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Judgmental Declarations

Greetings, sports fans. I took Friday and the weekend off so Mrs. B and I could informally formally (does that make sense?) celebrate our third anniversary, which was actually last Tuesday.

But time to get back in the saddle.

So take both the title phrase. It's ominous. It sounds gloomy. Read it again, and admit the slight twinge of discomfort you feel 'cause of what "judgmental declarations" implies.

The automatic assumption - because for decades certain segments of our society of beaten us to death with "judge not least ye be judged" - is that if you pass judgment on a person you are denigrating him.

Not necessarily so.

Take the case of retired U.S. Army Gen. Wesley Clark, a Barack Obama supporter and adviser, who said in an interview on CBS' Face the Nation on Sunday that  John McCain's "riding in" a fighter jet and being shot down in combat did not qualify him to be Commander-in-Chief.

Before you explode - if you're so inclined - take a minute and think about Clark's opinion and assertion. He didn't say John McCain was not qualified to be President of the United States of America or Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces. He called McCain a hero, but said that "riding in" a fighter jet and being shot down did not necessarily qualify him to be C-i-C.

Now, I'm not delusional. Clark is a Democratic operative on a mission to see Obama win the White House. His name has even been bandied about as a possible VP for Obama. And Clark is not a stupid man. He was a Rhodes Scholar for cryin' out loud. He does not use words accidentally. So I thought his choice of "riding in," as though McCain was just a casual passenger on the jet, was a cheap shot.

McCain is as qualified to be president as any president we've had in recent years. And in terms of commanding the military, you can't take away from the fact that he served...in active duty. Don't get me started on all the other government leaders on both sides of the political spectrum who can't make that claim.

But what's most fascinating about this hubbub over Clark's assertion is that Republican cheerleaders are calling on Obama to condemn the statement altogether.

For what reason? That it isn't true? That Clark's opinion was mean?

It seems to me that Clark's statement was valid. It didn't take away from McCain's patriotic hero status. It wasn't a "gentle" statement. But I think it was based on a fair question: Does being a prisoner of war make you better qualified to command the military? That you serve your country in the military is admirable and patriotic, that you got shot down from the enemy means that you're brave and that, unfortunately, the enemy had good aim, and that you survived a torturous captivity means that you are a rock and not easily broken. I could see supporters of McCain arguing that those qualities would make a perfect military leader. But I think I get the notion that Clark was trying to challenge.

How's this for devilish advocacy? Take that death row inmate who after a decade of torture and abuse behind bars is exonerated and freed. He's been in the system 10 years. He's seen the worst of it. Does that experience in and of itself qualify him to take command of and shepherd his state's prison system, or the justice system that sent him away in the first place?

I once told a dude sporting an arm full of needle tracks, burnt finger tips (indicative of crack pipe usage), a general rag tag appearance, and a bad odor to get his crack head behind out of my stuff. I was moving from one apartment to another and had sat some boxes on the curb, waiting for a buddy to swing back by with his truck. You know how this guy responded? "Hey! That's not nice. You shouldn't call people crack heads!"

Why not? It was true.

Passing judgment on another person isn't always a bad thing. Passing false judgment is a different story altogether. And there's no way to know whether Clark's opinion about how well P.O.W. status prepares you to lead the military is true or false. But it is valid.

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mark

First of all, a belated Happy Anniversary to you and the beautiful and talented Mrs. B. I hope you celebrated in style and with gusto.
Secondly, Wesley Clark is a Democratic stooge of biblical proportions. If Wesley Clark is speaking be sure to get your feet off the floor because he produced BS faster than cows produce methane gas. In his next life Wesley Clark is going to be a cow. I hope the bull shows him no mercy.

James B.

Mark, I hear ya. Some people's reps preceed them. I don't know enough about Clark to "judge" (ha ha) his comments as a pattern of behavior. But my struggle with this whole thing is I'm a sucker for anyone who's performed military service. And I can't bring myself to criticize them, even when they're criticizing each other.

The CEO

I believe that the education at the Naval Academy, plus all of the missions he flew prior to being shot down constitutes more military training AND experience than all of the candidates for the Presidency from both parties this century. Clearly I never thought of Clark as a serious candidate for the Presidency, in this century or the last. Needless to say, I had little respect for the military records of either candidate in 2004.

Sharon

Happy Anniversary to Mrs B & you. Congratulations.

What is it these days? Someone says something, showing that they've actually thought about a topic, & suddenly people are all over them in a way which shows that either they haven't actually heard what the person said. Or they're down on them cos they expressed a slightly less than 100% positive opinion.

Let's all be more positive, fine. But let's not totally abandon our critical (meaning ability to think & distinguish) faculties for goodness sake!

Say It

The more I think on this the more pissed I'm getting. At first I think jokingly that maybe he's refering to GW Bush. Then I reread the comment and no, he isn't. So then I think that I can't believe Gen Clark would even attempt to besmirch McCain in any way like the republicans did. Code of honor and all that. Which makes me think what a sh*t and I hope he isn't Obama's running mate because the same statement could apply to him: just because he's been at the pentagon does not make him VP material. So, now, I'm mad at Clark, declaring judgmentally that he's a butthead.

Say It

Oh, Happy Anniversay!!!

The CEO

Sorry, Happy Anniversary to both of you. Say It's right, Clark is the problem here, not McCain nor Obama. Not that I have an opinion, of course.

WNG

I'll give you that he should have said flying instead of riding in but reading his entire statement I can't say that I disagree with him and I have to wonder at all the people shouting about it. I truly appreciate McCain's sacrifice for this country, but as more and more of my friends come home mentally and physically wounded from Iraq and as another friend comes home in a coffin I cannot say that I appreciate his stands on this war or the treatment of our veterans. I cannot say that I think he stands in solidarity with them. I cannot say that I think his sacrifice earns him a special place or status in this campaign.
His sacrifice has been honored, but I don't think he is honoring the sacrifice of this generation of soldiers. He might in words, but not in deeds.

SWF42

I can't find anything in Gen. Clark's statement to disagree with (granted, I'm an Obama supporter). Being shot down during wartime doesn't qualify you to be President of the United States.

That being said, however, surviving as a POW for years is something to be proud of. I didn't read Gen. Clark's words as denigrating McCain's time as a POW as much as asking what that had to do with running for President.

Kurt P

Is this the same Wesley Clark who said the four months that Lt. John Kerry was in "Nam was qualification to be president back in 2004?

Don't I remember something about the same Wesley Clark being CiC of NATO back in the Kosovo action and the way his NATO troops stood by and watched a massacre take place against the civilians they were there to protect?

I'd say he's an expert on who's not qualified to be the president.

I'd also like to remind people that there have been plenty of competent civilians as CIC, and some military men have been failures at that post. So a military past doesn't automatically mean they'll be a good president.

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