Senator John McCain has devoted his entire adult life to the service of our country. He served in the U.S. Navy for 22 years; he spent five-and-a-half of those years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. Later he served as the commander of the largest aviation attack squadron in the U.S. Navy. On the political front, John McCain has served over 20 years in the United States Senate, leading American policy on national security and military issues as chairman of the Armed Services Committee. He has been involved in every major foreign policy decision over the past two decades. In short, he has the experience, judgment, and character to lead our country as Commander in Chief from the very first moment he steps into the Oval Office.
Senator McCain's qualifications as a military and foreign policy expert far surpass the credentials of anyone else seeking the most powerful office on the planet.
John McCain's expertise on these important issues is what Americans want in a Commander in Chief. He has continued to run a positive and honest campaign, sharing his qualifications - for which his service is an important tenet - with the American people.
That is why as a retired military officer, I find the attacks and distortions against his record to be so disturbing. It is now clear that Democrats, including the Democratic National Committee and Senator Obama intend to misrepresent Senator McCain's words and stances rather than have an honest and substantive dialogue on the issues that matter.
By suggesting that John McCain is a "blatant opportunist" for discussing his military record with the American people and in the same breath uttering that McCain is "promising to keep our troops in Iraq for 100 years," Howard Dean is demeaning the chairmanship of the Democratic Party and should apologize not only to Senator McCain, but also Democrat voters.
Just last week, two nonpartisan fact-checking organizations called the insinuation that McCain wants to fight the war for another 100 years "false," a "serious distortion," and "rank falsehood."
What makes the Democrats' attacks even worse is that Barack Obama refuses to acknowledge the intentionally false and dishonest attacks he has launched against Senator McCain.
At a press conference on Monday, Obama finally acknowledged that the 100 years Senator McCain spoke of was referring to a peacetime troop presence in Iraq. Yet, as Obama consistently has done in the past, he continued Monday to distort Senator McCain's position irrespective of the truth or facts.
It's hard to fathom why Obama would consistently mislead voters with his rhetoric, unless of course his claim to represent new politics is nothing more than a tagline and a completely fictitious claim. On a number of occasions over the past few months Obama has used the "100 years" comment to unfairly attack Senator McCain. On Feb. 19, Obama said, "[Sen. McCain] says that he is willing to send our troops into another 100 years of war." And just a week later he repeated that untrue statement by saying, "[W]e are bogged down in a war that John McCain now suggests might go one for another 100 years."
These comments exemplify the same-old, dirty gutter politics Obama claims to oppose. If Obama wanted to run a clean campaign, he would be best served denouncing Dean's statements and ceasing to mischaracterize Senator McCain's record.
The Democrats' attempts to paint McCain as someone who wants continue the war in Iraq indefinitely is completely at odds with the truth. Just days ago, while speaking to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, Senator McCain stated, "In Vietnam, where I formed the closest friendships of my life, some of those friends never came home to the country they loved so well. I detest war. It might not be the worst thing to befall human beings, but it is wretched beyond all description. When nations seek to resolve their differences by force of arms, a million tragedies ensue. The lives of a nation's finest patriots are sacrificed. Innocent people suffer and die. Commerce is disrupted; economies are damaged; strategic interests shielded by years of patient statecraft are endangered as the exigencies of war and diplomacy conflict. Not the valor with which it is fought nor the nobility of the cause it serves, can glorify war. Whatever gains are secured, it is loss the veteran remembers most keenly. Only a fool or a fraud sentimentalizes the merciless reality of war. However heady the appeal of a call to arms, however just the cause, we should still shed a tear for all that is lost when war claims its wages from us."
Senator McCain is a veteran who empathizes with and appreciates the massive sacrifices our men and women in uniform have made. He also is a man with many decades of experience in the military and the United States Senate, overseeing the major foreign relations and military issues of our day. McCain is dedicated to victory in the War on Terror through stabilizing the Iraqi government and beating the terrorists as opposed to surrendering to them as both Senators Obama and Clinton have proposed.
Senator McCain will use his experience, judgment and optimism to lead us to victory in this war against radical Islamic extremism, and no amount of pandering and smear tactics by the Democrats will confuse or distract the American people from the significance of achieving that mission. I know who I want answering the White House phone at 3:00 AM in the morning, it's a battle tested veteran named John McCain.
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