The Obama campaign is wrong to reject Wesley Clark’s comments made on Face the Nation yesterday morning, for several reasons: 1) Clark’s comments are accurate on their face; 2) they get to a larger narrative about McCain (his military service qualifies him to be president) that Obama must challenge and change; 3) Criticizing your own supporters for making accurate statements about the enemy lowers the bar in terms of acceptable campaign behavior. Clark was not even close to swiftboating McCain; Obama’s criticism of Clark allows McCain to assume a self referenced “high road” response to Clark and respond indignantly to Clark’s comments (as he did this morning). In other words, Obama just fell into a Rovian McCain trap.
After watching Clark’s comments, here’s what I see Clark did and all he did. He challenged the media narrative that says riding in a fighter plane and getting shot own qualifies John McCain to be president and commander in chief. To which Bob Schieffer asks incredulously, “Really?”
Clark says McCain’s military has not prepared him with relevant executive experience, and he is correct. To which Schieffer says defensively “neither does your mother Obama.” Schieffer’s defensive retort misses the larger point that McCain is running on his military experience, and Obama is not. Obama, as Clark suggested, is running on his character, judgment and communication skills, his ability to persuade, which Clark suggests, according to historian Richard Neustadt is the most important tool for a successful president.
Quite frankly, Clark got it right; the Media and Obama camp got it wrong. And McCain shouldn’t still be running.
I wonder how many meals Bob Schieffer has eaten at McCain’s La Jolla (tax delinquent) condo.