Clark on McCain

CLARK ON McCAIN….Today’s outrage of the hour involves Wesley Clark. On Face the Nation yesterday he noted that John McCain doesn’t really have any wartime command experience:

SCHIEFFER: Can I just interrupt you? I have to say, Barack Obama hasn’t had any of these experiences either, nor has he ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down.

CLARK: I don’t think getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to become president.

Andrew Sullivan is unhappy about this:

Wesley Clark is now and always has been a Clinton-type, but this is pretty revolting. This kind of personal attack was repulsive coming against Kerry from the far right. And it’s repulsive the other way round. Both Kerry and McCain served their country honorably; and their records should be revered, period. You can make an argument against McCain’s foreign policy experience and judgment on its merits. Do it and leave this crap out of it.

Hold on a second. In the 2004 campaign Kerry made his military record a major part of his campaign, and conservatives pointed out that his naval service 30 years ago didn’t necessarily mean he had a strong national security record today. Sure, the Swift Boat attacks were way over the line, but the pushback on “military record = national security chops” was perfectly legitimate politics.

Clark isn’t doing anything different here. There are some other, less savory attacks coming from the left that may merit Andrew’s ire (see here), but Clark’s point is a fair one. It’s fair for him to make it and it’s fair for McCain’s supporters to push back on it. There’s nothing out of line here.