Wesley Clark has made the rounds of just about every talk show on television over the last 24 hours, repeating his attack on John McCain as lacking the executive experience needed to be President. It’s pretty funny, actually, if you listen to Clark, because whenever he describes the precise military experience needed to equip a candidate for the Presidency, it turns out to be exactly what Clark himself did. Right up until the time he got fired.
I think some of the criticism of Clark has been overblown; he always repeats that he respects and admires McCain, but doesn’t think he has the judgment or executive experience needed to be President. This afternoon on CNN, John Roberts pointed out the most glaring contradiction in Clark’s theory of military experience: his enthusiastic endorsement of John Kerry, whose strategic command experience was nowhere near McCain’s. Here was the exchange:
ROBERTS: But when it comes to that same type of qualification, you were very robustly behind John Kerry’s military experience…
ROBERTS: … in your speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, where you talked about his experience of being there under mortar fire.
ROBERTS: And let’s listen to the way that you summed that up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLARK: John Kerry’s combination of physical courage and moral values is my definition of what we need as Americans in our commander in chief.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: So, you said it’s what we need in a commander in chief. And I’m wondering how different was John McCain’s experience from John Kerry’s?
CLARK: Well, a lot, because John McCain basically served honorably and well in uniform. He did everything the country could have asked.
What John Kerry did is John Kerry got out of the uniform. He took a judgment, a judgment I didn’t agree with at the time, but he had the moral courage to stand up for himself and oppose the conflict in Vietnam.
ROBERTS: But where was the executive experience that you talked about?
CLARK: The executive experience wasn’t the issue there, because John Kerry wasn’t claiming that he had some special executive experience on national security against George Bush.
So Kerry’s military experience was better than McCain’s because after serving for four months in Vietnam, he returned to the U.S. and falsely accused his fellow servicemen of being war criminals. I think it’s time for Wesley Clark to be ushered quietly off the stage.