The Commander-in-Chief Threshold
Josh Marshall is not happy about something Senator Clinton has said:
But just what on earth is Hillary Clinton talking about when she says she’s crossed the “commander in chief threshold” which John McCain has also crossed but Barack Obama hasn’t? There are two ways of looking at what’s required for this aspect of the president’s job. One school of thought has it that a potential president needn’t be an expert on military affairs or foreign relations any more than he or she needs to be an experts in economics. They need to be informed and knowledgeable. But what’s most needed is temperament, maturity and judgment. Detailed expertise can come from advisors.
Josh continues by noting that Senator Clinton’s resume is not that much deeper than Senator Obama’s on this score. But if judgment and temperament are crucial, then one has to really worry about John McCain becoming President. Robert Dreyfuss writes in “Hothead McCain”:
And you’ve heard, no doubt, about McCain’s stubbornness. “No dissent, no opinion to the contrary, however reasonable, will be entertained,” says Larry Wilkerson, a retired army colonel who was former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s top aide. “Hardheaded is another way to say it. Arrogant is another way to say it. Hubristic is another way to say it. Too proud for his own good is another way to say it. It’s a quality about him that disturbs me.” But what you may not have heard is an extended critique of the kind of Commander in Chief that Captain McCain might be. To combat what he likes to call “the transcendent challenge [of] radical Islamic extremism,” McCain is drawing up plans for a new set of global institutions, from a potent covert operations unit to a “League of Democracies” that can bypass the balky United Nations, from an expanded NATO that will bump up against Russian interests in Central Asia and the Caucasus to a revived US unilateralism that will engage in “rogue state rollback” against his version of the “axis of evil.” In all, it’s a new apparatus designed to carry the “war on terror” deep into the twenty-first century.
Also consider what Mark Benjamin reports:
But that’s not necessarily the case, say senior military officials and political analysts. In interviews with Salon this week, several experienced military officers said McCain draws mixed reviews among military leaders, and they expressed serious doubts about whether McCain has the right temperament to be the next president and commander in chief. Some expressed more confidence in Obama, citing his temperament as an asset. It is not difficult in Washington to find high-level military officials who have had close encounters with John McCain’s temper, and who find it worrisome. Politicians sometimes scream for effect, but the concern is that McCain has, at times, come across as out of control. It is difficult to find current or former officers willing to describe those encounters in detail on the record. That’s because, by and large, those officers admire McCain. But that doesn’t mean they want his finger on the proverbial button, and they are supporting Clinton or Obama instead. “I like McCain. I respect McCain. But I am a little worried by his knee-jerk response factor,” said retired Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, who was in charge of training the Iraqi military from 2003 to 2004 and is now campaigning for Clinton. “I think it is a little scary. I think this guy’s first reactions are not necessarily the best reactions. I believe that he acts on impulse.”
If McCain is Bush-Cheney on steroids, we really want to keep him as far from the White House as possible.
Hat tip to Think Progress.