Monday, June 30, 2008

Clark; McCain; Obama

I hope Barack Obama knows what he's doing. And whatever he's doing, I hope he is right and that I am wrong.

I hope I am wrong because I think that if Obama loses the presidential race, he will be able to trace his defeat back to a string of unforced errors that began with his capitulation on telecom immunity and - hopefully - ended with the denunciation of Wesley Clark and the oblique yet unmistakable criticism of

What Gen. Clark said about John McCain on Face the Nation was undeniably correct - being a POW does not qualify you for the presidency - and it was something that needed desperately to be said.

The entire rationale for John McCain's candidacy rests on the notion that his service in Vietnam, particularly his captivity and the torture he endured, gives him special standing as an expert on national security. McCain has not hesitated to suggest that because Barack Obama did not serve in the military, Obama is less qualified than he to serve as Commander in Chief of the U.S. military.

Clark's remarks to Bob Schieffer, and to the Huffington Post and on MSNBC a few weeks ago, served to puncture the balloon of McCain's mythic status as a foreign policy expert. It was brilliant. I remember watching the hacks on Morning Joe sputtering in slack-jawed astonishment as Clark not only refused to disavow his previous statement to the Huffington Post, but actually advanced the argument.

I cheered. I thought, Finally!

Now, this.

Not only has Obama thrown Clark under the bus, but he has managed to legitmize the rationale for his rival's candidacy. He has guaranteed that from this point forward, any criticism of McCain's claim to foreign policy superiority will be dismissed as "swift-boating."

And who will go out on a limb now to challenge the GOP's attack memes on Obama's behalf, knowing that he is as likely to disavow them as he did Wes Clark?

I hope that we have seen the last of this kind of triangulation. It pains me to say this, but Obama's "move to the center" is starting to look like a surrender to the right.

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