Yesterday on Face the Nation, General Wesley Clark was asked by host Bob Schieffer whether he thought John McCain's service as a fighter pilot and prisoner of war was relevant to his ability to run the country. The general, a former supporter of Hillary Clinton and now an advocate for Barack Obama, said he didn't think "that riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification for being president." (Click above to watch video) Meanwhile, an aggressive far-left Website, Americablog, asked "Honestly, besides being tortured, what did McCain do to excel in the military?" "Getting shot down, tortured, and then doing propaganda for the enemy is not command experience," wrote blogger John Aravosis.
Politico.com's Ben Smith observes that the McCain campaign responded immediately and aggressively to these comments:
"The American people know that John McCain's record of service and sacrifice is not a matter of debate. He has written about and discussed his service as a POW extensively—often in excruciating and painful detail," said McCain spokesman Brian Rogers. "The American people will judge harshly anyone who demeans or attacks that service."
Neither comment even brushes the level of questioning (or, certainly, accusation of cowardice) that was devoted to John Kerry's Vietnam record by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth during the 2004 election. But Smith points out that they're part of a fringe trend toward deflating McCain's seemingly unimpeachable war record. Like Bush in 2004, Obama does not support the attacks and has always praised McCain's war record. But unlike Kerry in 2004, it looks like McCain is ready to go immediately on the counterattack.
Some on left target McCain's war record [Politico]