May 23rd, 2008
02:48 PM ET

McCain's NOT running for commander-in-chief

Roland S. Martin
CNN Political Analyst

I read Sen. John McCain's long response – more like rebuke – of Sen. Barack Obama criticizing him for opposing the GI bill that passed the U.S. Senate by a wide margin, and something jumped out.

McCain made a slight faux pas.

"I am running for the office of Commander-in-Chief. That is the highest privilege in this country, and it imposes the greatest responsibilities," he said.

But that's not really true.

Article 2, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution says:

"The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States."

A lot of folks get it wrong – I've done it as well. But the truth is that McCain is running for president of the United States and commander-in-chief is one of the responsibilities of the president.

Just a small but important point to remember.

Filed under: John McCain • Raw Politics • Roland S. Martin
soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. Nancy Levin

    Monika's contribution clarifying the role(s) of president were the most helpful of what's on this blog so far. The "job" of CEO of a large company is close, but is not so burdened by the passions of so
    many. This 2008 election year is the most participtory ever seen by those of us listed as seniors. And although I often cringe at the
    misunderstandings and spelling(!!!),that passion comes through!

    May 26, 2008 at 6:09 am |
  2. J.V.Hodgson

    There is actually nothing wrong with what he said it is an important part of the role of the next president.
    The real problems are:-
    1) Nomination races that take too long. No campaigning for nomination or presidency until 3 months before conventions or the election date.
    2) 24 hour News media who have time to pick up on non issues and blow them up out of all proportion and have a bunch of analysts prognosticate on the effect, instead of things that matter to voters
    3) Take a leaf out of some other countries political systems which restricts the amount of media time that can be devoted to each party and most important the amount of Advertising spend/ time to each party based on a Per capita of population.
    C'mon guys & dolls (not sweetie's of course) even US University ( politics) professors cannot agree on one interpretation of the constitution and how many amendments have been made and will be made.

    May 26, 2008 at 2:12 am |
  3. Anne

    "Headquarters in those days struck me as being extraordinarily dense, not to say silly. It was necessary to explain to them that water would not run uphill, that sand blew in the same direction as the wind and did not get up and fight its way against it; that the sun was hotter in summer than in winter, and other masterpieces of the obvious of this description. It never seemed to occur to them that we men in the desert were the reason for their existence, and that if we were not in position in the out-stations there would be no need for any Headquarters. They rather regarded themselves as the centre of the universe and us as troublesome beings who always required something they were not inclined to cede, and imagined what a pleasant place Headquarters might be if only they were not worried to death by insistent creatures who lived in the desert. They reminded me of the Army subaltern who said the ideal regiment would consist of the Mess and the Band; the men are merely a nuisance and cause work. From "Three Deserts" by C. S. Jarvis 1936. "
    Seems to me Sen. McCain has spent far too much time in Washington (ie Headquarters) and has forgotten about the young men we are sending off to risk life and limb over and over again - so that the rest of "us" don't have to - in a war that never should have been authorized and never should have been fought.

    May 25, 2008 at 5:01 pm |
  4. maurice jamall

    Dear Mr. Cooper
    Throughout this campaign, Sen. McCain has been referred to as a "war hero". This is based on his having served in Vietnam and being held as a POW during that conflict. I find this epithet quite astounding.
    In order to be a war hero, you must be on the right side. The US invaded this tiny nation–yet another war of choice–and over 4 million Vietnamese died. What did McCain do in this war? He was a bomber pilot. I wonder how many villages he carpetted. How is that heroic? Thank goodness he was caught and locked up. It stopped him bombing even more people.
    Simply serving in the armed forces does not a hero make. You have to be on the right side of the argument. My Vietnam hero? He did not run. He did not fight. He stood up to his immoral government. He fell on his sword for the good of the nation. Mohammed Ali. Now there's courage, honour and duty.
    I am sure that in WWII there were many German soldiers who fought with honour and courage. Can we call them heros? I think not. They too were on the wrong side. The baddies don't get to wear white hats.

    May 25, 2008 at 2:36 am |
  5. EJ

    For the records, I'm not American and reading some of the responses here make me truly grateful for that fact. If "YOU THE PEOPLE" give your presidency to someone who has the mindset that he is running to by CinC to perpertrate and possible embark on new premptive wars, "YOU THE PEOPLE" truly deserve fifteen trillion dollars more of debt and fifty bucks a gallon of gas.

    May 24, 2008 at 9:45 pm |
  6. Apple in Tampa

    Actually I don't think Sen McCain made that major of a slip up....but you know what they say – what goes around comes around. Sen Obama is constantly under scrutiny for any type of mistake so... I guess another saying is don't throw stones if you live in a glass house. Sorry for all of the old sayings but I just couldn't resist.

    May 24, 2008 at 9:07 pm |
  7. Peter Brrows Workman Lakeworth. FL 33463

    Wake up America! the prophet Isaiah warned man over 3000 years ago of the errors ade by man's leaders.

    O! My people those who lead thee cause thee to ERR, and destroy the way of thy paths. [ISAIAH 3:12.]

    Are we really going to elect any of these politicians to lead the U. S. A.?

    When will we ever learn.

    May 24, 2008 at 2:21 pm |
  8. Spider

    Senator Obama never misspeaks.

    That's because, unless he's reading a speech someone else wrote off a teleprompter, he stutters and stammers so much you think he's said a lot. "I...uh...er...am very......um...er...glad...um...er...to be here....in the 57th....uh...um...state. The state.....um....er....of...uh....confusion."

    The most fun of the election will be watching the dabates between McCain and Obama. The Obama campaign will try it's best to paint McCain as a doddering old fool, but in the debates, Obama's inability to answer questions on the fly will make him look like an Alzheimer's patient. This time folks, I don't think "I agree with John" will work. Do you?

    May 24, 2008 at 12:49 pm |
  9. Jen

    I think what I find just as significant is that he never explained to me as a voter why he did not support the bill. I would have respected an answer, rather I agreed with it or not ,had he chose to give one. Instead he seemed to do every thing from Sen. Obama as a reason to dismiss questions being asked of him. If Sen. Obama is wrong and his (McCain's) wants me to believe his experience is better, I think I should be told the reasons why. Right now, I am hearing no substance from McCain. Then again, he knows most Americans are against the war, so he can't talk about that. He admits he knows nothing about economics, so he can't talk about that. He has flip flopped on issues to align hiself with Bush, so he has to stay away from those areas. Perhaps I have my answers: it is because when he does speak, we do not get experience but a great deal of faux pas.

    May 24, 2008 at 11:36 am |
  10. Stefan

    Roland Martin is a fraud. He is nothing more than an affected mail order preacher who has absolutely nothing to offer in an intelligent discssion of the issues. Now, Martin's interpreting the Constitution. CNN, you can do better than this.

    May 24, 2008 at 10:59 am |
  11. twiggy

    great job roland. i have made that mistake as well.with so much misinfromation out there a little correct information is a treat. we should all take a deep breathe, inhale now exhale.
    clinton should be asked to step down now. she does not represent any moral factor i can think of at this point. she is her own worst enemy.

    May 24, 2008 at 5:33 am |
  12. EJ

    Some of the people on this blog appear to need some of those internet prescription drugs that were mentioned on 360 tonight.

    May 24, 2008 at 12:27 am |
  13. Kay in CA

    True, Art. While I appreciate McCain's heroism he did spend a lot of time recovering from accidents during the war and was imprisioned for the remainder of his service. While survival is commendable, it is not necessarily a credential for a powerful world leader.

    In regards to Hillary Clinton's recent statement about Bobby Kennedy, I am appalled and greatly disappointed that one of our leaders in the Senate would be so insensitive, especially during this highly charged political climate...or at any time, for that matter. This last statement, along with all the other "misspoken" statements this year in a variety of media, is beyond comprehension. She needs to be asked to step down. As far as I'm concerned, she needs to leave the Senate as well.

    May 23, 2008 at 11:24 pm |
  14. tom

    You are so Obama bias it's unreal, maybe the preacher talk inspired you, not me! 20 years in the pew 20 20 20 it's amazing that they call you a political anylist

    May 23, 2008 at 11:00 pm |
  15. TJ

    This is just more evidence of the mental state of McCain and his unawareness of reality when it comes down to the position of what he is seeking. I wonder if he would forget which office to hold meetings; where to meet with foreign affairs; when is president's day or to take his medication daily to keep him "focused"

    May 23, 2008 at 10:13 pm |
  16. Art

    All McCain did during the was was get caught – that was not his job. Also, Vietnam was a Conflict, and was never declared a War.

    May 23, 2008 at 9:58 pm |
  17. Trudy in Peoria

    There are more than 50 electoral states in a Primary. Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Washington D.C. and I believe Saipan. That's 56 is it not? They count as states, because they are adding to the cumulative total of delegates.

    May 23, 2008 at 9:53 pm |
  18. Laura Marie

    I am surprised some of the comments get through here. They show a complete lack of education on the part of many Americans. Some of their comments are embarrassing to a fellow American. Roland, thanks for your contributions.

    May 23, 2008 at 9:49 pm |
  19. Roland S. Martin

    You guys are funny. This is not a major deal. It's simply pointing out something that a lot of us to. Like I said in the blog, I've even made the same mistake!

    Boy, a lot of you guys are wound up tight. The point of having different blog posts is not to always have something earth shattering.

    A lot of y'all need to do some yoga. LOL

    May 23, 2008 at 9:47 pm |
  20. Annie Kate


    You make a good point – commander in chief is just one of the many mantles a President wears. The titles have become almost interchangeable for many of us that we forget there is a difference and that using the incorrect word can lead to misunderstanding.

    I appreciate your analysis. We all have differing views and should respect that.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    May 23, 2008 at 9:08 pm |
  21. Mari, Salt Lake City

    Poor McCain, he is delusional.

    OBAMA 08 & 12!

    May 23, 2008 at 7:58 pm |
  22. Christine

    Thank you Heather, I agree completely – all of my negative comments never make it on the blog. I am very glad some do.

    May 23, 2008 at 7:53 pm |
  23. Ryan Field from New Hope, PA

    I just love objective jouralism. It's so professional.

    May 23, 2008 at 7:37 pm |
  24. Monika

    Hmm, I think you've got a point there, Roland. I don't claim to quite understand the citation, but I've always thought there was something more to the job of President than to be Commander-in Chief. It makes me think of people who always compare a secretary with a typist and think that it's the same thing. A typist only needs to know how to type, but a secretary's job is far more varied. So to say that, because a secretary ALSO needs to know how to type, that typing is the only skill necessary to become a secretary is just beyond ridiculous.

    Yes, a President becomes Commander-in-Chief but that's certainly not his only responsibility. If it were, what would he be doing during peace times? Nothing?

    It bothers me greatly that so many people think that McCain is qualified to become President simply because he was in the military at some point. That's like saying that a receptionist or other lowly employee of CNN would be qualified to become CEO of CNN because he/she has "experience" working at CNN. Likewise, it's equally dumb to conclude that the CEO of CNN has to have some kind of "experience" doing all the various jobs at CNN. That's not what makes a good CEO. A good CEO has to have leadership qualities and be able to make the right decisions for the benefit of the company. This includes hiring and supervising others who KNOW THEIR STUFF and are experts in their fields.

    The job of the President of the United States is the same as that of a CEO of a large corporation. And while being Commander-in-Chief is part of that job, there's a whole lot more to it. And having been a lowly soldier at one time, decades ago, just doesn't make you qualified. Period.

    McCain means 4 more years of the Bush/Cheney administration and hundreds of billions of dollars wasted on wars overseas while people here in the U.S. are struggling to make ends meet. WE JUST CANNOT AFFORD 4 MORE YEARS OF THE SAME-OLD, SAME-OLD!!!

    May 23, 2008 at 7:16 pm |
  25. Tee

    The constitution shall be wrote again. That is not the way it is or has been in a long time.

    May 23, 2008 at 7:10 pm |
  26. Judy

    I kept waiting for more to post on this article.
    That's it? How pathetic!

    May 23, 2008 at 7:07 pm |
  27. Anders Scooper

    Oh C'mon, Obama's associations with shady characters would fill a book. Rezco, Ayers, Rev Wright, Larry Sinclair, and many other associations haunt Obama but the media is picking on John McCain. What a scoop!

    May 23, 2008 at 6:48 pm |
  28. Vince in CA

    So you feel it neccessary to point out McCain on the "Commander-in-Chief comment even though every president elect has used? How much do you get paid to how much I make? I think I'm being shorted. Heather L. got it right. The CinC slipup is far less of a problem then not knowing the number of states or that the Soviet Union is actually call Russia and has been for years.

    May 23, 2008 at 6:40 pm |
  29. Sharon from Indy

    Like many Americans, I misunderstood the Commander-in-Chief label for the President of the United States. So, as I understand it, the only time the President is the Commander-in-Chief is when called into service?

    So who makes the call? Congress? Does it take a declaration of war? Or is it something that the Executive Branch just obtains during military conflicts?

    May 23, 2008 at 6:10 pm |
  30. Heather L.

    I don’t know if Anderson is responsible or not, but I can’t understand why he allows this type of garbage to go on in his blog. I guess Martin has conveniently forgotten about Obama saying that there are 57 states and that the Great Lakes are in Oregon among other things.

    ~Michael; I wouldn’t call Martin an analyst he is a propagandist. A respectable analyst does not allow his prejudices to show through. Martin makes it a point to do just that.

    ~ Maritza; Your comment about Obama not meeting the barest requirements was generous to say the least.

    ~ Paris; Frankly, I am disappointed that Anderson would give this racist hypocrite any credibility. Why does he tell viewers that he does not support any candidate, but then allows this type of stuff to continue under his name? He is beginning to sound disingenuous.

    May 23, 2008 at 5:38 pm |
  31. Michelle in CA

    Good point, Roland. McCain says he has "experience" but that doesn't equal the ability to perform a complex job that requires skills in independent decision making, administration and diplomacy. Whether it is age or brain damage from being tortured and starved or McCain isn't the sharpest tack on the block it is becoming obvious he makes enough conceptual mistakes to question his ability to be President. I am so tired of having a president who has an expressive disorder. Now I am hesitant to vote for a man who may be suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome and/or who laughingly admitted he had lower grades in school than our current president, a self-proclaimed "C" student. Should Presidental candidates have to pass some tests before they run for office? I'm a teacher and I've had to take 4 three hour tests and 10 years of schooling in order to work in a overwhelming $40,000 a year job.

    Why do we have such a low bar for presidential hopefuls? It boggles the mind.

    Incidentally, Hillary's latest "misspeak" about Kennedy being assassinated in June should be the last straw. I don't accept her apology. Most politicians would be capable of editing such a thought considering the current political climate and out of respect for the Kennedy family. I call for to DNC to forcefully ask Clinton to leave the race immediately!

    May 23, 2008 at 5:37 pm |
  32. Susan


    Maybe he mis-spoke. There seems to be alot of that going around these days


    May 23, 2008 at 4:34 pm |
  33. deborah,OH

    Michael, I couldn't have said it better! If we are going to 'split hairs' on McCain, why not the other candidates?! Oh, that's right, Sen. Clinton has ALREADY been under the microscope for years. You have to love this electin this year!

    May 23, 2008 at 3:49 pm |
  34. Cindy

    What's the big deal!? It means the same thing. Every body calls it that and says that. Is this a slow news day or something?

    May 23, 2008 at 3:37 pm |
  35. Paris

    Roland, and why is news?

    Roland you need to just be quiet and go Away.

    Every time I see you on TV I turn the channel.
    All you do is defend Obama on TV and you are a huge hypocrite.
    OH, and Anderson keeps saying that you haven’t endorsed anyone yet!!
    Do you really think people are that stupid?

    May 23, 2008 at 3:29 pm |
  36. Maritza


    Is that it? this is what , now your down to reviewing articles of the US constitution to throw at McCain, debate the greater relevent issues that relates directly to the qualifications required to carry out the job of Commander in Chief , ask yourself really does YOUR candidate meet the barest of skills needed to responsibly and knowingly be President of the United States,? not by a long shot ...there is an enormous risk in electing someone that does not even meet the bare requirements , WE the people deserve much better.


    May 23, 2008 at 3:13 pm |
  37. Kathie,Ontario. Canada

    I think you should start scrutinizing everything Obama says also
    for everything he says or tries to tap dance around and deny
    what he said.
    What am I thinking you can't do that your too busy making
    excuses for him.

    May 23, 2008 at 3:12 pm |
  38. Donna A. Reuter, Bremerton, WA

    I want to dedicate Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" to Senator McCain:

    "Generals gathered in their masses
    Just like witches at black masses
    Evil minds that plot destruction
    Sorcerers of death's construction
    In the fields the bodies burning
    As the war machine keeps turning
    Death and hatred to mankind
    poisoning their brainwashed minds
    Oh Lord yeah

    Politicians hide themselves away
    They only started the war
    Why should they go out to fight
    They leave that all to the poor

    Time will tell on their power minds
    Making war just for fun
    Treating people just like pawns in chess
    Wait 'till their judgment day comes

    Now in darkness world stops turning
    As the war machine keeps burning
    No more war pigs have the power
    Hand of God has struck the hour
    Day of judgment God is calling
    On their knees, the war pigs crawling
    Begging mercy for their sins
    Satan laughing spreads his wings
    Oh Lord yeah!"

    This so is SOOOO McCain.

    May 23, 2008 at 3:10 pm |
  39. Michael, NC

    Wow...can we split a few more hairs? I mean, if you are going to split hairs like this, why don't you focus on the almighty Barack Obama (whom you obviously support). He has more to give anyway, but nobody seems to point out his flaws in his speeches...
    You call yourself a political anylist, but when I read some of your comments, they seem to either favor Obama or put down the other two candidates...so doesn't that make you a biased supporter instead of a true analyst? Or is that splitting too many hairs?

    May 23, 2008 at 3:05 pm |