The Wesley Clark Conversation

Friday, August 22, 2003

Find The Criticism

What will the right-wing say about Clark?

Pore through the supporter letters at draftwesleyclark.com to find the few morsels of negativity. What are people saying?

Iraq Mess

From Kos:

The mess in Iraq was easily predictable as early as last year, when war talk first sprung up. PNAC arguments that a friendly Iraq would reshape the entire region were laughably absurd (an Israel-friendly Iraqi government wouldn't survive a week). And it's been clear for a long time that neither Israel nor the Palestinians are genuinely interested in peace, addicted as they are to the cycle of tit-for-that violence.

The body count continues to rise (something curiously omitted by the article), which will spur continued and impassioned opposition to Bush's handling of the war. Also omitted -- the increasing costs of the occupation as our national infrastructure demands massive investments.

The real question is not whether Bush can use national security to his advantage, it's whether Democrats can use it to their advantage. This isn't about "neutralizing" the issue, it's about turning it on its head and wielding it as a weapon against Bush. We have the material to work with. It's a question of using it.

(And without National Security, what does Bush run on?)



Clark, anyone?

Response

And this is Andrew Northrup's excellent response:

Keep listening. Clark has so much potential to eat Bush's lunch it's not even funny. I hate to get all starry-eyed about this guy, because he could certainly flare out, but when you read die-hards from the "other side" making comments like this (and he's far from the only one), you start to see how a general election with Clark in it could really shift the political situation in this country around completely. Imagine Democrats being perceived as good on liberal social issues AND strong on the economy AND strong on defense AND incredibly smart and articulate and willing to fight back hard. Imagine Bush getting pummelled on national security - not just "the war", mind you, not just because "anti-war" beats "pro-war" by 5 points in a poll that week, but national security all together, because he just doesn't know what the hell he's doing. Who's going to vote for that? The religious right and ... yeah, pretty much. Now think of the coattails. And that's not even mentioning his hair, which is superb.

Conservatives are frustrated with Bush

Is Clark the answer?

Maybe:

What a fucking sad day in Iraq and the world in general. Things fluctuate in and out of control and the crests and troughs are no more than opportunities for opposing sides to score political points. Israelis and Palestinians are said to kill each other over different "narratives" and judging from the bromides in the comments section of your website left and right aren't too far apart from that situation themselves.
[fingers tightly crossed] I still think the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan were the right thing to do, and I still think they will be successful in achieving the key objectives of national stability. [/fingers tightly crossed] In my mind what we must ensure in each is that the populations of these two countries blame the disastrous state of affairs on the extremists and not on America. If the UN presence helps ensure that, and I think it will, who cares whether we have to make some damn concessions on French oil contracts?

There are so many interlocking problems right now--Iranian and North Korean nukes, terrorism in the three major states on Iran's border, US occupation in two of them, death and murder in Israel and Palestine, fear of terrorism in America. No one--myself, yourself, George W. Bush--knows how to deal with them all because the reaction to any one of them affects all the others and God knows the wisest of us is not wise enough to comprehend the future in all its terrifying possibilities. We are in a frightening world where no one shapes events but everyone reacts to them. The terrorists themselves only vaguely know what they have created, much less what they might wreak upon mankind.

The idea that the US could or can contain without war the lust for power that drives Kim Jong-Il and the likes of Hussein or Bin Laden, or the nihilism mixed with hatred which I believe inspires the more common mass of terrorists, is ludicrous. The idea that we can defeat it with war is absurd.

We are in an insanely frustrating position. And yet we do have an enemy to strike in the Al Qaeda, Ansar al-Islam, and their fellow-travelers hiding in Iraq and around the world; a potential enemy in the masses of young Arab men to appease through an all-out transparently just effort in Iraq and Afghanistan; and a friend to converse with in the liberal minds of at least portions of the world Muslim populations.

Even this vague abstraction fails to deal with North Korean and Iranian nukes (for that we'll need China and a good deal of luck).

May our leaders have the wisdom to keep all this straight and simultaneously be both the punisher, the appeaser, the conversant, and the inspiration.

Unfortunately, I don't think we have it in Bush, but I don't think we have it in any Democratic candidate. We need Clinton with a spine or Bush with a brain. Wesley Clark? Not from what I've heard but maybe.


Saturday, August 16, 2003

Policy Shopping

UPDATE: Sorry, I just reread this post and it seems a bit harsh.

Ok, so I am offended that Dean keeps on lying, but this situation is illustrative, because it shows you what imprudent promise-itis gets you. People call Clark 'cagey' because he often won't stake his flag in the ground over some small issue. He knows that you make decisions when the time is right, you don't make a decision one day and change it the next based on political expediency.

Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean backed away from his pledge to adhere to spending limits, saying some advisers want to explore opting out of the Watergate-era public financing system because of his sudden fund-raising success.

Dean said he still intends to accept taxpayer money and spending restraints, and suggested he has discouraged his staff from considering alternatives right now. But he left open the possibility of following President Bush's lead in rejecting public financing.

"Could we change our mind? Sure," he said. One rival campaign accused Dean of hypocrisy.

Just five months ago, Dean committed to accepting taxpayer money and vowed to attack any Democrat who didn't.

The about-face follows his emergence as the Democratic Party's biggest fund-raising threat. Dean collected $7.6 million in the fund-raising quarter that ended June 30, more than his eight rivals, and aides said Friday that he is on pace to far exceed that total in the next quarter.

In an interview Thursday, the former Vermont governor said he did not recall promising to accept public financing and the limits that go with it. Under a program designed to curb special interest influence, candidates who agree to state-by-state and overall spending limits get federal matching dollars for the first $250 of each donation they receive.

"I was asked very early on and I said I intend to take the match," Dean said. "I think what I said is that we weren't looking into that as an option."

However, in a March 7 interview with The Associated Press, Dean committed to accept the taxpayer money. The promise was echoed by a campaign spokesperson.

"We've always been committed to this. Campaign finance reform is just something I believe in," he said in March. Dean also said his position was not based on any political considerations, such as the size of the field or how much money he can raise.

On Friday, however, Dean cited Bush's plans to raise $200 million - five times the spending limit - as a reason for keeping his options open.

"I think public financing is a good thing. The question is what do you do with an opponent who can murder you from March to December?" Dean said.


Tuesday, July 29, 2003

The Clark Moment is Approaching

48% of Democrats wish someone else were running. 'Undecided' is gaining in the polls. And 69% believe that Bush will be reelected.

I'd say the field is weak.


Friday, July 11, 2003

Inside Politics Video of John Hlinko and The Clark Movement

Here.



Monday, July 07, 2003

The Gloves Are Coming Off

Clark is stepping up his criticism of the Bush administration. Some operative quotes from this interview:


How is Iraq affecting the war on terror?

If you talk to the people on the inside, they all [say] you can’t do everything at once. I know the administration says it thinks it can, but the honest truth is if you’re looking one place, you’re not looking someplace else. Ultimately, Washington is sort of a one-crisis town.

What do you think of President Bush’s using war imagery as a political tool, like when he recently flew onto an aircraft carrier?

The world expects something more of an American president than to prance around on a flight deck dressed up like [a] pilot. He’s expected to be a leader. That’s my fundamental issue with it. It doesn’t reflect the gravitas of the office. Furthermore, it’s a little phony.


Bottom line, these guys are fakes. And Clark knows it.

Saturday, July 05, 2003

NH Office Opened

Wow. What a day. We just opened a NH office for the Draft Clark movement, and I am just so excited that this movement might be able to cause a potentially significant political figure to emerge. Wes Clark can lead our country. Let's make it happen.


Friday, June 27, 2003

Washington Insiders Buzzing About Clark

Amy Sullivan knows of what she speaks. And she speaks of Clark:

Here's the theory: successful presidential candidates tend to come from executive ranks -- you have to go back to JFK to find a president who wasn't previously a vice president or a governor. NATO Supreme Allied Commander fits just as nicely into that qualification for the White House and sounds even cooler. Clark is simply of a different stature than the other candidates in the race -- far from being hurt by waiting to launch his campaign, he could stride into the field as the adult who hasn't had to spend his time bickering with the others in small-fry debates. He is not necessarily missing out on the chance to raise funds, either -- many prominent Democratic donors have been either spreading small amounts around to each of the campaigns or holding back entirely, waiting for a frontrunner to emerge. David Broder recently wrote about the very low numbers represented so far by Democratic giving. But it's not necessarily true that Democrats can't raise as much money as Republicans; they simply haven't committed themselves to a sure winner yet. It's perfectly conceivable that Clark could benefit from a quick and significant influx of funds whenever he enters the race.

And the biggest reason Clark could sew up the nomination? He's winning over the Democratic faithful, many of whom have worried that the very things that make him electable -- his Southern roots (Arkansas) and formidible military background -- also mean he doesn't care about their bread-and-butter domestic concerns. Clark has taken on those fears directly. As Supreme Allied Commander, he was responsible for the military community in Europe, which is essentially a welfare state. At a recent appearance before the New Democratic Network, Clark reminded them that his duties included overseeing the education of tens of thousands of children, coordinating housing for hundreds of thousands of troops and their families. He understands the importance of education, particularly in the military where each promotion is accompanied by additional training and schooling. And when he told the crowd that the reconstruction effort in Iraq showed that we can't win wars with weapons, we win them with people, he had them on their feet.

It's just a theory. And it may not be Clark -- some other candidate may emerge as the clear frontrunner. But don't despair, Democrats. And don't believe everything you read. Howard Kurtz says the glass is half empty. I say it's half full. Subvert the dominant paradigm!

Clark and Moveon

As Demwatch points out, "the biggest story that MoveOn really isn't publicizing is the performance of Wesley Clark as a write-in candidate. The as-yet-still-non-candidate, even without his name displayed among the others, garnered a very respectable 2,968 votes--almost double Al Sharpton's total." The moveon results are located here.



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