I supported Wesley Clark’s candidacy in the 2004 Democratic primary. Despite the fact that John Kerry was my senator, I decided to support Clark instead because I thought he would make the best president. He was a four-star general, a Rhodes Scholar who graduated first in his class from West Point, and most notably, he organized and ran the airstrikes on Kosovo without losing a single American life.

We’ve lost over 4,000 lives in Iraq.

Of course, I supported John Kerry as soon as he became the presumptive Democratic nominee, but inwardly, I always preferred General Clark.

I was pleased that he has been long rumored to be the Democratic running mate, either for Obama or for Clinton. Check out Newsweek’s analysis on why Clark would make a perfect running mate for Obama.

General Clark has been getting a lot of press lately, particularly from this video, in regards to comments that he made regarding John McCain:

(Click here to watch the video. I’m having difficulty embedding video today for some reason.)

Here were some of Clark’s original comments about McCain:

“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 the armed forces, as a prisoner of war. And he has traveled all over the world. But he hasn’t held executive responsibility.

“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.

“Well, I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.”

When I first heard that, I was shocked. I didn’t think that anyone would DARE to go in the direction that could remotely be considered as criticizing McCain’s military service. That’s the one place where you CAN’T go.

There we go, I thought. He was the most likely running mate, but now Clark can kiss VP goodbye.

Obama’s statement on Clark’s comments came a day later, through one of his reps:

“As he’s said many times before, Senator Obama honors and respects Senator McCain’s service, and of course he rejects yesterday’s statement by General Clark.”

Like he had a choice! Anything but outright rejecting this statement would have been grabbed by the right wing and dragged out from now until the election.

But I started thinking — and the more I thought about it, the more I realized that General Clark actually had some great points.

In every major speech Obama makes, he notes that we honor and respect McCain’s military service. I do, as well, and I’m sure that most Americans feel the same way.

But while saying that he, as well, honors that service, Clark actually confronts the elephant in the room: being a POW has nothing to do with qualifying someone to be president. Talk about McCain’s Senate record; talk about his service as a Navy commander. But think about all the POWs out there — does being a POW make them any more qualified to be president than the next guy?

No. It doesn’t.

I’m impressed that Clark actually had the gall to say that. It’s one of the untouchable issues of this election. And it needed to be said — sooner, not later. And even while pressured, he did not back down from what he said, and not due to stubbornness — he didn’t back down because he genuinely believed in what he said.

Clark is also correct that we need to base our vote for president on who has the best judgment. McCain always supported this war. Now, take what then-unknown Illinois State Senator Obama had to say about the imminent Iraq war in 2002, before it even began:

“Now let me be clear: I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. He has repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted UN inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity. He’s a bad guy. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him.

“But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.

“I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences.

“I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of Al Qaeda.

“I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars.”

This is astoundingly prescient. Obama was right, and this is exactly what happened.

However, as for the rest of his argument, it was largely useless. In terms of executive experience, Obama and McCain are similarly lacking in experience. For that reason, it seems like there was no point to making this argument. Newsweek’s Stumper agrees with me on that point.

The fact is, no job in the nation is quite like the job of the president. We are never going to find a candidate with the ideal experience, because if that happened, there would be no contest whatsoever. No candidate is perfect, and each candidate is lacking experience in specific areas.

In fact, if I’m allowed to get paranoid for a minute, I wonder whether this was an elaborate set-up for Obama to step in, refuse to enter the fray and look like the good guy. They picked the perfect person to say it — if anyone can criticize anyone in the military, it’s Clark — nobody in recent history has run a war as well as him.

Many believe that Clark just said goodbye to being Obama’s running mate. I’m not so sure about that — to quote my favorite phrase, all is not lost. This is because he made some valid points. And he’s also just proven that he can be quite the attack dog, which is the traditional role of the running mate. I strongly prefer Clark, but I also like Jim Webb and Kathleen Sebelius.

There’s a lot I have to say about this election — it consumes me. In terms of McCain’s running mate, I at first thought that I would be shocked if it weren’t Charlie Crist — but after hearing about how Crist has dodged so many gay rumors over the years, I would now bet a handsome sum of money that it’s going to be Romney. It’s July — the running mates will very likely be announced this month!

Advertisements