Generally Misleading

Today’s Electoral Map (From FiveThirtyEight): Obama: 312 EV ; McCain 226 EV

So the Right-Wing Noise Machine–or, more accurately, the Right-Wing Outrage Machine–is fired up once again, this time in response to something said by four-star General and former Supreme Allied Commander Wesley Clark on Sunday.

First off, this is the context of Clark’s conversation with Bob Schieffer, talking about McCain’s lack of executive experience:

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.


CLARK: But Barack is not — he is not running on the fact that he has made these national security pronouncements. He’s running on his other strengths. He’s running on the strengths of character, on the strengths of his communication skills, on the strengths of his judgment — and those are qualities that we seek in our national leadership.

There was nothing inherently controversial about Clark’s answer.  He simply said that McCain’s military experience was extremely admirable and honorable, but it doesn’t somehow make him more qualified to be President.

In response, the Right-Wing Outrage Machine took Clark’s words completely out of context to smear and silence a leading progressive foreign policy expert.

But, as R.J. Eskow points out, their logic in attacking Clark is pretzel-like in it’s complexity:

The basis for the chain of outrage now binding Sen. Obama and the Democrats — a bright shining chain, one with links named Schieffer and Sullivan — is this argument: 1) John McCain is a war hero. 2) You can’t question a war hero’s judgment in military affairs. 3) You must therefore accept his wisdom in these matters. 4) You role is to revere him, demonstrate your devotion, and abstain from criticism.

But wait! Wes Clark is a war hero! He made his McCain comment while he was discussing military affairs! Your criticism of him means you don’t accept his judgment in these matters! In other words, you’re doing the same thing to Clark that Clark was doing to McCain. Your demonstrated lack of reverence for war hero Clark is a heresy that is equal to or greater than Clark’s.

Q.E.D. — and in your face, outrage contingent.

Of course, this is even more hypocritical and shameful when you remember that the right wing spent the entire 2004 election cycle impugning the military record of John Kerry–Tim F. at Balloon Juice reminds us of that shameful episode with this picture:

John Kerry was a decorated Vietnam war hero. After one of his fleet’s swift boats was hit by an RPG–and while under fire from the Viet Cong–Kerry pulled a fellow soldier out of the water and beached his boat, saving the lives of his crewmembers. For his bravery in the war, Kerry was awarded a bronze star, a silver star, and three purple hearts.

The GOP had no problem denigrating Kerry’s service–they claimed he shot himself to win his medals and get out of Vietnam; they claimed that he forged his paperwork to get his medals; most outrageously, in mockery of his decorated service, GOP activists at the Republican National Convention wore band-aids with little purple hearts on them, as if being wounded in battle is something worthy of scorn and mockery.

Wes Clark said that John McCain’s military service was honorable and brave, but didn’t automatically make him qualified to be President.  In 2004, the radical right wing impugned the integrity of John Kerry’s military service, questioning his bravery in battle and his wortiness as a soldier, all with one underlyng message: that John Kerry was unfit for command.  In fact, they wrote a book about Kerry titled that.

So all of this outrage about Wes Clark is nothing but political grandstanding and bloviating, an attempt by the radical right to silence a decorated soldier and successful General who dares speak out against their disatrous foreign policy.