July 1st, 2008
03:45 PM ET
13 years ago

Clark: John McCain lacks 'judgment'

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/01/art.clarksit.cnn.jpg caption="Ret. Gen. Wesley Clark appears on Tuesday's 'The Situation Room.'"]
(CNN) - Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, appearing on CNN's "The Situation Room" Tuesday, continued to press the argument that John McCain is not suited to be commander-in-chief, and took aim at the Arizona senator's "judgment."

"I've never said anything to dishonor John McCain … I like him. But I will say this, that when it comes to being President of the United States, it's about judgment," Clark told CNN's John Roberts. "And I've seen stronger judgment from Barack Obama, despite the fact that he doesn't have military experience than I've seen from John McCain despite all his worldly travels.

"To me, this is about, and I hope the American people will make the decision based on judgment," he added.

Clark also criticized Orson Swindle, a McCain surrogate and former Vietnam POW, who blasted Clark's record as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO.

"I don't know Orson. I'm sure he's an outstanding man and did a great job in uniform. He doesn't know me either," said Clark.

"But I did in my last command as the head of the forces in NATO, lead the forces of NATO in the fight to stop ethnic cleansing in the Balkans. We did win a war. We bombed for 78 days … we did it without the loss of a single American soldier … We did it with a combination of diplomacy and force," he said.

Clark also discussed his support in 2004 for John Kerry, namely on his military experience, and how it differs from McCain's.

"John McCain basically served honorably while in uniform, he did everything the country could have asked," Clark told CNN. "What John Kerry did is John Kerry got out of the uniform and took a judgment, a judgment I didn't agree with at the time, but he had the moral courage to stand up for himself and oppose the conflict in Vietnam.”

Filed under: John McCain • Wesley Clark
soundoff (316 Responses)
  1. Art, San Diego,CA

    General Clark's comments are shameful. He is a former upper level military bureaucrat who will apparently say anything to curry favor. This will backfire on Senator Obama. Nothing is gained from attacking the military record of someone who served our country sacrificially. I am saddened, but not surprised. No real reformer ever came out of Chicago.

    July 1, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  2. Truth

    Great leader...

    Obama need to stop rejecting the truth to please McCain. This will not stop the republicans from attacking him...
    Let Clark attack the only claimed advantage of McCain:
    Many years of experience but poor judgement...McCain vote and support for the Iraq war should disqualify him from becoming president.
    Obama need strong advisor who will support attacking McCain on his false leadership experience. We don't like weak leaders
    Obama, you either be strong or we will vote for Barr.

    July 1, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  3. Former GOP

    I agree with Gen Wesley Clark 100%.
    Gen Clark can ask that question because he
    Has served in the Military as well. It would be a strange questions coming form
    Obama. But Gen Clark he can speck to McCain claims that because he was a POW he would make a better President.
    The real problem is McCain and the rest of his people don’t like the fact that a Gen of the armed focused Called him out because he is trying to legitimize himself as the best person for the job because he was in a war and was a POW!

    July 1, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  4. Yup

    I don't like Clark, but gotta admit in this case he's 100% right

    July 1, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  5. RaferJanders

    Wow rusty I guess you know General Clark, McShame would not have gotten the name "SongBird" if he did not Collaborate with the North Viets, Not to mention the Angry Little troll was not even born in the United States, General Clark is good people, But how would you know, You ever serve? Just another Chicken Hawk Neo Con,
    Rangers Lead the Way

    July 1, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  6. James

    What did Clark said that is not true?What about McCain followers like Sean Hannity using the airways trushing Barak Obama day and night with personal and hatefilled messages and McCain did nothing.
    And now when Clark opened his mouth McCain is feeling the heat.Give me a break.

    July 1, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  7. Marcia

    I can't believe how the media – and the Obama campaign, for that matter – are going along with this willful distortion of Clark's original remarks. He didn't disrespect McCain's service record or his suffering as a POW at all. He only said that McCain didn't have the kind of service record that's relevant to being President – AND HE DOESN'T! He served honorably. But he is also a career Navy guy who was NEVER going to make Admiral. It's only executive military experience that makes one man more qualified than another as commander in chief. That's what Clark was pointing out.

    July 1, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  8. tigerakabj

    Go get McSenile Clark! If McCain wants to run on "military experience," then his entire record of his "military experience' needs to be thoroughly examined, just like anyone who would be applying for a job.

    McCain talks war this and war that, and that is it. And I too agree that it is about judgment. Even though Obama never served in the military, he had great judgment to know and speak out agasint the EXACT outcomes of the Iraq war, whereas McCain did not (he was on of the main drum beaters).

    They twisted Kerry's war record, so McCain's should be no different.

    And furthermore, Clinton did not serve. Yet he was a hecka lot better than Bush could ever be. McCain thinks national security is his strong point. In those debates, Obama is going to make him and the rest of America see otherwise. Obama 2008!

    July 1, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  9. Herman in LA

    What's new...

    July 1, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  10. Doyle - MI

    Go General Clark.

    July 1, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  11. Poby Zop

    Lets see, CNN, must stand for..... Clinton News Network!
    I think I'll go back to the truth-Fox!

    July 1, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  12. Chris Lee

    Are we looking for someone to run a war or someone to end one?
    Are we looking for someone to start a war or avoid one?
    Take your pick.

    July 1, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  13. mark

    Did anyone else notice lil's post? She is a teacher??? She can't even write a legitimate sentence.

    Now I know why the country is falling apart, if our teachers are so illiterate and poorly educated, what happens to the students.

    July 1, 2008 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  14. Liquidity

    Being a general, particularly one evidently retired from final command (Read Clark's Wikepedia biography as a start) for undisclosed reasons of character, qualifies you by experience as a general, nothing more, nothing less. And in my book the only President of particular distinction selected from the ranks of generals was George Washington. Decades spent in the military, however laudibly spent, creates a narrowness of view. One might remember this when considering that Wesley Clark has run (unsuccessfully) for President and is presently trying to attach himself to Obama's coat tails in the VEEP slot.

    Two aspects of military service, particularly in wartime and particularly in combat and particularly at the level of junior command, are incredibly important preparation for the Presidency however.

    The first is having the responsibility to give and actually having given orders to people you know which result can and have resulted in their death and a visceral understanding of the price that is paid. If you have touched them in life and smelled them in death, and had to write the letter to the wife or mother, so much the better. Decades later in the oval office the price paid by those ordered to combat will never be an abstraction and always at the forefront of awareness.

    The second is that those in the military receiving their orders know the difference between a CIC that has been there and one that has not. In combat, obeying orders means doing your duty to the best of your ability when you are scared as hell. It is a lot easier to do so recognizing the source of the order is asking you to do anything he hasn't one himself. That does not make the orders good ones. It does, however, make them respected. And respect lives in the gut.

    So the bottom line is that McCain's experience gives him the trust of street credibility within the ranks of the military. And that credibility is far more important with those actually doing any fighting than it is to the generals.

    On its own, this dimension neither firmly qualifies nor firmly disqualifies for the Presidency. But CIC is one of the President's most important roles, military experience does matter; McCain has it; Obama doesn't.

    July 1, 2008 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  15. A Post 9/11 Navy Veteran

    You guys keep on talking. I am an Obama supporter and I strongly agree with Gen.Clark. It don't seem like I will be out the Navy for long because I will end up getting recalled for the Iran war that is next. Are my fellow citizens in the United States so foolish to not realize that the government is eyeing Iran next, KNOWING our military is already torn and broken down already? You people talk so much garbage, you all will be right beside me in UNIFORM when I get recalled, because I know for a FACT, that if we go to war with Iran due to the unstable GOP idiots that only care about their OWN cash, THERE WILL BE A DRAFT, YOU JUST WAIT!!!!!!!! You PUMA people, you just go on ahead and vote for McCain, and your children 18 years and older, as well as you if you are in the age range, you will be my shipmate for sure. LOOK AT THE BIG PICTURE!!! THIS IS NO TIME FOR FOOLISH PRIDE!!!!! That "Free Trade" crap that McCain is touting, you know why he is pushing for it???!!! Because he is going to need some countries to "back" us and let us borrow money from when we go to Iran because the United States will be BROKE!!!!! So you people go ahead and vote for McCain and those countries will practially own the United States and we will end begging England to take control of our country again, the very country we fought for, but our governement will be so run down there will be no other option, so go ahead and vote for him, I will be waiting for you guys on the messdecks.

    July 1, 2008 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  16. EricTexas

    I agree, Talk about bad Judgment, McCain’s latest announcement free trade with Columbia with all the things wrong with this country right now, he’s talking about free trade with a country that exports more drugs than any other. McCain get a clue !!!!

    McCain is like going on a date with someone that only talks about himself. And has nothing else to offer the American than people than his war record.
    Were happy for Ya Great Job, Lets move on. Your war record isn’t going to help you with your people skills. Or leading this country.

    July 1, 2008 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
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