Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Clark on McCain: “Largely Untested and Untried.”

General Clark eats McCain's Reputation for Breakfast

The full article is worth reading.

Huffington Post

"I know he's trying to get traction by seeking to play to what he thinks is his strong suit of national security," Clark said of McCain while speaking from his office in Little Rock, Arkansas. "The truth is that, in national security terms, he's largely untested and untried. He's never been responsible for policy formulation. He's never had leadership in a crisis, or in anything larger than his own element on an aircraft carrier or [in managing] his own congressional staff. It's not clear that this is going to be the strong suit that he thinks it is."

Resume aside, though, Clark also took issue with the Arizona Republican's instincts on national security. "McCain's weakness is that he's always been for the use of force, force and more force. In my experience, the only time to use force is as a last resort. ... When he talks about throwing Russia out of the G8 and makes ditties about bombing Iran, he betrays a disrespect for the office of the presidency."

There's more...
Two issues, no, three caught me out of the television interview.

1. Clark took on the media and won.

This wasn't a victory on points. It was a clean knock-out. Clark won.

One of the major strategic questions of the Democratic campaign has been how to destroy McCain's image, who people think McCain is, who he claims to be.

General Clark just demonstrated a big piece of the answer. HUGE win.


2. The media took sides.

They already always clearly have a strong opinion about who John McCain is and what he stands for. Their preconceived notions were on display from the start and all the way through the interview. They were an enormous barrier to effective communication.

Like most protracted teenagers, when someone challenges their preconception with a well-thought out, carefully reasoned, well-grounded assessment, THE MEDIA HATE IT. They remind me of high schoolers being told off in painful, public detail by the school's best teacher, the one everyone admires and wants the approval of. That teacher never chews you out in public unless you really screw up, but they don't hesitate to tear apart your work in a way which makes clear you've been skating by. That's what happened here.

Check this carefully....

The media simply couldn't argue the POINT, which Clark made clear without saying word one directly about them to anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear, that they have been lazy goof offs who are brutally biased for McCain, against Obama, and are not doing their damn jobs. Or they would already have reported this obviously well-grounded assessment/interpretation about McCain's national security ability -- “Largely Untested and Untried” -- over which Clark was taking them to school. They couldn't argue the actual point. It was that clear, that obvious, that elegant a takedown. In effect, Clark's hit on McCain took out two targets with one shot. That, my loves, is a fucking pro.

The media -- like high school students being dressed down -- were left trying to:
  • pick on obviously inconsequential shit,
  • changing topics to something less painful hoping teacher won't notice (didn't work -- Clark stayed on topic and pretty much gave them detention for being trivial) -- they did keep arguing throughout, but they couldn't fight the main point; they conceded that almost immediately it was so obvious, so
  • instead of dealing with the consequences of what does it mean if “what everyone knows about McCain is a lie?”, which is what I think a reputable journalist would have done. It's sure as hell what I hope I would have done, taken the interview in the direction it was going and see what I learned instead of trying to wrench it around to some pre-determined point of view to support what I thought I knew. Nope...
  1. They attacked Obama on other issues, as if A = B = C or M = O. But as Clark kept pointing out, it's McCain who is running on being a national security guru, not Obama. Obama is running on other issues.
  2. The media left untouched -- were left stunned by -- General Clark's assessment that McCain on national security is “Largely Untested and Untried.”
  3. What is there to say about that but, “Well, yeah. Obviously. McCain was a fighter pilot who got shot down. Then, after he was a POW, after he left the military, he divorced his critically crippled badly disfigured middle-aged wife who had waited for him all those lonely years, left her dependent on him for money for her medical care (to this day so to this day she still dare not speak out against him), left her and married a young blonde rich girl whose Daddy gave McCain a job and then paid for war hero John McCain to become a Congressman and a Senator. This is the beautiful trophy wife McCain then called a **** in front of a bunch of national reporters back in '92 according to The Real McCain by Cliff Schecter. (Link NOT safe for work; headline uses the word.) (And no, we do not use that word on GNB or any variation of the word. It's a FAIL. Don't do it.) Because McCain's is the kind of temper you want holding the Gold Codes, having access to the Playbook and the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP) and being able to ask for the Nuclear Football. Oh yeah baby, let's play football!
  4. As far as I can see, Gen. Clark was being nice. Senator McCain doesn't have any national security experience. He's a vet. So am I. And through being a Senator, he's talked to Generals and Admirals. Big fucking deal. He's never been in command at that level or even on a senior staff. (He retired as a Navy Captain, held a training command, and was the Navy's gofor to the Senate.) Being a POW and being against torture before he was for it, does not make McCain into General Eisenhower.
  • Oh yeah, and on the interview? Finally, when none of that other stuff worked, the last thing the media folks did was they tried sucking up to teacher about how if only they had four stars, showing big smiles of TEETH, and reaching over and brushing Clark's shoulders. What... they think a full four-star general has never had people suck up? *snickers*
None of it worked.

Clark was a full grown adult in a room of children.

The interview was a dangerous emotional blow to McCain's reputation. Furthermore it is a strategic blow precisely because it undercuts McCain emotionally and rationally, at the core of who he (McCain) says he is. The Obama camp needs to get General Clark out in front of more and larger audiences with the same precise message.

Clark is genuinely DANGEROUS. He's not pretending to be; he is.

Which leads me to my third point.

3. Clark was very, dare I say it...


(And no, he's not my first or even my second choice.)

But Clark impressed the hell out of me. Well done. Sir.