Asked about military service, presidential qualifications, McCain gets ‘visibly angry’
Posted July 2nd, 2008 at 3:50 pm
TNR’s Michael Crowley, commenting on the still-inexplicable Wesley Clark flap, noted today, “I do think the whole episode was bad for Obama in the short term, although if it plants seeds with MSM editors to think more critically about McCain’s military experience down the road that would be substantially mitigating.”
That sounds about right. The whole point of Clark’s comments, which he’s been emphasizing for quite some time, is that John McCain’s military service during the war in Vietnam, while obviously honorable, is not necessarily a presidential qualification, despite what the McCain campaign would have us believe. If news outlets stop to consider this point, just a little, in the midst of its Clark free for all, this might help change the nature of the discussion.
Consider what happened earlier today, while McCain was talking to reporters on a plane over Columbia, South America. The Clark subject came up, and McCain urged Obama to “cut him loose.” Then, ABC News’ David Wright explained, things got rather tense.
McCain became visibly angry when I asked him to explain how his Vietnam experience prepared him for the Presidency.
“Please,” he said, recoiling back in his seat in distaste at the very question.
McCain allies Sen. Lindsey Graham stepped in to rescue him. Graham expressed admiration for McCain’s stance on the treatment of detainees in US custody.
“That to me is a classic example of how his military experience helped him shape public policy in a way no other senator could have done,” Graham said.
Soon after, McCain “collected himself” and apologized for losing his cool. “I kind of reacted the way I did because I have a reluctance to talk about my experiences,” he said, adding, “I am always reluctant to talk about these things.”
McCAIN’SMILLITARY SERVICE QUALIFIES HIM FOR THE PRESIDENCY? BUT HE DOES NOT WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT? HE DOES NOT WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT BECAUSE THERE ARE EVENTS IN HIS MILITARY SERVICE THAT SUGGEST THAT HE SHOULD NOT BE PRESIDENT.
What an interesting exchange.
First, the question was pretty straightforward: how did McCain’s service in the war prepare him for the presidency? For a candidate who emphasizes his military service all the time, this shouldn’t have been especially difficult to answer, and it certainly shouldn’t have left him “visibly angry.”
Second, it’s curious that McCain explained his incensed reaction by pointing to his reluctance to “talk about my experiences.” Whether McCain talks about his service or not is entirely up to him, but he really doesn’t seem especially reluctant at all. In fact, McCain talks about his Vietnam service all the time, and his campaign has made it the basis for multiple campaign ads. Indeed, in one commercial, the McCain campaign literally included interrogation footage from McCain’s days as a prisoner of war.
Given this, it seems odd that a question about how this service prepared him for the presidency would set him off like this. Indeed, by constantly talking about his service, McCain has been making the implicit case that his military background necessarily prepared him for the presidency.
Is no one supposed to ask why?
FROM tHE CARPETBAGGER REPORT BY STEVE BENEN