The Democrats have decided that rather letting the Republican attack machine go after Obama they will attack first. In the process, they are using the same tactics employed by Bush's people in 2004. This transcript is from MSNBC David Gregory's, The Race for the White House:
Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Wesley Clark fired this salvo at John McCain on yesterday`s "Face the Nation." He`s downplaying the idea that McCain`s experience as a POW should be seen as qualification for the presidency.
Check this out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), U.S. ARMY: He hasn`t held executive responsibility. That large squadron in the Navy that he commanded, it wasn`t a wartime squadron. He hasn`t been there and ordered the bombs to fall. I don`t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: John McCain himself responded today with this...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that that kind of thing is unnecessary. I`m proud of my record of service. It certainly doesn`t do anything to address the challenges that Americans have in keeping their jobs, their homes and supporting their families.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: OK. Responding to the response, today the Obama camp put out this: "As he said many times before, Senator Barack Obama honors and respects Senator McCain`s service. And of course he rejects yesterday`s statement by General Clark."
So here`s the question: Is Clark`s criticism a bold move or a low blow, or both?
Michelle, what do you think?
COTTLE: Well, you know, technically, it`s true. There`s a difference between being a military hero and being a military leader.
That said, it feels really icky just when you hear it. And I think it`s a very dangerous move for them to make. I mean, this is a man whose campaign is built in large part on the idea of heroism and character and marshal sacrifice, and to go directly at it, they risk losing a lot of people, especially with a candidate who`s supposed to be Mr. Nice Guy.
MADDOW: Tony, do you think this is a smart move?
BLANKLEY: Well, interestingly, this is the seventh time that a major Obama supporter has taken a shot at McCain`s military record -- Jay Rockefeller, Senator Harkin, Ed Schultz, Tony McPeek, who is Obama`s -- one of his military advisers. So, it begins to look like something other than the random decisions of random people. It looks like it`s an Obama strategy. And he comes out and says, oh, I have nothing to do with it, but it begins to look a little dirty to me.
MADDOW: Tony, do you think though that it matters whether or not it`s true? Should it be debated on its merits, or is it the sort of thing that should be dismissed out of hand?
BLANKLEY: I think that everything that any candidate wants to debate on the merits is fair game in a presidential election. See whether -- you know, where it goes.
I don`t think it helps Obama to make this case, because McCain is not arguing that the mere fact that he suffered and was tortured for five years qualifies him to be president. I think the point that most people understand is it`s a character developer. That, added to 30 years of experience in the Senate on foreign policy and defense policy, might make him the man who you can trust to deal with difficult problems under difficult circumstances.
I think McCain wins that hands down. But nonetheless, I think the Democrats are free to take a shot at him.
HARWOOD: Rachel, I would just add that, look, in Wes Clark`s case, I think you`ve got some serious vice presidential fever going on. And there`s a little auditioning to say, you pick me in a general election, look how I can take on this guy. But I agree with Michelle, it is a very dubious strategy. There`s a lot of risk associated with it.
MADDOW: If he`s -- if auditioning consists of grabbing the third rail with both hands, then it certainly is an audition.