Wesley Clark’s deplorable comments on John McCain’s war record prompted questions for another Democratic "military expert," Virginia Senator Jim Webb. His remarks took a different tack, but were equally despicable. Appearing on MSNBC’s execrable Countdown with Keith Olberman, Senator Webb urged McCain to "tone down" the emphasis on his military record:
"I think what we really need to work on over the next four, five months, and it goes back to the speech that Sen. Obama gave [Monday] and this little fight that I've been watching and that is, we need to make sure that we take politics out of service," Webb said. "People don't serve their country for political issues."
He continued: "And John McCain's my long-time friend, if that is one area that I would ask him to calm down on, it`s that, don't be standing up and uttering your political views and implying that all the people in the military support them because they don't, any more than when the Democrats have political issues during the Vietnam War. Let's get the politics out of the military, take care of our military people, or have our political arguments in other areas."
Describing Webb as a hypocrite would be charitable. During his successful 2006 run against George Allen, Mr. Webb had no problem running on his record in Vietnam, where he won the Navy Cross as a Marine infantry officer. And, for that matter, Webb even used his own son’s military service as a campaign prop, stumping across the Old Dominion in a pair of the young man’s combat boots.
We also wonder where Mr. Webb was in 2004, when John Forbes Kerry used his Vietnam experience as the centerpiece of his presidential bid. Apparently, the former Navy Secretary had no problem with Mr. Kerry campaigning on his military service. But when John McCain reminds voters that he served with valor as a naval aviator and POW, well, it’s time to take politics out of service.
Jim Webb was a superb combat leader and he’s (arguably) the best novelist of the Vietnam era. But as a politician, he’s morphed into a feckless hack, cut from the same cloth as General Clark and former Air Force Chief of Staff Merrill "Tony" McPeak, who criticized McCain for being "too fat" last week.
We’ve come to expect that sort of drivel from Clark and McPeak, living examples of the politically-driven, "perfumed princes" that the late David Hackworth railed about for more than 50 years. And sadly, those comments on Countdown are typical of Jim Webb, the one-time warrior who eagerly reinvented himself as a professional politician.