Because in the matters of national security policy making, it’s a matter of understanding risk, it’s a matter of gauging your opponents and it’s a matter of being held accountable. John McCain’s never done any of that in his official positions. I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands of millions of others in the armed forces as a prisoner of war. 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 wasn’t a wartime squadron. He hasn’t been there and ordered the bombs to fall. He hasn’t seen what it’s like when diplomats come in and say, `I don’t know whether we’re going to be able to get this point through or not. Do you want to take the risk? What about your reputation? How do we handle it publicly?
Now as Bob Shieffer points out, Barack Obama doesn't have this experience either. But what has Wesley Clark said on the importance of military experience before in those running for president? Well, we know, because he gave a speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, the entire theme of which was how John Kerry's relatively limited military experience made him qualified for president:
John Kerry has heard the thump of enemy mortars.
CLARK: He's seen the flash of the tracers. He's lived the values of service and sacrifice. In the Navy, as a prosecutor, as a senator, he proved his physical courage under fire. And he's proved his moral courage too. John Kerry fought a war, and I respect him for that. And he came home to fight a peace. And I respect him for that, too.
John Kerry's combination of physical courage and moral values is my definition of what we need as Americans in our commander in chief. And John Edwards with his leadership and extraordinary intelligence, he's going to be a great member of that command team.
Now of course, none of this counts.
Bizarrely Obama himself gives a weak response, trying to draw some absurd non-existent parallels:
For those who have fought under the flag of this nation – for the young veterans I meet when I visit Walter Reed; for those like John McCain who have endured physical torment in service to our country – no further proof of such sacrifice is necessary. And let me also add that no one should ever devalue that service, especially for the sake of a political campaign, and that goes for supporters on both sides.
Excuse me? Has criticizing Obama's extensive military experience been a major campaign issue, and I just haven't realized it?