[cross-posted at Liberty & Power]
So the pundits (including people who are usually smarter) are howling because Wesley Clark made what ought to be a patently obvious and uncontroversial observation: “I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.” This, apparently, amounts to “belittling” McCain’s war record.
Huh? Even for those who regard McCain’s war record as a valuable achievement, how is it “belittling” one achievement to point out that it’s not a relevant qualification for another achievement? Would you agree to be operated on by someone whose sole qualification is that he can speak fourteen languages? Or would you accept as a translator, for your visit to the headhunters of the Amazon, someone who could boast only surgical proficiency? And if not, are you “belittling” linguistic competency (or, in the second case, medical skill)?
Thomas Jefferson once silenced a proponent of hereditary monarchy by suggesting that the professorship of mathematics might also be made hereditary. Ah, why not make military service the basis for the professorship of mathematics too? How does combat experience qualify anyone to be president (assuming counterfactually that someone could be qualified to be president)? Does McCain run the risk of being kidnapped and tortured by Nancy Pelosi? Or will he need to bomb the Supreme Court?
So anyway, tonight Clark goes on Dan Abrams’ show and falls all over himself to assure us that nobody denies that McCain is a war hero. Well, I deny it. McCain was a serial killer in what by his own virtual admission was an unjust war. Heroism this is not.