Tuesday, July 1, 2008

So When I Started This Blog I Vowed...

...to never post about politics. And I want to be clear - I am sticking to that.

This is not a post about politics. I am not trying to earn votes for one presidential candidate over another. I can honestly say I don't care who other people vote for - although I do feel compelled to say that as people living in a democracy, the least we all need to do is our research. So please don't bother commenting about this post in a political manner. That is not what this post is about, and if that is what you are looking for, please find another blog to comment on today. (Feel free to come back tomorrow though...I will probably be back to posting cute pictures of my boys.)

I also want to preface the remainder of this post by saying that I understand that whether this post is about politics or not, the media debate that sparked this post is certainly the direct result of politics. And I think that stinks.

Now onto my post.

If you watch the news at all (and I am assuming with such a wise and studied readership you all do regularly), you have undoubtedly seen the comments made by General Wesley Clark regarding John McCain's service in the military as it relates to his qualifications for executive office. If you haven't seen this exchange, click on this link and you can read about his Good Morning America segment from this morning.


Google Gen. Wesley Clark and I am sure you will find a plethora of articles on his recent comments. I encourage you to pick any media source you like so as not to be accused of presenting only one media-biased side of a story, because let's remember this is not a blog about politics. To the best of my understanding, having watched the many re playings of his interviews and rereading his published comments, while General Clark feels like John McCain's military service speaks of his courage and character, his military service does not necessarily result in wiser judgment when it comes to military decisions for executive office.

For those of you who may not know, John McCain spent over five years as a POW in North Vietnam. Now whether a person agrees with the motives behind the Vietnam war (or any war for that matter) or not, I think we can all agree that those five years as a POW were more than slightly unpleasant a majority of the time. I completely agree with Gen. Clark that surviving this experience speaks volumes about McCain's courage and character. Where I cringe is when Gen. Clark says this:

"but the service as president is about judgment, and the experience he had as a fighter pilot isn't the same as having been in the highest levels of the military and having to work with the president and other heads of the state and make those kinds of life or death decisions about national strategic issues."

Oh, Gen. Clark, please stop talking.

I imagine that anyone serving in combat (or even one captured and held as a POW in a place where the Geneva Convention was disregarded) may have a pretty good first person understanding of the life and death decisions that are made moment by moment during "national strategic issues". Yes, I grant that the "highest levels" of the military formulate our national security plans, but to downplay John McCain's military experience (pre or post POW) and then try to assess the capabilities he did or did not gain from those experiences makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

There are some conversations you just shouldn't have as a matter of respect and privacy, especially in regards to such a difficult and unique circumstance. I think it is in very poor taste - to put it mildly - to have a conversation about a person's time in combat and as a POW that doesn't begin and end with the simple words, "Thank you." That's it. You don't have to agree with the war they were fighting, you don't have to like the person, you don't have to agree on their political views. Heck, don't give him your vote if you don't want to. It speaks of Gen. Clark's character that he wants to test the waters with the AMerican people (out loud) regarding what John McCain may or may not have gained intellectually through his military experiences. No one - even someone in the highest level of the military - can possibly understand what a POW takes away from five years in captivity, nor should anyone - even someone in the highest level of the military - try. Especially out loud. It is disrespectful. And whether John McCain earns your vote or not, I would hope he has earned the right to a little respectful privacy on what he "gained" from his experiences.

You don't have to like John McCain. You don't have to vote for him. This isn't about politics. It really isn't. It is about being wise enough to know what you couldn't possibly know. It is about being wise enough to just stop talking.

P.S. If this was a post about politics, I would point out that while Gen. Clark feels like serving as a combat pilot and being a POW doesn't bring with it any specific executive qualifications, I am guessing he also knows that no military service probably has the same result. But this isn't a political post. So I won't bother pointing that out.

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