General Clark Not Backing Down


It's also nice to see that at least one other military man is coming to Clark's defense and in fact is joining Clark's questioning of McCain's inflated claims to commander in chief credentials. I'll quote liberally from Lt. General Robert G. Gard Jr. (USA, Ret.) because it's such a sweet smackdown, but you've really got to read the whole thing (I've bolded my favorite line):

As a retired military officer and a soldier who served his country for over thirty years, I can tell you that there's nothing in what Wes Clark said with which I disagree. He has not only stated the facts, he knows something about them. John McCain was a prisoner of war, an officer who served as a squadron commander, and has been and is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. John McCain can put his service to country up against anyone's. But General Clark has served also -- and with great courage: he was wounded four times in Vietnam -- and like John McCain, he has met and seen the enemy.

Is what Wesley Clark said true? Let's check some other facts: John McCain made claims about progress in security by walking through the streets of Baghdad. But as I recall, he was protected by at least a platoon of American soldiers and helicopters lying overhead. In matters of national security, as General Clark pointed out, "it's a matter of understanding risk," and it's "gauging your opponents;" and it's also a "matter of being held accountable."

So I too honor John McCain. And, like General Clark, I acknowledge his sacrifice for his country. But being a prisoner of the Vietnamese and serving on the Senate Armed Services Committee does not automatically qualify one for the position of Commander-in-Chief -- understanding risks, gauging your opponents and being held accountable does. We must end this glib obeisance to sacrifice and ask deeper questions: is a man who sings "bomb, bomb, bomb ... bomb, bomb Iran" a man who understands risks? Is a man who says that we must keep our troops in Iraq until we achieve an ill-defined "victory" really know how to gauge America's opponents. If we want to hold people accountable, then let's stand behind my friend Wes Clark -- and hold John McCain accountable for what he's said.

And for good measure, how's this for a parting shot:

Oh, and one more thing: today President Bush signed the GI Bill -- which Senator Barack Obama has unstintingly supported. The bill will spend $63 billion over ten years for increased college aid for military service members and veterans who served after September 11, 2001. Good judgment?

John McCain opposed it.

Tags: 2008 Presidential election, Barack Obama, John McCain, Wesley Clark (all tags)



Re: General Clark Not Backing Down

 is a man who sings "bomb, bomb, bomb ... bomb, bomb Iran" a man who understands risks?

Loving it!

by spacemanspiff 2008-07-01 01:20AM | 0 recs
Scary that he

can get away with saying that and people still think he's credible eh? (John McCain)

by SocialDem 2008-07-01 05:33AM | 0 recs
This is EXACTLY ....

what we should be doing, speaking out and watching Clark's back, instead of rebuking and cowering like we are afraid of the talking heads and the GOP because McCain was once a military hero.  Kerry's military record didn't stop the GOP in 2004, yet here in 2008 we cower.

Good for this military man coming to Clark's defense, even when we don't.

by emsprater 2008-07-01 08:35AM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Not Backing Down
I read that diary on Daily Kos last night and felt like standing up and applauding. And after that, going out and choking the media.
Thank you, Generals Gard and Clark for telling the truth!
by skohayes 2008-07-01 02:27AM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Not Backing Down

Kos's site is a place for whining cry  babys who pout when they don't have there way. A huge percentage who, by the way, have never nor will ever serve their country in uniform. What a bunch of PUKES!

by rayboat 2008-07-01 06:26AM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Not Backing Down
I imagine you could say the same thing about the Free Republic blog or Red State.
They're probably whining about McCain getting his ass kicked by Wes Clark right now.
by skohayes 2008-07-01 03:59PM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Not Backing Down

Now that the Obama campaign has disassociated itself from Clark's comments here's hoping Clark will rally a group of 'veterans for the truth' to take it to McCain in ways that the Obama campaign can't.

Not to attack or distort McCain's service (which Clark did not)as the swiftboters did but to punch holes in the myth that his service automatically qualifies him as C-i-C and makes him immune from any criticism on national security.

I have a couple of friends who are highly decorated Vietnam Veterans. They were authentic hero's in the war and no doubt if called now they would give their lives for family or country and in a street fight I'd pick them to have my back but I would not trust either of them to run even a taco stand. I respect their service, courage and character but that doesn't magically qualify them for executive responsibility.

They should put up a 527 TV ad with McCain singing bomb, bomb, bomb Iran, making the 100 years comment and making the case that he has neither the temperament, judgment or experience to be C-i-C.

by hankg 2008-07-01 02:54AM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Not Backing Down

Spot on, as are Generals Clark and Gard.  Being a hero or a patriot does not qualify one to be president.  And putting party over country, as many in the GOP have done in recent yrs, certainly doesn't.

by ocoocher 2008-07-01 03:04AM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Not Backing Down

I'm glad to see at least a few Democrats have some spine. My first reaction to our running with our tails between our legs as soon as the media and the Gas & Oil Party took after Wes Clark was, "Oh, there we go again."

Remember: Wes Clark actually does have things named after him in greater Serbia. He must have some diplomacy skills. You think Iraq - Iran is bad? I'll wager the permutation of factions in Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, Kosovo, etc. etc. makes our current situation look easy by comparison.

Here's something to think about: McCain has enough trouble keeping his facts straight between Al-Qaeda, Shias, Sunnis, al Sadr, and Iran. Just imagine if he had to give discourse on all the players in the Balkans.

by Bob Miller 2008-07-01 03:11AM | 0 recs
Clark is great on GMA (ABC)

Clark is answering questions from Robin ROberts with utmost clarity, refused to apologize for his comment, and explains very clearly that the comment came as a direct response to a question he was posed about that very scenario of McCain being on that plane shot down.


And I hope Hillary supporters and Obama supporters stop acting like blind idiots and start supporting what is right. Not what is convenient.

by Pravin 2008-07-01 03:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Clark is great on GMA (ABC)

Where do you see 'Hillary supporters....' undercutting Clark?

Put down the Kool-Aide pal. It's making you delusional.

by Pericles 2008-07-01 04:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Clark is great on GMA (ABC)

I was talking about Hillary supporters blindly supporting whatever Hillary said or did in the past. And I wanted to warn Obama supporters not to fall in that trap.

It had nothing to do with Hillary supporters treatment of Clark. When I was addressing both sides, it is obvious, I was making a generic statement.

by Pravin 2008-07-01 07:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Clark is great on GMA (ABC)

Enough with the kool-aide crap already.  If you're capable of saying something without insulting eveyone in a 50-mile radius, fucking say it.

Otherwise, STFU.

by fogiv 2008-07-01 11:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Clark is great on GMA (ABC)

Obama is keeping himself above such comments, which is what he should do. Then he doesn't have to be distracted by the attacks.
The Democrats have Wes Clark's back- sign this petition from Jon Soltz and and show Clark some support:

What General Clark said was right, but the right-wing has been in an uproar. And even CNN accused Clark of "swift-boating" McCain. We need to fight back.

That's why started a petition right here to thank General Clark for speaking out, and letting him know that we want him to keep telling the truth. /30/143241/205/907/544215

by skohayes 2008-07-01 05:16AM | 0 recs
Actually, what's happening is the ideal situation

Clark is fighting tough and getting the meme out there, while Obama stays above the fray. Good for Clark, and good for Obama.

by iohs2008 2008-07-01 05:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Actually, what's happening is the ideal situat

I dont mind Obama not getting involved in this. But as long as he disassociates himself from this mess instead of condemning Clark in any way, I am fine.

by Pravin 2008-07-01 07:02AM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Not Backing Down

Hey Clark, I know about him:  He's was Commander in Charge in Bosnia who bombed the Chinese Embassay there, wronging killing a couple dozen Chinese.  For that goof, he was relieved of command.  He's a self serving, ambitious, back stabbing jerk.

by Trailfan1 2008-07-01 05:29AM | 0 recs
No matter what you think of Clark

He has a very special ability to call John McCain out on this that Barack Obama must tread lightly. What he said was not only true, but needed to be said by someone perceived credible.

by SocialDem 2008-07-01 05:31AM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Not Backing Down

Give me a break.

John McCain has NEVER used his time as a POW to explain his credentials to be commander in chief. In fact, he has been hesitant to talk about his time, unlike John Kerry who opened his acceptance speech at the 2004 DNC bragging about his time in Vietnam.

Even Obama's chief strategist admitted this morning on Morning Joe that McCain does not hold up his Vietnam experience as the reason he's qualified to be commander in chief.

No matter who you support, who should be able to acknowledge when your candidate or one of his surrogates makes a mistake. To question McCain's military service is insulting and DOES NOTHING to advance the real debate about issues that impact Americans. That's what Obama promised to talk about during his primary campaign. His surrogates should get the memo and stick to the message.

Case in point: Obama delivered a superb speech yesterday on patriotism, but it was all but eclipsed by Clark's comments. The general did not help Obama out. He only hurt him.

by swbrink 2008-07-01 06:10AM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Not Backing Down

I'm not really sure how Clark hurt Obama. His comments weren't out of line and I'm not sure anyone but Republicans would be offended by his remarks.

In fact, Wesley chipping away at McCain may have some positive effects in the long run.

by alex100 2008-07-01 06:34AM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Not Backing Down

Clark said his comments came in response to questions posed by him. it was not an unsolicited comment.

by Pravin 2008-07-01 07:03AM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Not Backing Down

I meant, questions posed TO him.

by Pravin 2008-07-01 07:03AM | 0 recs
Yeah, right.

John McCain never mentions his time in VietNam...unless you count pretty much every single ad he has put out.  He not only is using his status as former POW to help him in this election, it's his entire platform.  Eesh!

by GFORD 2008-07-01 07:31AM | 0 recs

Why, it's almost as if there's some kind of strategy to have guys with military creds making these statements, while the candidate who lacks such creds stays out of it.  

by JJE 2008-07-01 07:24AM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Not Backing Down

Oh come one, McCain is quietly trumpeting his military service as his BEST reason to be CiC.  And it is not stated that former Navy Squadron Commander McCain is running for pres, it is Vietnam Vet and former POW McCain is running for Pres.  He is ABSOLUTELY running on his Vietnam he should because it is the best he has to run on, not that it means much.

Yes, Clark bombed the Chinese Embassy and I for one think it was for good reason.  The Clintons were so tight with the Chinese that He knew he would be asked to step down and "fall on his sword" after doing it, but sometimes good soldiers do what is best for the country over what is best for them.  But considering how things turned out in the Balkans vs. how things turned out in Iraq...I knwo which general I would rather follow.

And I think this gives Clark the ability to show how GOOD of a VP he would be.  If someone can go out and undercut one of the main "selling points" of the opponent with his own initiative, I think that makes him look BETTER.

But I have a serious thought to float out here, if only to see what other people think...what about Gen. Powell as VP?

by Hammer1001 2008-07-01 07:32AM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Not Backing Down

Before the actual Primaries started I visited some pretty hateful racist military oriented places.
These crazies didn't like Kerry(or any Dem) but hated McCain.

They and their 3 toed kind will not have McCain's back.

by nogo postal 2008-07-01 08:06AM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Not Backing Down

You must have been here in Virginia.

by millerrt 2008-07-01 11:35AM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Not Backing Down

I have no problem with Obama not embracing Clarke's statements on McHero -- which are off message for him. But they are the truth and I applaude Clarke for sticking by them.

by Beren 2008-07-01 08:50AM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Not Backing Down

I'm still looking, hard, to find a reason to support Obama. The little D next to his name is not enough. I am having a hard time believing he represents change when he runs for cover on something like this.

General Clark said nothing wrong. He recognizes McCain's honorable service, and makes a point of mentioning it. Obama was wrong to distance himself from the General. He needs the General's help.

This is why Democrats get their asses handed to them when they should win by a landslide. He's cowering like the rest of them.

This is not a change we can believe in. Come on, Obama, give me some reason to vote for you. Something. Anything at all.

by millerrt 2008-07-01 11:34AM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Not Backing Down

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, 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

by James McGrath 2008-07-01 01:03PM | 0 recs


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