Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The General and Mr. McCain

One interesting thing about this election that I don't remember from past elections is how quickly and forcefully the candidates respond to any sort of aspersion and how hard each candidate tries not to appear to be casting any aspersions in the first place. Even as they attach each other, neither candidate wants to allow himself to be swift-boated and neither wants to appear to be doing the swift-boating. The radars on both sides have gotten so sensitive that it's starting to become a detriment to actually having a debate.

Consider the recent dust up over Gen. Wesley Clark's comments that getting shot down over Vietnam wasn't a qualification for being president. McCain immediately responded by saying that Obama should "cut [Clark] out" and Obama himself quickly distanced himself from the comments. Republicans are worked up over Democrats questioning McCain's war record. Democrats are worried about being the perpetrators of swift-boating.

Into this void has apparently gone common sense. For instance, it's not really questioning someone's war record to say that the record doesn't qualify them to be president. That does nothing to take away from the bravery that McCain exhibited or the honor with which he unquestionably served. McCain can be a hero and still not deserve to be president.

Also missing is any acknowledgment that Clark's comments are simply correct. Being a prisoner of war - however patriotically it might have happened - is not in itself a qualification to be president. Yes, McCain has a heroic war record, but that is not grounds to vote for him for president. It's a non sequiter to say otherwise. That doesn't take anything away from McCain's own record of service. It just says that we're looking for more in our leader.

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