John McCain’s Truth Squad

On Face the Nation this weekend, Gen. Wesley Clark made the obvious observation that John McCain’s captivity in a North Vietnamese prisoner of war camp was not a qualification to be president. McCain’s ordeal was certainly horrific, but not leadership training. Clark’s comments will no doubt be controversial, but the reality is that living in a hut for five years, far removed from any management or policy development responsibilities, does not prepare one for executive leadership positions. McCain has other experience to promote, like his tenure in the Senate, but if he is considered to be qualified to be president solely on the basis of his time spent in jail, then Martha Stewart is qualified to be his Attorney General and Snoop Dogg his Secretary of State.

McCain’s response to the matter is to set up a “Truth Squad.” Leaving aside for the moment that nothing Clark said was untrue because it was merely his opinion, there are serious problems the new McMod Squad. The principle members include folks like Orson Swindle and George “Bud” Day.

Lt. Col. Swindle has a long and infamous resume. He is the McCain campaign’s veterans liaison as well as a board member of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), an independent advocacy group that has long backed McCain. CAGW has also been associated with unethical, if not illegal, activities on McCain’s behalf, and is tied to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Swindle himself is also a Senior Policy Advisor at the big DC lobbying firm of Hunton & Williams. All of these duties violate McCain’s own policy of not allowing people working for “independent entities” from serving on his campaign staff.

Col. Day was a member of another organization that misused the word “truth” in their name, the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth. He is now the director and president of the Vietnam Veterans Legacy Foundation, a group comprised of former swiftboaters and the owner of the rights to “Stolen Honor,” the crocumentary featuring the swiftboat liars. It is interesting that McCain now employs Day to speak on his behalf. In 2004 he called Day’s slandering of John Kerry “dishonest and dishonorable.” Apparently those qualities are required by the McCain of 2008.

Now McCain is criticizing Barack Obama for comments made by Wes Clark. Obama has already rejected Clark’s statements, but that hasn’t stopped McCain from demagoguing the character issue. McCain himself, not a surrogate, said Saturday that “Obama’s word cannot be trusted.” Will McCain now condemn himself for engaging in dirty politics?