Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Left-Wing Hypocrisy and the McCain Smear

Jacob Laskin illustrates the left's abject hypocrisy in this week's attacks on John McCain's fitness to serve as commander-in-chief:

Smearing McCain

DURING THE 2004 ELECTION, Democrats and their allies on the activist Left were adamant that a candidate’s military record was strictly off-limits to criticism. John Kerry was a war hero, and to suggest different was, as columnist David Ignatius averred, defamation. It turns out these partisans meant to exempt themselves from the rule.

As an example, observe the nascent
smear campaign against John McCain’s military service. This past weekend, retired general and declared Barack Obama backer Wesley Clark went on CBS’s Face the Nation, where he proceeded to dismiss the import of McCain’s military background in the current race. “I don’t think getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to become president,” Clark sniffed. The real issue, according to Clark, was that McCain was “untested and untried.”

McCain’s campaign was quick to condemn Clark’s comments. Secretly, though, it must have been pleased. With his surrogates blasting away at McCain’s war record, Obama was left exposed on several flanks. If McCain, with his 22-year career in the Navy and his 26-years in Congress, is “untested and untried,” what then is one to make of Obama, whose single term in the senate is most notable for its pious adherence to liberal orthodoxy? Meanwhile, to discount McCain’s distinguished military career – his honors include the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, the Legion of Merit, the Purple Heart, and the Distinguished Flying Cross – as nothing more than “getting into a fighter plane and getting shut down” is to traffic in precisely the kind of sleazy politics that Obama, once upon a time, professed to reject. Of all the fights one could pick with McCain, the battle over his war service surely is the most ill-advised. Recognizing the fact, Obama later
rejected Clark’s statement through a spokesman.

But according to Obama’s supporters on the Left, he was wrong to do so. On liberal blogs, it’s de rigueur to sneer that McCain’s naval service is actually a sham, his accomplishments falsely inflated to sell the senator as a war hero. In this account, McCain is a serial incompetent who “lost” five planes as a pilot. As a writer on the Huffington Post recently put it, “From day one in the Navy, McCain screwed-up again and again, only to be forgiven because his father and grandfather were four-star admirals.”

That is one way to look at it. Another is that McCain’s critics are shamefully ignorant of the war record they disparage.

Take the planes that McCain lost, allegedly through his bungling. Even a brief review of the record indicates otherwise. Twice, McCain’s planes experienced engine failure, forcing him to eject. In both cases, McCain biographer Paul Alexander observes, McCain survived a crash “that occurred through no fault of his own.” On another occasion, in July of 1967, McCain’s A-4 Skyhawk, then aboard the USS Forrestal air craft carrier, was destroyed when a missile accidentally fired from another plane struck its fuel tank. McCain barely survived the blast, and 134 soldiers were killed in the ensuing blaze. Most famously, in October of 1967, McCain was shot down over North Vietnam by a surface-to-air missile. Ejecting from the plane, McCain broke both his arms upon landing and was captured by the Vietnamese; he would spend the next six brutal years as a prisoner of war.

None McCain’s fault, these crashes would seem merely to affirm his dedication to his country in the face of life-threatening trials and tribulations. And while it is true that McCain could have benefitted from the prestige of his admiral father, he specifically declined to do so, refusing his Vietnamese captors’ offer to be released so that comrades who had been imprisoned longer could be set free. In the face of this evidence, to portray McCain as a screw-up son of privilege is to invert the truth.

And that's not the end of the left's hypocritical ignorance - there's more at the link.

See also, James Kirchick, "Who's Smearing Whom?", and
Domenico Montanaro, " McCain Camp: Obama's 'Wink and Nod'."

Photo Credit: FrontPageMag