Recent political debate has revolved around the question of whether General Clark's comments about Senator McCain were a greater part offense or greater part idiotic. In the Politico article Who's Smearing Whom they call Senator Obama on his surregates string of oddly similar attacks on McCain's military service. Also noting that the Obama campaign has routinely cried 'smear' or 'about to smear' with no evidence that either the McCain campaign or the Republican party has any intention of playing dirty. The question is; were Wesley Clark's criticism so rediculous and ham-handed that people will start recognizing this pattern of unseamly attacks as more than just a coincidence?
Contrast the absence of smears from the McCain camp with some of the outlandish remarks made by high-ranking Obama supporters. In April, West Virginia Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV said that because McCain “was a fighter pilot, who dropped laser-guided missiles from 35,000 feet,” and “was long gone when they hit,” the Arizona senator who spent five and a half years in a Vietcong tiger cage having his arms repeatedly broken didn’t really understand the carnage of war. “What happened when [the missiles] get to the ground?” Rockefeller asked a crowd at an Obama rally. “He doesn’t know. You have to care about the lives of people. McCain never gets into those issues.” That the great-grandson of John D. Rockefeller would impugn the wartime experience of John McCain is especially rich, given that the only “battle” Rockefeller has seen is when he hunts wild game at his 80-acre ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Rockefeller’s smear was the first salvo in a pattern of attacks meant to insinuate that McCain’s Vietnam experience not only shouldn’t count as meaningful “experience,” but rendered him psychologically unfit for presidential office. In May, Iowa Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin said of McCain, “Everything is looked at from his life experiences, from always having been in the military, and I think that can be pretty dangerous.” Over the weekend, retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark said that McCain is “untested and untried,” and elaborated that, “I don't think getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to become president.” Clark, you may remember, ran for president in 2004 on his record as a career military officer, so his comment, which he has not retracted, was not just morally offensive but self-discrediting.
The smears didn’t stop there. On Monday, Obama foreign policy adviser Rand Beers unfavorably compared McCain’s POW experience with “the members of the Senate who were in the ground forces or who were ashore in Vietnam,” and who “have a very different view of Vietnam and the cost ... than John McCain does because he was in isolation essentially for many of those years and did not experience the turmoil here or the challenges that were involved for those of us who served in Vietnam during the Vietnam War.”
It’s curious how anyone could argue that a man with such visceral understanding of the capacity for what America’s enemies will do to our men and women in uniform doesn’t fully appreciate the cost of war. But even more troubling is the unmistakable pattern of these smears, all of them unsubtly alleging that McCain is an unhinged, mentally unstable warmonger who would deploy soldiers capriciously because he hasn’t truly experienced the horrors of ground battle. Indeed, the claims of these four men — and the short period of time in which they were all uttered — are so similar in tone that one would be foolish not to at least consider the possibility they were coordinated by the Obama campaign.