And So It Goes
By Pejman Yousefzadeh Posted in 2008 | Smearing And Sliming John McCain — Comments (36) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
Whatever one's views concerning the race for the Presidency, I would have thought it beyond dispute that John McCain served his country nobly and honorably while he was in the military. But appallingly, even that simple truth is being challenged by writers who value the slime and smear over any standards of honesty.
The highest-voltage third rail of this presidential campaign may not be race, sex or age, but John McCain's military service.
McCain's campaign on Sunday issued a pair of outraged statements after retired general and Barack Obama supporter Wesley Clark said he didn't think that McCain's service as a fighter pilot and prisoner of war was relevant to running the country. Obama has consistently praised McCain's service, and called him "a genuine American hero."
But farther to the left -- and among some of McCain's conservative enemies as well -- harsher attacks are circulating. Critics have accused McCain of war crimes for bombing targets in Hanoi in the 1960s. A widely read liberal blog on Sunday accused McCain of "disloyalty" during his captivity in Vietnam for his coerced participation in propaganda films and interviews after he'd been tortured.
"A lot of people don't know ... that McCain made a propaganda video for the enemy while he was in captivity," wrote Americablog.com's John Aravosis. "Putting that bit of disloyalty aside, what exactly is McCain's military experience that prepares him for being commander in chief?"
"Getting shot down, tortured and then doing propaganda for the enemy is not command experience," Aravosis wrote in the blog post, titled "Honestly, besides being tortured, what did McCain do to excel in the military?"
This is, of course, sickening. If Aravosis went through even five minutes of the torture McCain went through for five and a half years, he would sell out his country, God, motherhood, apple pie and his closest relatives in a heartbeat just to make the physical pain subside a little. McCain, of course, was offered the chance to be freed before POWs who had been imprisoned longer . . . and refused.
But what does Aravosis know about any of this? His life has been one of creature comforts. He couldn't possibly understand the depth of sacrifice and heroism that McCain went through readily and bravely.
Of course, the Politico story also points out the attacks launched at McCain's service record by people like Senator John Rockefeller and Senator Tom Harkin. I think that I have the routine fairly well down; Democrats and their surrogates slime and smear and then the Obama campaign goes out and pronounces that they are displeased and that they, of course, are above this whole thing.
Andrew Sullivan--as fervent an Obama fan as any--labels these attacks as "swiftboating" and denounces them. The fact that the attacks are actually denounced offends the likes of Josh Marshall, who would be more than glad to see the slime and smear tactics continue unabated. The Obama campaign's decision to distance itself from these attacks also upset Mark Kleiman, who is fully in the throes of McCain Derangement and whose attack against McCain consists of trying to remind people that McCain was never an admiral in the United States Navy. As I have written before, coming from Kleiman--who never served at all--the hypocrisy of the attack is stunning beyond belief. I have to wonder how he writes his posts with a straight face.
Between Clark's vicious attacks, those of Rockefeller and Harkin and the netroots' own slime and smear campaign, I have to wonder what is going on. I thought that this was the year when all of the fundamentals were in favor of the Democrats taking back the White House. I am, of course, disgusted to see the attacks on McCain's service record but I am also surprised by the sense of desperation behind those attacks. It's almost as if the attackers don't think they have anything better to do or to discuss than ways to lie about John McCain's service to his country.