We were just chatting here at the office about what’s behind the Obama campaign’s rapid rejection of Wes Clark’s statements. The read from those in touch with the Obama campaign seemed to be that they don’t want to get into a conversation that focuses attention on McCain’s war record and/or experience.
If that’s the case, it’s more troubling than it appears on the surface. I can think of a lot of other reasons why they might not want to get into this. Maybe they think it conflicts with the ‘new politics’ message they’re trying to push. Or perhaps they think the wind’s at their back or they don’t want the subject to be changed.
But if it really is a fear of getting things focused on McCain’s war record or experience it really is the kind of mistake Democrats habitually make. Take a look. McCain’s entire campaign is about his time as a POW and the claim that his war service makes him uniquely qualified to be the country’s commander-in-chief. They’re pushing the fact that he’s been on the national stage for four decades, whereas Obama’s only been there for four years. That is almost the entirety of his campaign. So it’s out there. It’s already a key focus of this campaign.
John McCain’s claim to experience, based in large part on his military service, is a key issue in this campaign. Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away.