Sunday :: Nov 30, 2003

Candidate Clark Comes on Strong


by Mary

Posted by Mary

[As Pessimist and Paradox have said, we Left Coasters are specializing in one or more of the Democratic candidates. I've picked retired General Wesley Clark to follow. Do let me know if you have a specific topic or area you'd like to see covered regarding Clark and his campaign.]

Wesley Clark was the latest candidate to get into the mix, and yet, already he has significantly altered the race for the Democratic nomination. The most recent polls show him in solid 2nd spot after Howard Dean showing that he is coming on strong despite his late entrance and the few stumbles that he had coming out of the gate.

General Clark also polls well against Bush and although an outsider (and novice) to the political system, he has garnered the support of a number of the Clinton insiders who are influential in the Democratic Party. This support is based on who he is and the credibility he brings regarding national security.

Wesley Clark appeals to a number of people who think that the war on terrorism is going to be the underlying theme of the campaign. Certainly no one is more credible in cutting George W Bush's Commander in Chief photo ops down-to-size than Clark who truly is a military hero and has displayed enormous courage under fire. Clark played an important part in making Bush's flyboy photo-ops a joke and now he weighs in on Bush's drop-in on Thanksgiving at the Baghdad airport:

General Wesley Clark said President Bush's secret trip to Iraq on Thanksgiving was not enough from a Commander-in-Chief who has done too little for our soldiers and veterans.

Clark said the Commander-in-Chief should spend time with the troops in the field when they are in harm's way to thank them for their commitment and service to our country.

However, Clark criticized Bush's continued failure to be a real leader to those troops by not providing a success strategy in Iraq.

For those who want to have someone who has really thought about terrorism and how we confront it (someone who is an intelligent and focused thinker), Wesley Clark's book on how to address terrorism is a welcome sign. Clark's latest book, Winning Modern Wars: Iraq, Terrorism, and the American Empire lays out how he would address terrorism by rebuilding our international relations and working with our allies to make the world safer. His approach is a reproach to the my-way-or-the-highway diplomacy practiced by Bush and his gang of cowboys. Clark is also able to articulate his complex and thoughtful thoughts on foreign policy and national security in clear and precise language which can hold its own in the soundbite world of TV news. As Fred Kaplan pointed out, Clark summed up his approach as "Shared risks, shared burdens, shared benefits". Kaplan suggests that this would make a fine campaign motto as well.

Clark's campaign has had some good press the last few weeks, including a very positive article by Elizabeth Drew in the New York Review of Books and a solid interview on 60 Minutes II (transcripts here, here and here). Clark's new campaign manager has also brought some good press as he's worked with other successful candidates in the past.

Bush's supporters are rightly concerned that if Clark gets the Democratic nomination, he will do significant damage to Bush's ability to wrap himself in the flag. Their attacks on Clark have so far ranged from personal attacks by other military officers such as General Hugh Shelton to accusations that he was fired from his top post during the Clinton area. Drew's article (linked above) does a good job of discussing these issues and exposing them as not credible.

Currently the gossips and scandal-mongers are trying to slime Clark for the Waco disaster as this FOX piece documents. The rightwing knows that to counter Clark's years of patriotism and service they will need to convince people that he is a liar and unstable. They also know that Waco is still a potent issue in moving the extremists who "hate government" and they hope to rally them against Clark for his supposed involvement. If Clark gets the nomination, look to see more of these types of stories.

Mary :: 12:40 PM :: Comments (9) :: Digg It!