Hero Worship? (updated)

What is a hero? With the Clark/McCain dust up it's a question I think we need to answer. Here is the Dictionary.com version:


1.a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.
2.a person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal: He was a local hero when he saved the drowning child.
3.the principal male character in a story, play, film, etc.
4.Classical Mythology.
a. a being of godlike prowess and beneficence who often came to be honored as a divinity.
b.(in the Homeric period) a warrior-chieftain of special strength, courage, or ability.
c.(in later antiquity) an immortal being; demigod.
5.hero sandwich.
6.the bread or roll used in making a hero sandwich.

[Origin: 1605–15; back formation from ME heroes (pl.) <>hérōs (sing.), hérōes (pl.) <>hrōs, hrōes]

So, do we continue to call soldiers heroes? How about not all soldiers, but just the ones who were wounded? What about calling only those who got shot down heroes? No? The one's who dropped the most bombs, or blew up the most civilians, or killed the most enemies? The one's who were held prisoner--for 1 year; 2 years; 3 years; 5 years? Prisoners who were tortured (did we just make heroes out of a bunch of prisoners at GITMO?)

I say none of the above. Being a soldier does not make you a hero. Being a prisoner does not make you a hero. Being the Supreme Allied Commander does not make you a hero. Doing something heroic makes you a hero. Neither McCain nor Clark are heroes.

Wes Clark's comment about McCain's being shot down is being heralded as a definitive "Kinsley
" (when a politician makes the accidental mistake of telling the truth). And the media is hyperventilating over it. Look, Clark spoke the truth; the fact that McCain was shot down and subsequently held prisoner, and tortured, does NOT mean that McCain is more prepared to be president than anyone else. The zeitgeist says the opposite, and the zeitgeist is wrong. Clark spoke the truth, a truth that needed to be spoken. That Obama is hyperventilating about it is very, very disappointing. To me, Clark's comments were of the sort that I expected Obama to make during this general election cycle. Oh well. Here is a nice mashup of how the whole clusterfuck is going:

Thanks Digby

UPDATE: Here is a great response from Clark himself debunking the notion that he "Swiftboated" McCain. His last line in this video is my favorite...

UPDATE II: Obama makes his statement about the brouhaha:

UPDATE III: I just need to mention the fact that one of our greatest presidents had no military experience, and he got elected 4 times! They even had to amend the constitution so nobody could be president so many times. Oh, and he got elected so many times because he was such a "war" president! The whole I-am-qualified-to-be-POTUS-because-I-was-a-soldier thing just needs to stop. So, thanks FDR, and thanks Wes Clark. Now, back to Rube Goldberg!

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