"During a debate last year, McCain criticized Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for earmarking federal money for a Woodstock museum to honoring the three-day 1969 rock concert. "I wasn’t there, I’m sure it was a cultural and pharmaceutical event," he joked. "I was tied up at the time."
The campaign promptly turned the quip into an ad that included footage of McCain as a POW.
And this week, the campaign is running a new ad called "Safe" that displays black and white photos of McCain’s father and his grandfather — both admirals — followed by images of the wreckage of his shot down A-4E Skyhawk and of a wounded McCain imprisoned in Hanoi.
"Only a fool or a fraud talks tough or romantically about war. When I was five years old, my father left for war. My grandfather came home from war and died the next day. I was shot down over Vietnam and spent five years as a POW. Some of the friends I served with never came home. I hate war. And I know how terrible its costs are. I’m running for president to keep the country I love safe," McCain says in the ad, speaking directly to the camera." AP
John McCain is an admirable man. There are many such who wore the uniform of the United States in adverse circumstance. Jim Webb, Chuck Hagel, Daniel Inouye, Bob Dole… Shall I go on? How many names would there be? How many million names? In their new found love of soldiers Americans ascribe something almost sacramental to the experience of military service. This is unexpected. There has emerged a kind of reverence for those who have served which is unfamiliar to the veterans of earlier generations. I am old enough to remember the aftermath of World War II. Veterans of that war were treated with respect, but not with veneration. Perhaps there were too many of them for that.
McCain’s brief experience as a junior naval aviator and his extended suffering in North Vietnamese hands seem to be thought by many to be serious qualifications for the ultimate job of making national level policy decisions about the country’s security. Television newsies gush about his empathy with soldiers and understanding for the horrors of war. Sentimentality abounds in these discussions. Sentimentality is good in Valentine’s Day cards. It is bad in picking a president for the country and a commander in chief for the armed forces.
Now Wesley Clark has challenged the reality of the level and extent of McCain’s real experience of command responsibility in the life and death business of leadership in war and peace. McCain never commanded anything but small naval aviation units in war and a middling sized squadron command in peacetime. He was a prisoner of the wretched North Vietnamese. He was abused by them in violation of international law. We Americans owe him a debt of gratitude for that. The "job" of POW does not involve a lot of command responsibility except with regard to one’s own conduct. McCain has spent a lot of time in the Congress. The Congress has many vital functions. Command is not one of them. McCain never exercised command authority over anything but his own office when in the House of Representatives or the Senate.
When Clark says that McCain does not have significant command experience he is undoubtedly correct. One might say that Senator McCain has thought about national security issues a lot. I am sure that is true, but it is not necessary to have served in the military for one to have thought about national security issues.
Abraham Lincoln had a few month experience as a militia officer. Franklin Roosevelt had been a civilian Secretary of the Navy. Thomas Jefferson never served in the military.
There is no reason based on historical evidence to think that Barack Obama would not run a creditable administration in regard to national security. Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman found George Marshall to help them with their burden. Let us hope that Obama is looking for his Marshall. pl