What Wesley Clark didn’t say about John McCain

Tongues are wagging about what retired Gen. Wesley Clark, a 2004 Democratic presidential candidate, said yesterday on CBS’ “Face the Nation” about presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain‘s military record.

Here’s what he didn’t say: that McCain’s service was anything less than honorable and heroic. Therefore, let us put all “swiftboating” comparisons aside right here and now.

BOB SCHIEFFER: How can you say that John McCain is untested and untried, General?

CLARK: Because in the matters of national security policy making, it’s a matter of understanding risk. It’s a matter of gauging your opponents and it’s a matter of being held accountable.

John McCain’s never done any of that in his official positions. 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. He has been a voice on the Senate Armed Services Committee. And he has traveled all over the world.

But he hasn’t held executive responsibility. That large squadron in the Navy that he commanded — that wasn’t a wartime squadron. 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. Do you want to take the risk? What about your reputation? How do we handle this publicly? He hasn’t made that calls, Bob.

SCHIEFFER: Well, General, maybe — could I just interrupt you?

CLARK: Sure.

SCHIEFFER: I have to say, Barack Obama has not had any of those experiences, either, nor has he ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down. I mean…

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

See it here:

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.