Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Context Matters

Of course, Dear Gentle Reader(s), context matters.  There really isn't any discussion about that.  Why, then, does context so often disappear from discussion?

The current brouhaha regarding General Wesley Clark's comments about Senator McCain's Vietnam war experiences is an excellent case in point.

Here is a quote from, it's from Joan Walsh's July 1, 2008, column

Slamming Wesley Clark

I was sorry to see the Obama campaign "reject" Gen. Wesley Clark's remarks about John McCain on Face the Nation yesterday. I think the context of Clark's remarks mattered (although that's gotten lost in the right wing blogosphere's attacks on Clark). Clark was baited into his statement by host Bob Schieffer, who took issue with some earlier, milder remarks Clark had made about McCain's military service not being direct preparation for the presidency.

Here's what was said:

Schieffer: I have to say, Barack Obama has not had any of those experiences either, nor has he ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down. I mean --

Clark: Well, I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.

Schieffer: Really?

Walsh goes on to wonder why Schieffer said "Really?"  We should do that, too, DGR(s).  While McCain's subsequent POW status and the treatment he endured during that time might give us some indication of his character at that moment in time, it does nothing to tell us of his decision-making processes; it tells us nothing of how much the young serviceman of the 1960's has changed into the Republican nominee of 2008.


We should judge the presumptive presidential nominees in the context of 2008.  We should be careful about making a decision today based on what little we know of the context of various yesterdays.

We are going to have to be especially alert to what is being said in this presidential election year.

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