Vote Vets and MoveOn are coming to Gen. Wes Clark’s defense today in an e-mail to supporters. The groups say that he was making a point about judgment (something he’s said as well while doing the rounds on cable news) and that the media has overblown the story.
That’s fair game, since CBS’ Bob Schieffer is the one who raised the idea that Sen. John McCain was shot down in Vietnam. Move On provides the transcript below.
My colleague Stephen Dinan and I have a story in today’s paper looking at how Clark’s gaffe put a damper on what would have been a big day after Obama’s patriotism speech.
Sen. Barack Obama said Monday that he won’t tolerate people challenging his patriotism or his rival’s military service, and Sen. John McCain announced a “truth squad” to combat attacks on his Vietnam service.
The patriotism speech was intended as a major point in the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee’s weeklong focus on values for the Fourth of July holiday, but any headlines that Mr. Obama would have received for the speech were trumped by his denunciation of retired Gen. Wesley K. Clark‘s attack on Mr. McCain. The day’s events, instead, allowed the Republican to showcase his wartime heroism and long record of service to the United States.
Read the full story here:
And here is the MoveOn e-mail to members:
Dear MoveOn member,
Please take a moment to read this important message from our friend, Iraq war veteran and chairman of VoteVets.org, Jon Soltz.
Thanks for all you do.
Click here to tell the media:
“The American people deserve the truth—not sensational reporting. The media has consistently twisted General Clark’s words. In fact, General Clark said he respects John McCain’s service, but that McCain’s experience doesn’t automatically give him the judgment to be Commander in Chief. The media must stop distorting Clark’s statement.”
Sign the petition
Dear MoveOn member,
On Sunday, General Wesley Clark spoke honestly and bluntly about what it takes to be Commander in Chief. He said that while Senator John McCain’s service made him a hero to millions, including Clark himself, McCain’s experience doesn’t trump the poor judgment that he’s shown on some of the most important issues in recent years.
What General Clark said was right, but the media has been in an uproar—twisting his words and accusing him of saying things he didn’t say. (You can read Clark’s actual words in the P.S. below). CNN even went so far as to accuse Clark of “swift boating” McCain.
When the media distorts the facts on important issues like this, it has serious consequences. Can you sign this petition supporting General Clark and tell the media to stop distorting his comments? Clicking the link will add your name to the petition.
The petition reads:
The American people deserve the truth—not sensational reporting. The media has consistently twisted General Clark’s words. In fact, General Clark said he respects John McCain’s service, but that McCain’s experience doesn’t automatically give him the judgment to be Commander in Chief. The media must stop distorting Clark’s statement.
Over the last 24 hours, the media has made a caricature of General Clark’s statement and distracted this country from the real debate. CNN said that General Clark “tried to Swift boat John McCain,” and MSNBC said Clark “blasted McCain’s military record.”
These characterizations are totally false.
We all honor Senator McCain’s service. But that does not mean that on matters of security, the military, and veterans issues that Senator McCain is beyond reproach. Nor does it mean that his service trumps the poor judgment he has shown on some of the most important issues of our time, including the war in Iraq, the efforts to get Osama bin Laden, and veterans legislation like the 21st Century GI Bill.
Please sign the petition today:
It is important for General Clark to not back down, and to keep treating the American people like adults who can handle a real, honest, and blunt debate in these important times.
In some circles, this is called “straight talk,” and it’s exactly what we need right now.
Thank you for your support,
Iraq War Veteran
P.S. Here’s what General Clark actually said, from my piece on Huffington Post yesterday:
BOB SCHIEFFER: How can you say that John McCain is untested and untried, General?
CLARK: Because 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 the 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 the Navy that he commanded—that 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 this publicly? He hasn’t made that calls, Bob.
SCHIEFFER: Well, General, maybe—could I just interrupt you?
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…
CLARK: Well, I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.
— Christina Bellantoni, national political reporter,
The Washington Times
Bookmark my blog at http://www.washingtontimes.com/weblogs/bellantoni
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