McCain has double standard for his running mate

Tue, 06/03/2008 - 4:10pm
By: Letters to the ...

If there is one strong advantage that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, John McCain, has over either of the remaining Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, in vying for the presidency, it is his service, both in peace and war, as a naval officer, retiring with the rank of captain.
Widely admired for his ability to survive over five years of captivity in a North Vietnamese prison cell, following his release, he went on to command the largest air squadron in the Navy and then broaden his knowledge of strategic level military-politico affairs by attending the National War College. By comparison, neither Senators Clinton nor Obama served a single day in uniform.
Sen. McCain, as he ratchets up his qualifications for the presidency and position as commander in chief of the armed forces, especially in terms of his military background, recently chose to highlight this perceived shortcoming in regard to Senator Obama.
Having received criticism from Senator Obama for McCain’s failing to be present to vote (McCain opted to attend a fund-raiser in San Diego by the football Chargers owner Alex Spanos) on what is widely perceived to be a desperately needed new, expanded GI Bill, which was strongly backed by both the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion and passed the Senate by a 75 to 22 margin, McCain lashed out at Obama by stating that, “ I take a back seat to no one in my affection, respect and devotion to veterans, and I will not accept from Senator Obama, who did not feel it was his responsibility to serve our country in uniform, any lectures on my regard for those who did.”
The point, that of not serving in uniform, raised by Senator Mc Cain, although discussed in the media and press as quite possibly politically expedient, should be looked at and debated in a broader light.
With the title of commander in chief, and all that entails, should it be mandatory that the occupant of the White House to have served, as noted by Sen. McCain, “in uniform”? If addressed in isolation, and given an either/or option, with all other qualifications for the presidency excluded, there is no doubt that an overwhelming majority of the American populace would opt for a president with prior military service. But, here is where the discussion becomes a little more, to put it mildly, complex.
When looking at military service as it relates to the presidency, just what level, time and experience should be considered?
Although all voluntary military service involves a high degree of patriotism and personal sacrifice, what other factors contribute to preparing an individual for the presidency?
Does a teenager who serves in a stateside assignment during peacetime, say as a clerk, cook, or administrative vehicle driver and then returns to civilian life after three years, present the same level of military experience/qualifications for the presidency as someone who has gone through a series of service schools, physically demanding training, service in combat, and increasingly challenging leadership positions?
The patriotism and love of country may be the same in both cases, but what about an overall ability to examine national level crisis scenarios?
In a related, but important consideration, how does one view the completely civilian service of a young American who loves his/her country every bit as much as the military member, but opts to serve his/her country by learning a difficult foreign language and volunteers to exhibit the care and love of the United States for those less fortunate by working as an educator or health care provider in somewhat barbaric conditions in a third world country?
Should this individual, who has acquired a deep understanding of foreign affairs by actually living in and truly understanding one or more foreign cultures, be considered, with all other factors being equal, less qualified for the presidency than someone who has “worn the uniform”?
What is somewhat puzzling concerning the views of Sen. Mc Cain, as they concern the importance of prior military service in serving as president, is his current list of potential vice presidential running mates.
The most widely mentioned possibilities are: former governors Huckabee (Arkansas) and Romney (Massachusetts); present governors Pawlenty (Minnesota), Crist (Florida) and Jandel (Louisiana); and, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
As you examine this list you will note that there is one common factor: Not one has served a single day of active duty “in uniform.”
Just as Sen. McCain’s staff failed to do the proper research in acquiring the now-disavowed endorsement of televangelist, the Reverend John Hagee, they have also let down Sen. McCain in researching what to Sen. McCain is a key experience factor in serving in a position ”one heartbeat” from the position of commander in chief, that of vice president.
Sen. McCain cannot have it both ways — if he is to sharply criticize Sen. Obama for not serving “in uniform” he had best, in the spirit of “straight talk,” jettison his current slate of VP running mates.
Wade J. Williams
Colonel, USA (Ret)
Peachtree City, Ga.

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Submitted by Idaho Bob on Wed, 06/04/2008 - 10:48am.

Senator McCain deserves credit and praise for serving his country. Civilian government employees, law enforcement and elected officials do as well, many of whom have not served in the military. In peace years the tally of lives lost, bodies maimed, families shattered among civilian government employees has often exceeded military casualties.

When Senator McCain shakes his finger and angrily pronounces that he won't be lectured about his patriotism or his votes on veteran benefits, he exhibits precisely the hubris that many loyal, patriotic mature rational Americans have about using military men to run our country. Senator McCain, nor any military person, is infallible simply because he has served in the military. If he is headed in the wrong direction and wants to drag the country along with him, he deserves to be lectured, and he owes it to the country to listen and consider the lecturing reasonably.

History, including American history, has shown only checkered performance with the selection of military men to lead their countries. That is concrete fact that needs no itemization. The problem with an ex military commander leading a country... and it can be a huge problem... is their propensity to see EVERYTHING through the lense of the military mindset and to grossly limit their application of leadership alternatives to military approaches.

Heros deserve to be lauded for their heroism. I laud Senator McCain's Heroism. It meant that in battle he was steel hard and steel sharp warrior. His blood was sacred and his love of country and devotion, generosity and self sacrifice are unassailable facts.

However, as one who has served in uniform also, I am sick of having patriotism and devotion and ability to lead defined through the narrow lense of military experience. And for the record, I have known dozens of the ballsiest, bravest, heroic men and women in the military, that I wouldn't trust behind a walmart cash register, let alone leading my country. There is no guaranteed relationship between military leadership and national leadership.

National leadership is defined at a level of complexity, vision, and intelligence that spans a cosmic universe well beyond the lone credential of military time and experience.

The American Constitution went to great pains to place the overwhelming emphasis on the American concept of government being a civilian dominated enterprise. It took the unprecidented radical step of making a civilian government official the commander in chief of the military, precisely to gaurd against the dangers (yes I said DANGERS) of having military leaders vested with too much independence, influence and power.

Does John McCain's military experience count? Certainly it does. But anyone who thinks that major military decisions and actions under a McCain administration would not be decided and orchestrated by the career military infrastructure are unrealistic. Those same career military folks will be the ones serving whoever is elected president, with the same professiobnality and dedication.

But they won't be lending any help when your house is foreclosed, when you can't pay your medical bills, when your company gets a tax break to outsource your job overseas, when our ghettos rot even further from neglect, when our science base is subjugated to political and religious interference etc. etc.

Senator McCain, I am sure, knows the old saying that respect must be earned, not demanded. My respect for you as a warrior has been earned. It has not been earned as a geopolitical leader or the commander in chief, and in fact, I mostly have problems with what I hear from him on those issues. He certainly hasn't earned my respect for his handling of most domestic issues.

God bless our veterans and their families. And God help those selfish polilticians that lean on them and require unecessary and foolish sacrifices to further their political ambitions or their personal or parties power base, or agendas.

Senator McCain, don't lecture me about what I can't lecture a politician about. This is America.

Idaho Bob

Mike King's picture
Submitted by Mike King on Wed, 06/04/2008 - 11:44am.

I didn't realize that Mr McCain was giving YOU a lecture. The same standard of mediocre exmilitary Presidents would also equate to those of the same mediocrity of those who did not serve, now wouldn't it? Should you bother to conceptualize the rationale behind the reasoning of Mr McCain's objection to that particular benefits package, I would assert that even the most "liberal" of his opponents could see the logic.

You are correct, sir, in that our Founding Fathers made the leadership of America's military subordinate to civilian leadership for good reason. At the same time, however, I can site several "civilian" influences over the armed forces that assured the requisite "yes men" to do their bidding. Does Viet Nam ring a bell? Rumsfeld?

Simply stated, the understanding of the complex issues facing America today, as you so eloquently point out, is earned through experience attained by resultant successes and, at times, failures. Mr Obama, to my satisfaction, has yet to demonstrate any accomplishment(s) that earns the consideration of my support.

Just my two cents worth.

Mike King's picture
Submitted by Mike King on Wed, 06/04/2008 - 6:08am.

You assert that Mr McCain infers that prior military service is requisite for the Presidency, I simply read your quote without personal spin and see no such assertion. Mr McCain simply stated that he would suffer no lecture in his regard for veterans by someone who has not been honored to have worn the uniform.

You seem to have confused what the candidate(McCain) says with your personal belief or agenda, and have ended up with a diatribe clearly totally yours. No place in the speech, nor any other address given by McCain, has he made such a statement. Should you be able to reference even one, I would certainly like you to reference it.

You are to be commended for the service you rendered to America, but as when you served you would be well advised to not deviate from facts.

Just my two cents worth.

Submitted by sageadvice on Wed, 06/04/2008 - 6:22am.

First, I intend to vote for Senator McCain, I am an Independent. I spent a full hitch in the military.

Now, as to qualifications for president.

Be a US citizen, of age, and able to be elected! That is all.

As to what kind of vet is better qualified--a hero or a clerk, that has little to do with it. Maturity and obvious ability to organize is far more important. Certainly someone addicted to alcohol, drugs, etc., would not win an election, if known.

Captain Truman was a very good leader.
FDR was a crippled leader.
Ike supervised the defeat of Germany. (more important than West Point)
Reagan ran a large entertainment union.
Ability to departmentalize without confusion is most critical.
And has gotten something done in the past, alone.

Mike King's picture
Submitted by Mike King on Wed, 06/04/2008 - 6:37am.

After nearly one and one-half years, we finally agree! I believe I'll celebrate this momentus occasion by having my second cup of coffee.

Indeed, other than being a natually born citizen and thirty-five years of age, what other requirements exist to be chosen to lead this great country. Each of us are the sum total of what we make of ourselves.

Just my two cents worth.

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