Thursday, July 3, 2008

Lessons Learned

Gail Collins on what we learned from Wesley Clark’s kerfuffle.

Americans of all ages tend to both respect military service and ignore it when picking a president. In the last four elections, they’ve rejected the guys who went to war and elected the draft, er, nonembracers. McCain presumably understands this. When Bob Dole, a wounded veteran, announced his candidacy in 1996, McCain backed Phil Gramm, a Texas senator who had piled up a series of draft deferments that made Bill Clinton look like Nathan Hale.

About those lessons: McCain’s campaign has announced a staff reorganization, so perhaps he realizes that he needs better outraged-response material. Wesley Clark has learned that he’s not going to be vice president. And maybe both camps now understand that this is not the year for debates about management experience. The next president isn’t going to have much. It’s O.K. If we cared about management, we’d have stuck with Mitt Romney.

True, but then no dog in America would feel safe.