The Gen. Clark brouhaha shines a nice light on the myth of the liberal media. Clark made what ought to have been an unremarkable point that being a prisoner of war doesn’t necessarily give one special talents in terms of managing national security policy. The collective media response seems to have been to pretend Clark said something other than what he said and to freak out over an imagined blood libel by Clark against McCain. Let’s go to the transcript to see what was actually said:
GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: In the matters of national security policy making, it’s a matter of understanding risk. It’s a matter of gauging your opponents, and it’s a matter of being held accountable. John McCain’s never done any of that in his official positions. I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands and millions of others in Armed Forces as a prisoner of war. He has been a voice on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and he has traveled all over the world. But he hasn’t held executive responsibility. That large squadron in Air- in the Navy that he commanded, it wasn’t a wartime squadron. He hasn’t been there and ordered the bombs to fall. He hasn’t seen what it’s like when diplomats come in and say, ‘I don’t know whether we’re going to be able to get this point through or not. Do you want to take the risk? What about your reputation? How do we handle it-‘
Bob Schieffer: Well-
GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: ‘ -it publicly.’ He hasn’t made those calls, Bob.
Bob Schieffer: Well, well, General, maybe-
GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: So-
Bob Schieffer: Could I just interrupt you. If-
GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Sure.
Bob Schieffer: I have to say, Barack Obama has not had any of those experiences either, nor has he ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down. I mean-
GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well, I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be President.
Bob Schieffer: Really?!
GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: But Barack is not, he is not running on the fact that he has made these national security pronouncements. He’s running on his other strengths. He’s running on the strengths of character, on the strengths of his communication skills, on the strengths of his judgment. And those are qualities that we seek in our national leadership.
Talking Points Memo has the montage of the collective media freak out over a caricature of Clark’s actual comments. Many are pretending that, by questioning what skill set McCain actually acquired through his experience, Clark was somehow challenging McCain’s patriotism. Not to put too fine a point on the matter, it’s bullshit, ginned up faux outrage. Maybe it makes good TV.
Obama chose not to engage a questioner on this point, instead making the audacious suggestion that maybe Americans had bigger problems that ought to be drawing the attention of the media news reading personalities.