A number of readers have either suggested or explained that what the Obama camp is trying to do is have its cake and eat it too, make sounds of disapproval, such as President Bush did in 2004 with respect to the Swift Boaters, while still gaining advantage from them.
Perhaps. But that’s not what I’m seeing.
I’ve also seen suggestions that Obama must either reject Clark’s comments or vehemently restate them. But that’s nonsense. There’s nothing to be gained for the candidate to be critical of McCain in this regard. He can keep repeating his praise for McCain’s service and time as a POW, which he should do and is not in conflict in any way with anything that Clark said.
What his campaign should not be doing is lending its imprimatur to the proposition that because McCain saw combat in Vietnam and suffered as a POW that he has the judgment to be an effective president.
Late Update: As an example, TPM Reader SS writes …
Am I the only one who thinks that the Obama campaign is winning big here and that the media is being played badly? The conversation has begun – “it’s out there” as they say – does McCain’s record as a (not-very-good) fighter jock and POW more than thirty years ago in some way qualify him to be Commander-in-Chief? At the same time, Obama “rejects the statement” and “honors and respects Senator McCain’s service.” How is Obama hurt by this? How is McCain? And now we can let the bloviators compare this honest question to what was done to John Kerry. Remember how Kerry’s record was fair game because he brought it up and Bush and Rove pretended like they had nothing to do with the SBVT? Obama seems to have learned the new rules. As a friend of mine likes to say, if I were having any more fun, I’d have to be twins.
As I say above, if they’re on this, great. Experience has taught me not to take it for granted.