General Clark Still Refusing To Apologize For Comments
by Todd Beeton, Tue Jul 01, 2008 at 07:34:32 PM EDT
Usually when Democrats get in hot water with the media, whether mis-interpreted or not, the instinct is to immediately apologize and slink away. Sometimes that is called for. In Wesley Clark's case, it is not, and I am thrilled to see him sticking to his guns.
Yesterday at the height of the pearl clutching by the media, General Clark released this statement to clarify his position:
"There are many important issues in this Presidential election, clearly one of the most important issues is national security and keeping the American people safe. In my opinion, protecting the American people is the most important duty of our next President. I have made comments in the past about John McCain's service and I want to reiterate them in order be crystal clear. As I have said before I honor John McCain's service as a prisoner of war and a Vietnam Veteran. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands and millions of others in Armed Forces as a prisoner of war. I would never dishonor the service of someone who chose to wear the uniform for our nation. 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.
He then went on ABC this morning to further address the comments, which resulted in the headline and story below. It's rare to see things like this written about Democrats:
Gen. Clark won't back off critique of McCain
Retired Gen. Wesley Clark rejected suggestions he apologize Tuesday for saying John McCain's medal-winning military service does not qualify him for the White House. Elaborating, Clark said a president must have judgment, not merely courage and character. [...]
Despite criticism from Republicans, Clark declined to back down in an interview Tuesday morning with ABC. "The experience that he had as a fighter pilot isn't the same as having been at the highest levels of the military and having to make ... life or death decisions about national, strategic issues," he said.
The only apology he would give...was to Barack Obama:
Asked whether he felt he owed McCain an apology, Clark responded, "I'm very sorry that this has distracted from the message of patriotism that Sen. Obama wants to put out."
The McCain campaign is, not surprisingly, trying to make hay of this and is now trying to bait Senator Obama into apologizing, the implication being that Clark's comments actually came from Obama, via the transitive property, I suppose. Obama today refused to do any such thing and in fact wouldn't even concede that General Clark owed John McCain an apology. His response to the question was perfect -- it turned the question back on the questioner and in a presidential and slightly disgusted tone, made it clear that this was not the sort of issue he should be spending his time on.
A friend I spoke with last night said he wished Clark would shut it as he feared it was only playing into McCain's hands by raising an issue that treads on McCain-friendly terrain. Personally, I'm glad Clark has taken on what is widely considered hallowed ground and the third rail (choose your metaphor...) Clark was uniquely equipped to deliver this message and while people's instinct may be to shirk away from the suggestion that McCain's service is anything but perfect preparation to be commander in chief, the conversation that Clark has initiated has allowed people to really think about the validity of the premise for the first time and actually question it.
Way to go, General. Continue to stand strong. We have your back.
Update [2008-7-1 23:49:12 by Todd Beeton]:Sign the VoteVets petition to let General Clark know you have his back.