UPDATED BELOW, 7/7/08
Never mind that he’s a tough and cool politician now. Never mind that he looks like Captain Scarlet’s boss, Colonel White, Commander in Chief of Spectrum. Gen. Wesley Clark was the Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO. Do you know what that means? Well, neither do I, at least not exactly, but I do know that that’s about the greatest job title ever. Most of the media morons piling on Wes Clark this week aren’t fit to shine even the tiniest bar on his chestful of medals. But there they go, like good little lapdogs, chasing after a manufactured “controversy” that benefits the Republican presidential candidate. When questioned by Bob Schieffer about John McCain’s qualifications for the presidency on Face the Nation Sunday, Clark made the sensible point that “I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.” (Here’s a good rundown of this week’s fauxtrage, h/t to Sarah at Corrente.)
Aside from proving that they’re so not over the huge crush they’ve had on John McCain since 1999, many in the media have also once again illustrated their utter ignorance of military service. (These two things are interrelated. Many people in the media, especially men, tend to be deferential of military service in the peculiar fashion of those who never served yet fetishize military experience.) If Michele Norris had gone to a service academy instead of the University of Wisconsin, do you think she would have challenged Clark like this today on All Things Considered?
When you yourself were a candidate for president, you touted your own military service. And I seem to remember you saying that that was part of what made you a well-qualified candidate to sit in the Oval Office.
That’s right: tragically unlucky Lieutenant Commander = Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO. There’s no difference! So, either military experience matters, or it doesn’t, yes or no, and the media is too lazy or stupid to ask useful questions or make evaluative judgments. Apparently, the bad actors who ran Abu Ghraib have the same qualifications to run for president as Sergeant York. I think I heard Clark’s eyeballs roll back in his head at this point in the interview, and yet he still answered Norris very patiently:
I did lead the armed force of NATO to a successful military action that saved a million and a half Albanians. I did make the recommendations on targeting. I did go to heads of state and ministers of defense and ministers of foreign affairs, the North Atlantic council, and helped hold NATO together. So I not only saw war at the bottom, but I saw war at the top.
Duh. Can’t the media see that they’re being played like a fiddle? The last thing McCain wants is for Wes Clark to be Barack Obama’s running mate, because McCain knows that Supreme Allied Commander beats unlucky Lieutenant Commander ever time, and Clark’s long and deep military credentials would give the Obama ticket a hell of a lot of gravitas. This whole fracas was a masterful example of the bitch-slap theory of politics, designed to test Obama and, perhaps more importantly, to disqualify Clark as a Vice Presidential candidate. And unfortunately, the media weren’t the only ones who fell for it this week. (Confidential to B.O.: Distancing yourself from the Supreme Allied Commander because the Republicans want you to makes you look weak. You’re the one who got rolled, friend.)