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WASHINGTON (AP) - Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, a former Democratic presidential candidate now supporting Barack Obama, said Sunday John McCain's military service does not automatically qualify him to be commander in chief.

Underscoring during a national television appearance a position he has been expressing for several weeks, Clark said performing heroic military service is not a substitute for gaining command experience.

``In the matters of national security policy making, it's a matter of understanding risk,'' he said on CBS' ``Face the Nation.'' ``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,'' Clark said. ``That large squadron in the Navy that he commanded - that wasn't a wartime squadron.''

Moderator Bob Schieffer, who raised the issue by citing similar remarks Clark has made previously, noted that Obama hadn't had those experiences nor had he ridden in a fighter plane and been shot down. ``Well, I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president,'' Clark replied.

In a March conference call with reporters while he was still backing Hillary Rodham Clinton, Clark said: ``Everybody admires John McCain's service as a fighter pilot, his courage as a prisoner of war. There's no issue there. He's a great man and an honorable man. But having served as a fighter pilot - and I know my experience as a company commander in Vietnam - that doesn't prepare you to be commander in chief in terms of dealing with the national strategic issues that are involved. It may give you a feeling for what the troops are going through in the process, but it doesn't give you the experience first hand of the national strategic issues.''

He reiterated that position last week in an article on The Huffington Post Web site.

``If Barack Obama's campaign wants to question John McCain's military service, that's their right,'' McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said after Clark's appearance Sunday. ``But let's please drop the pretense that Barack Obama stands for a new type of politics. The reality is he's proving to be a typical politician who is willing to say anything to get elected, including allowing his campaign surrogates to demean and attack John McCain's military service record.''
 

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In my eyes, he is the lesser of two evils.....just my .02
 

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Welsey sold his soul to the devil *soros* for only 75k

what a loser
 

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I don't think that Welsey should have said what he said on national TV. That was dump on his part, but as to what he said: he's right, it dosen't take alot of smarts to get shot down and get captured, just bad luck.

My 2 cents.
 

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But I doubt that Clark can come up with any command experience that Hillary or the "B Devil" have. At least McCain has been to war and understands what can happen. Unlike Hillary, Obama or infact Bush. I have always thought that if Bush had ever surved his country in war he would have been less enthusiastic about invading Iraq.

I think Clark is trying for the VP.
 

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devildoc said:
it dosen't take alot of smarts to get shot down and get captured, just bad luck.
The problem isn't whether or not it takes brains or guts to get shot down or whether being a junior to mid-level military officer prepares you to be President. Those are the straw arguments Clark set up to knock down. The reason that McCain's military service is part of his appeal is that it goes to the content of his character. Take it apart piece by piece.

(1) By being in the military McCain (like many others) risked putting himself in harm's way. That's something a lot of people will not do. By comparison Clinton and Cheney actively avoided military service.

(2) McCain was badly injured in the USS Forrestal fire and could have had his father get him a cushy, safe assignment (i.e. the Pentagon) where his career would have advanced without him routinely being in danger. but didn't.

(3) After being shot down and injured (which is bad luck), he chose to decline an early release from the North Vietnamese who were hoping to use it as a political device to gain favor and influence.

McCain's time as a prisoner of war is what demonstrates part of his fitness for the role of Commander-in-Chief. He was injured and tortured and he chose to put his nation's interests ahead of his own. -People may disagree with him or dislike him for his politics, but you have to recognize that many people would choose to take the early release over their country's interests.

Although this has nothing to do with the strategy of using US forces, McCain's decision to endure is emblematic of his judgment of doing what is best for the nation over what is best for him. -We all know what Bill Clinton's decision would have been and we have a pretty good idea that our current President would have opted out of the adversity for his own good as well.

By comparison, look at the guy who is attacking him. Clark was a political general known within military circles as "Weatherman Wes" and he got relieved of his NATO command after the "successful" military campaign for Kosovo. -Getting removed from command early after a successful campaign is something that merits more scrutiny and will likely bring to light why Clark is not fit to be Commander-in-Chief. -As they say, those in glass houses should not throw stones...
 

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BreakerDave, Like I said Wes overstepped and was out of line. There are somethings that are not approprate to say in public.

As to Mccains Fitness to be the president, that is yet to be seen. I'd note that his medical records for the last 8 years was over 1000 pages long. As a medical professional I will tell you, thats a butt load. Hell, my medical record after 21 years of Active service was only 482 pages long which included my abbrev. inpatient reconds. Sen. Mccains has some serious medical issues to warrent that much paper. My fear is he will not last his first term. So whoever is # 2 becames the #1. I don't have any ill wishes on Sen. Mccain but he is no spring chicken. I want to know who his V.P. will be. If he picks Ron Paul as his V.P. I'd vote for him in a heart beat, however I think he's going with slimbag Romney. So there ya go.
 

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Devildoc, I know that you feel Wes Clark's statements were over the line. I was trying to demonstrate how Clark was trying to shift focus in order to diminish McCain's military record. If one focuses on the getting shot down and captured part, there's no great skill or judgment. If one focuses on McCain's conduct while injured and tortured as a P.O.W., then there is some showing of strength of character.

As to McCain's health, he probably burned up a lot of his life force with his many injuries and poor treatment as a P.O.W. This guy survived having two planes destroyed, one on the deck of the U.S.S. Forrestal during the fire and obviously the one that the Vietnamese shot down. He has been burned, pierced by shrapnel, had bones broken, tortured, had cancer, and who knows what else. To borrow a line from Indiana Jones, "It's not the years, it's the mileage..." -Of course, in McCain's case he also has a lot of years.

I have heard others say the same thing that you have, if he wins, he would likely die of natural causes in office so his VP pick is very important. Honestly, I think Romney would be a disaster in office. The guy would be in favor of ground-up babies in "next gen" beauty products if it would secure the woman's vote. He's a political animal who would do anything or say anything to get elected and the nation cannot afford to have someone like that as President.

Besides, when asked about his kids not doing military service, Romney's reply was that they were working on his campaign and that was their national service. That just does not sit well with me. On the other hand, it must be nice to be entitled...
 
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