This past Sunday, General Clark answered one of Bob Schieffer's leading questions thusly,
Because in the matters of national security policy making, it's a matter of understanding risk. It's a matter of gauging your opponents, and it's a matter of being held accountable. John McCain's never done any of that in his official positions. I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands and millions of others in Armed Forces as a prisoner of war. He has been a voice on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and he has traveled all over the world. But he hasn't held executive responsibility. That large squadron in Air- in the Navy that he commanded, it wasn't a wartime squadron. He hasn't been there and ordered the bombs to fall. He hasn't seen what it's like when diplomats come in and say, 'I don't know whether we're going to be able to get this point through or not. Do you want to take the risk? What about your reputation? How do we handle it-publicly?'This evening, Clark issued a statement not, clarifying, amending or withdrawing his statement, but reiterating it:
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.Furthermore,
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.
I think anybody who serves in uniform who serves their country in wartime and has gone through the hardships like John McCain should be honored for their character and courage. I think people look for character and courage in their pres, but I don't think you' have to have been at war to have shown character and courage. I think you can see that in other candidates. I think you can see that in Barack Obama's life.Iraq Veteran Jon Soltz agrees with Vietnam veteran General Clark. Facts, Soltz says, are facts:
Lt. General Robert G. Gard Jr. (USA, Ret.) agrees with Soltz:
- Senator McCain's service and experience, both as a POW and as a Senator apparently hasn't infused him with a dose of good judgment.
- Senator McCain's experience hasn't led him to realize that the war in Iraq and it's continuance has empowered and emboldened Iran, and destabilized the region.
- Senator McCain's experience hasn't caused him to recognize that we're losing ground in Afghanistan, and Osama bin Laden is still out there, plotting.
- Senator McCain's experience didn't lead him to support the 21st Century GI Bill -- he opposed it. It didn't even make him feel the need to get back to Washington to vote on this -- one of the most important veterans' bills this Congress. He twice skipped votes on the GI Bill, to fundraise.
- Senator McCain's experience didn't help him empathize with troops are overstretched and overdeployed, when he voted against the bipartisan Webb-Hagel "Dwell Time Amendment," which would have given troops as much time at home as in the field.
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.General Wesley Clark, patriot and war hero, can take the full measure of the GOP's straw man candidate, John McCain. That's why the Republicans are desperate to disqualify Clark as a possible Vice-Presidential candidate.
..... 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.
But Progressives are standing up for the man who will stand up to John McCain. Here's a petition to Thank General Clark for His Straight Talk & Tell Him To Not Back Down. I have signed it, and so should all Progressives.