Science, Statistics, Politics, Current Events, Photos and Life.

Monday, June 30, 2008

General Wesley Clark in Trouble

Former General Wesley Clark has gotten in modest trouble for questioning a key McCain story line. "Clark had said on CBS's Face the Nation Sunday. "...I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to become president."" (quote from here). The two campaigns are now fighting over who accused whom of what and at what level who should apologize how strongly.

McCain may or may not be qualified to be president. In the narrow definition, he is qualified, as he is the Republican nominee. By the same token, so is Obama.

On McCain's record in the Navy, it is less clear if it actually supports that he belongs in higher office. What I know of his record does not provide strong support to the argument that he could or should be president.

He didn't rise to become an admiral, which would have provided leadership experience and background. Reason to not elect him president.

Having lost at least 2 airplanes to crashes prior to being shot down is not a recommendation for being president.

Being in the bottom 5 of a very large class is an excellent reason to not elect McCain president.

Being tortured is a more complex issue. Withstanding tortore is worthy of our admiration. Fine. But I admire a lot of people who shouldn't be president.

Being tortured is likely to have long term psychological consequences. These consequences, whether current or hypothetical are good reasons to not elect McCain president. Uncontrollable anger, temper tantrums are not great qualities in a chief executive.

The resulting physical frailty can be argued as a reason not to elect McCain president: he may not last, with unforeseeable consequences for the country. He may die, then someone who wasn't our first choice for president becomes president. The vice president would succeed to the presidency. A new unelected vice president would become the new vice president.

That McCain broke under tortore is the result of being tortured. It matters more because of the psychological consequences and not that he broke or not. McCain's other behaviors while a prisoner are again greatly worthy of our admiration. But are they good reasons to elect him president? Hard to say really. If we expect that Harrison Ford's experience as president in the movie Air Force One is an important template for potential presidential behavior, then there are perhaps a few reasons to elect McCain president. Usually we don't expect the president to lead troops directly on missions, nor do we expect enemy soldiers to directly attack the president, so McCain or Obama's hand to hand fighting skills are perhaps moot as presidential qualifications. Come to think of it, in a direct fight, Obama is more likely to triumph than McCain... Hmmm

To summarize: Having been tortured is a reason to vote against a candidate, not a reason to vote for him. A short search in the medical literature provides the following quote:

"Earlier studies of torture survivors have reported psychological problems such as anxiety, depression, irritability/aggressiveness, emotional lability, social withdrawal, disorientation, memory and concentration impairment, impaired reading ability, lack of energy, insomnia, nightmares, and sexual dysfunction. "
(citation: Torture and its Consequences, Psychology of International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, 2004, Pages 15779-15783 M. Başoğlu).

1 comment:

Bona said...

Well written article.