The Swiftboating of John McCain

John McCain’s military service is under attack from some Democrats:

Steinem raised McCain’s Vietnam imprisonment as she sought to highlight an alleged gender-based media bias against Clinton.

“Suppose John McCain had been Joan McCain and Joan McCain had got captured, shot down and been a POW for eight years. [The media would ask], ‘What did you do wrong to get captured? What terrible things did you do while you were there as a captive for eight years?’” Steinem said, to laughter from the audience.

McCain was, in fact, a prisoner of war for around five-and-a-half years, during which time he was tortured repeatedly. Referring to his time in captivity, Steinem said with bewilderment, “I mean, hello? This is supposed to be a qualification to be president? I don’t think so.”

General Wesley Clark also chimes in:

In the national security business, the question is, do you have — when you have served in uniform, do you really have the relevant experience for making the decisions at the top that have to be made? 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

Funny, Clark seemed to have a different opinion in 2004, when he ran for president almost solely based on his military experience.

It’s true that military experience alone does not qualify one to be president–indeed, nothing really prepares one for that job. But service does help one gain an understanding of how the military works, something which nobody can deny is important for a commander-in-chief.

It’s also strange that Democrats would raise such an attack given that neither of their candidates are particularly experienced. Campaign spin to the side, Hillary Clinton’s advantage over Obama in this area is only that she has served in the Senate for four years longer. The other experience she boasts was actually her husband’s. You’d think a feminist like Steinem would take issue with that.

McCain’s POW experience also speaks to his character. We all know he had the chance for release but refused to do so because he could not leave his fellow soldiers. He endured torture most of us could never imagine. To say, as Steinem does, that this is not a qualification to be president is bogus, and Steinem should be ashamed of herself.

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