Clark feels the heat, but stands his ground

The retired general gets slammed for questioning McCain's qualifications, but won't back down.

Published July 1, 2008 1:04PM (EDT)

By most reasonable measures, retired Gen. Wesley Clark got a pretty raw deal Monday. On Sunday's "Face the Nation," Clark questioned John McCain's presidential qualifications, which was quickly turned into an "attack" on McCain's military service.

Barack Obama's campaign distanced himself from the comments, and all three network evening newscasts not only slammed Clark but continued to misrepresent the four-star general's remarks. There was some question as to whether Clark would find it necessary to apologize for an "attack" he never actually made.

Monday night, we got our answer, when Clark issued a press statement that reiterated his undisputed argument.

There are many important issues in this Presidential election, clearly one of the most important issues is national security and keeping the American people safe. In my opinion, protecting the American people is the most important duty of our next President. I have made comments in the past about John McCain's service and I want to reiterate them in order be crystal clear. As I have said before I honor John McCain's service as a prisoner of war and a Vietnam Veteran. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands and millions of others in Armed Forces as a prisoner of war. I would never dishonor the service of someone who chose to wear the uniform for our nation.

John McCain is running his campaign on his experience and how his experience would benefit him and our nation as President. That experience shows courage and commitment to our country - but it doesn't include executive experience wrestling with national policy or go-to-war decisions. And in this area his judgment has been flawed - he not only supported going into a war we didn't have to fight in Iraq, but has time and again undervalued other, non-military elements of national power that must be used effectively to protect America. But as an American and former military officer I will not back down if I believe someone doesn't have sound judgment when it comes to our nation's most critical issues.

In fact, Clark could have exited the stage for a while, waiting for the criticism to die down. Instead, to his credit, Clark did the opposite and did what soldiers do -- he defended himself.

Here's Clark on MSNBC, by way of Eric Kleefeld, standing his ground.

By Steve Benen

MORE FROM Steve Benen

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

2008 Elections War Room