Just as David Petraeus is making us feel good about our military, along comes Wes Clark to remind us that no institution is perfect. The erratic former general is apparently not backing down from his comments about McCain’s five years in the Hanoi Hilton not qualifying the Senator for the presidency.
At first I agreed with Rick Moran and many others that this is essentially a sideshow. But let’s review the meat of what Clark said: “Well, I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.”
Undoubtedly not. But what is arguably a serious qualification for president is McCain’s behavior, his steadfastness, for five years in a North Vietnamese prison camp. It has overtones of The Bridge on the River Kwai. Although not as overtly heroic as the film, McCain showed character traits under extreme pressure – dealing with torture, standing with his men, etc., – that demonstrate superior leadership capability. What befits a president more than that?
Clark skipped over this obvious part. (Uncle Jimbo at Blackfive seems to have seen it pretty clearly.) Why? Well, I submit the former general is suffering from the sin of envy. Not the most stable personality in the public arena – Clark’s own run at the presidency in ’04 imploded in a matter of days – the former general may not harbor the most generous feelings toward McCain, who has parlayed his military career into a lengthy sojourn in the Senate and now a presidential nomination.
So… John McCain as Sir Alec Guinness…? Well, maybe that’s pushing things too far. Sir Alec gets my vote for one of the greatest actors of the Twentieth Century…. But it’s time for Wes Clark to review this song.