On Face the Nation last Sunday, retired General, Supreme NATO Commander and argyle sweater model Wesley Clark argued that John McCain's experience catapulting himself out of a flaming fighter jet doesn't actually qualify him to lead the free world, increasing production in your average Fox & Friends host's salivary glands by approximately 6800%.
Needless to say, things weren't always this way, as evidenced by this classic Daily Show clip from a time when the cable news-o-sphere still thought it was totally cool to cast a little bit of doubt on a genuine war hero's war record every now and again.
Tags: Barack Obama, George W. Bush, International Affairs, John Kerry, John McCain, Jon Stewart, The Daily Show, Wesley Clark
While we're all still reeling from the non-issue of whether or not Wesley Clark's comments about John McCain's military background, let's take a quick moment to ask a deeper, more thoughtful question…
Who gives a fuck?
Really, what exactly is it about being a military commander that automatically qualifies a person to be Commander-in-Chief? Is there any historical indication that wartime experience on the field transfers to quality as president?
Kathy Tumulty, over at Swampland, did some research on this…
At least a dozen U.S. Presidents have served as generals during war time. And as a lot, their performance as Commander-in-Chief wasn't all that impressive.
If you take as basic reference an ideologically balanced survey of historians, political scientists and legal scholars that the Wall Street Journal and the Federalist Society did in 2000, it turns out that only one of the 12 — George Washington (Revolutionary War) — qualifies as "great."
Just two of them — Andrew Jackson (War of 1812) and Dwight Eisenhower (WWII) — were "near great." Two were rated average: Rutherford Hayes and Chester Arthur (both of the Civil War).
Three were below average: Zachary Taylor (Mexican War), Ulysses Grant (Civil War) and Benjamin Harrison (Civil War). And two were flat-out "failures": Franklin Pierce (Mexican War) and Andrew Johnson (Civil War).*
Tumulty's argument is a little off, since McCain never rose beyond the rank of Captain, and she doesn't factor in other presidents who served during wartime, such as John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon.
Last I checked, McCain's is not.
* Both William Henry Harrison (War of 1812) and James Garfield (Civil War) were too busy taking dirt naps to really make much an impact. And, not for nothing, but Garfield's military experience certainly didn't help him dodge that bullet. (Too soon?)
Tags: Iraq, John McCain, Wesley Clark
These past few days, Gen. Wesley Clark has embarked upon a scathingly vicious campaign of attacks against Vietnam war hero Sen. John McCain and the validity of his service to this country.
It's gotten so bad that not only has the McCain team been forced to defend itself by hiring the guy who ripped apart John Kerry's military record four years ago, but even Barack Obama has rejected Clark's vitriolic rhetoric.
How bad were Clark's statements? Just get a load of this filth…
"I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war," Clark said of McCain on Sunday. "But he hasn't held executive responsibility."
Hold on. That wasn't it. Okay, what about this?
"That large squadron in the Navy that he commanded — that wasn't a wartime squadron. He hasn't been there and ordered the bombs to fall."
Wait, that's not right either. Shit. Oh, it must be this…
"John McCain is running his campaign on his experience and how his experience would benefit him and our nation as President. That experience shows courage and commitment to our country — but it doesn't include executive experience wrestling with national policy or go-to-war decisions.
"And in this area his judgment has been flawed — he not only supported going into a war we didn't have to fight in Iraq, but has time and again undervalued other, non-military elements of national power that must be used effectively to protect America. But as an American and former military officer I will not back down if I believe someone doesn't have sound judgment when it comes to our nation's most critical issues."
Um, I'm sorry. This isn't a story. I really should read this stuff before I start writing a post. Nevermind.
Goddamnit, Internet! Why do I keep listening to you?
Tags: Barack Obama, Iraq, John McCain, Wesley Clark
Oh, I do love the smell of veepstakes speculation in the morning. Today's grist for the pundit mill: it sounds like Barack Obama is considering John Edwards and Al Gore for the number two spot on his ticket…
A member of the Congressional Black Caucus who's met with Obama's vice-presidential screening team says she offered the names of former senators John Edwards and Sam Nunn — and was told they're on the list. Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick of Michigan says when she mentioned that Al Gore is her favorite, the two members of Obama's team smiled.
Now, if they had winked, Cheeks Kilpatrick would have understood that Jim Webb is on the list. Scratching their noses is the signal for Bill Richardson, and touching their right shoulders with their left hands is the sign for Wesley Clark. If they take off their hats and touch their heads, that means Obama should steal third.
It's a very sophisticated process, this veepstakes thing.
Tags: Al Gore, Barack Obama, Bill Richardson, Jim Webb, John Edwards, Wesley Clark