General Clark Still Refusing To Apologize For Comments

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.

Watch it:

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.

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

Comments

79 Comments

Now THAT is how you treat

pearl clutching media and WATB Republicans.

Bravo, General.

by boadicea 2008-07-01 07:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Now THAT is how you treat

What's critical is that Democrats stop cringing and stand up and fight back! When Republicans are caught out in a "misstatement" they instinctively go double or nothing onto FURTHER attacks, just to prove that they're not going to be pushed around!

What happens is eventually a stand-off where everybody has said everything that needs to be said on the matter and people can make up their own minds. But, don't appear WEAK for God's sake!

Voters are looking to see if Obama has the strength to be leader. If he comes across as weak then he loses. Nothing is weaker than constantly having to back down and apologize and then have your opponent spend another week arguing about whether your apology was abject enough!

Screw That! Clark said nothing wrong. He never attacked McCain's patriotism and to pretend that he did was a typical press lying distortion. As long as he refuses to back down and Obama refuses to apologize then he wins. When enemies attack, hit them right back even harder!  

McCain winds up whining about how "outrageous" it is that somehow Obama is "questioning his patriotism." But, Obama is calm and cool and doesn't give in and refuses to apologize. Then if McCain goes on complaining he appears weak and defensive.

by Cugel 2008-07-01 08:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Now THAT is how you treat

honest and forthright people are pretty rare, so some people get uneasy around it

by zerosumgame 2008-07-01 08:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Now THAT is how you treat

Exactly. Especially in a national security tinged debate.

And they have doubled down. The absurdity of a McCain surrogate questioning Clark's service is almost beyond belief.

by Judeling 2008-07-01 08:52PM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Still Refusing To Apologize For

It seems we are starting to win this thing.  The 'swift-boat' counter-accusation was just a bit too much of a stretch and the media already seems to be having some minor second thoughts.  Hmmm...  Stand and deliver, for once.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-07-01 07:43PM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Still Refusing To Apologize For

It's hilarious and so very satisfying to see that the Republicans long-held strategy of refusing to acknowledge an issue while saying it's no big deal works so very well. McCain's people's strategy du jour seems to be to portray Obama as a bully, and that just makes McCain look even older than he is. Americans like their leaders tough.

by vcalzone 2008-07-01 11:02PM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Still Refusing To Apologize For

Not merely a bully but a conspiratorial puppet-master.  It's a 'vast left-wing conspiracy' now.  And they've had a swipe at Webb, Beers and the whole Democratic party to no apparent effect.

The best part was Clark going back on the telly and re-stating the whole argument instead of getting roasted like a peanut.  He's got presence, just like the military personality McCain is pretending to be.  And Obama came along and pushed-back on the 'swift-boat' narrative rather than dissing Clark, which was a gift-wrapped present from the team at McCain campaign headquarters.

Now they are all outraged and nowhere to go.  Obama's said his piece, Clark's stood up to the assembled brains trust of the media.  What's next?  The media is loving this story, it's been pretty quiet lately, the only thing left to do is to parse what Clark actually said in the first place and wonder how the McCain campaign could have swung and missed.  Fun.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-07-01 11:42PM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Still Refusing To Apologize For

Good for Gen. Clark.

by spirowasright 2008-07-02 08:09AM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Still Refusing To Apologize For
I was the kid everybody picked on in school. I apologized to the teacher for the way I was acting once and she told me not to worry about it.
In fact, the kids giving me trouble deserved it a bit.
McCain and the Republicans are the class jerks this time.
You don't have to apologize General, in a way they had it coming.
by spirowasright 2008-07-02 08:13AM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Still Refusing To Apologize For

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.

Emphasis mine.

The media just can't stand the fact that their man is playing defense on his supposed strength. 2 great days of media coverage for Clark and his attack on the CIC McSame meme.

I think I've said it before but the way this has played out makes it seem as if the Democrats really have their shit together this year. Great strategic plan and almost flawless execution by all.

Bravo!

by spacemanspiff 2008-07-01 07:49PM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark

Good for Wes Clark! After Edwards dropped out I supported and voted for Obama but Gen. Clark's endorsement of Hillary Clinton certainly gave me pause. I still would like to see him as Obama's VP. Others have said this dust-up has taken him out of the running. I'm not so sure: he's determined, tough and would be a great help in ensuring a successful draw-down in Iraq.

by Ian S 2008-07-01 07:51PM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark

I agree that the instantaneous reaction of the punditry that this lessened his chances is changing shape with each careful, reasoned restatement of his position.  And he is covering Obama's six all the time as well.  Looks like a competent, and timely, performance to me.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-07-01 07:55PM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Still Refusing To Apologize

Anyone who thinks that Clark was wrong probably isn't going to vote for anyone but McCain, anyway.  It is just common sense.

by Scotch 2008-07-01 07:52PM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark

Someone needed to go after McCain on this front. Bravo for Clark doing it and sticking to his guns when counter-attacked.

by GeeMan 2008-07-01 08:01PM | 0 recs
What a guy

He is braving some withering fire, fighting the good fight. It's really impressive to see a Dem actually play the Immovable Object to the MSM's Irresistible Force.

Sooner or later, the narrative has to change or this isn't news. If Clark can hold out that long, calling this a major point would be an understatement.

by Neef 2008-07-01 08:11PM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Still Refusing To Apologize For

As long as he keeps Obama out of it, this is great!  MCCain has been itching for this fight (hoping that the "dirty f'n hippie" Obama will try to get revenge for Kerry in 2004)... he even had his bizarro-world swift boat group all set and ready to go...

But, surprise, he's got a four star general... leader of our last military victory, pounding on him relentlessly.  McCain is DESPERATE to get Obama into this fight, but he's being pinned down by a guy who seriously outranks him...

It's fantastic, really!  As long as Obama stays above the fray, it really helps...  but Obama has to stay out of it... let the general beat up the lousy pilot...  not Obama...  that's the way that it can work to our advantage...

As soon as Obama gets into the fray, it's military vs. democrat (i.e. hippie) and we lose the battle...  so, keep fighting like this, and we will be in good shape!

by LordMike 2008-07-01 08:22PM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Still Refusing To Apologize For

Abosfuckinglutly!!

Obama has to find a way to stay out of this without crossing Clark though.

by Fistjab 2008-07-01 11:39PM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Still Refusing To Apologize For

I think they are perfectly in tune with one another... They both know what's what... if Clark took any offense to the initial "rejection" of his remarks, he sure didn't show it yesterday, when he reaffirmed his full support for Obama.

by LordMike 2008-07-02 08:55AM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Still Refusing To Apologize For

Why should anyone apologize for telling the truth? Clark just said that having your plane shot down doesn't qualify anyone for the presidency. That is the simple truth. Clark paid tribute to McCain's courage while a prisoner. Any questions?

The Republicans want to talk about a manufactured, non-existent outrage instead of the war in Iraq, the economy-lost homes and jobs, low wages- disintegrating highway infrastructure, incompetence, oil prices, medical care, etc., etc., etc. Who can blame them?

by marya 2008-07-01 08:25PM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Still Refusing To Apologize

Sigh.

I wonder if Clark would've applied the same standard to Kerry, who voted for the war and also ran largely on his military record, in 2004.

And I don't like the somewhat disingenuous dismissing of Clark's comments as "inartful" either.  That immediately recalls Donald Rumsfeld.  Clark isn't being criticized because his statement wasn't poetic enough.

However, Obama's tack will succeed, as maybe it should, just like Bill Clinton's red herring in the 1996 debates about how no attack ever created a job, educated a child, etc. (even though Dole hadn't actually launched an attack).  It's entirely consistent with Obama's personality and character too.  As soon as I heard the flap over "You're likable enough" in NH, I knew that what Obama thought and meant was that the whole question was a silly, superficial one the candidates and media shouldn't be wasting time on.  At the same time, I knew it would hurt him, since it would come off as cold to most people (and consider how different the whole trajectory of January-June might've been had Obama done 2 points better in NH).  If you go back further, another example in this pattern is Obama's mocking the press for discussing Hillary's cleavage and how he looked in a bathing suit.  He's just a smart, thoughtful person who, like me, has little patience for nonsense.  In this case, he exhibited that superbly, unlike the NH debate.

I'm not sure about Clark's original remark.  My instinct is that it's anathema to an awful lot of heartland swing voters.  On the other hand, if we win the debate, we've pulled off something HUGE and awesome.  It's the sort of thing (like an impeachment vote) that you don't try unless you know you'll win.  I'm nervous, but I'll hope that Clark knows something I don't.  And I hope we can win this year without compromising away all intellectual honesty.  That job belongs to the DLC, if not the Republicans.

by Sandwich Repairman 2008-07-01 08:28PM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Still Refusing To Apologize

Nothing more or less than what James Webb suggested last year:


Webb has even made this exact observation regarding McCain -- comparing facts about their service experience, not ranking their valor:


John McCain was a prisoner of war; I respect what he had to go through... He did not see the ground environment, how difficult things really are on the ground. He did not really see how bad this country was torn apart by the war, for the unfortunate reason that he was in prison. ...Chuck Hagel and I both intrinsically understand how difficult it is in an infantry environment to carry out some of these goals and we both experienced what it was like to come back to a pretty hostile peer group.

Webb did not draw any Republican "outrage" for that analysis, offered last February, because there was no presidential campaign at the time.  This would all seem unremarkable, if the mainstream and self-declared "objective" political press could see through the charade and report the facts.  But today's Times opens an article about "patriotism and service" by falsely alleging that Clark "diminished Senator John McCain's service as a naval aviator in Vietnam."  

Ari Mebler - Yes We Can Talk About McCain's Service The Nation 1 Jul 08

And Clark did have a go at John Kerry in 2004:


General Clark tried to walk a fine line on Saturday, asserting that his experience as a military commander would make him a better president than Mr. Kerry while making sure to praise Mr. Kerry's heroism.

General Clark was singed by criticism after he compared his military record with the senator's on the night of Mr. Kerry's Iowa caucus victory. General Clark said on the CNN program "Larry King Live" that "with all due respect, he's a lieutenant and I'm a general."

David M Halbfinger and Edward Wyatt - After Rebuke From Kerry, Clark Praises Rival's Record NYT 25 Jan 04

No, with Webb, General Gard and even Rand Beers making supportive comments recently, and Obama's refusal to buy into the pathos we may just have a winner here, at last.  We'll see.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-07-01 08:52PM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Still Refusing To Apologize

That's still pretty minimal as far as Clark criticizing Kerry in 04.  He basically said he had a higher rank, maybe more military ability and experience than Kerry.  Given the context of January 2004, I suspect the message Clark was (pretty logically) sending was, "If you want to nominate a military person, the choice is me; not Kerry".

And granted the whole context isn't here, but was Webb saying that McCain's military experience didn't qualify him to be president?  Because that's what Clark said.  I want to be sure we're comparing apples to apples.

Yeah, I think with Obama we have a winner.  I'm just hoping we can win with a little more integrity than Clinton in 92.

by Sandwich Repairman 2008-07-01 09:07PM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Still Refusing To Apologize

Fair comment, nothing more or less was an overstatement on my part regarding the comparison to Webb's earlier comments, your point is taken.  Still, no objections made at the time from the McCain camp, one notices.  And the Clark remarks about Kerry were a bit more oblique, though in the same vein, and soon recanted.

Still, it seems clear that this message, that military service doesn't necessarily qualify one for executive office, is a reasonable one.  It is also apparent from the bloviating on the subject, talking heads exploding on Fox, for example, that puncturing this myth is serious business from the Republican's point of view.  I think it is a risk worth taking if our nominee can stay out of it, it's just the kind of thing a surrogate can do usefully.  And Obama can wade in with his 'judgement' argument after the dust has settled.

I reckon McCain's campaign walked into this one with the over-reaction of blaming Obama, conspiracy, 'swift-boating' and suggestions that Clark should be rebuked and dismissed.  They are playing by old rules at the same time we seem to be testing the inherent and newly revealed weaknesses of them, it is certainly worth a try.  It is also interesting to note that McCain is letting this narrative be framed around him and counter-attacking on generic outrage rather than on any particular issue.  They have misplayed the first round and if Clark remains defiant and standing they will lose round two.  Time for the Obama campaign to stick to it's guns and let the rest of this incident run it's course with McCain tangling harmlessly with the likes of Clark, who is among the most senior of military figures, while barely laying a finger on Obama.  The media will shift it's narrative slightly if they want to keep the story in play another news cycle or two and I can't see it getting any better for McCain.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-07-01 09:31PM | 0 recs
It would be great if Clark was the Veep

choice.  I can see the rightwing going crazy trying to get him to back down and Clark saying 'That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it'.

Love it!

by GFORD 2008-07-01 10:52PM | 0 recs
Re: It would be great if Clark was the Veep

Counter-intuitively that scenario seems a darn sight more likely today than it did a week or so ago.  Clark is doing a pretty impressive job of eating McCain for breakfast just at the moment to choruses of bloviating protests from the wrong side of the hill.  The heads exploding on Fox are worth the price of admission in any event.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-07-01 11:25PM | 0 recs
Re: It would be great if Clark was the Veep

Is Clark on the list for potential Veep. I thought from the get-go he would be the ideal pick for Obama, but no one seems to be talking about him.

by Midcoast 2008-07-02 03:24AM | 0 recs
Why anyone thinks this is good politics

is beyond me.

I can think of nothing that McCain wants to talk more about than his military record.  

Obama distanced himself yesterday, and refused today to accept that he was responsible for Clark's comments today.  Good for him.

But trust me, the one thing Obama does not want the focus of this race on is experience.

Obama wants to make this race about judgement, not experience, as anyone with even a passing familiarity of the past 12 months would know.

by fladem 2008-07-01 08:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Why anyone thinks this is good politics

I think you make a strong point on experience and McCain wanting to talk about his military record (though it ended up doing little for Kerry, and given 4 more years without a major terror attack here, voters are probably less impressed with it now).  

If Obama could divert that argument to one of judgement, he'd do ok.  But a lot of people need to admit at some point that many Democrats showed the same awful judgement in supporting the war.  And Obama will have a problem arguing judgement if he picks a VP who was for the war (Bayh, Biden, Clinton, Daschle, Dodd, Edwards, Bill Nelson).

by Sandwich Repairman 2008-07-01 08:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Why anyone thinks this is good politics

Fair comment, but he's not really in this exchange, is he?  I tend, however, to agree with the comment up-thread that As soon as Obama gets into the fray, it's military vs. democrat (i.e. hippie) and we lose the battle...  so, keep fighting like this, and we will be in good shape!

I don't see the harm in trying this approach as long as Obama stays above the fray.  McCain's punching thin air, it seems, at the moment, and Obama's wisely not buying in.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-07-01 09:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Why anyone thinks this is good politics

The only thing McCain has to run on is his experience. What else is there to go after?

Look at it this way. It is early July, the conventions are months away, this little incident will pass along with almost everything else that happens now, But at the very least Clark is defining the limits and has pushed them open a bit more.

by Judeling 2008-07-01 09:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Why anyone thinks this is good politics

Terrorism.  Stressing his experience too much could remind people he's the same age as George Carlin.

by Sandwich Repairman 2008-07-01 09:10PM | 0 recs
But that's just what Clark did.

Did you catch the whole interview?  After the statement about the getting shot down, the next question was about Obama's experience.  And Clark said it was his judgement that would make him a good president (he expanded on it more).

by GFORD 2008-07-01 10:55PM | 0 recs
Duke Cunningham for GOP Veep?

Too bad Duke Cunningham isn't available as a Veep candidate for McCain. Wasn't Cunningham a much more decorated VietNam War "ace"?

by Wilson46201 2008-07-01 08:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Duke Cunningham for GOP Veep?

Nah, he already offered it to Vito Fossella.  It's the Family Values ticket: 2 men, 4 wives (so far).

by Sandwich Repairman 2008-07-01 08:51PM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Still Refusing To Apologize

Why doesn't Clark also go after McCain for saying today that he would still have invaded Iraq even if he had known back then that Iraq didn't have any WMD's?  

http://www.phillyburbs.com/pb-dyn/news/1 13-07012008-1556942.html

Since the Iraq war is one of our most catastrophic military and political decisions, and since the vast majority of the American public agrees that we shouldn't have gone to war given that they didn't have WMD's, Obama, Clark, and every other Democratic surrogate under the sun should be hammering McCain about this 24/7, at every opportunity.

Why are the Dems not doing this?

by DaveG 2008-07-01 08:47PM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Still Refusing To Apologize

Ugh, are you serious?  First, it saddens me to see the Democrat party stoop so low as to Swift Boat McCain. If Obama can't win without that....maybe it's better he shouldn't.

On a more practical level, I can't think of anything more likely to put off undecided voters than to attack a man who spent five years being tortured as a POW. Obama has NOTHING that remotely compares in his life history.  He really should have stayed far, far away from this.  

It's beyond disgusting. I can't believe I used to respect Clark, and even supported him as Obama's VP.

If the Democrats can't win without turning into the Republicans, they can forget about my vote. What the hell does the Democratic party stand for, if not rejecting Republican values and attitudes?  

by SuGeAtARC 2008-07-01 09:20PM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Still Refusing To Apologize

But isn't this whole narrative about 'rejecting Republican values and attitudes?'  Specifically that military service somehow qualifies someone for executive leadership?  They've cornered the market on this for far too long.

I think you are missing the point, incidentally, no-one is impugning McCains heroism or military service, indeed sacrifice.  I just don't see how that is perceived as qualification for the position of Commander-in-Chief except tenuously.  When McCain was speaking about his experience in Viet-Nam he referred to the Constitutional civilian control of the military in the following terms:


[We] believed that our targets were virtually worthless. In all candor, we thought our civilian commanders were complete idiots who didn't have the least notion of what it took to win the war."

Sounds more like a line officer's tactical view than the kind of strategic thinking the office of president requires.  Maybe he's changed over the years but that has to be demonstrated, not merely assumed.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-07-01 09:42PM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Still Refusing To Apologize

The point is that we're at war and there's no way the troops are going to come home for at least a year after the Inauguration, most likely not for at least two to three years despite Obama's best efforts. That means someone is going to have to manage the war, and, hopefully, an orderly withdrawal.

So who do you choose:  a decorated military veteran, the son and grandson of Admirals, who suffered five years of torture for his country and has has served as the Naval liaison to our government --

Or a guy who sits in his church and listens to sermons that contain "Godd-mn America" other very offensive (and stupid) statements and can't even be bothered to object?

I put this comparison up here not to say I agree but to point out why I think it's a really, REALLY bad idea for the Obama Campaign to go down this road. I also think it's morally reprehensible, just like it was when the GOP did it to John Kerry, but if you're not swayed by that argument because you want a victory so bad you don't care what has to be done to get it, at least consider what a bad tactical move this is.

Obama absolutely cannot benefit from a direct comparison of his "patriotism" and McCain's "patriotism."  

Anyway, I don't know if I explained that well or not (I'm falling asleep at the keyboard) but that why I think it's not only a really low move but also a politically foolish one to try to make light of McCain's war experiences.

by SuGeAtARC 2008-07-01 09:57PM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Still Refusing To Apologize

Well your position on the tactical issues of this certainly echoes the conventional wisdom, which one defies at one's peril.  As for 'morally reprehensible' I suppose that has to be weighed against the likely outcomes of their respective presidencies and their impact on our casualties and the 'collateral damage' resulting from our condition of being 'at war.'

Personally I think the issue of 'military experience' is worth a second look and I certainly credit Clark's abilities in that area over McCain's, in spite of McCain's obviously heroic and admirable biography.  We have to see into this issue, not just look at it superficially, there is too much at stake.

As for the rest, you may be right, the 'patriotism' of an ex-military professional trumps the 'patriotism' of all comers in the eyes of the American public.  If that were so, and 'patriotism' the sole criteria for suitability to hold the presidency, I wonder where we are headed and shake my head sadly.  Perhaps it isn't exactly so in this case.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-07-01 10:10PM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Still Refusing To Apologize

I couldn't disagree more.

The tactical brilliance of this strategy is to reframe perceptions, which one can justifiably argue color and give sway to the vast bulk of our electorate.

Clark is putting a crack in McCain's armor and this self-perpetuated "myth" of the Old Man as the great "Patriot".

McCain is absolutely so, but he cannot and we will not allow his service to be a shield to his judgements on a variety of national security topics.

Obama is seeking to change perceptions of McCain as the straight talker and his experience WHILE he changes his own as the guy who sat in the pews silent to Wright's rants.

The media will sit and forment on Clark's comments and this will force a long overdue discussion about this supposed strength of McCain.

Swing voters will look at the Nato Supreme Commander saying that serving in the military, by it's self, does not make one qualified to run for President.  They will probably then say, "well, comin' from him that's true, so what does?".  

That internal conversation is priceless and will aid Obama measurably.

Please stop being so cynical about low information voters.  They lack information, not the brain power and it is their perceptions we must change.

by ChangeMatters 2008-07-01 10:33PM | 0 recs
This does not surprise me.

The fact that the Democrat party saddens you.  Probably the fact that we will win this year saddens you immensely.

by GFORD 2008-07-01 10:59PM | 0 recs
Re: This does not surprise me.

Ooops.  Why do they do that?

by Shaun Appleby 2008-07-01 11:29PM | 0 recs
I guess they just can't resist.

I had another response ready until that caught my eye. ;)

by GFORD 2008-07-02 04:19AM | 0 recs
Re: This does not surprise me.

Okay, I'm lost -- is this a blog thing? Do what? I'm new, so I guess I'm missing something?

Is there, like, a blogoverse dictionary somewhere?

by SuGeAtARC 2008-07-02 05:47AM | 0 recs
Re: This does not surprise me.

Republicans have been ordered to refer to the Democratic Party as the "Democrat Party". (See href=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democrat_Pa rty(phrase)>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democrat_Pa rty(phrase))

When Republicans pretend to be Democrats for trolling purposes, they sometimes expose themselves by writing "Democrat Party".

by mazement 2008-07-02 07:24AM | 0 recs
Re: This does not surprise me.

!?! Oh!  

Er. No. Maybe I've just been listening to too much political TV and picked up that quirk by accident, or maybe my mind just went "I'm a Democrat, my party is the Democrat party." (I see how that does sound more awkward than Democratic, I will say.)

Well, I get what people were saying now, but it's not the case. I'm just really new to blogging and don't know any of the terms and abbreviations yet. (HR = ??) This is my first foray into the fascinating yet frightening world of political blogs.

So go a little easy, pretty please?

by SuGeAtARC 2008-07-02 08:00AM | 0 recs
Re: This does not surprise me.

HR = Hide Rate = 0.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-07-02 12:49PM | 0 recs
Re: This does not surprise me.

What does it mean to get a zero, though? (Is there a FAQ for this site?)

by SuGeAtARC 2008-07-06 07:09AM | 0 recs
Re: This does not surprise me.

A zero 'hides' the comment from casual lurkers not logged in and heavily impacts one's mojo average.  It is basically inappropriate for differences of opinion or troll wars.  See the Trusted User Guidelines.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-07-07 01:59AM | 0 recs
Re: This does not surprise me.

Got it. I wouldn't be using anything like that anyway since I believe in free discourse (even rude, nasty, moronic free discourse.)

by SuGeAtARC 2008-07-08 12:40PM | 0 recs
Re: This does not surprise me.

I rarely troll or hide rate anyone for the reasons you mentioned, however the quality of discourse has clearly declined on this site over the past year with no really significant sign of recovery.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-07-08 01:16PM | 0 recs
Re: This does not surprise me.

Ah, that's too bad. I wasn't here, so I have no baseline to compare, obviously. In my short time here I've read some really great stuff (diaries and comments) and some ....not so great.  

I guess you could try to put a positive spin on it by thinking that at least more people are getting interested and involved? (Yeah, I know it's a cliche, but I try to hang onto it anyway for hope's sake.)

by SuGeAtARC 2008-07-08 01:26PM | 0 recs
Re: This does not surprise me.

It's all cool.  This site jettisoned some of it's intellectual centre-of-gravity a bit when Open Left spun off last year, but some of it was just ballast, anyhow.  What I see is a dedicated band of Obama supporters who have steadfastly argued for his positions and values throughout successive waves of dissent since the primary began early last year.  We are getting pretty good at it now and have largely appeared from outside the ranks of the progressive netroots as it was in 2006.  It's an interesting development.

I guess my position is that Obama's intended culture change within the Democratic party is going to need that kind of advocacy on sites like this to help smooth the transition, and ruffled feathers, which it will entail.

And as for the quality of discourse I expect this is a typical election year cycle and things will calm down considerably, and become more reflective, when the campaign ends.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-07-08 03:17PM | 0 recs
Re: This does not surprise me.

Just read the Wiki page. Gotta say I think it's kind of a petty thing to be worried about given issues like Iraq, health care, the housing crash and the frightening leap in cost of living expenses due primarily to oil prices.

Sort of looks like it started as a Bushism, then someone in the Democratic party took umbrage, and the Republicans (Republics? Republickers? -- ooh, that last one sounds dirty...) said "Hey, it annoys them! Start using it as much as you can!"

Anyway, if you want to play that game back at them, start using "Republickers" everywhere, LOL.

by SuGeAtARC 2008-07-02 08:05AM | 0 recs
Re: This does not surprise me.

Yes, Republicans can get pretty darned petty. That's actually good in a way. I'd rather see them wasting time with petty name-calling, as opposed to further screwing up Iraq, health care, etc.

You probably already know that Republicans have also been ordered to go into a screaming rage if you say "Happy Holidays" to them. (You're supposed to say "Merry Christmas" instead.)

But did you know that Republicans have been ordered to use the word "homosexual" in place of "gay"? (That's not to say to that only Republicans use the word "homosexual", it's just that Republicans can be recognized by a slavish refusal to use the word "gay".)

Here's a link that illustrates the depth of their indoctrination:
http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2008/ 06/afas_searchreplace_function_wo.php

by mazement 2008-07-02 09:47AM | 0 recs
Re: This does not surprise me.

Hah! That's hilarious.  I showed it to a friend of mine and she wondered if Tyson Gay sued those putzes -- any idea?

by SuGeAtARC 2008-07-06 07:14AM | 0 recs
Re: This does not surprise me.

Er, sorry, but I don't understand your reply....once again in English maybe?

by SuGeAtARC 2008-07-02 05:46AM | 0 recs
"democrat party" eh?

Your McCarthy is showing.

by lojasmo 2008-07-02 03:26PM | 0 recs
Re: "democrat party" eh?

Several posters on this board were nice enough to explain the "gaffe" I made (I put that in quotes because I was completely innocent of any sinister meaning).  

It's too bad you weren't one of them.

(And what does McCarthy have to do with it? Did you mean McCain?)

by SuGeAtARC 2008-07-06 07:12AM | 0 recs
Re: "democrat party" eh?

McCarthy coined the term.  Sorry I couldn't be 'nicer' about it.

by lojasmo 2008-07-15 01:46PM | 0 recs
Re: "democrat party" eh?

I'm sorry you couldn't be 'nicer' (why the quotes?) either.  You came off looking kind of bad next to the other posters who were willing to allow that newbies can make innocent mistakes. Jumping to conclusions and attacking is a good way to drive new people away from this board, you know.

by SuGeAtARC 2008-07-16 04:03AM | 0 recs
Re: "democrat party" eh?

My apologies, then.  There's so much trollish fuckery here. I didn't give you the benefit of the doubt.  I have looked over your posts, and you seem sincere.

Sorry.

by lojasmo 2008-07-16 06:08PM | 0 recs
Re: "democrat party" eh?

Apology accepted. It's kind of a shame some people are so on edge, though. It wasn't a really fun way to start my blogging days.

by SuGeAtARC 2008-07-17 02:48PM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Still Refusing To Apologize For

If I have any disappointment over Clark's comments, it would be that by so speaking it appears he already knows that he is not to be the VP candidate.

Then again, it has been said that presidential candidates sometimes look for a veep that can function as the attack dog, while leaving the presidential candidate to work above the fray (ala Bush and Cheny). On that note, I'm heartened that Clark refuses to back away from his comments and Obama has not ostracized him.

Indeed, someone had to say what Clark has said. McCain's behavior as a POW was inspiring and heroic and speaks volumes to the testament of his personal character when confronted with personal deprivation and torture. But that was some 35 years ago, long before he married into huge wealth and got elected to the most privileged of the political class.

While McCain has so far not been shown to have fallen to the depths of corruption of former Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham (a fellow Vietnam pilot and war hero) or been implicated in any of the Abramoff scandal, he still remains tainted by his 1989 association with the Keating Five scandal.

If McCain chooses to play up his war-time service as qualification for the presidency, than this Vietnam veteran (no medals, no heroics) sees no reason why General Clark, a similarly decorated war hero, can not question McCain's qualification.

If anything, I'm surprised no one has brought up the realization that McCain seems never to have been diagnosed or treated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, as you would usually expect for anyone undergoing five years of imprisonment and  torture.

I also have to wonder why a guy at age 72 feels compelled to run for the presidency. Jeebuz, John. Is it what's right for America or what's right for John McCain's ego that drives you this late in the game?    

by RickWn 2008-07-01 09:20PM | 0 recs
Clark Still Refusing To Apologize

McDesperate himself once said that "anybody can get shot down."

But that was before he traveled on the Doubletalk Express.

by Beren 2008-07-01 09:25PM | 0 recs
McCain ruined his chances

The MSM handed McCain solid gold with their righteous indignation and outrage, but McCain's campaign undermined this by going completely bonkers rather than sitting back and letting the media do the work for them.  First, they dragged out Swift Boat Vets for Truth alumni, completely undermining their message, and then when Jim Webb entered the fray they started accusing Obama of orchestrating a conspiracy that left everyone shaking their head.  I can't understand why they would have done either of these things.

Clark took some heat but he was ultimately successful in unlocking the door that allows certain Democrats to rebuff McCain's postulation that his service record is executive experience for the Office of the Presidency.

by Homebrewer 2008-07-01 09:45PM | 0 recs
Wesley Clark for V.P.

by Lefty Coaster 2008-07-01 09:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Wesley Clark for V.P.

I used to think he was too low-key, too mild-mannered to make a good campaigner.  He's a tiger.  Go Wes!

by GFORD 2008-07-01 11:02PM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Still Refusing To Apologize

The Washington Post makes some good points: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/con tent/article/2008/07/01/AR2008070102480. html?tid=informbox

As for Clark as VP suddenly, that reeks of being the flavor of the day.  What about Anthony Zinni?  The generals Bush fired for saying they needed to send hundreds of thousands of troops?  If you want a bold, sharp tongue, there's Barney Frank and Jan Schakowsky.  If you want a radical loose cannon, we could undercut the Greens and put Cynthia McKinney on the ticket.

It seems a priori obvious to me that military experience does not qualify a person to be president.  (Is every vet, including the ones stuck in mental hospitals, fit to be president?)  Even McCain's.  Or for that matter, Eisenhower's (who used it to check the military-industrial complex).  But especially given the war and terror we have to deal with, it is certainly a relevant factor.  The problem is the incredibly dismissive way Clark treated McCain's military service and the outright disrespect for the torture he endured--which was because he wouldn't give information to his captors.  It's not that that--definitely not that alone--qualifies McCain to be president.  I, and I suspect almost everyone else here, would talk in a second.  Threatened with having my thumb cut off like in English Patient, or fingernails yanked out like in Syriana, I would do anything I thought would end the pain.  I'd choose my life over my country.  It's not that I'm proud of that; it's just the truth.  But McCain's choice of torture over compromising his country was undeniably courageous, principled, and honorable; and more than the vast majority of people would do.  Having grown up in the Midwest, I think most swing voters will see Clark's comments as a major foul.  That's not to say they'll blame Obama, but I don't think this helps.

I also kind of think it's a non-issue.  As Barack said, we have too many real issues to address.

If my clothes aren't done by now, I'm going to hurl the dryer at my landlord.

by Sandwich Repairman 2008-07-02 12:22AM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Still Refusing To Apologize

My bad: the 12th Amendment would preclude Obama and Schakowsky from running on a ticket together as long as they're both from Illinois.

by Sandwich Repairman 2008-07-02 12:23AM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Still Refusing To Apologize

So who ever disrespected the awesome personal experience of Commander McCain in the hands of his captors?  My favourite part was his refusal to be released in contravention of the unwritten rule of first in/first out.  I admire him for that.  But, you said it, with the a priori caveat that military experience does not qualify a person to be president.  What is so difficult about separating those two notions?  I credit McCain with the aspects of his experience in Viet-Nam which would positively influence his suitability as Commander-in-Chief, but they are personal qualities of character and are discrete from other national security issues.

We need to distil the essences of these separate notions.  I admire McCain's resolution and will but despair of his geopolitical awareness, as has been amply demonstrated by his gaffes and positions throughout this campaign.  Is this too complicated for American voters to comprehend?  Lord help us if it is, and Obama and the most of his supporters are betting it ain't.  Otherwise we are lost.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-07-02 01:35AM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Still Refusing To Apologize

PS The Washington Post editorial seemed derivative and superficial.  There is more to this than meets the eye and the mainstream media is often among the last to know.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-07-02 01:39AM | 0 recs
OK attempt by Obama, but I would have said...

"Did you see the context in which Clark made that comment?"
<reporters start to mumble>
Then Obama would pick one of the reporters to say what the context was.
"Ok, so when you consider that Wes Clark was giving his opinion to Bob Shieffer based on the questions posed, do you consider what Clark said a lie or a smear?"
"Let me be clear, I would not have replied to such a line of questioning considering how some people could misuse that. But do you seriously think I would waste time on a non issue like that ? In the worst case, it is an inartful comment by Gen Clark who is also a military man"

When Clark brought up that scenario, ABC has to shut their mouths and did not know how to ask a followup question.

I am glad at least Obama is not asking Clark to apologize. No one should. It's time we went on the offensive. People will respect it in the long term. I am embarassed that after so many years of Republican intimidation, some of our Democrats are still trying to play by their rules.

by Pravin 2008-07-02 02:19AM | 0 recs
If John McCain hasn't the expertese
to lead why does Obama? Because Wes Clark says so?
The RNC is going to have a field day.  
by usedmeat 2008-07-02 02:37AM | 0 recs
Re: If John McCain hasn't the expertese

Jesus, dude.  Why are you here?

Wes Clark IS a leader.  His opinion should matter to a lot of people.

He lead NATO in Bosnia.  McCain was responsible for destroying FIVE US planes.

by lojasmo 2008-07-15 01:49PM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Still Refusing To Apologize For

Give me a break.  The piece of shit media is looking for a daily scandal so they have something to talk about.  Apparently discussing the policies of each candidate doesn't bring in the advertising revenue.

Last week it was Obama's illicit "e-mail relationship" with Scarlett Johanson.  This week its about Clark's comments.  Next week I am sure they will find something else Obama purportedly did wrong.

The funny thing is that none of this will matter in November if gasoline is still $4.00, if the economy is still in the tank.  No one will care about Scarlett Johanson or Wesley Clark.

by agpc 2008-07-02 03:30AM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Still Refusing To Apologize For
There is something more that needs to be said about McCain's vaunted foreign policy expertise, and I wish Clark would say it:
Mindless belligerence does not constitute a useful foreign policy outlook
by Bob H 2008-07-02 03:31AM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Still Refusing To Apologize For

the title 'still refusing' gives certain connotation to this topic - like he's somehow wrong to not be apologising. This may be the position of Obama, but it's plain WRONG. Clark has nothing to apologise for and not supporting him is purely counter-productive to the campaign and to Democratic long-term progress. with friends like these who needs enemies, comes to mind.

if anything OBAMA should be doing the apologising to Clark for tossing him under the bus rather than insisting the characterisations of clark taking hold in the MSM are wrong.

by swissffun 2008-07-02 07:20AM | 0 recs
Re: General Clark Still Refusing To Apologize For

great for clark and good for Obama not going down the same lame path that Axelrod played out the other night.

by alex100 2008-07-02 08:40AM | 0 recs

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