Truth and Patty Cake

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It seems this is the outrage of the weekend:

Either Gen. Clark said a nasty, terrible, awful thing — or the McCain camp:

a) didn’t do so well on reading comprehension questions when they took standardized tests in high school, or
b) includes its share of crybabies.

Consider the reactions from the McCain side:

“It is inconceivable to me that anyone would take a shot at Senator McCain’s military experience or say he lacked experience because he didn’t command troops in wartime,” said Adm. Leighton “Snuffy” Smith, who has worked with McCain for years. He added, “General Clark is way off base on this one.”

Senator John W. Warner, Republican of Virginia, a former navy secretary and former Armed Services Committee chairman, said he was “utterly shocked” at General Clark’s comments.

And Robert “Bud” McFarlane, a Vietnam combat veteran who was national security adviser in the Reagan administration, suggested that “this may be part of a larger gambit.” Mr. McFarlane added, “If the opposing candidate doesn’t really have the experience or knowledge or depth in international affairs, then one approach can be, I suppose, to try to deny that Senator McCain does.”

Not that the Obama side comprehends the meaning of General Clark’s remarks any better:

Bill Burton, a spokesman for the Illinois Democrat, said Monday that “Senator Obama honors and respects Senator McCain’s service, and of course, he rejects yesterday’s statement by General Clark.”

And here’s Barack Obama himself, in a speech today:

For those who have fought under the flag of this nation – for the young veterans I meet when I visit Walter Reed; for those like John McCain who have endured physical torment in service to our country – no further proof of such sacrifice is necessary. And let me also add that no one should ever devalue that service, especially for the sake of a political campaign, and that goes for supporters on both sides. We must always express our profound gratitude for the service of our men and women in uniform…

At least he didn’t also start singing “The wheels on the bus go round and round.”

Why? Why disrespect Wesley Clark — your own guy — for what he said?

In the first place, Clark said “I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president,” because Bob Schieffer had just framed the question with those very words. And in the second place, riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is not a qualification to be president. What do they all think, we’re stupid?

My mother-in-law’s best childhood friend, and godmother to my wife, married a man who had been a POW during the Korean War. The North Koreans were no more a bunch of pussycats than the North Vietnamese. When this POW came home, he made his living selling insurance. I don’t know how good he was at it, because my bride never suggested we go to him for our insurance needs, for whatever reason. What I do know is that his captivity in North Korea did not qualify him to sell insurance, much less become president of the United States. So what is it about any other POW’s experience per se that would qualify anyone to be president?

What Wesley Clark did was break the violin that plays doloroso whenever John McCain waves his personal bloody shirt. That’s a good thing for truth. And truth is in short supply in politics. Obama got his mojo in large part by insisting that he’d embody the truth.

So I wish he and his people (excepting Gen. Clark) would stop playing patty cake with it.


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