffer now coordinating with the Obama campaign?

    Well, for one thing you’re a little late to the game. That play has already been run; Note Carles comment and my response to it. But more; Ask any Hillary Clinton supporter, if CBS isn’t now and hasn’t been in the tank for Obama for some months now.

  53. Michael says:

    So, distinguishing between the two is what you found offensive? Pray tell, where did I get this one wrong?

    1: I am not a “military man”.

    2: I am consistent in my feeling that it is offensive.

  54. cian says:

    God bless Hal for his perseverance. Most of those he is arguing against thought mocking Kerry’s war wounds by wearing band aids was a cute idea. Now they’re raising their skirts in horror at the very thought that someone might question the idea that McCain’s war record automatically makes him a better choice for commander in chief.

    Thinking this morally corrupted is impossible to debate with.

  55. Michael says:

    Most of those he is arguing against thought mocking Kerry’s war wounds by wearing band aids was a cute idea.

    To be fair, he’s also arguing against some of us who were _against_ people mocking Kerry’s war wounds.

  56. LaurenceB says:

    OK. I just read every last comment in this thread…

    I’m sure John McCain was a fine soldier. See how I’m not demeaning his service?

    But, being a POW, or a fighter pilot, or even a military officer – although it holds some weight – is just not very important to me in the grand scheme of things when choosing a President.

    I believe that’s pretty much what Clarke meant to say – and I agree with it. Feel free to disagree.

    In general, I think this is manufactured outrage.

  57. Michael says:

    OK. I just read every last comment in this thread…

    And that’s 10 minutes of your life you’ll never get back.

    I believe that’s pretty much what Clarke meant to say

    I agree that it’s most likely what Clark meant to say, but it wasn’t what he said.

  58. Bithead says:

    But, being a POW, or a fighter pilot, or even a military officer – although it holds some weight – is just not very important to me in the grand scheme of things when choosing a President

    Then again, given the usual tilt the leftists have on things military that shouldn’t be very surprising. But I do find ironic that Clark should be making such comments after basing his entire campaign on his military experience.

  59. LaurenceB says:

    Bithead,

    You have no idea what “tilt” I have on things military, and you have no idea if I’m a “leftist”, so kindly keep your thoughts to your self on the subject.

    Thanks

  60. Benedict says:

    LaurenceB –

    You wrote

    But, being a POW, or a fighter pilot, or even a military officer – although it holds some weight – is just not very important to me in the grand scheme of things when choosing a President.

    I believe that’s pretty much what Clarke meant to say – and I agree with it.

    Your speculation as to what Clark meant to say is utterly refuted by the fact of Clark’s own 2004 campaign for the presidency, the website for which is still available.

    I urge you to visit the linked page. The entirety of Clark’s case as to why he should president was his military career; nothing else is mentioned.

    In short, Clark’s own candidacy supports the fact that McCain’s military service is a positive qualifier for the presidency.

  61. LaurenceB says:

    Benedict,
    If your point is that Clarke is guilty of emphasizing military experience in his own case, and then de-emphasizing the importance of military experience in McCain’s case – I’m sure your right. He is a politician, after all.

    But if your point is that I should somehow regard military experience as a more important factor in evaluating a potential President, simply because Clark at one time did, well I don’t find that convincing at all. (You may be making the incorrect assumption that I’m a Clark supporter, or that I have been.)

  62. LaurenceB says:

    Michael,

    And that’s 10 minutes of your life you’ll never get back.

    More like twenty. lol

    I agree that it’s most likely what Clark meant to say, but it wasn’t what he said.

    OK. Point well taken. Let’s chalk it up to “poor wording”, agree that Obama was right to disavow it on those grounds, and move on, I guess.

  63. flypay says:

    LaurenceB – I really don’t want to wade into the waters on the topic at hand (though I do have an opinion, of course). I did have to laugh at your comment about “keep your thoughts to your self on the subject” though. Have you never been on a blog comment thread before? People NOT keeping their thoughts to themselves on ANY subject is half the fun!

  64. LaurenceB says:

    I suppose you’re right flypay, but it doesn’t make it any less annoying.

  65. flypay says:

    Annoying, humorous, thought-provoking, enraging, etc. are what keeps me reading. Comments that are agreeable and in sync with my own thoughts in every way? I’m on to the next blog topic……

  66. Michael says:

    More like twenty. lol

    Well I was going to give you half of that back, but not if you’re going to be like this about it.

  67. anjin-san says:

    Its pretty clear that this is nothing more than manufactured outrage from McCain’s newly minted Swift Boat Truth Squad operation.

    Seems that an emerging component of McCain’s campaign is to keep the spotlight off of McCain, with the exception of carefully crafted bits about his military service. Based on what I have seen of him on the campaign trail, it is an understandable strategy…

  68. LaurenceB says:

    Hmmm… Maybe I wasn’t clear.

    What I found annoying was Bithead’s assumption about my “tilt” against the military (as if he knew), not anything he said about Clarke/McCain. I have absolutely no problem with his discussion otherwise.

    In other words:
    Discussions (and disagreements) about politics: Fine.
    Discussions about me: Not Fine.

    He doesn’t know me.

  69. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Hal, you represent the left at its best here. I have a hard disk on my computer that has a lot of information, as you do. The thing is, my computer has no wisdom and neither do you. Obama has the thinnest resume of anyone to run for President in this or the last century. That is doubtless. Community organizer, short time in State Senate, with few votes, and and unfinished term as a U.S. Senator. Where are his chops at anything? You claim his judgement is the basis for his candidacy? It was his judgement to associate with William Ayers, Jeremiah Wright, Tony Rezko and all the other people he has had to distance himself from. Hal, without pointing the finger somewhere else. Explain why this empty suit is qualified to be leader of the free world. I would love to get a chance to move his teleprompters back a little bit from where they stand. He would injure his neck looking from one to the other. McCain has been the target of a sophistocated attack by Obama’s lead advisor. David Axelrod, Lobbyist, is truely scum of the earth. Obama is truely behind each attack on McCain. It is ok, sure. Does it fool anyone? Only the Obamites. Hal.

  70. Hal says:

    Zelsdorf,

    Ever see the movie Mystery Men? You’re the Sphinx

    To learn my teachings, I must first teach you how to learn.

    You must lash out with every limb, like the octopus who plays the drums.

    He who questions training only trains himself at asking questions.

    I swear that you’re really just a half page of e-lisp in someone’s buffer.

  71. Michael says:

    I swear that you’re really just a half page of e-lisp in someone’s buffer.

    Don’t underestimate the value of a half page of lisp. And I don’t think anybody who can write that much would come up with something as bad as Zelsdorf. He’s more like a half-page of PHP, or a VBA Macro.

  72. Hal says:

    Don’t underestimate the value of a half page of lisp.

    Never have…

    I once wanted to build a commenting version of R. Robot (sadly, now defunct) – set loose as a war commenter. Just start a few EC2 servers, salt in a vast list of open proxies, stir in a list of right blogs and see what kind of conversations got engaged and how long they continued. Thought it’d be a rather interesting and fun sociological experiment.

    Sadly, I do not have the time for the fun things..

  73. Bithead says:

    He doesn’t know me.

    I don’t think that a crucial need, at this point. Your own words are all that’s needed to make such judgments. And frankly, your oversensitivity on the point tends to confirm my original read.

    Now, don’t just tell me how wrong I am. Show me.

  74. Bithead says:

    I swear that you’re really just a half page of e-lisp in someone’s buffer.

    He makes a few interesting points, Hal. Why not get your nose out of the air, and answer his questions?

  75. LaurenceB says:

    Now, don’t just tell me how wrong I am. Show me.

    Sorry, I’m just not interested in proving to you how much I love the troops.

    Given the usual racism you righties are famous for, what would be the point?

    And don’t just tell me your not a racist. Show me.

  76. Hal says:

    He makes a few interesting points, Hal. Why not get your nose out of the air, and answer his questions?

    No, he doesn’t. He makes assertions. Worse, he swoops down with cape swirling, the rented fog machine with the iPod playlist of Wagner’s greatest playing shuffle, making assertions – nothing more. He doesn’t have any argument, is making no point other than “I declare”.

    That you think his comments are actual arguments should be a clue for you.

  77. Hal says:

    Loving TPM’s collection of the MSM hyperventilation on this issue. Got to say, y’all who are thinking that the MSM has it in for McCain are living in some fantasy world.

  78. od says:

    Obama is truely behind each attack on McCain. It is ok, sure. Does it fool anyone? Only the Obamites.

    Luckily Obama is a fast typer.

    Do you really think either McCain or Obama have the time to keep track of, let alone organize, all the attacks that occur in this internet driven election? Pretty impressive if they could, actually, I’d feel better about either of them if they really were capable of that.

  79. Bithead says:

    Sorry, I’m just not interested in proving to you how much I love the troops.

    Not what I said. But show me how my original assessment of you is incorrect.

    No, he doesn’t. He makes assertions.

    Oh, yes… you’ve already demonstrated your capacity for not noticing what is written, and ignoring it so as to continue an empty argument. But do look here, and note the question marks in the text. Also, note the last sentence is a demand for you to explain your position on the matter.

    Where are his chops at anything? You claim his judgement is the basis for his candidacy? It was his judgement to associate with William Ayers, Jeremiah Wright, Tony Rezko and all the other people he has had to distance himself from. Explain why this empty suit is qualified to be leader of the free world.

  80. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    I would much rather be what I am than what you are, Hal. Your argument reflects a weakness of character, somewhat like your idol, Obama. You have real trouble giving a straight answer to any question. I wonder WTF is wrong with you and him.

  81. Hal says:

    Dude, go grab some Cheetos and play some video games with Lucian Goldberg’s idiot child or grab a light saber and practice with the blogger formerly called Tacitus. Or just grab a couple of beers and lay off the fog machine for a while. Switch the iPod playlist off the whole German composers thing for a while and try some Michael Bolton or John Tesh.

  82. Bithead says:

    I wonder WTF is wrong with you and him.

    I don’t.

  83. G.A.Phillips says:

    Under your scheme, if McCain is not qualified to be president, then Obama is even less qualified.

    naw. vote for the lesser of two liberals.

    Given the usual racism you righties are famous for, what would be the point?

    Dude why.

    And don’t just tell me your not a racist. Show me.

    I will, are you a liberal, and or believe in evolution, if you are or do then you have to be a racist or your a poser.

    And why so much to do about a severely flawed loser like Wes Clark, he is just another liberal who became a turncoat for political power. And then he has donkystones to piss on the record of a true American war hero, but hell most liberals do that to most war hero’s every day of their adult lives, so whats new and what is the big deal.

  84. Michael says:

    are you a liberal, and or believe in evolution, if you are or do then you have to be a racist or your a poser.

    Logic doesn’t sit well with you, does it?

  85. G.A.Phillips says:

    Switch the iPod playlist off the whole German composers thing for a while and try some Michael Bolton or John Tesh.

    Damn bro hooking people on crack is unforgiveable, but Michael Bolton and John Tesh, Dude why?

  86. G.A.Phillips says:

    Logic doesn’t sit well with you, does it?

    hey Michael, long time bro, and logic, wisdom, history, fact, and common sense sit very well with me NOT THAT I’M VERY GOOD AT USING THE LAST ONE, but I just got my dollar store Cheeto’s and I’m waiting for My DDO patch to load, so I don’t got time to explain it to you again, but have a great Independence day my friend and all the rest of you guys too.

  87. Michael says:

    I just got my dollar store Cheeto’s and I’m waiting for My DDO patch to load

    You make it impossible for me to actually mock you.