In his June 30 Newsmax column, Lowell Ponte claimed that "a retired U.S. Army general who supports Barack Obama viciously attacked presumptive Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s military credentials."
Actually, no, Gen. Wesley Clark did not "viciously attack" John McCain, though you wouldn't know it from Ponte, who repeated Clark statement that "I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president" without providing the context in which he said it -- that Clark was specifically responding to CBS "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer's statement that unlike McCain, Obama has not "ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down."
Ponte responded to Clark's statement that McCain "hasn’t been there and ordered the bombs to fall" and has never “held executive responsibility” over troops in wartime" by asserting that "McCain dropped bombs on North Vietnam before being shot down and spending five years under torture as a prisoner of war" and "McCain, whose father and grandfather were U.S. Navy admirals, led the largest squadron in the U.S. Navy" -- neither of which disproves what Clark said.
Despite never proving that Clark's comments about McCain's military record were vicious or an attack, let alone factually inaccurate -- as well as neglecting to mention that Clark also said, "I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands of millions of others in the Armed Forces as a prisoner of war" -- Ponte asserted that "the press needs to tell Americans who Gen. Wesley Clark really is" ... then launched into is own vicious attack on Clark.
Ponte called Clark's military career "not stellar" and steeped with "mediocrity" -- sneeringly adding, "Like Bill Clinton, Wesley Clark was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford" -- until, as commander of Texas' Fort Hood, he " 'lent' 17 pieces of armor and 15 active service personnel under his command to what became Clinton’s extermination of the Branch Davidians." Ponte added, "Immediately after he went along with the Clintons’ potentially-illegal weapons request for Waco, Wesley Clark’s flat, fading career began an incredible meteoric rise."
Ponte concludes by rehashing smears of Clark by David Hackworth, a now-deceased retired colonel who has had his own troubles -- running a brothel and gambling hall for his troops in Vietnam while allegedly facilitating a black market for military script, yet still managing to obtain an honorable discharge -- so perhaps he's not quite the person for Ponte to be citing.
Needless to say, Ponte's position that a presidential candidate's military record can't be criticized is a flip-flop from 2004, when he cozied up to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and denigrated Kerry's Vietnam service. (Ponte also thinks that Kerry's neckties are "a secret signal of support to the Muslim world.")