Friday :: Sep 19, 2003

Wesley Clark: How NOT to start a campaign


by CA Pol Junkie

by CA Pol Junkie

After months of speculation and indecision, Wesley Clark announced this week that he is running for president. He has been hailed as the Democrats' ace in the hole against Bush by his supporters and attracted huge media buzz. He has a stellar resume, with one glaring hole: he is a political novice running for President of the United States. To be fair to Clark, the huge expectations placed upon him come from being able to extrapolate one's grandest dreams upon the blank slate of his potential. Still, with the media watching and magnifying every syllable he utters, this was his chance to get momentum, impress the big donors, and get a late-entry campaign launched rapidly. What did Clark do with this opportunity?

His announcement speech was fine, but nothing special (garbled on the Clark website's transcript):

We are going to run a campaign that will move this country forward not back. And we're gonna talk straight to the American people b/c in times of great change, Amthose who erican people should be able to hear the truth in plain and simple language.

He didn't choose to fill in the gap in his resume with some domestic policy specifics. Then Clark started talking to the press. Here's what he said about Iraq:

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark said he "probably" would have voted in favor of the congressional resolution authorizing the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

The Democratic presidential candidate's remarks came during an interview on Thursday with four reporters. According to the New York Times, a moment after indicating his probable support for the war, Clark seemed to waffle on the issue.

"I don't know if I would have or not. I've said it both ways because when you get into this, what happens is you have to put yourself in a position - on balance, I probably would have voted for it," the newspaper quoted Clark as saying.

Clark told the reporters that his views on the war are similar to those of Sen. John Kerry and Sen. Joe Lieberman, both of whom voted for the war resolution but are now critical of President Bush's handling of the conflict, the Washington Post reported.

Of course, he is really describing Kerry's position, while Lieberman was an unapologetic hawk. Wasn't his appeal supposed to be partly because he opposed the war? He still sounds like he hasn't made up his mind on the war resolution a year later.

That was only the beginning of his trouble:

There was the voting record:

He said he "probably" voted for Richard M. Nixon in 1972 and backed Ronald Reagan.

General, skip the "probably" crap - you ought to remember if you voted for Nixon. This is an easy question to answer, even if Democrats don't like the answer. He at least recovered some by explaining how Clinton converted him:

He did not start considering himself a Democrat until 1992, when he backed fellow Arkansan Bill Clinton. "He moved me," Clark said. "I didn't consider it party, I considered I was voting for the man."

Then there was the Brady Bill gaffe:

Clark said he supports a ban on assault weapons and was uncertain of precisely what the Brady gun law does -- and if any changes to it are needed. The law requires background checks and waiting periods for gun purchases.

Excuse me? He didn't know what the Brady Bill does? Ugh...

Then there was the yes, no, and yes on the debate, where a scheduling conflict made it uncertain as to whether he could appear. Um, if you're going to run for president, you better clear your calendar.

Rule number one of doing homework is: do it before the test! He's jumping into the race with alot of ground to make up, and he's clearly not prepared. He's blown a huge opportunity by not even coming close to the expectations placed before him, and planted the seeds of doubt when there is little time to recover.

CA Pol Junkie :: 12:36 PM :: Comments (26) :: Digg It!