Monday, June 30, 2008

Rick Noriega's "Clark Factor": News That Isn't on a Slow News Day

Don’t you love it the way people in the mass media coax a conspiracy out of anything they can in the name of news? Jason Embry’s little hit piece on Rick Noriega that appeared today in the Austin American-Statesman attempts to do just that.

What the intrepid reporter did was take General Wesley Clark’s quote from his appearance on Sunday’s Face the Nation news program, and attempt to relate them to Clark's association with Rick Noriega.

OK, for everyone who has been unconscious since Saturday, this is what Wes Clark said about John McCain’s qualifications for a position of leadership (after praising his service to his country):

“I don’t think getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.”
What Clark was doing was questioning why being a POW was a qualification for high office. Now whether I agree with Clark or not, and I do agree with Clark, the important thing here is that the man who spoke those words had himself honorably served his country in the military, served in an executive position, to boot. If anyone, General Wesley Clark has a right to bring this question up. I do not, nor does Barack Obama.

But McCain literally howled over this gross insult to his military service. And rightly so. He is running on his military record, and his 5 and a half years at the Hanoi Hilton. This is his key strength. His key strength because everything else shows just how close he and Bush are on social and political issues. The centerpiece to his campaign had just been exposed as a non-issue, and McCain didn’t like that. Not one little bit.

And now the newsies are jumping all over this one.

Now how does all of this relate to Rick Noriega’s campaign? Get ready for this: Wes Clark is hosting a fundraiser for Rick Noriega in Dallas on July 16th. Quoting Embry:

“Clark is scheduled to host a fundraiser for Noriega on July 16 in Dallas. And Noriega has made his own military service, first in the Army and then the Texas Army National Guard, key to his campaign. Clark’s Sunday comments probably won’t make much of an impact, but they can’t help Noriega’s message.”

Granted he pulled the punch with the line “Clark’s Sunday comments probably won’t make much of an impact,” but if that’s so why make an issue of it at all? Why raise the issue if it is self-admitted that there isn't really an issue?

What does make an impact is that while Wes Clark and Rick Noriega served and still serves, respectively, their country in leadership positions, neither John McCain nor John Cornyn can say the same thing. McCain was a fighter jock who got his plane shot out from under him, Cornyn had his student deferment, keeping him out of the Army during the Vietnam War when others of his age went; when others of his age died.

Neither of these men is proven a leader.

If anything, Wes Clark’s hosting of a Noriega fundraiser should underline his main point: being a POW and suffering horrendous torture makes you brave and worthy of respect, but it doesn’t make you a leader. How about Cornyn's having a 2S deferment. In this, the only quality that this shows is an ability to stay on top of things as the draft lottery was instituted.

An ability to file student deferment papers on time before the law changed.

So I guess I reject Jason Embry’s whole premise, whatever it was. I guess it’s just a slow news day.

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