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Wes Clark on McCain’s Heroism

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Posted on Jun 30, 2008
Wes Clark

It seems a critique cannot be leveled against John McCain without first paying homage to his time as a prisoner of war. Even Barack Obama is careful not to offend. So it was somewhat surprising on Sunday to hear another veteran, Gen. Wesley Clark, rebuff McCain’s war heroism: “Well, I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.”

Clark’s comments came after some prodding from Bob Schieffer, who suggested specifically that getting shot down was somehow an experiential plus, and the general was careful to smooth things over with some hero talk.

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By Samantha Regan, August 12, 2008 at 8:32 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Enough about McCaan being a war hero.  He is no more a hero than those who have fought and died in the war and no more than any of the other POW’s.  He was shot down and he became a prisoner, how does that equip him for the presdency.  He was held captive througout the Vietnam War.  Everyone who talks about him seems to feel they must preface all their remarks by honoring his service.  It is getting embarrassing and silly and this hero worship is way out of bounds and they know it, but feel they must do it because they would be criticized for being disrespectful.

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By Louise, July 3, 2008 at 1:41 pm Link to this comment

McCain flying a jet and getting shot down does not qualify him to be president. Anymore than flying a jet and getting grounded, just before deserting qualified Bush to be president.

But then I suppose McCain rotting in jail for a few years qualifies him more than Bush rotting in bars for a few years did. Still the good nudniks of the United States of America seem to have been quite willing to accept Bush as an excuse for a leader.

The wonder is that McCain accepted Bush as an excuse for a leader. And while I’m on the subject, Obama joining the mindless chorus of talking heads that populate our so-called news networks in decrying Clarks remarks indicates maybe not getting shot down and not getting drunk are not necessarily the only qualities not required to make a candidate fit for office.

Oh my.

Whatever happened to the Obama we all loved and supported? Anybody know where he went? I for one wish we could find him.

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By The Sauda Voice, July 2, 2008 at 12:13 pm Link to this comment

Gen. Clark simply said what many Americans have been thinking and for quite some time now.  I, for one, agree wholeheartedly with him.  And this fake “controversy” has already reached its expiration date!!  Once again, the Right is attempting to spin a reasonable statement (however blunt) into some great crime - it is clearly yet another ploy to distract attention.  It’s about time the American public (and the media) fall out of its love affair with the old “maverick” John McCain and start digging deeper into the man and his politics - before its too late!

The Sauda Voice (Google Me)

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By mrmb, July 2, 2008 at 10:01 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I do agree 100% with Kristen’s clear and simple description.

The reason its ok for a lying cheat like Rove to lambast mccane is because these folks are considered the actual representatives of god and by extension evangelical zionists that can do no wrong and their self righteous zealot psyche is not offended when a criminal like rove says that but they do get really offended when pagans and devil worshippers and ..... like the rest of us say it.

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By papa, July 2, 2008 at 7:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

All Clark said is that He doesn’t think riding in a jet plane and getting shot down qualifies one to be President. Now the Republicans are spinning this into criticism of McCain’s military service, give Me a break. McCain allows surrogates to play Him up as one of America’s greatest living heros. I’d have more respect for the man, if just once I heard Him say, that He was no more a hero than any other Man or Woman who has served this country in time of war. Being shot down and held prisoner of war, doesn’t make Him any more of a hero, than those who managed not to be captured, and there is nothing wrong with pointing that out

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By cann4ing, July 1, 2008 at 5:25 pm Link to this comment

What you left out, Twigs, was that Bush had repeatedly threatened to veto Sen. Webb’s bill, a threat that was not withdrawn until after the bill passed with overwhelming bi-partisan support.  McCain opposed the bill from the start—even though the bill did no more than simply provide Iraq & Afghan vets with educational benefits that were available to McCain and I when we returned from Vietnam.  At the signing ceremony, Bush then shamelessly took credit for the bill and extended credit to McCain as well.

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By Twigs, July 1, 2008 at 3:45 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Wes Clark’s comments if they were to undermine Mccain then he could have used hundreds of other reasons like!  Mccain did you forget what war was like?  That war is a last resort, that diplomacy avoids war unless thats what you are into seeing your freinds, family, neighbors live in the pain and anguish of war?  Did you forget that or are you getting senile?  How you didn’t agree with the latest GI bill a month ago in support of our own servicemen and women?  And you say you are in favor of our military?  And my god about a million other things you have flip flopped flip flopped on catering to whoever will give you the presidency.

By the way our wonderful President (so brilliant) complemented Mccain and Graham in support and assistance on the GI bill.  Thats funny Graham voted against it and Mccain didn’t agree to be a part of it and didn’t even vote.  This President is unbelievable!!!!!!!

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By Mr123, July 1, 2008 at 2:14 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

There is absolutely nothing wrong by questioning any of those “perceived heroics” that we are being served by the self-serving,biased media regarding McCain`s
presidential qualifications / credentials,etc.
Nothing is more absurd,ridiculous and insane from
“riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification” to becoming president..yes indeed !
But wait,there is some additional and equally important “dis-qualification” such as this piece of
revelation about ” my friends McCain”,everyone seems
to ignore or hide from the general public >>>read:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1024927/...

No-one should be fooled into that so-called Maverick
image,because reading up on it,it plainly states:
a): an unbranded range animal; b): an independent individual who does not go along with a group or party…..which easily can be translated from the context of his action(within the above mentioned article)....begs this Question:
what exactly means “Maverick” here,does this somehow reveal “something rather sinister” about
a> an animal behavior? b>can`t get along with?
If this is true,do we all deserve such an Individual
in the highest Office,based an such a Character ??

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By Jim McGrath, July 1, 2008 at 2:11 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As a Vietnam vet, from what I read (if I have read all his comments in context), Clark is not impugning McCain’s war service, or diminishing his brave time as a POW; he is simply saying that McCain has not served in the military in an executive capacity, directing men, etc., a la Eisenhower, a la Colin Powell…and as someone who has, Clark is qualified to make that distinction.  The McCain camp, some of the media and others, are blowing things up…

Is it such a leap of gray matter or a deviation from love of country, or attacking someone’s service to say (or admit) that McCain’s military experience is not executive, not a generalship for example, and does not qualify him in that area.  If this small feat of the mind is intellectually demanding, we need smarter newsmen.  If it is heart rending to our patriotism, as histronics of some bleat, found love of country on a surer ground than blind affection that believes fair criticism is motivated only to smear and attack. And let us be a smarter public who won’t buy commentary and journalism worthy only of recycling.

Hasn’t recent experience (and even basic social studies classes) taught us that to criticize the president or our military men is not impugning the flag or country, just as critically discerning weak aspects of McCain’s experience does not discount or impugn his bravery and the merit he displayed; and that it isn’t a means to impugn the flag, the military, our war dead, etc., etc.

We need more knowledgeable, brave and critical eyes all around us – in the press, the public and the military. If we had them in 2002 and 2003, the military might not have gone along with attacking Saddam and Iraq for Bin Laden’s evil deeds…for more about the need for military competence instead of “general” malfeasance, see my blog at http://www.wrathofmcgrath.com

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By cann4ing, July 1, 2008 at 12:31 pm Link to this comment

The two candidates, Obama and McCain, are essentially job applicants for our nation’s highest office.  If we are to make comparisons, perhaps the appropriate one entails educational performance.

McCain is the privileged son and grandson of powerfully placed admirals.  His connections got him into the Naval Academy, just as George W. Bush’s connections got young George into Yale.  And like the privileged George W. Bush, whose academic record at Yale was, shall we say, less than stellar, McCain did not even rise to the level of mediocrity at Annapolis, finishing 894 out of a class of 899.

Unlike Bush, McCain did not utilize connections to get into the National Guard and thereby evade service in Vietnam.  He was shot down, held as a POW, and, upon his return, promptly dumped his first wife so that he could marry an heiress to a beer fortune.

Barack Obama is the product of a broken home—a self-made man who parlayed hard work and a brilliant mind into a law degree from this nation’s most prestigious law school, Harvard, Magna Cum Laude no less.  He could have easily gone off to make a quick buck at a Wall Street Law Firm, but chose instead to return to Chicago as a community activist.

Regardless of political affiliation, anyone who listens to the brilliance of Obama’s erudition as measured against the almost incoherent McCain mumblings comes away with an appreciation that this race is, intellectually, a classic mismatch.

But, as has always been the Republican strategy dating back to when Loyd Benson told Dan Quayle “Senator your no John Kennedy,” Republicans have always found a way to disparage any effort to mention the intellectual inferiority of their candidate—“elitism” is the usual moniker they seek to hang around their opponent’s neck. 

In this case, McCain cannot run on intellectual qualifications, but there’s that war record—so how dare anyone question whether that record is relevant to the question of whether McCain is qualified to hold the nation’s most intellectually challenging office.

For Christ sakes people, we are talking about the qualifications to hold this nation’s highest office, and over the past 8 years we have payed a heavy price for allowing the intellectually challenged to assume it.

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By Kristen, July 1, 2008 at 12:01 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What does getting captured have to do with qualifications for the presidency?  None. 

Which brings up another issue:  How does having a father who was a mediocre president qualify someone, i.e. drunken, cocaine-sniffing, spoiled frat boy, AWOL from Nat’l Guard party boy George Bush to be president?  How does having a (lecher) husband as president qualify his wife to be president?  Now the imbeciles are talking about having Jeb Bush as president in 2012.  Who’s next?  Chelsea for president?  Jenna for president?

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By BruSays, July 1, 2008 at 11:23 am Link to this comment

cann4ing - perfectly said!

All this endless blogging about who killed whom, who’s a hero, who’s brave, etc…is totally irrelevant. War is hell and shit happens.

The Corporate Media falls predictably in step with the Military/Industrial complex and its need to feed Americans on the glory and patriotism of war.

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By Sean, July 1, 2008 at 10:28 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dave, first off, on most of those occasions the Military was there to help-Somalia, Kuwait, Panama, Korea and yes, even Vietnam, a right idea executed the wrong way. Second, the reply was to Felicity about the success of our Military. Third, the image of high tech is often pretty un-realistic, we do not have any whiz bang weapons, the rifles we carry are the pretty much the same weapon we have had since the 60’s, the helmets are about 20 years old, they do not carry lazers, they do not have body armor that will stop any rifle round, they are pretty much just another grunt. As to our enemy, to say people like the Vietnamese were 3rd world is a bit of a stretch, they were combat hard troops born to be line doggy’s after fighting either China, Japan, France, or us for most of the countries history. Same can be said of many of the folks we have fought, the first Gulf War was supposed to be a blood bath for our side, but our tactics more than our smart bombs won that. In the first Gulf only about 5% of all bombs dropped were “smart”, the percentage is way up today but they are still used as little as possible in order to keep civilian casualties down. Korea, the Army was a shell of itself from WWII and had to deal with China, anyway, just making the point that the Military has not exactly faced crap all the time and while no one we have gone against was exactly the Wermacht at the tactical level they did a great job. Also, your point about them being used in a terrible way, to do what? Bring Food to the Somalis? To save the Muslims from the Serbs? To get rid of Hussien? To go into Afghanistan? To save the South Koreans? You can argue all you want about the way the Pentagon has run this war and that Iraq Body Count has a lot of people on it that would not be there if we did not allowe the insurgency to grow and you would be right, but the Military is hardly the bad guy and they have hardly been fighting peace loving hippies in the land of happy valley.
Felicity, yes, that is the way it always was and WWII was another example of a little to much civilian oversight, it happens all the time-Jimmy Carter was in direct contact with the guys who went into Iran, LBJ did the same thing in Vietnam, it is called micro managing and not listening to people who do it for a living, Bush and Rummy were guilty of that and had they done what was advised to them by guys other than Pace who is saying he would do the same thing today we would not be in this mess. The Army has a whole web page for Lessons Learned and it would seem we have forgotten everything we learned in Vietnam when it comes to dealing with an insurgency and that the lessons of WWII and Korea were forgotten when it came to re-building a nation.

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By felicity, July 1, 2008 at 9:27 am Link to this comment

Sean - that’s an eye opener.  Military tactics?  Civilian strategies?  (Of course, I suppose our Constitution establishes that set-up.)  Was WWII run that way?  I remember DDay and VJDay vividly.  I’m coming from that experience which may account for my interpretation of what winning a war feels like.  Can’t say I’ve experienced it since.

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By Purple Girl, July 1, 2008 at 7:37 am Link to this comment

Clark commended Mac’s Service, but stated it did not solely Qualifiy him to be President- FACT!!!
If Mac’s and the NeoCon Machine’s logic held true there are far more qualified candidates serving right Now in Iraq & Afhganistan- they are seeing action first hand- not from above the fray!
I seriously question Mac’s rendition of his story. Top Brass’s Son, slides through the Academy with below average marks, crashes 2 planes before being given a mission basically out of real combat duty. Offered a release when others being held were Not. Injuries and disabilities sustained from the crash- not torture - Come On what VietCong would choose Him - a Top brass’s son- to subject to torture over some ‘Nobody’ who would not invoke such retribution. Shit they tortured the Kid from Kentucy first and far more vigorously than Johnny Boy.
John McCain should be holding the Door for all those who really served, sacrificed and displayed Courage and Valor- in Vietnam and Now in the ME!
Take off the Kit gloves- Mac opened this can of Worms so it is fair game!Prove it Silver Spooned Military Brat!
the Media can stop blowing him any time and start investigating his claims and what he has done to fuck this country up ever since! His Service 40 yrs ago can not cover up his misdeeds since, esp since he started running to feed his ego 8 yrs ago- he’s been a P.O.S. since he entered the Senate!

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By cann4ing, July 1, 2008 at 7:25 am Link to this comment

First, Clark’s remarks are rather matter-of-fact.  The mere fact that someone served in Vietnam, be it John McCain, Wes Clark or me, does not mean that the individual is qualified to be the POTUS.  Whether the same individual was wounded, shot down, captured is also irrelevant.

Second, the fact that there has been so much fuss in the corporate media over this rather innocuous statement, like the fuss made over MoveOn’s “General Betray Us” ad, reflects the degree to which the military-industrial complex has so militarized our society that merely questioning someone in uniform with ribbons across their chest is considered taboo.

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By Dave in Big Pine, July 1, 2008 at 7:12 am Link to this comment

Sean

why are you glorifying and praising the American military and their ability to “crush” all who oppose it? Considering that we usually take on 3rd world countires, or those slightly above that, whose miltary technology is always several generations behind ours, it hardly seems something to be pridful over. we pick on people that can’t fight back on anything approaching equal terms, and it seems to me, they have all done pretty well. if you show up to a knife fight with an Abrahms tank, do you think that’s something to gloat about? Then, combine that with our stupidty in the other matters that you brought up, and America doesn’t look like a very nice country, does it?

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By Crimes of the State Blog, July 1, 2008 at 1:49 am Link to this comment

Wesley Clark should himself be in a cell for his actions in 1999.  He bombed civilian targets in Serbia including television stations and, I believe, hospitals and power stations, etc.

Then he ordered the British to ATTACK THE RUSSIANS at the Kosovo Airport.  The British General Michael Jackson (no connection to the pop star) told him to get stuffed, “I’m not going to start World War 3 for you.”

No shortage of war criminals getting a free pass (even gaining the support of Michael Moore of all people!)

That’s because nothing American governments do can possibly be considered a crime.

That would be some wacky “conspiracy theory” just to suggest it was possible for our beloved emperors and their gallant princes to commit crimes with impunity.

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By Sean, June 30, 2008 at 6:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Felicity,
  Your comment that the American Military has not done well since WWII is actually quite wrong, the Military at the tactical level has crushed everyone it faced since then, China made a go of it but the Marines and the Army stopped them again. Tet was a defeat militarily for the VC and in Iraq and Afgahnistan, at the tactical level the Military is still crushing whoever they fight head on. The problem has been at what is called the strategic level and that lies at the feet of our civilian leaders who do not listen and who lack the will to keep a fight going.
I will give you some examples-In Vietnam, if we had wanted to we could have bombed the Dams and flooded the rice crops for the entire north and starved hundreds of thousands of people, making the NVA combat ineffective, we did not do this because it would have been immoral to do so.  Even Giap admitted he never defeated us in the battlefield, but it did not matter, we lost it at the strategic level, ie; in the hearts and minds of the American People, the failure to win the South Vietnamese over to our side and many other smaller political reasons. In Korea, we did not bomb the Chinese on there side of the border for fear of escalating the war to level that might bring the USSR into it, again though, the troops got themselves together and on the ground pushed the Chinese and North Koreans back and did not push it back due to fear of escalation. As far as all the other conflicts we have had they have been pretty much crushing defeats to whoever we went against. The problem with Iraq is that it will be another 4-5 years until everything settles down, the average age of an insurgency is just about 10 years, we are not there yet and for once, AFTER putting a guy in who knew what he was doing and getting rid of Rummy, it is going well. Why did we have such problems at all? Again, goes back to the strategic level, failure to put more troops on the ground as was advised, failure to release funds fast enough for re-construction, failure to not get rid of all the Bathe Party Members and leave a couple of hundred thousand unemployed soldiers with a lot of time on one’s hands, etc..etc..those problems at that level are thanks to Bremer, Rummy and the lack of fortitude among the Flag Officers for not resigning due to the poor planning they knew was going on.
Again though, to your point, the Military itself, as far as the fighting goes has performed very well, with the Marines and SpecOps Units really doing the job.

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By BobZ, June 30, 2008 at 5:19 pm Link to this comment

Wesley Clark made a perfectly logical comment about being a POW is no particular qualification for being president. How may former POW’s were presidents or even served in the military. Obama was wrong to criticize Clark and is starting to come across as someone too willing to throw his supporters under the bus, including the Reverend Wright who also served his country in the Marines and Navy for eight years. It’s about time we started focusing on the issues instead of all this “gotcha” stuff ad nauseam.

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By archeon of thrace, June 30, 2008 at 4:11 pm Link to this comment

where the USA supported a corrupt and vile South Vietnam government that tortured and murdered those who opposed it.

I must at the same time admit that I DO have respect for how Mcain handled his capture/torture/imprisonment by the North Vietnamese.  Yet I can’t help feeling a kind of afininity with the NV in how they treated captured Americans, especially those who “accidentally” killed peasants by dropping bombs from high in the sky.  If I lived in a country fighting to liberate itself from foreign domination, colonialization, and european imperial oppression - and agents of the aforementioned came into my power, I too might be “unkind” to them.

Clark does ask a legitimate question, is military service a qualification for political office?  What about how the “hero” Mcain treated his first wife?  What about his womanizing and cheating? What do these say about him (esp. for one running for a party that likes to claim the morality high ground, and sees itself as the protector of family values)?  I wonder exactly what the vows were that Mcain made during his first wedding.  I guess they did not have the “in sickness and in health, till death do us part” part.

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By Jeff29, June 30, 2008 at 2:14 pm Link to this comment

So Joe, anyone who kills a civilian during war is a criminal?  That would pretty much make everyone of our bomber pilots during WWII war criminals; along with countless others who have fought in wars throughout history.  How many civilians do you think John Kerry killed while patrolling on his boat?  Is he a war criminal?

Four years ago during the Democratic National Convention, Wes Clark went on and on about how John Kerry was the right man for the job because of the physical and moral courage he exhibited during Vietnam.  Now he is saying that John McCain’s courage and service is a non-issue.  Clark is as partisan as they come and frankly has zero credibility;  he’s fishing for a job, my guess is that he’s got his eye on SecDef.

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By Thomas Billis, June 30, 2008 at 1:27 pm Link to this comment

I would have something to say about the people who died if they used their death to show some kind of knowledge of war because they had died.
To another point the only problem people have with what Kerry said when he came back are those who did not want to hear the truth.To his betterment.We elected Nixon during that era.Someone explain to me how Kerry bettered his political position by telling the truth about Viet Nam.If anything when he modified his position he moved ahead.Just by continually repeating the “Swift Boat"mantras does not make it so.Live with the fact that Kerry was a legitimate war hero who differed with the administration of the VietNam war and in the long run was proven right.Take another sip of tea imported from Viet Nam and think about it.

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By regmaxi, June 30, 2008 at 1:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Why was it OK for Karl Rove to discredit Mccain’s military service when he was the architect for the Bush campaign , but when Clark makes the same analogy it’s considered blasphemous ...

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By Thinga Boutit, June 30, 2008 at 1:17 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Wesley Clark would make a GREAT Vice-President . . . and he has the credentials to “out-patriot” McCain.  I say go for it! 

It would be wonderful to have two clear-thinking and articulate individuals like Obama and Clark working together to reset this nation’s priorities to more practical matters than “Who’s the biggest horse in the barn?”

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By felicity, June 30, 2008 at 12:51 pm Link to this comment

SEAN - a problem I have with your opinion:  Our military successes since WWII have been pretty non-existent so anyone (including Clark by the way) having had any kind of hand in their non-success should actually distance himself from the military rather than wear it as a badge of honor - or smarts.

(Of course, I’ve never understood why George Bush is held blameless when it comes to 9/11 which did happen on his watch as I recall.)

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By Sean, June 30, 2008 at 12:30 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As someone who has 3 combat tours now I can tell the people carping on here have not done something that puts a life, either there own or someone else’s at risk. Also, that most do not understand that if the miliary did start just doing what it wanted, dis-obeying Lawful orders, picking and chosing what wars to fight and what one’s not too, etc..the whole system would break down and they would be forgetting that little oath they took not to the American People or even the Gov’t but to the Constitution.
As for McCain somehow not prepared for Commander and Chief, he has been involved in our Foriegn Policy for over 20 years, did serve in the military and was an actual warfighter not like almost all of our Flag Officers today are nothing more than High Level Managers who wear Uniforms. The guy did his job, he got shot down, he suffered the consequences and has been a very good Senator. The ONLY legit complaint I have seen on here that was not just more left wing fruitcake silliness was what happened with his first wife, outside of that he was a hero, did many brave things, was directly involved in our Gov’t Foriegn Policy for over 20 years and has a lot more legit claim than Obama does as far as being able to act as CoC of our Armed Forces. Read Nightengale Sings, very good book, it might give you more ACTUAL info instead of what Clark is spouting.

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By Harris D. Foster, June 30, 2008 at 12:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

John McCain is an insult to all those service men that were captured in ALL wars. It was just his bad luck that he happened to get shot down. There were many soldiers captured and tortured by the VC. But McCain uses his imprisonment for votes. That is truly distinguishing. Remember all you intelligent historians, FDR and Lincoln did not service in the armed forces and did pretty well. John McCain is truly a bad person, just watch him when he speaks..he always says “My friend” . I think he would benefit from some intensive therapy. By the way why haven’t we heard from his children by his first wife…

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By felicity, June 30, 2008 at 12:07 pm Link to this comment

Clark’s Sunday comments were a beautiful lead-in to a speech Obama gave this morn - which I suspect was their purpose.

Nixon used to send Agnew out in public to say what Nixon wanted to say but couldn’t easily get away with saying himself.

Actually this has tradtionally been a much practiced ploy of politicians - this election year has been rife with surrogates making what are meant to be inflamatory remarks almost immediately followed up by the candidate with a speech timely because of the inflamatory remarks which preceded it.

And, what better person to challenge the McCain military/commander-in-chief gambit than General W. Clark.

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By Joe Franks, June 30, 2008 at 11:51 am Link to this comment

Wow, it’s hard to keep a false meme (idea) down, once it’s been spread.

McCain’s service was honorable only insofar as once it was over he had the “stones” to admit that he acted as a war criminal.  Killing peasants by dropping bombs on them from a high-tech jet plane is not heroism, but the McCain of ‘97 was at least man enough to admit it.  Not so now, but then again he has a tale of war heroism to spin about his work for the National Liberation Front.  Of course, since he has to speak to idiot Unitedstatesians who, if they are intelligent enough to have even heard of the war against Vietnam, are likely to think that participation on the side of the U.S. government was a good thing, he now has to act as if he is proud of his murderous criminality, and hide his collaboration with the good guys in that war: the Vietnamese.

Before you post anything here, would you please read these two articles (http://branddenotes.blogspot.com/2008/06/dusk-of-dead.html), and trim off at least this one branch of your overgrown ignorance: the idea that McCain was ever a war hero?

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By BruSays, June 30, 2008 at 11:22 am Link to this comment

I understand that America loves a hero. We’ve all been raised in a culture of ‘shoot ‘em up’ cowboys and indians, Darth Vader, Batman and the Terminator so I guess all this horse manure about who’s a war hero and who’s not has some play in politics.

But really, it shouldn’t. Both McCain and Kerry served in the armed forces and they did so honorably, as have millions of other Americans. Enough. End of story. Instead of arguing about who’s more deserving of “hero” status, let’s take up the equally-stupid question of how many angels can fit on the tip of a pin.

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By Parklyn, June 30, 2008 at 10:38 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Clark has many plusses in his column, but leading the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, based on as big a media hype as led us into Iraq, does not stand as a stellar recommendation. 

And I agree that McCain’s behaviour in dumping his injured wife, behind her back, for Cindy, showed a moral cowardice that certainly dilutes any kuddoes he might have had for his military service.

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By EasyEd, June 30, 2008 at 10:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’ll bet NONE of you would have the stones to endure what McCain endured as a pow.
Thomas, are you actually saying Kerry is/was a legit hero? Now that’s funny. And I don’t recall McCain coming home and betraying his comrades for his own political gain after his service was over.

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By Lee Org, June 30, 2008 at 10:11 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

bombing Chinese Embassy and killed innocent Chinese when he he was the executive managing Serbia-Kosovo war!

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By Joe Franks, June 30, 2008 at 9:23 am Link to this comment

Before bickering over whether getting captured is heroic or not, read the two articles here: http://branddenotes.blogspot.com/2008/06/dusk-of-dead.html

The final moral judgment is more complicated, but basically comes down to the principle that if your government is committing genocide, betraying your government is a good and honorable thing to do.  Therefore, McCain was good and honorable for collaborating with the Vietnamese National Liberation Front.

Risking one’s life to protect the weak and defenseless: heroic
Risking one’s life to help kill 4 million peasants: despicable and criminal
Collaborating with a national liberation movement against one’s own murderous, criminal government: morally blameless

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By Jeff29, June 30, 2008 at 8:58 am Link to this comment

So Thomas, the object of war is also to not get killed, so by your logic the 25,000 killed during the Revolutionary War were failures, the 623,026 killed during the Civil War were also failures, the 116,708 during WWI, the 407,316 during WWII, and the tens of thousands of others killed during other conflicts were all failures.  Nice logic.

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By Chris Knight, June 30, 2008 at 8:27 am Link to this comment
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Barack needs to pick up someone with strong military background to counter McCain’s sole strength…Clark gets it, I hope he’s picked (I supported Clark in ‘04…)

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By Sam West, June 30, 2008 at 8:24 am Link to this comment
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McCains true character showed when he returned home to his wife, Carol McCain, saw that she had been in a horrible accident, had needed multiple surgeries and was no longer the willowy model he married—he started cheating on her asap found Cindy, a beautiful heiress 18 yrs his junior, divorced Carol and married Cindy a month later.

Google Carol McCain.

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By msgijoe, June 30, 2008 at 8:24 am Link to this comment
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When the Republican “Swiftboating” of John Kerry’s Purple Hearts and other medals devalued the military’s recognition of bravery under fire,  they certainly also devalued McCain’s POW ordeal.  General Clark’s comments simply ask that we take a closer look at how McCain’s military experience would affect his role as president.  Clark did not think it meant a lot.  Each of us should attempt to evaluate it on our own.

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By Thomas Billis, June 30, 2008 at 7:28 am Link to this comment

No shit.This making of McCain into Eisenhower by virtue of getting captured is totally amazing.I always thought the object was not to get captured.By that measure his military service was a failure.How come the Republicans can swift boat a legitimate hero and it becomes part of the national dialogue and if a democrat questions McCain’s record he is guilty of treason?I would have been okay with leaving events of twenty or thirty years ago alone.Since the right have no such qualms why should the left?

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By Joe Franks, June 30, 2008 at 7:13 am Link to this comment

What a stinging rebuke. Political debate on Unitedstatesian television is always so sharp and often bitterly acrimonious.

I’m torn between yawning and puking - but since this is such a boringly common reaction to exposure to Unitedstatesian television “news”, I’m leaning towards yawning.

If anyone is interested in reading something interesting on McCain’s war experience, see http://branddenotes.blogspot.com/2008/06/dusk-of-dead.html
(The eXile article is properly caustic and full of vitriol, while the Counterpunch article is more balanced in tone.)

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By Watchdog, June 30, 2008 at 6:25 am Link to this comment
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Well it’s about time someone had the balls to say it….Good for you General Clark !...“Well I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.”

And neither does McCains “Academic Record” qualify him to be president by finishing something like 854 out of 859 or there abouts at the Military Academy.

Help me understand just how did McCaine qualitifed for Navy Flight School with a academic record like that? Could it possibly be with the help of “Daddy”....naw!

We have alread had 8 years of a “Daddy’s Boy who is a intellectual pigmy” running this country and look where it’s got us.

McCain was shot down once, let’s make sure he get’s ‘shot down again’ !

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By pacrat, June 30, 2008 at 5:36 am Link to this comment
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While Flipper was in the war early days - he missed it and the way the world moved on while he was a POW. He seems never to have caught up - and who can really blame him for that. But no one has to kowtow to his record in a war that two thirds of Americans never even heard of!!! What can he do for America NOW not then?

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