Someone to whom the media will listen, anyway:
I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.
-- Gen. (ret.) Wesley K. Clark
I'm not looking for a Swiftboat-style attack on John McCain. I have no interest in trafficking in stories that allege that he was brainwashed by the Vietcong or that he turned traitor while in captivity or anything like that.
However, it has long irritated me that virtually no one in the MSM is capable of mentioning John McCain -- in any context -- without appending the words war hero. I respect the mindset that views military service as honorable and I admire his grit for surviving his years as a POW. But really, Wes Clark speaks the truth.
I thought Barack Obama put it nicely in a statement that some are sure to label as a non-apology apology (Clark is an Obama adviser):
For those like John McCain who have endured physical torment in service to our country, no further proof of such sacrifice is necessary.
Exactly. We're not questioning McCain's handling of himself during that time. But it did happen upwards of forty years ago, it's not like he's the only one who's ever gone through this, and in any case, it says nothing about his ability to be Chief Executive. The way that many pundits and even journalists refer to McCain, however, suggests that it happened last week, and that it serves as sufficient qualification for the job he now seeks.
There is also the sense in the phrase of an all-purpose Get Out Of Jail Free card. As soon as "war hero" is said, nothing more gets said about his history of shady land deals, his lack of understanding about economic or technological or environmental issues, his wish to continue the Bush policies on taxes and judicial appointments, his flip-flopping, the contradiction between his self-styled maverick image and the number of lobbyists who run his campaign, or the fact that his foreign policy views begin and end at the point of a bayonet.
So, good for Wes Clark for pointing out that what looks like a halo is really nothing more than a slightly elevated ring around the collar. And let me close by proposing that we should -- literally -- throw under the bus anyone who calls for Obama to throw Clark under the bus, or indeed, who even uses that most tiresome of political phrases.
[added] You really ought to have a look at Twin's follow-up remarks in the Comments. Thanks, Twin.