August 1, 2008  

Soundbite dispute

TO THOSE who rushed to condemn Wes Clark’s remark about Sen. John McCain’s qualifications to be president. What Clark told “Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer was something few would dispute: “In the matters of national security policymaking, it’s a matter of understanding risk. It’s a matter of gauging your opponents, and it’s a matter of being held accountable.” After Clark noted that McCain had no major executive responsibility experience and little experience in decision-making roles, it was Schieffer who raised McCain’s wartime experience: “Barack Obama has not had any of those experiences, either, nor has he ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down.” Clark responded, “I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.” Sure, Clark should have stayed on message — what it takes to be commander in chief — but that doesn’t diminish the truth of his statement.