“I don’t think getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to become president.”
The hyperventilating is quite predictable and Obama will no doubt remind everyone of McCain’s proud and honourable service. But the problem is that Clark was careful to do this himself once you look at the context. Clark is no Wright! He has a much more distinguished military record himself even if it didn’t involve a tour of the Hanoi Hilton. The risk for McCain and the republicans in overreacting like this is that they will give Clark and Obama the opportunity to drive home the point that Clark is trying to get across. That ‘getting into a fighter plane and being shot down’ isn’t a qualification for becoming president, something that McCain supporters don’t seem to understand. To be sure it does no harm, but it isn’t a qualification, and to say so is not to smear McCain (unlike John Kerry’s swift-boating).
Check out the interview.
Notice how sentimental we are and how the media amplifies this. Shorn of its political context (and the context Clark is careful to provide) the above statement is unremarkable to the point of banality.
Update: Andrew Sullivan has a pretty histrionic reaction with Swiftboating McCain; I wonder whether he has even watched the interview.
Update II: I draw people’s attention to my previous post where I point out that Obama’s comforting of distressed citizen in front of the cameras couldn’t be (very strong) evidence of Obama’s compassion. This article is very much in the same line.
Update IV: Sullivan is reporting a ‘Clark-lash’; folks feel that Clark was unfairly dumped on (I do) and he links to an excellent explanation of what Clark was getting at and why it certainly wasn’t any swift-boat attack. (Why so many pundits thought Clark was attacking McCain’s record or character remains a mystery to me; the McCain campaign reaction must have queered their whole analysis; it looks as if McCain is holding on to his base, at least for the while.)