Juggling ain’t singing; or, Wes Clark as Simon Cowell

So Former Naval POW John McCain walks into the American Presidential audition room and proceeds to shuck and jive through his entire schtick, twirling his POW flag around while telling you that he’s not, and trying to convince America to vote for him because everybody tells him he’d be a swell president.

Gen. Wesley Clark, sitting in Simon Cowell’s chair, can’t take any more and raises his hand to stop the music.

“You’re a terrific juggler,” Gen. Clark says, “but

your future involves not being president.”

Wes Clark made an insanely mundane statement of fact Sunday on Face the Nation, and the Right Wingnutosphere has exploded with outrage and spluttering disbelief.

What was this awful, insane, terrible thing that Gen. Clark said that caused John McCain – in the persons of his deluded fans – to rush out of the audition and cry on Ryan Seacrest’s shoulder? Simple, really. Okay, are you ready? Here it is:

Well, I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.

That’s it. Now to those who are using the current occupant of the Oval Office as their benchmark for measuring what qualifications are necessary to be President of the United States, that might seem like a controversial statement, a raising of the bar, as it were.

In any event, such an audacious proclamation clearly took Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer – one of the many Paula Abduls of the presidential election press corps – utterly by surprise; all he could do was blurt out an incredulous,


(Which can mean only one thing, of course: They need to let Bob Schieffer get out more.)

Someone might have reminded Bob who he was interviewing when he said (emphasis in original),

You went so far as to say that you thought John McCain was, quote, and these are your words, ‘untested and untried.’ And I must say, I had to read that twice, because you’re talking about someone who was a prisoner of war, he was a squadron commander, the largest squadron in the Navy, he’s been on the Senate Armed Services Committee for lo these many years – how can you say that John McCain is untested and untried, General?

“How can you say that”?? You mean, “you” as in, “you, the former head of NATO?” Or is that “you” as in “you, the company commander who was wounded in Vietnam?” Or maybe, Bob, you meant “you” as in, “you, who graduated first in your class at West Point”?

It was shortly after this point in the interview that Clark spoke the unspeakable truth about the mere circumstance of one’s having been shot down not automatically qualifying one to hold the office of president – and almost gave Bob Schieffer an aneurysm.

Honestly, though, I think Schieffer’s reaction was more one of shock that anyone worshipping in the Church of John McCain, War Hero would actually dare to lift up their bowed head, look around, realize what was happening, get up off their knees, and walk out.

Oh, and walk out while reminding a network television audience that the emperor – erm, senior senator from the Copper State – has no clothes.

I mean, it wasn’t like Wes Clark revealed the name of a covert CIA operative and brought down an entire cover operation that had been working on counter-proliferation of nuclear weapons in Iran, or like he had provided information to the enemy that would aid those who would mortar the Green Zone in Baghdad – all of which, as we all know, provoked intense outrage and disbelief in the corporate media . . .

This wasn’t rocket science. It wasn’t esoteric logic. What it was, was semi-revolutionary. How so? Simple: It was honest.

Gen. Clark was, to use Simon Cowell’s trademark phrase, “only being honest” – and we all know how much Republicans hate honesty.

I only wish Clark-as-Cowell had flipped Schieffer’s logic on its head, turning to the flummoxed host and asking:

“Bob, you seem surprised. Do you honestly think that riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president?”

Which, of course, would lead Schieffer down a slippery logical slope:

Even if one is to assert that executive military experience – forgetting merely piloting a fighter plane and subsequently being shot down – does, in and of itself, qualify one to serve as president, does it not therefore logically follow that the more military executive experience one has, the better qualified one is to be president? If Schieffer were to use that standard, he could not possibly escape the conclusion that the man he was interviewing at the time – former NATO Commander Gen. Wesley Clark – was eminently more qualified to serve as president than John McCain is.

The game of “qualifications” is a dangerous one to start playing.  What, after all, does qualify one to be President of the United States?  What’s more important: bowling in triple digits or making the easy layup? Being the two-time philandering son of an admiral, or being right about the Iraq war before any American lives were at stake? Changing your position on every conceivable issue under the sun at a dizzying rate, or championing a new approach to American politics, including casting out lobbyist money from the party’s national committee?

See, it’s not so much what Gen. Clark said that’s got the McCain supporters so upset – it’s really about what he did. McCain has always been a one-trick pony, and without that one gimmick to hang his campaign on, McCain has, well,


Hey, wait! Maybe we can do something with the hair . . .

Yeah, that’s IT!!

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  1. You want a tip? Okay, here’s a tip: Seriously, John –


    Don’t quit your day job.

    Now, the hair? We can work with that . .

    • brobin on July 1, 2008 at 22:28

    Pin the tail on the Republican….


    Heart marks teh spot….

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