Dear General Clark,
I am copying you on this piece, which I am posting to several blogs to which I write, because I don’t need to say behind someone’s back what I won’t say to his face. Furthermore, I added the word “sickening” in the subject line for those blogs. Per “Clark hits McCain’s military credentials” at http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20080629/pl_politico/11425, you said
“I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands and millions of others in the armed forces, as a prisoner of war,” he added that these experiences in no way qualify McCain to be president in his view:
“He has been a voice on the Senate Armed Services Committee. And he has traveled all over the world. But he hasn’t held executive responsibility. That large squadron in the Navy that he commanded — that wasn’t a wartime squadron,” Clark said.
“I don’t think getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to become president.”
I read that you were wounded in action during the Vietnam War, so you doubtlessly appreciate far better than I how easy it is to get unlucky in combat. You and your fellow veteran both had bad luck in Vietnam, and McCain’s luck happened to be somewhat worse than yours. Suppose the luck had gone a little differently: McCain was shot down and injured but rescued by American forces while the enemy wounded you seriously enough to discharge you from the service as a decorated but disabled junior officer. Instead of being put on career hold while he was tortured by the enemy, John McCain might now be a retired admiral like his father and grandfather while you were a relatively anonymous white collar professional. I am quite frankly uncomfortable in writing a letter of this nature to a genuine hero, but you ought to think about the phrase “There but for the grace of God go I” before you use a fellow veteran’s (and hero’s) bad luck to belittle his service record for pure political gain (whether on your behalf or another’s).
I will conclude by adding that the individual–I won’t call him a man–whom you are promoting was, per his own book “Dreams From My Father,” smoking pot and embracing Black Nationalism at about the same age at which John McCain got into that fighter plane, joined you in putting his life on the line for our country, and got shot down and tortured for his efforts.
(my signature, with my real name and E-mail contact, appears in the letter)