Poor John McCain...he doesn't like it when people start pointing out that maybe...just maybe...his vaunted experience of being a Vietnam vet and POW doesn't exactly hold up as a prerequisite for holding the office of the President of the United States. And now he's accusing Jim Webb of coordinating with the Obama campaign too.
On MSNBC last night, Webb told McCain that he should "calm down" with the use of his military service in the campaign, adding that it was time to "get the politics out of the military."
Now the McCain campaign is responding to Webb, arguing that Webb's comments prove that Obama "can't control his surrogate operation." McCain spokesperson Brian Rogers sends us this:
If you didn't think this was a coordinated attack on John McCain's credentials before, it's clear now that it is. Barack Obama's surrogates are telling the McCain campaign to "calm down" about attacks on his military record? Seriously? Now somehow Wes Clark's attacks are John McCain's fault? It's absurd. If Barack Obama can't control his own surrogate operation, how can he be trusted to run the country?
(T)o understand why the press is reacting with such outrage, you have to understand what they've been saying about McCain for the last decade.
There's a myth out there that the McCain campaign and the media have cooperated to create. It says that John McCain is reluctant to exploit his Vietnam POW story for political advantage, so modest and full of integrity is he. We've seen this repeated again and again, not just by McCain and his supporters but by reporters who ought to know better.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
From the first time he ran for Congress in 1982 up to the present day, McCain has made his POW story the centerpiece of his entire political career. The key moment of that 1982 campaign was when he responded to his opponent's (absolutely true) accusation that McCain was a carpetbagger by saying, "As a matter of fact, when I think about it now, the place I lived longest in my life was Hanoi." At every point since, it has been the deft use of this tool that has brought McCain renewed attention or won him a key victory.
The Columbia Journalism Review backs Clark on this one, as has MoveOn. This morning, Obama rejected the analogy that Clark was swiftboating McCain. But for all his bluster and sad sighing over this kind of campaigning, McCain no problem bringing in Bud Day who appeared in two Swiftboat ads that McCain called "dishonest and dishonorable". But hey, at least McCain is still distancing himself from Bush...or is he?
Shocking, I tell you...