Four years ago we were told that because John Kerry talked excessively about his war medals it was OK for the Swift Boat weirdos to go on TV and lie about how he got them. After all, Kerry had "made the medals a campaign issue" so all bets were off.
This time around, the shoe is on a different foot. The candidate talking too much about his military career is the Republican, and as you might expect, the 2004 rules don't seem to apply. This week Wesley Clark, the retired multiple star general, said "Well, I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president." This is a legitimate opinion, that has the additional benefit of being true. Whatever qualifications for president McCain may have, being shot down in combat isn't one of them. But instead of giving McCain the Kerry treatment, and either ignoring or defending Clark's remark, all three networks have ridden to McCain's rescue, and done him the favor of not merely refuting Clark's remarks, but mischaracterizing them.