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November 06, 2003

WHY I LIKE WES CLARK....Why did I decide to support Wes Clark for president? That's obviously a combination of what I think about Clark and what I think about the rest of the candidates, and I'll try to cover both sides here without making this too long. Let's start with Clark.

On a policy level, I usually look at three areas — but not in White Paper detail. I want to know general tone and direction, not the intricacies of how they're all going to finance their competing healthcare plans. So here's how Clark stacks up on policy:

  • Economic issues. After three years of George Bush, I have a low bar here: I just want a candidate whose ideas are not obviously insane. (Yes, that's what it's come to.) All of the candidates qualify on that score, although I think Clark is smart not to suggest repealing the middle class parts of the Bush tax cut and smart to emphasize some areas of spending cutbacks as well as tax increases. His position on free trade seems reasonable too, although I haven't seen a definitive statement about it from him.

  • Social issues. I think this is an area where Clark shines. His basic instincts are the ones that liberals look for — "I am pro-choice, I am pro-affirmative action, I am pro-environment, pro-health," as he famously said in the first debate — but at the same time he seems to understand that you can frame these issues as ones of basic fairness and security without gratuitously making them into culture war issues. I like that.

  • Foreign policy. This is probably the #1 issue in the 2004 election, and it's one where Clark's experience gives him credibility that the other candidates lack. It's true that most of the Democratic candidates say that they're committed to restoring our international relationships, but Clark is a guy who's actually fought a war with an international coalition and knows what a huge pain in the ass it is. When the other guys talk about alliances, I sometimes wonder if they really believe what they're saying, but when Clark talks about it I know that he believes what he's saying. What's more, I think he can convince the electorate that he's right about this and George Bush isn't.

    Clark also does a pretty good balancing job. One of the fundamental problems with opposition is that you spend most of your time attacking the guy currently in office. That's fine, it's the way the game is played. But you also need to make it clear that you have a positive plan to make things better, and Clark does that pretty well. I think it could still use some work, but overall his ideas for fighting terrorism seem realistic, toughminded, and sensible.

Aside from policy stands, Clark has a lot of other things to recommend him too. His personality is attractive and levelheaded, he "oozes sincerity," he's a good speaker, and his character and judgment are sound.

In addition, he is also George Bush's worst nightmare. So not only do I think he would be a very good, liberal president at a policy level, but I also like his character and I think he's the most electable of the candidates. What more could I ask for?

So how about the rest of the field? I want to make it clear that I have nothing against any of the major candidates and would support any of them against George Bush. In other words, I'm not trying to smack any of them down. Still, with that said, here's what I think of them.

Howard Dean: I like Dean's energy, I like his passion, and I like the fact that he's obviously not afraid to take on George Bush with gusto. But there's a flip side to this, and I think you can see them both in his "guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks" remark. On the one hand, he was making a smart observation: these guys ought to vote for Democrats and we shouldn't alienate them. But on the other hand, it was a really, really stupid way to make his point and he was too stubborn to back down from it until it had already done him a bunch of damage.

So while I don't have any huge policy differences with him — although he's sounding a little too sincere in his opposition to free trade these days — his character seems like a disaster waiting to happen. Too much of his appeal is built on anger, he often comes across as defensive and perhaps a little bitter to people who aren't true believers in the first place, and I think he'd get flattened by Karl Rove's $200 million war chest. I feel bad saying that, but it's my best guess.

John Kerry: I just can't warm to the guy. All politicians waffle on their positions, but Kerry too often seems like he's waffling. Fair or not, his positions often seem a little too finely calibrated and his speaking style a little too calculated. Sorry.

Joe Lieberman: I don't have the instinctive revulsion toward Lieberman that a lot of liberals seem to have, but at the same time he's just too far from my own positions to consider seriously.

Dick Gephardt: He's run before, and he's lost before. I don't think he'd do any better this time.

John Edwards: I like Edwards a lot, but he just hasn't been able to gain any traction. I don't know why, but that's the way it goes sometimes. He'd make a great VP, or a great presidential candidate sometime down the road. Just not this year.

Kucinich, Sharpton, Moseley Braun: None of them have a chance of winning, so I just haven't paid any attention to them. Sorry, but life's too short.

Posted by Kevin Drum at November 6, 2003 06:18 PM | TrackBack


"Foreign policy. This is probably the #1 issue in the 2004 election...."

Kevin, that may be true for a web-savvy political junkie like yourself, but I'm not so sure that the majority of Americans feel the same way. I think most folks are likely to be primarily concerned with issues that affect their lives in a more immediate, tangible sense- health care, environment, taxes, economy...

Posted by: peter jung at November 6, 2003 06:24 PM | PERMALINK

Dean is not going to be flattened by Bush's enormous war chest because Dean is going to have an enormous war chest, plus a million volunteers coordinated by the Internet. I fully expect that he'll raise on the order of $100 million, and no other Democratic campaign will be capable of doing the same. A lot of the credit for that has to go to Joe Trippi.

Posted by: Joe Buck at November 6, 2003 06:25 PM | PERMALINK

I just wish Dean has said 'Dale Earnhardt #3' stickers on the back of their trucks. Same statement, but less politically tone-deaf.

I do agree with Joe Schmoe's comments on atrios that attacks on Dean's statement are overblown defensiveness. Alienating people isn't productive.

Posted by: Troy at November 6, 2003 06:25 PM | PERMALINK

Here's another reason to like Clark: he READS. Books, I mean. He's referred to some SF stuff and then been forced to explain the reference to someone who didn't understand it .... I forget the author in question, but it was encouraging.

But basically, I support Clark because I just want to see my country to get away from the "Us good. Them bad. We bomb Them," and then (when that doesn't exactly produce the desired result of worshipful tranquility) "What the fuck?" of the Bush administation.

Posted by: Diana at November 6, 2003 06:30 PM | PERMALINK

I think most folks are likely to be primarily concerned with issues that affect their lives in a more immediate, tangible sense- health care, environment, taxes, economy

If this were true, then how the hell would GWB have a 50% approval rating?

Posted by: Sovok at November 6, 2003 06:31 PM | PERMALINK

Peter: once the campaign revs up, I think foreign policy will dominate. My guess is that Bush is vulnerable on domestic issues, but not hugely so, and he will push national security heavily. It's going to be a big deal.

Joe: If Dean wins the nomination, I definitely hope you're right!

Posted by: Kevin Drum at November 6, 2003 06:31 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with you about Dean. While not a lefty, he energizes the base because he was the first Dem candidate to show he had a backbone and take Bush on. I love that about Dean; I still love that about Dean. But there's about 10 to 15% of the voting public that is NOT pissed off about Bush, yet would consider voting Dem. Unfortunately, I think Dean's tough talking and brashness (which I personally like) will probably turn off that middle 10 to 15%.

Clark, on the other hand, would have a much easier chance at attracting that middle group that doesn't despise or necessarily like Bush. If foreign policy is a big issue (and if the economy actually does rebound), only someone like Clark or Kerry will be able to credibly take Bush on in the general election.

As much as I personally like Dean, I don't think the White House is joking when they supposedly claim they'd love nothing more than to run against him. I do think Bush could beat Dean, but not Clark.

Posted by: Jim E. at November 6, 2003 06:32 PM | PERMALINK

Dean has used a Confederate flag line all the way back to February, in front of black audiences even, and never got a hard time, until recently when he shortened it and thereby botched it.

In speeches going all the way back to February, he would talk about how the Republicans have divided us by race (using as examples Bush's false statements about the U of Mich admission system, for example), then bring up the guys with the Confederate flags on their pickup trucks, and how they've been screwed because their kids don't have health insurance and their schools suck. Therefore, he said, he thinks he can win some of those votes. No one ever complained about that one, and whites and blacks alike applauded it.

He botched his line in a recent interview and didn't give the context, making it look to people who didn't know the history like he was pandering to bigots. I agree that he was too stubborn about getting this, and part of the problem might well be the grueling schedule and the millions of times he used that line in the right form: he knew what he meant, he knows that Kerry and Gephardt have happily distorted his record before. But his staff should have served him better on this one. During debate prep he should have been prepared for an ambush on this one.

Posted by: Joe Buck at November 6, 2003 06:34 PM | PERMALINK

I live in Manhattan but I was born and raised in the South and am a 'centrist' democrat. I never was sold on Howard Dean but now I can say:

If Howard Dean is nominated, the Dems will lose, and badly.

I'd still like to see the transcript for this, but if he said anything like what is quoted, he is totally toast:

"Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean told a Tallahassee audience today that southerners have to quit basing their votes on "race, guns, God and gays."

Believe me, Southerners will not vote for that guy in any numbers.

It'd be like someone from Texas saying "northerners have to quit voting based on quiche, queers, and queens (of the welfare variety)" -- not quite that bad, but along those lines. That would get no northern votes.

What Dean said is a colossally idiotic statement.

Now Clark is the only hope of electoral victory for the Dems in 2004


Posted by: k at November 6, 2003 06:35 PM | PERMALINK

One ignored but still bad thing about Dean's comment is that people don't ride around with confederate flags in their pickup trucks -- they ride around with them ON their pickup trucks. I liked his sentiment a lot at first, but his reaction to the brouhaha afterwards was marginal at best. I agree with K...Clark is the only hope for the Democrats, and that's only if he figures out a simple, cohesive foreign policy and Democrats line up behind lock-step. What is the Democrats' foreign policy, anyway? It's the most important question for the upcoming election.

Posted by: Skip Perry at November 6, 2003 06:40 PM | PERMALINK

One thing about Dean that I think will hurt him in the general election is his stridency. Moderate voters usually have moderate personalities as well--they shy away from anger, harsh criticism, etc. Dean is big on these things, and that's why he makes moderates incomfortable; if you look at his actual domestic policy positions, he's to the right of almost everyone else in the field.

Posted by: praktike at November 6, 2003 06:46 PM | PERMALINK

uncomfortable. u is next to i on the keyboard.

Posted by: praktike at November 6, 2003 06:47 PM | PERMALINK

i thought dean explained his comments succinctly.

"The only way we're going to beat George Bush is if southern white working families and African-American working families come together under the Democratic tent, as they did under FDR."

those are true statement, imho.

if that even has a remote chance of happening is a whole other issue, however.

white people in the south (albeit this is my simplistic left nw coast imprimatur) have been whipped into a frenzy to vote for saving the american hoi polloi from sleezy terrorists and weapons that destroy.

why not appeal to them?

Posted by: nova silverpill at November 6, 2003 06:49 PM | PERMALINK

I too think Nakita Dean would lose badly. The Breck Girl has always been my favorite candidate, he'll get the the female vote with his great hair. Edwards also has an authentic working class background. I have always thought the way Edwards explains GWB taxs cuts is brilliant and tough to paint as class-warfare: "He [Bush] wants to see the estate tax gone; he wants to see the tax on capital gains gone; he wants to see the tax on dividends gone... The president wants to shift the tax burden in America from wealth and income on wealth—people who sit at home and get their statements every month from their investments and see how much money they've made—to people like my father...". I think most folks find Kerry too French to make him president.

Posted by: Drew at November 6, 2003 06:49 PM | PERMALINK

I have no real affinity for Bush, would probably prefer Clark to any other Democrat, and have no real substantive reason to think any worse of Clark than of Bush, other than I think Clark may actually desire to expand entitlements, whereas I sometimes think Bush just gives it lip service. I take it as a given that Presidents and Presidential candidates lie a large percentage of the time; I simply hope that they lie effectively and in service to goals I support. If I came to the conclusion that Clark was lying about his desire to expand entitlements, I would likely be more willing to support him, although I would like to hear more about his specific ideas on Iraq, beyond waving a magic wand to make 100,000 allied troops appear, with no apparent trade-offs. What is being attempted in Iraq is on an order of magnitude more difficult than what was faced in the Balkans, so the analogy is of limited use. Having said all this, the biggest negative about Clark is the fact that he has never actually run for anything before, which is more important than many people think, and his political experience in the military falls well short of the last guy to be nominated without prior electoral experience, Eisenhower. Well, the Democrats will have the opportunity to witness him in a purely political setting, albeit for a very limited time. It should be interesting.

Posted by: Will Allen at November 6, 2003 06:49 PM | PERMALINK

". . . southerners have to quit basing their votes on "race, guns, God and gays."

Um, so what do they base their votes on then? After taxes are there any right-wing talking points remaining?

Posted by: Thumb at November 6, 2003 06:49 PM | PERMALINK

" I like Edwards a lot, but he just hasn't been able to gain any traction. I don't know why."

Maybe, in part, because there are a number of people who like him a lot but look at his poll numbers and say to themselves "he just hasn't been able to gain any traction; must be something wrong with him" and vote for somebody else? :=)

Posted by: Jeffrey Kramer at November 6, 2003 06:49 PM | PERMALINK

Moderate voters usually have moderate personalities as well--they shy away from anger, harsh criticism, etc.

And we all know how the right has avoided anger and harsh criticism. It's the key to their success, I'm sure.

Posted by: Thumb at November 6, 2003 06:51 PM | PERMALINK

You left out a big one for me Kevin. Clark is a uniter. He's attractive to moderate Republicans. THAT's what I like most about Clark. Yes all of your points are high on my list as well, but the concept that we could have a man in the White House that can bring the centers of both parties together (because let's face it you're not going to bring the wing-nuts together) THAT's something to strive for.

Posted by: Gary at November 6, 2003 06:54 PM | PERMALINK

Just to make myself clear about the Confederate flag thing: I totally agree that the other candidates blew it out of proportion and used it as an unfair club to beat Dean with. It was artificial outrage.

But you know what? That's going to happen *a lot* in a contest against Bush. Dean's going to have to learn to handle this kind of thing a lot better if he wants to have a chance in the general election.

Not trying to hammer Dean here, it's just my two cents. Clark needs to learn to handle the spin machine too, but I think he's done OK so far, especially considering his inexperience, and I expect him to get better. To me, Dean doesn't seem to be improving.

Posted by: Kevin Drum at November 6, 2003 06:55 PM | PERMALINK

Dean's position on middle-class taxes will kill him in the general election. Thanks in part to the Dems, the tax cuts did go in some small part to middle class families, particularly families with kids. Dean wants to repeal those cuts. That position *alone* will cost him the general election, no matter how much money or partisan energy he has behind him.

Dean's claim that folks will forgive him because he is sincere is just nuts. Tell it to President Mondale, another candidate who faced a very right-wing incumbent, had strong union support, and perfectly sincere plan to raise middle class taxes.

And to Thumb, Bush does avoid harsh right-wing rhetoric in public.

Posted by: ProfDumb at November 6, 2003 06:55 PM | PERMALINK

"would support any of them against George Bush".
That was very well said and I think alike. Here is an anecdote: in France at the 2nd turn of the elections we had to mobilize to vote for Chirac, otherwise it would have been a neocon at the gov (Jean-Marie Le Pen) and it would have been catastrophic for french foreign policy. Probabably the guy would have been overthroned by his own people anyway. The real problem in France lots of people vote the first turn of the elections to show how disappointed they are with the headlines of french politics (dumb frogs). I think this is the strategy to adopt in the USA, no matter who the democrat will be, vote against Bush.
2004 cannot be as catastrophic as without Bush, and i mean it, the international credibility of the US is lost but it is not too late to fix it up. It is a really serious issue if Europe can't even trust its own partner. By 2004, I am pretty sure Europe will change its behavior if ever Bush is not re-elected (financing Iraq, troops, aids...etc). Europe does not want to be involved in suspicious foreign activies.
I don't think this "war on terror" made the world safer, rather I think it made the US more dangerous than ever. Where are the shiny wmds?
What happened to your credibility?

Posted by: Frenchy at November 6, 2003 06:58 PM | PERMALINK

ProfDumb beat me to it, but Bush talked a sweet game in 2000 and let others (like DeLay) do the trash talking. Dean does the trash talking himself. It was more than refreshing last spring, but not now. Clark will get the Bush haters and can appeal to the moderate middle.

Posted by: Jim E. at November 6, 2003 06:58 PM | PERMALINK

"And to Thumb, Bush does avoid harsh right-wing rhetoric in public."

Yeah because he has this conservative mantra on talk radio to do it for him.

Has anybody mentioned Clark's political inexperience? His outsider status will certainly get him a couple votes, but he is, afterall, a political novice. He may not be able to raise enough cash and may buckle at some point showing his inexperience.

Posted by: Drew at November 6, 2003 07:01 PM | PERMALINK

Everyone seems to have mustered up a herd of wonderful arguments against Dean, and yet he is well on his way to stomping the daylights out of a lot of professional campaigns.

Dean looks to be a guy that can get votes from people that have been exposed to him over time. Whoever your dream candidate is, they need to get votes, and they can start by getting enough to beat that little doctor from a little state.

Good luck, though. He appears to be whipping everyone else the longer this goes on. Everyone agrees that his flag statement was actually true politically, and that's what people hear. Even lower middle class voters that drive trucks and vote Republican.

Posted by: David Glynn at November 6, 2003 07:08 PM | PERMALINK

Bush will be running against himself. The 2 main variables are Iraq and the economy, with the driver is Iraq.

If the economy is humming (even joblessly) and Iraq calms down, he's in.

If the ecomony is humming and Iraq is like it is today, he's 50-50.

Any worsening in Iraq from the current situation and he's out regardless of the economy.

Posted by: so-so at November 6, 2003 07:08 PM | PERMALINK

I'll repeat my earlier post:

Not only does Clark have the resume, including experience in world affairs, experience similar to Eisenhower's, he also is not an institutionalized politician like his rivals, and he's not a corporate elitist, like Ken Lay and the rest of the crooks. Add to that, that he has thirty or forty IQ points on Bush, and well, use your imagination; the people will migrate to him.

...and ditto Jim E about attracting the middle group. Clark is a magnet for the independent and moderate voter. If he puts Dean on the ticket that will ensure he won't stray right on the social issues. I think that's our best combo.

Posted by: Poputonian at November 6, 2003 07:09 PM | PERMALINK

I like Clark because I feel I know his heart. Since I am the child of a career military man, and was the wife of a career military man, I know that you don't stay in that life for the money, but because you believe in your heart that you've been given a mission to serve your country. I believe Clark is still serving his country and that he deeply loves it and the people he defends. With his brain, and education he could have made a lot more in the civilian world but chose to serve our nation. I know I may not alway agree with everything he does, but he will not be doing it money, and will never "not care" about the people of this country.
Like I said, I think I know his heart.

Posted by: Donna Crane at November 6, 2003 07:12 PM | PERMALINK

David Glen:

It's not a zero sum game; two of these guys (or girl) can end up on the ticket. To choose Clark above Dean does not make Dean bad. It's all about beating the impetuous President Bush.

Posted by: Poputonian at November 6, 2003 07:15 PM | PERMALINK

I'm on email lists for Edwards, Dean, Kerry, and Clark. I get a decent amount of great communications from the Dean campaign (as well as tons of annoying links to articles I've already read on other Dean lists), almost no email from the Edwards campaign, and an email about once a week from the Clark campaign asking me for $50.

Meanwhile, every week or so I also get a totally bizarre email from the Kerry campaign using fonts, colors, and words in strange ways. Today's had a message excoriating Dean for his position on "gun safety," but showed Kerry holding a newly-bagged pheasant to show his support for hunters. I found it totally weird.

The Clark campaign has never given me anything concrete to do, whereas Trippi is amazing at asking his Deaniacs to participate. Sigh.

I have been amazed by Joe Trippi...imagine what Clark and Trippi could do together!

Posted by: praktike at November 6, 2003 07:16 PM | PERMALINK

Southerners will not vote for that guy in any numbers

Doesn't matter, except for Senate coattails.

Gore/Nader support in 2000:

Arizona 48%
Nevada 48%
West Virginia 48%

These 3 are the pivot red states.

Arkansas 47%
Colorado 47%
Virginia 47%
Louisiana 46%

The above 4 are possible pivot red states.

Alabama 43%
Georgia 43%
Kentucky 43%
Mississippi 43%
North Carolina 43%
South Carolina 43%

See anything in common with the above 6?

Posted by: Troy at November 6, 2003 07:17 PM | PERMALINK

It's too soon, but they all suck.

I wanted to say that, and in lots of ways I feel that way - But - I just wish Lieberman had charisma. He's the only reasonable one in the bunch.

Republicans are salivating at the prospect of Dean. Clark is a scarey unknown. Kerry is oily. I like Edwards, but there's no gravitas - Maybe in 12 years. Gephardt - what a trooper - my heart goes out to him, but his spiel is so so dated. He's finally brought the party around, but he has no clue about who the voters are.

I want someone who is honest and genuine and moderate. . . and, oh, by the way has a chance of being elected. Not just nominated. ELECTED.

Who else is out there? It's getting late.

So it's both too soon and getting late. Rock and a hard place. Can't punt. Uncomfortable place to be now.

Posted by: Granmere at November 6, 2003 07:18 PM | PERMALINK

One thing no one mentions about Clark is that he has never held elected office before, and when I say no one mentions it, I mean I NEVER see it brought up.

For me, this is the main reason I really can't get behind him. First off, I think it means he wouldn't be nearly as good a president as some of his supporters do because he's never had any legislative experience. Secondly, I think his office-holding inexperience would be a HUGE liability in the general election. Didn't Clinton say that running for president is like a job interview with the American people? I think that Clark people are putting much too much emphasis on his resume, which itself only shines on foreign policy, even if f.p. will be huge next year. Just look at the guy in the White House right now. Do you think a candidate's resume really matters that much, or is it only that a poor resume doesn't hurt (i.e. Bush) but a good one will help (i.e. Clark)?

Bush and his team will use every tactic imaginable to win, and were Clark to run I think they would hammer - hammer, hammer, hammer - his complete lack of policital experience. It's one thing to be a Washington outsider - this is why Americans prefer governors to Congressman - but it's another thing altogether to have never held office, to have no experience making law or dealing with legislative bodies. I think that Bush can use this line of attack and be successful at it - it is, after all, legit - so much so that Clark can't win. When was the last time someone got elected president without ever having been elected previously? Eisenhower? That was over 50 years ago, and what Ike did militarily was orders of magnitude more significant to and known by the American people. If Clark wins the nomination and tries to make comparisons between himself and Ike, he'll be slaughtered for it. It'll be like Gore and inventing the Internet. Comparing what Clark did to what Ike did will get him laughed out of contention. And rightly so; there is no comparison.

I said it in July and I'll say it now. Dean is the only one with a prayer of beating Bush. If he can't do it, no one can. (And that's why he's my man!)

Posted by: Mitch Schindler at November 6, 2003 07:21 PM | PERMALINK

I would like to find a candidate that would appeal to liberal Christians, such as myself. I am not a moderate in terms of tolerating Bush (I dislike him immensely.), but I am not so far left that I can support Dean. Still, I am a staunch Democrat. The Democratic Party is the caring party, the party of the common man, and this is where I belong. Yet, it seems like it is being identified as the nonreligious party. Republicans are doing a good job of making it look like an incohesive bunch of groups with radical, non-mainstream ideals.

I know a lot of people who are Christian liberals, and we're all being alienated. I truly believe there is a very large segment of people out there who are being almost disenfranchised because they don't agree with the Bushies, but they can't make the connection with Dean's ideas.

Reading weblogs lately, some of them are so full of hate of the religious right that they forget that a lot of people are not extremists, but are religious people with moderate views who dislike the direction this country is going. If these commentors are indicative of the real makeup of the party, people like me are really out of luck.

I really want to support Clark. I think he is the man to defeat Bush. I have written to his organization to bring to its attention the need for someone to be the voice of the moderate religious person. I think this could be a good segment of voters to go after.

I want the Democratic Party to be the inclusive party, but I'd like it to include me, too!

Posted by: pol at November 6, 2003 07:23 PM | PERMALINK

Been reading your comments for awhile, and very much like your summaries...and your reasonable approach. But on two things I disagree:

My family has served in the military in nearly every campaign since WWII. My younger brother served in Desert Storm, my neice is currently in Ft. Stewart waiting for deployment overseas.

My older brother served with General Clark and he wouldn't vote for him on a bet. His experience of the man is that he has no honor and that he is self-serving.

As for Dean, I live outside Atlanta in a suburb that's so conservative it makes my teeth hurt...and yet, Dean signs are popping up everywhere and while I don't think the stars and bars should fly over the state capital, I understand the pride some folks take in what it stands for in their eyes, and it's not slavery or the poor treatment of blacks and minorities that has been the south's legacy since before the revolution. The Dems may be up in arms but the independents down here (and there are a lot of us) didn't need a media blitz to parse out what Dean meant -- even in shorthand.

Take it for what it is, just another person's opinion (or two.) And thank you for staying on top of so much so regularly.

Posted by: v in atlanta at November 6, 2003 07:24 PM | PERMALINK

I want someone who is honest and genuine and moderate. . . and, oh, by the way has a chance of being elected. Not just nominated. ELECTED.

the task ahead is to defeat an incumbent who has our military forces involved in a foreign war. this isn't going to be easy. but it's important that it happen. my advice is to look for ways to participate in the process.

Posted by: danelectro at November 6, 2003 07:24 PM | PERMALINK

Having seen wonderful resumes only to find the person behind them to be not quite what's on the piece of paper, I tend to discount Clark's resume, especially considering a few generals and colonels who know him having pointed to an integrity issue and his problems with chain of command.

I still see him as weak on the issues as well. And he likes to wiggle back and forth whenever someone tries to pin him down on what he stands for. It'll take a lot of improvement on his part for me to buy Clark as the candidate.

As for Dean, on one hand he did put his foot in his mouth. On the other, his opponents were looking for a slightest mistep to pounce on him. It's a shame he gave them an opportunity. But I don't think his rise is over because of it. There's the old saying bad press is good press. It sure put the spotlight on his campaign.

And interestingly away from Bush's latest hijinks. Telling the Arab world to embrace democracy now or face severing diplomatic ties with the US?...Is there anyone left in the world that Bush hasn't alienated?

Instead of attacking each other, the Dems need to unite to attack Bush. He's the problem.

Posted by: Schnee at November 6, 2003 07:26 PM | PERMALINK

Interesting and intelligent OP-ED by Clark in the Boston Globe today. His argument on how we can succeed in Iraq might be a little wishful in one respect, namely: are we really going to be able to involve other countries in the Iraq rebuilding effort even if we relinquish control to them? Or does it look like an all-pain, no-gain proposition no matter who is in charge? (One hopes not, but still.)

This observation, on the other hand, is jaw-dropping:

Weapons dumps throughout Iraq are unguarded. It is estimated that 500,000 tons of ammunition is still not secure. We must patrol these sites and destroy these weapons.

Incredible, simply incredible.

Posted by: David Carroll at November 6, 2003 07:27 PM | PERMALINK

Dean is correct -->southern appeal is essential.

And the currents I am sensing these days is that on July 29th in Boston it is going to be southern party: Clark-Edwards.

That's the winning ticket.

I can't point to a poll to substantiate my claims...this is just "general systems intuition" on my part...

So Kevin...could you beat the drum for that pair?

Posted by: -pea- at November 6, 2003 07:28 PM | PERMALINK

Wow - smart move with the Clark endorsement!

Clark has the best chance to retain the Gore states, which are worth 260EVs.
Clark most likely wins his home state of Arkansas, which is worth another 6EVs.
Then all Clark would need is either New Hampshire, Nevada, Arizona, West Virginia, or some other small state.

Any of the nine candidates would be a fine replacement for the Chimp, but Clark has the best chances of winning. He's a clear choice in this respect. Cheers!

Posted by: Tommy Doll at November 6, 2003 07:29 PM | PERMALINK

I've been struggling with this for a while, but I'm finally convinced - I just went to Clark's site and gave money.

We can't afford to lose; that's all that matters. In some ways I think Dean is underestimated, but I think the best shot is with Clark.

And I like the way he's handled Dean - he hasn't attacked the way the others have, he's taken the high road.

Posted by: Charlie at November 6, 2003 07:30 PM | PERMALINK

Thumb wrote:
". . . southerners have to quit basing their votes on "race, guns, God and gays."

Um, so what do they base their votes on then? After taxes are there any right-wing talking points remaining?

Maybe some of them do, but you will not win the South by telling people to "not base their votes on race, guns God and gays.'"

That will lose a general election. It already has IMHO -- it'll come back to haunt him

THink of it-- even though most people who buy deodorant stink, you don't sell deodorant successfully (at least not beyond a shock campaign) by saying "YOU STINK" to your customers.

It's pretty elementary political rhetoric.

Don't talk down to or lecture the voters.


Posted by: k at November 6, 2003 07:36 PM | PERMALINK

Clark may be inexperienced in domestic policy, but he is NOT inexperienced in foreign policy, which is what I think will ultimately matter. Dean's inexperience in foreign policy will hurt him quite a bit, plus his domestic experience is limited to a VERY small state, which will be a much bigger deal when Rove gets his hands on it. Edwards is very green as well, which I think may have something to do with his lack of traction also.

The hothead factor is a big problem for Dean. He is learning not a thing from all his errors in that arena. This will add up. He is vehemently opposed to being "scripted" and is therefore oblivious to the power and value of being RESPONSIBLE for your words. There is a difference between speaking from anger and righteousness and speaking WITH anger FROM a vision. Dean doesn't get that. AT ALL. Language matters. Just look at George "Crusade, See-Seek, Evil Doers" Bush. Dean has notably REFUSED to be careful about what he says again and again. Not very presidential. At least with Bush there seems to be some guilelessness about it. Dean seems WILLFUL about it...It demonstrates a little too much loose-cannon-ness for a president, in my opinion. I base a lot of this opinion on his appearance on This Week, when Georgie Steph did a ride-along with him. That was the day he lost me.

I like Clark's seeming cool-headedness and his foreign policy experience, plus he's a very smart guy. I have yet to see the guy react under as much pressure as Dean has, to date, so I am reserving a bit of judgement, but I am most hopeful about him.

Having said that, I am still mourning the loss of being a part of the Dean campaign community. Nothing is coming close. Joe Trippi and Zephyr Teachout and the gang over there are GENIUSES. It's a BRILLIANT campaign. Too bad it exceeds the candidate's viability. In Hollywood, though, at least the local meetup crowd for Clark is an improvement over the way the Dean meetup that I went to was handled.

Posted by: Hollywood Liberal at November 6, 2003 07:37 PM | PERMALINK


i appologize for only commenting when i take issue with one of your posts.... but, here i go again.

Kucinich, Sharpton, Moseley Braun: None of them have a chance of winning, so I just haven't paid any attention to them. Sorry, but life's too short.

months before the first primary, and life's too short to pay any attention to one third of the candidates before you decide who you will support?

please don't tell me you are turning into joe klein (scroll down to the last 3 grafs)

would you please consider the possibility that if kucinich will never win it is because smart people with the opportunity to influence others can't be bothered?

there are several ways to "win", and not all of them come from the ballot box. it is also possible to influence the national discourse... that would also be a win.

Posted by: selise at November 6, 2003 07:40 PM | PERMALINK

Schindler: Eisenhower hadn't run for office before either. I know Clark's military and world experience isn't necessarily of the same magnitude as Ike's, but it's similar. Here's the result of the 1952 election:

Electoral Vote: Eisenhower 442 votes to 89 for Adlai Stevenson

Popular vote: Eisenhower over Stevenson 33,937,252 to 27,314,992

Ike was also liked for his non-partisan calm and was heavily recruited by both parties.

Posted by: Poputonian at November 6, 2003 07:43 PM | PERMALINK

Wonderful explanation of your choice Kevin. So good I think I'll copy it off and try to use it. (I'm not very good at coming up with things to say to convince people.)

Something about Dean just disturbs me. Can't put my finger on it, maybe it is the "Angry" thing, but I just don't think he can counter Bush's "Aw shucks" persona.

On the other hand, something about Clark really appeals to me. And the more I learn about him, the more I like him. I think his editorial in the Boston Globe was amazing. It answers the question, "What would you do different in Iraq if you were President?"

Clark has my support. He even has some of my hard to come by money. (Retired grandmas don't have a lot.)

Posted by: JWC at November 6, 2003 07:44 PM | PERMALINK

The fires that ravage us are the subject exempler.
One fer all, and all for the fire.
Or so the democrats would have you believe.

And George W. bush?

It is as it seems,
for he knows foreign policy to turn into the norm-
at the risk of the sembelence of the Libruls....

AS Pirate Roberts once said, "ARGGHHHHH, Ye Maties,
Thee, he who is not is thee, hates the Californius Sect, and God be beholden to thee he who does not".

(Dedicated to CiC,
Delusional as it/he/she may be.....

Posted by: Karil en Kalifornia at November 6, 2003 07:45 PM | PERMALINK

on the other hand, it was a really, really stupid way to make his point and he was too stubborn to back down from it until it had already done him a bunch of damage.


We Democrats can be just as craven and we can demagouge an issue just as well as ANY GOPer, and Howard should have accepted thiws fact AHEAD OF TIME.

No need to hold the Democrats who are baiting on this issue to account, SURE they might be costing us some flexibility and credibility in November, BUT THAT'S HOW THE GAME IS PLAYED!

Smash Howard for not "getting it" and let the people debasing our debate smirk off, because this pleases us and advances OUR candidate.

I'm disappointed in you, Kevin.

Posted by: 16 at November 6, 2003 07:45 PM | PERMALINK

I think General Clark would make a fine president. In fact four or five of those running would make fine presidents. None of the top candidates differs wildly in policy. None of them would be flattened by George Bush's $200 war chest.

What Clark has not done is inspire people to get out and vote for him in the primaries. He has all of these veteran campaign folks on his staff. WHERE IS THE EXCITEMENT? These people know how to create it, certainly. I think that the Draft Clark folks expected fireworks when he announced. But all they got was Dean, Dean, Dean, Dean, Dean.

Maybe he just came into the race too late, spoke too softly and did not carry a big enough stick.

Is this man serious about wanting to be president? If he had wanted to beat the frontrunner of the time, he would have come out and attacked Dean and really hit him hard. He would have drawn all of the contrasts that he could between himself and Dean. All it would have taken was for him to be loud, bold and serious.

He didn't do it.

Why not?

Posted by: bink at November 6, 2003 07:46 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's going to be either Clark or Dean.

You have to wonder how much Clark will lose by avoiding those first few states.

Dean needs to find a good coach to help polish him out and simmer him down. A lot of Dem's are very mad with our current liberal congress when he gets angry it's sort a channel for how upset some of us liberal leaning folk are with current administration and lack of Dem's to show any spine whatsoever.

Sometimes Dean connects so well with people and other times he seems clueless, I'm not sure why.

Clark's okay but still I wonder if he knows anything other foreign policy? It seems to me his picked everyone elses stance in bits and parts and kind of followed along.

As far as the repealing the middle class parts of tax cuts - one has to be honest, the taxcuts will have be repealed, for the rich as well. I don't know why Dean doesn't say anything about but that too but he does have a track record for fiscal responsiblity in his own state - a good sign - and I must admit that when Clinton first run for President - his talk of raising taxes scared me and so I vote for Bush I...(he really is nothing like his damn son, people), Bush I lost the election of course.

Clinton raised taxes and we had the longest running best ecominic upturn in decades, maybe because the Republicans hounded poor Clinton every step and bitched about his every action dispite their inablity to show fiscal responsiblity themselves.

Too bad the congressional Dem's just let Dubya do whatever hell he wanted - congress is every bit as guilty for our current deficit, economic state of being and how Bush was able to lie to us about this war as is Bush Junior himself.

I'm really not sure who I like the best yet but it's between Clark and Dean.

Posted by: Cheryl at November 6, 2003 07:47 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and I'm supporting Clark because he was crafty enough to stay out of the race, and even out of the Democratic Party, until it was pretty clear it was possible to beat Bush.

Chicken? Chicken LIKE A FOX!

Posted by: 16 at November 6, 2003 07:50 PM | PERMALINK

Loved your thinking on how you came to your conclusion. Why? It fits mine exactly.

Someone first mentioned Clark to me last Spring, and my homework started with his positions on various issues. He passed with flying colors, add to that his refusal to use labels or accept them. My kinda candidate. Electable, smart, and a hero, what more could the Democrats ask for?

But there is much more to General Clark. What I didn’t expect was his absolute love of this country. That ring that shines so brightly throughout those debates plus his academic accomplishments could have won him a life of luxury far beyond a General’s pay. And yet, he chose otherwise. He is a rare and gifted American who has lifted me out of my cynicism about “all that we can be.” I sorry if I gush, but I mean that.

With his sense of America, comes the much overlooked need to right this ship-o-state; we are drifting away from the meaning of our Constitution. Clark talks about this and understands it.

If we can nominate Clark, we can put the military back in the neutral zone, where it belongs. If we can elect Clark, we can begin to build a strong progressive majority and the country is ready for this. Forget the huge government programs, but welcome policies and programs that put the people of this country and its laws at least back on the playing field.

If bush runs on national defense, Dean loses. If bush runs on the economy, Dean and his tax rollback loses. Either scenario, we all lose, because what is running this country today, is running it into the ground.

Today, with Zell Miller’s voice booming out on every talk show, I’m feeling as if the Democrats don’t really care if they lose.

Thank you for thinking so clearly and lifting my spirits.

Posted by: Donna Z at November 6, 2003 07:50 PM | PERMALINK

"It'd be like someone from Texas saying "northerners have to quit voting based on quiche, queers, and queens (of the welfare variety)" -- not quite that bad, but along those lines. That would get no northern votes."

Actually, this would make any Northern audience giggle their brains out. It sure did me.

Posted by: bink at November 6, 2003 07:53 PM | PERMALINK

Clark's book just arrived. And, I flipped to the back to see if the airport in Kosovo got mentioned. But it's not there. And, this is where the Russians bested NATO.

Then, I was surprised to see Yitzhak Rabin reference on page 25. So I went there. And, much to my surprise Clark talks about a dinner he had in 1976, when as a White House Fellow, he got to sit at this man's kitchen table. Shimon Perez is there. And, others from Israel's left.

So, he asks Rabin a question, "What advice could you, as a winning leader, give me as a young officer?"

And, here Rabin lies. (Ask an Israeli). Because he let's Rabin claim that during the 1948 war, when Rabin's troops came under fire in Jerusalem AND RABIN RAN AWAY FROM THE FIGHT, on the excuse that he was going for more artillary; and then he slept out the battle that the Jews lost ... well, Rabin just pipes up "Persistence. It's the most important quality as a military leader." Uh huh.

I guess when you know how to polish your resume this stuff becomes an art.

I'm not impressed with Clark. Sorry. And, what I'd really like to know is what went on this summer (when Drudge said on his radio program that Hillary could still declare in October. Because her husband had chosen October '91, declaring as late as possible, his desire to take on Bush #41, in the 1992 campaign.)

Bush's numbers declined starting in May, when he went with Tony Blair's roadmap. At that point Bush 's numbers eroded to pre 9/11 levels.

I think Clark is Clinton's man. And, he was sent out to take out Dean. And, to replace Dean. Even though Dean really looks like a grass roots candidate. A man that wasn't using the DNC to battle his way into the nomination.

Okay. You're not interested in this question. And, even if you were, you can't answer it. It's going to take time to take on some sort of shape. Who knows? Dean, himself, may one day answer this in a book?

Posted by: Carol in California at November 6, 2003 07:53 PM | PERMALINK

Schnee and y in Atlanta: Here is an analysis that I think carefully and successfully debunks those innuendos about Clark's character:

If your mind is open, this might influence you. If it's closed, you probably won't be interested.

Clark's experience parallels Eisenhower's perhaps more closely than you might think. The players in Ike's gig were bigger names, like Churchill, but the style was the same, allied strategy, unified approach, etc.

Clark won't be comparing himself to Ike. I think the people will just realize he has many similar qualities.

Posted by: Poputonian at November 6, 2003 07:55 PM | PERMALINK

Its too late for Dean to change. He has dug a hole so deep there's no telling which way is up. Don't forget, in those rosy forecasts of legions of Dean supporters over the internet taking back America, that Dean will take a sharp turn to the center-right as soon as he (god forbid) wins the nomination. Then all those die hards say "Hey, I thought I knew this guy".
There are two other problems (at least) with this forecast. First, Dean has probably topped out the internet crowd. Where are those additional millions going to come from? Second, are you saying that those people aren't going to be there for Clark? Whomever wins the election is going to have the entire Democratic party backing them as enthusiastically as possible with money, voice and keyboard. No candidate can bank now on an presumed advantage in this regard.

The idea that you defend Dean by saying that he made this comment many times is laughable. It really shows how out of touch the Dean campaign is. They don't realize that they are offending the very people they claim they will attract. Does Dean expect us to believe that he can do better with working class whites in the South than John Edwards or Wesley Clark? That is irrational exuberance!

Posted by: josh at November 6, 2003 08:00 PM | PERMALINK

What will be the big issue in this campaign? As a conservative Republican I can certainly tell you that if you ask any Republican, they will tell you that Bush is going to put national security front and center (which is as it should be, given the importance of the issue, the yawning gulf between the two parties and the intensity of emotion the divide generates) and taxes a close second. And with the Bully Pulpit and a big war chest, if Bush wants the election to be about two issues, they will damn well be very, very prominent. Right or wrong, most of us are convinced that the Democrats (especially Dean) are lining up to repeat McGovern's foreign policy campaign from 1972 and Mondale's campaign on taxes from 1984, and that's Karl Rove's dream agenda to run on.

Posted by: Crank at November 6, 2003 08:02 PM | PERMALINK

As an erstwhile Dean backer, I have come to terms with a dark aspect to my attraction to his campaign. I have a deep cynicism about whether a Democrat can win in 2004, and frankly, I'd rather see Dean lose it than someone like Gephardt. Maybe he's not the One to Lead the Party Out of the Darkness, but if the party is so lost, it might need to be led out by degrees.

On a brighter note, a post from yesterday about the brokered convention this year has caused me to think seriously about voting for Kucinich in the relatively-insignificant CA primary. Since I live in one of the most progressive congressional districts in the country, I have to weigh the value of helping win one delegate for Kucinich against the value of helping Dean or Clark win one of hundreds. Might there actually be a constructive way to vote one's conscience? There might...

Posted by: neil at November 6, 2003 08:02 PM | PERMALINK

Poputonian: honestly? Even before I talked to my brother (who voted for Bush, btw. He's a pretty hard core Republican but this election, he's actually having doubts), there is something I didn't like about Clark and part of it has to do with, yes, the Clinton connection. But I didn't know anything about him. I've read his speeches, watched him in debates, and I'm still not impressed except that I think he's a democrat kind of in the way I think Zell Miller is a democrat but without the influence of Lester Maddox. (And *I* voted for Zell...don't I wish Georgia had a recall option now.)

My brother's opinion is just that, an opinion, based on personal experience. If Clark wins the nomination, I'd vote for him, but I think the best I could hope for is that he won't make things worse.

But I'll read the article anyway. Thank you.

Posted by: v in atlanta at November 6, 2003 08:07 PM | PERMALINK

Crank: You make good points but I don't think the Mondale and McGovern tages would stick on Clark, which I think is why some say Clark is Bush's worst nightmare. I think there are many alienated Republicans looking for an alternative. What say you?

Posted by: Poputonian at November 6, 2003 08:09 PM | PERMALINK

Some of you seem to think that Clark suffers a liability in never having been elected to office.

But this also means he has never been purchased.

Do you suppose Ike's similar cleanliness allowed him to make that famous statement about the dangers of the military industrial complex?

Having never been elected is an asset.

Posted by: -pea- at November 6, 2003 08:11 PM | PERMALINK

Mitch Shindler:
"Bush and his team will use every tactic imaginable to win, and were Clark to run I think they would hammer - hammer, hammer, hammer - his complete lack of policital experience. It's one thing to be a Washington outsider - this is why Americans prefer governors to Congressman - but it's another thing altogether to have never held office, to have no experience making law or dealing with legislative bodies"

It is of course not debatable that Clark has never had elected office. True enough. However, it is just not true that he has no experience dealing with legislative bodies. Any Commander (in Clark's case the Commander of both the Southern Command and NATO) reports directly to Congress (as well as to the Commander in Chief). Clark dealt with Congress on a continual basis, in a bipartisan way, when he led these groups. In such, he had to deal not only with military readiness, but also common 'nuts and bolts issues' affecting our troops -- medical care, schooling issues, and personnel issues, among others. Dealing effectively with Congress was the only way to get this.
Also, I think that the US military may be one of the most political bodies that we have. Note I did not necessarily say partisan. I mean political. To rise to the level that Clark has entails a great deal of political savvy and knowledge.

Posted by: Tim at November 6, 2003 08:11 PM | PERMALINK

The Breck Girl is doing some blogging over at Lessig: (hat tip: Instahack) link

Posted by: Drew at November 6, 2003 08:13 PM | PERMALINK

Why I like Howard Dean: on the issues, he's pretty much moderate, but on organization -- executive ability -- he's winning big, as this excellent article in The New Republic(!) demonstrates.

He's picked the right people, and he's letting them organize.

Posted by: p mac at November 6, 2003 08:13 PM | PERMALINK

Clark's experience parallels Eisenhower's perhaps more closely than you might think

Well Popu since you've mentioned it four or five times, why don't you educate us.

Over time, Clark's overreliance upon the French and Germans will be his down fall. Kevin, I am really interested in which primary(s), Wes is expected to do well in.

Posted by: Timmy the Wonder Dog at November 6, 2003 08:13 PM | PERMALINK

Truth in advertising: I want to bash Dean a bit more. But I think this is fair.
The idea that a candidate would say directly that Southerners shouldn't vote on the basis of race, God, guns and gays....And not just any candidate. A candidate who was raised on Park Ave NYC and whose great claim to fame is being governor of Vermont! Who is he to tell anyone what they should base their vote on? His job is to appeal to them through substance and character. Condescension like this is mind-boggling to me. He combines every stereotype of the South in one little soundbite. The problem is not that this offends Southern Whites or Southern Blacks, but that it offends both in equal amounts!
Has Dean proposed a policy of remedial ethics for States below the Mason-Dixon line?

Posted by: josh at November 6, 2003 08:19 PM | PERMALINK

Wonder Dog or Lazy Mutt? They were each Supreme Allied Commander of NATO forces, they were uniters, not dividers, each understood the difference between winning the war versus winning the battle (like Iraq). Read Tim at 8:11 above. He says it quite well, and what he says was true of Eisenhower. You can look the rest up yourself. Read his book.

Posted by: Poputonian at November 6, 2003 08:23 PM | PERMALINK

Repeat after me: there is no Clinton connection.

Posted by: praktike at November 6, 2003 08:24 PM | PERMALINK




pick-up truck.

blue collar.

my roommate has been out of work for almost two years, no healthcare.

Not offended.

(and I say v in atlanta because no one has ever heard of Duluth, Ga.)

Posted by: v in atlanta at November 6, 2003 08:25 PM | PERMALINK

I think Wesley Clark is a phony opportunist. Apart from all the glowing things he has said over the past few years about the many Bush Republicans he greatly admires, his waffling over the Iraq resolution, his smelly ties to some large corporations, his uncertainty about how long he has been a Democrat, the downright uncomplimentary things some of his fellow generals have said about him, what really troubles me is that he imparts an almost reptilian coldness. The only reason, in my opinion, he is even in this race is because the DNC and DLC really hate the idea of an insurgent candidate becoming the frontrunner without their blessing. (Plus, the backroom boys must have someone they can control.) And, it is becoming clearer that none of the other DNC, DLC candidates can stop Dean. I don't believe that Clark is a good choice to serve as the standard bearer of our party, nor do I believe that he would make much of a president (generals rarely do). However, if nominated, I will hold my nose and vote for him. However, I find this idea profoundly depressing. Now, I am going to wander over to the Dean blog and make myself feel better by ponying up another 50 bucks to his campaign.

Posted by: susan at November 6, 2003 08:31 PM | PERMALINK

(1) As Hesiod pointed out in an anti-Dean blogpost, Dean has already succeeded in energizing most of the other candidates against Bush. You didn't hear Gephardt saying "miserable failure" pre-Dean. You didn't see Lieberman ridiculing the "Mission Accomplished" banner. Through Dean's angry campaign, they found their own voices.

(2) With the possible future exception of Clark, Dean seems to be the only guy bringing new voters and young voters (groups where we have been getting our butts kicked) into the campaign. [Calling Clark Campaign....!] We need that, for the high-energy volunteers if nothing else. If I start seeing campus Clark clubs the way I see them for Dean, then I'll agree he has a real chance to beat Dean and then Bush. But a ho-hum general campaign based on pre-existing Democratic-leaning voters probably isn't going to work. When Bush backers tell us that Dean is their dream opponent, what I hear is,

"We know we can beat Lieberman, we did it before (and boy did he slink away from that fight), but he'll come pretty close and lose honorably. Dean?! We don't know what will happen. He's got this weird fundraising base [far from tapped out], his ideas are further out there, but it's his campaign has been less predictable and must have more upset potential."

(3) So far, Dean seems to be bringing in more disaffected Republicans than anyone else, at the admitted risk of more Demo out-defections. I guess he's getting fiscal conservatives plus "Fire the architects of the Iraquagmire". If we could somehow hold these people while getting a strong platform on homeland security (much neglected by Bush if you look at the details) and foreign policy to bring back the possible defectors, Bush is in big trouble. Voters who say, "I'm backing Bush, but I wish Edwards or Lieberman were the other candidate" will not send any of our guys to the White House. I think we need Dean on the ticket for that. Maybe we also need Clark on the ticket for that. (Please, not "Vietnam" Kerry.)

(4) Don't the Dean volunteers look like they are enjoying themselves?

Summary: I agree with Calpundit that Clark would make a great president. But his campaign has to start getting Dean-like enthusiasm. Soon. Otherwise, the discussion of which candidate is best against Bush is moot, and instead we will be discussing how best to shore Dean's campaign up against charges that he is too weak on defense.

Posted by: Andrew Lazarus at November 6, 2003 08:32 PM | PERMALINK

To those who don't believe there's a Clinton connection with Clark, should be more aware that both Clinton and Clark share Arkansas as their hometown. And, Hillary is Clark's FUND RAISER.

Clark has inside dibs with MacCauliff.

Now, of course, you might want to define "inside track" differently. And, you're more than welcome to do so.

Posted by: Carol in California at November 6, 2003 08:34 PM | PERMALINK

Repeat after me: there is no Clinton connection.

Nice try, but you could no sooner convince a wingnut that there is no Clinton connnecton than you could convince one that the Erath is more than 6,000 years old.

Posted by: Sovok at November 6, 2003 08:34 PM | PERMALINK

Lest we lose sight of it, here's what dean actually said in the debate:

DEAN: I'm not going to take a back seat to anybody in terms of fighting bigotry. I signed -- I am the only person here that ever signed a bill that outlawed discrimination against gays and lesbians by giving them the same amount...


What I discovered is that fear of people who opposed that bill, which is the majority of people in my state, was mostly based on ignorance.

We have to reach out to every single American. We can't write -- we don't have to embrace the Confederate flag, and I never suggested that we did. But we have to reach out to all disenfranchised people.

Robert Kennedy brought people together in Appalachia. Jesse Jackson did it. And we're going to bring people together in this country.

I understand that the Confederate flag is a loathsome symbol, just as I understood that all the anti-gay slurs that I had to put up with in Vermont after I signed that bill were loathsome symbols. If we don't reach out to every single American, we can't win.

I have had enough of campaigns based on fear. I want a campaign based on hope.

his reluctance to just say he misspoke was a definite mistake, but at least he had the courage to speak what are, all things considered, pretty obvious truths--truths that democrats must come to terms with if they ever want to win another election.

Posted by: officerblog at November 6, 2003 08:34 PM | PERMALINK

You know what's nice? No one is saying Algore should come back for a re-match. We've moved on a bit since 2000, haven't we?

Posted by: Carol in California at November 6, 2003 08:37 PM | PERMALINK

Only in politics --> Susan "reptilian coldness" Kevin "oozes sincerity" - and they're talking about the same guy. Eye of the beholder thing...

Posted by: Poputonian at November 6, 2003 08:37 PM | PERMALINK

"reptilian coldness"

Bitter Dean supporter, Wes peed on their parade, consider the source.

Posted by: Sovok at November 6, 2003 08:40 PM | PERMALINK

OK. I'll buy that Clark may have dealt with legistlative bodies, but it was only from a military standpoint. He has never governed. Also, though he may have handled the things you mention regarding the military -- medical care, schooling issues, and personnel issues, etc. -- the military is nothing like the general population. It is more organized and it's entire ethos is different; it is the military.

But my concern on this is really part of a larger issue. I admittedly am no history expert, but what I do know leads me to believe that generals elected straight to the presidency are ineffectual. Regardless of their intentions, having had no law-making experience their advisors and party really run the show. It is this lack of experience that makes them unable to resist having others that do know what they're doing lead them. Ike may have had the legacy and lack of political debt to allow him to warn about the dangers of the military-industrial complex, but how was he as a president? My feeling is not very impressive at all. Look at Grant after the Civil War. Same thing. I know less about each than I should, and I feel that both men had great love of their country and wanted to do right by it, but it was the people they depended on to guide them in the office of the president that let them down/told them what they really wanted to do.

I agree with Kevin that general tone and direction (broad policy) are more important than minutiae of proposals, since the liklihood of getting those proposals passed as law with the exact same policies is zero. This only underscores my point. It's all well and good to have good tone and direction, but it is when you try to translate these broad policies into law that the law-making and office-holding experience comes into play. This is where I think Clark will be far less impressive than his backers think he will be.

Since I have followed politics, it has been my impression that the Republican party likes its presidents to be more of a figurehead, while the Democratic party likes its presidents to be more hands-on policymakers. As I say above, it is my impression that generals elected straight to the presidency are more figureheadish, their character and policies notwithstanding. I want a hands-on president, not a figurehead, because I think they're better presidents.

Posted by: Mitch Schindler at November 6, 2003 08:41 PM | PERMALINK

Is a Clinton connection a liability or an asset? Seriously.

Clinton beat daddy Bush and then romped on the Republicans in '96.

Posted by: Poputonian at November 6, 2003 08:44 PM | PERMALINK

v in atlanta

point taken. Perhaps the word 'offend' is wrong. People can choose to take offense or not, depending on whether they are willing to give someone the benefit of the doubt. I can see giving Dean the benefit of the doubt here too. But--this is just where this kind of thing will hurt him. If he doesn't 'connect' people will not be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. His comments are reasonable in their intent--he just said he wants people who might not vote for him to vote for him, a reasonable thing for a politician to say. But his ability to establish a connection with voters that would accomplish this is undermined first by his turn of phrase and second by his belligerance.

Do you think the numbers are going to change (positively) for Dean in So.Carolina?

Posted by: josh at November 6, 2003 08:45 PM | PERMALINK

Clark discussed in great detail the issues dealing with the airport in Kosovo in his earlier book, Waging Modern War.

Snap judgements for something this important - gotta love 'em.

Posted by: Linda G. at November 6, 2003 08:46 PM | PERMALINK

I agree that Bush will be running against himself, whoever the Dem nominee is. Iraq is introducing a whole new generation to the idea of a foreign policy debacle; those who remember Vietnam know how the worm turns, when it finally does, and that's the real parallel. Public opinion can't be controlled once it achieves its tipping point. If Bush is on the wrong side of national sentiment he's a goner. He's already losing lots of military families, a real barometer.

Dean's not perfect but Clark's not going to beat him, so let's hope that they get together and form a ticket.

Posted by: tex at November 6, 2003 08:48 PM | PERMALINK

If Clark didn't come into this race, then Dean would own the nomination by now. The bigger question is why Gray Davis didn't get to have a democratic condender to pick up the pieces IF the recall vote passed. And, it did.

Davis got a free pass, perhaps, because he's the insider's insider. Where Dean is definitely an outsider.

If democrats really cared about winning. And, if they saw that this Bush could clean their clocks, they'd have looked to applaud an outsider's run for what's going to be a difficult campaign, ahead.

Instead, this summer Bush's poll numbers dropped, and all of a sudden the plans are set in motion for Clark to come out. As if there weren't enough insiders on the track, already.

Strange democrats. Always snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Posted by: Carol in California at November 6, 2003 08:51 PM | PERMALINK

Mitch: I think you are right that Eisenhower's presidency wasn't marked by any landmark legislation; but he did see us out of Korea and many have said that he saved the country much money and many lives. His two terms have been characterized as a period of calm.

YOu make good points about his potential vulnerability on the direct political experience, but I wonder if Bush can get away with labeling him that way.

Posted by: Poputonian at November 6, 2003 08:53 PM | PERMALINK

Krugman tomorrow:

Howard Dean's remarks about the need to appeal to white Southerners could certainly have been better phrased. But his rivals for the Democratic nomination should be ashamed of their reaction. They know what he was trying to say — and it wasn't that his party should go soft on racism. By playing gotcha, by seizing on the chance to take the front-runner down a peg, they damaged the cause they claim to serve — and missed a chance to confront the real issue he raised.

In the New York Times

And I agree.

Posted by: 16 at November 6, 2003 08:54 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's likely Edwards will take both North and South Carolina, although the meetups for Dean in those states seem to be gaining momentum. But there's a chance Clarke could pull votes there too. The south (generalized) does like the military.

Part of the problem is (and it's true for all the democratic nominees) is that very little attention gets paid to the south until the general elections...if then. And sometimes, well we're slow down here *g*. We like to take our time getting to know somebody. I see it every election cycle, and I see it pretty much universally in the liberal and even moderate blogs and journals...the south is a write off.

and there's fewer internet connections outside of metro candidates are relying solely on that to get their message's not the Repubs alone they are's talk radio.

And sovok: it's not a bitter Dean issue with the lack of appeal of Clarke, but I have a feeling it may be a bigger gender issue than anyone realizes. He comes across as distant and cool...and most women I talk to, find that a little off-putting.

Posted by: v in atlanta at November 6, 2003 08:59 PM | PERMALINK

Clinton won against Bush #41, in 1992, because Ross Perot put up his own money, and ran a grass roots organization called United We Stand that grabbed 19% of the vote. It would have been more of a percentage, but Ross decided to "quit" ... and then didn't. Leaving his insiders in tears. With all this craziness Perot pulled 19% of the vote. That's why Bush #41's re-election bid crashed.

I think they blamed James Baker, at the time. And, then when this Bush got into trouble in 2000, James Baker was called upon to retrieve the situation for Dubya.

Politics isn't a smooth ride. Which is why being a political junkie comes easily to those of us who watch this stuff. While most people aren't paying attention. It's much too early to guess what's going to make the American people happy next November. But as one poster said, Bush has $200-million dollars to spend. And, it's going to be one hell of a show. Dull, not. Turnout, too, should be good.

Posted by: Carol in California at November 6, 2003 09:00 PM | PERMALINK

I had the pleasure of hearing Gen. Clark speak the other day. The guy's great. He condemmed the Iraqi adventure in no uncertain terms and he explained just why and where it went wrong. And I urge everyone to read Clark's article in the NYRB of a week or two ago for further explanation. He's charismatic. I respect him. That said, when he wandered off into domestic policy (specifically healthcare) he was much more vague. It was obvious that he knew something needed to be done, but that he didn't really have a clue what he was talking about. It was also clear that no one here in South Carolina really knew who the hell he was (he failed to fill a small auditorium). I fear that Clark's a candidate without a campaign. That's why Clark and Dean need each other. The Dean crew has demonstrated an ability to build a campaign, raise money, and connect with Americans. (Mad props to Joe Trippi, who's truly the James Carville of 2004.) I think a Dean/Clark (or a Clark/Dean, I'm not picky, really, though of course I'd prefer Dean/Clark or I'd be working for the General) has the best chance of defeating Bush. And that's the important thing.

Posted by: Paul at November 6, 2003 09:01 PM | PERMALINK

It the Washington Post:

Clark Says Bremer Should Be Replaced
Candidate Calls For Non-American
By Jim VandeHei
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 7, 2003; Page A03

ORANGEBURG, S.C., Nov. 6 -- Presidential candidate Wesley K. Clark called Thursday for L. Paul Bremer, the head of the U.S. reconstruction effort in Iraq, to be fired and replaced with a non-American as part of a broad strategy to end the U.S. occupation.

Clark, a retired Army general and former military commander of NATO, also broke with many of his Democratic rivals by raising the possibility of increasing the number of U.S. troops to complete the mission. "An increase doesn't mean you're failing," Clark said in a speech here at South Carolina State University.

Clark said the United States needs more special forces and other lighter units so the military can "strike hard" against the enemy and win the war. He said more Arab Americans should be recruited to help provide cultural expertise.

Clark opened the door to a bigger U.S. force on the same day the Bush administration disclosed its plan to possibly reduce the number of soldiers in Iraq next year -- just as the presidential election is heating up. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) this week called for more U.S. troops, breaking with President Bush.

The United States should not pull out of Iraq but instead make several changes to transfer power quickly to NATO and the Iraqis, Clark said. "Every American should understand: Early exit means retreat or defeat. We can have neither."

I can't see where Clark is coming from and I'm sure he is already Tom Friedman's guy.

BUT I wouldn't fire Paul Bremer, yes he is Bush's man and tell us everything Bush tells him to tell us which is mostly lies but I would not just dump him. Bremer wasn't like that when he first arrived in Iraq...I get the sense that Bremer really does care a lot about the people of Iraq-I see it in his eyes (he is more that a bit tore by the whole thing really-I know he see a lot bad things).

Clark broke with many of his Democratic rivals by raising the possibility of increasing the number of U.S. troops to complete the mission.

WHERE is he going to get these troops? That's a problem...A bit problem.

This why in this instance we need an extremely skilled diplomat that can go in and work with the UN and NATO to get the necessary troops, ASAP.

Clark is certianly a military man but he is not a diplomat and this war must get the rest of world involved and on board not just NATO.

Iraq is not Kosova-Clark sounds like he is planning for another Kosova.

This is why it's important to get someone with inherit skills and a natrual ablity to pull people on board-Dean has showen remarkable ablility to do that with his fund raising - the UN is going to be tough after what Bush did. Dean does have temper but he is going to need some strong temperment to deal with some very ugly Republican in Washington-in some ways I fear Clark is just too nice.

Posted by: Cheryl at November 6, 2003 09:03 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know that you can "generalize" about ex-military Presidents.

Washington was the 1st.

Jackson was, well, Jackson--obsessed with the national bank, a fiery populist--the first real "politician," in my view.

Grant was a drunk, and Reconstruction was a motherfucker.

Ike was a fiscal conservative who basically didn't believe government should do much of anything.

There are some no-names in the middle there, but my basic point is that there is no pattern.

Posted by: praktike at November 6, 2003 09:06 PM | PERMALINK

Dean is an outsider only in the sense that he is insignificant in national politics! Is that some claim to fame? I'm an outsider too! The 'insurgency' self-image of the Dean campaign is a real piece of narcissism. They are an insurgency in the same sense that riding around a big city on roller blades in a big group is a revolutionary movement. Yes, it might be fun while you're doing it, but after you pass everyone else just goes back to whatever they were doing.

Krugman is wrong about this. The Dean campaign thinks this flap is about being soft on racism. That is the smaller half of the problem. The bigger half is the implied superiority of Northern ethics. Did Edwards confront Dean on behalf of Southern Blacks? No.

My apologies for the vitriol. I really appreciate the dialogue!

Posted by: josh at November 6, 2003 09:06 PM | PERMALINK

You know what's nice? No one is saying Algore should come back for a re-match. We've moved on a bit since 2000, haven't we?

plenty of people were saying he should. and then al gore announced he would definitely not run.

the shorter your posts are, carol, the more transparent your lies. stop trolling, m'kay?

Posted by: danelectro at November 6, 2003 09:06 PM | PERMALINK

btw, i just discovered
this article
about Clark visting military families in South Carolina.

This kind of coverage is exactly why Clark is the man. Can you see any of the other candidates pulling this off?

Posted by: praktike at November 6, 2003 09:10 PM | PERMALINK

Tom Friedman, and the NY Times, huh? I guess some people believe that they are king makers. Like in the old days. But I've heard that in today's environment getting a newspaper's endorsement is worthless.

Now, if Clark gets the nomination I can assure you that it will be like that Dan Quayle moment when he met Lloyd Benson's remark: "I knew JFK, and, you sir, are no JFK." Clark's not Ike.

Do you know how much the people loved Ike? He was elected in 1952. And, in 1954 he had a massive heart attack. It disabled him. And, still, Ike won re-election in 1956. (While Nixon really was running the show, behind the screen.)

Do you want to know how different things are today? Today, you couldn't hide this information (how ill Ike really was), from the public.

And, in 1954 medicine wasn't like it was today. There were no implantable zappers.

Posted by: Carol in California at November 6, 2003 09:12 PM | PERMALINK

Poputonian - Let me just state again my problems with Clark's lack of political experience. I do believe that it will (not could) hurt him in the general election, but more importantly I think it will hurt his performance as president were he to be elected.

I think Dean will make a better president and has a better shot of winning in the general against Bush. Maybe I'm looking at Dean through rose-colored lenses. I first became interested in him watching his "disastrous" appearance on Meet the Press. I said then that this was my guy and that this was the only guy who could beat Bush, and nothing that has happened in the four months since leads me to believe my first impression was wrong.

Posted by: Mitch Schindler at November 6, 2003 09:14 PM | PERMALINK

If Al Gore could even come close to winning, he'd be baaaack. Silly to think it was up to him to act like a reluctant bride.

Posted by: Carol in California at November 6, 2003 09:15 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, that was perfect coverage, and it took a lot of organization to make it happen. I am very glad to see the campaign coming together like this.

Does anyone think that Bush timed his speech today to steal the headline from Clark's foreign policy speech? I think it is likely he did.

Posted by: josh at November 6, 2003 09:15 PM | PERMALINK

Praktike: good article; interesting sour grapes by Lieberman at the end.

Mitch: I have nothing against Dean; I just saw the flag thing as one step back for him. A Dean/Clark ticket works for me, but I would rather see it Clark/Dean. The article Praktike cited shows Clark's stuff, and I believe the international mess will trump all other issues going into the election. Clark and Dean in any combination will get my vote.

Posted by: Poputonian at November 6, 2003 09:22 PM | PERMALINK

Carol, I've been out with friends all evening and have just now returned. You--on the other hand--seem to have been trolling Calpundit all night. That's why I feel sorry for you.

Posted by: Paul at November 6, 2003 09:24 PM | PERMALINK

The problem with Clark is that he shows no signs of being able to put together a good enough campaign to defeat Bush. I like him more than Dean, but I don't think Clark has the ground operation, so Dean it is.

(Note: applies to all candidates but Dean, actually).

Posted by: Jason McCullough at November 6, 2003 09:24 PM | PERMALINK

I'm still with Dean. I think that he and Clark are the most electable if the economy improves; Dean is the best candidate by far if Bush's lead is insurmountable (but I doubt this); Edwards and Clark are the most electable if the economy stays lousy. It is truly bizarre how all these cynical people who think money is the most surefire way to win elections do not give Dean any electability points with his out of nowhere financial success. He may be too big a risk for the top of the ticket but in that case I think he would be a great VP choice for someone like Clark. (The idea of a VP choice is balance, not "let's put in as many inoffensive southerners as possible". Pick Dean and you get a unified party, and thousands upon thousands of volunteers/fundraisers. That matters.)

Clark may well be more electable but years of choosing the seemingly most electable candidate have led our party to decline--both in terms of its electoral success and the leadership it offers. I will not abandon the guy who was the opposition for a few lonely months for the first guy to come along with the better resume--if Clark proves to be the kind of the leader he has potential to be, it will be another story, but so far he has not shown it. His economic proposals are sensible, sure, but if that moderate position is the starting point for negotiations with a republican Congress our economic policy is going to stay pretty nuts.

Posted by: Katherine at November 6, 2003 09:27 PM | PERMALINK

I am skipping down without reading a lot of these posts, so apologies all around, but the Dean-bashers/Clark-supporters have to understand that Dean is VERY good at appealing to people that already feel disenfranchised and left out of the process. THAT is what wins elections.

No one can say the same about Clark. He is brilliant in a wonky Al Gore kind of way, without the heavy condescending sighs during debates (which IMHO probably lost him enough votes to swing that dang election), but he doesn't engage on a mano-to-mano level the way that the Doctor Governor can.

The fact is, Howard Dean gets the $77 checks that Wes Clark can't. The ridiculously ambitious goal of Howard Dean is 2,000,000 $100 checks, and I cannot say the man cannot do it.

By comparison, Bush expects, oh, only 100,000 $2,000 checks. Count the vote differential. That folks is what will determine the election in 2004.

And now some disjointed thoughts-- Clark could be a great candidate, and if he gets the nod, you bet I will support him. Better yet, if Dean gets the nod, he could do no better than Wes Clark as Veep, assuming he wants the job, and Bob Graham if he doesn't.

Tell me again how Dean's petulance is a liability. If Al Gore had shown a little more vitriol, the election would not have come down to 5-4 at the US Supreme Court. Compare the namby pambyness levels of these candidates: Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, then Gore, then Big Dog Clinton. Sorry, folks, but I want a POTUS that will walk across the room and pop the loudmouth obnoxious dry-drunk bully in the mouth, but I also want him to be a Democrat.

The post above was exactly right that said Dean only had to say Dems needed the vote of men driving pickups with Dale Earnhardt #3 (or even better, Junior #8) stickers, and it would have had the same effect. His ticket to the Casa Blanca is making friends with Dale, Jr., or Bobby Labonte, or even Ward Burton, who co-sponsored the Bob Graham entry in NASCAR and is from Virginia, which, as a resident I am shocked to say, could be a swing state. That may mean nothing to loyal Calpundit readers, but believe me, free your mind about NASCAR and the rest will follow.

Losing the Southern vote is not the end of the world. If Dean wins half of the South, or even a quarter, things are going epic-ly bad for W. Remember, one state in addition to the Gore states wins the election. Holding the Gore states and winning one of NH (next door to VT), FL, AR, TN, or even VA wins the election for the Dems.

If Clark is campaigning not to raise taxes on the middle class, kudos to him, because I still think that is Dean's Achilles heel, but the vote in Fairfax County, VA on Tuesday gives me hope that common sense and civic responsibility are not circling down the bowl after all.

Posted by: 537 votes at November 6, 2003 09:33 PM | PERMALINK

Does this change the Clark/Dean equation for anyone?

This was on "Free Republic" tonight (a publication that I shudder to mention most days):

"Poll Has Dean Leading Kerry by 14 Points
Newsday ^ | November 6, 2003 | Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Howard Dean holds a 14-point lead over John Kerry in a poll of likely voters in New Hampshire's Democratic presidential primary amid signs that the contest is evolving into a two-man race. "

And here are the comments:

"Great News..
The grand plan is working :)"

"Go Dean Go!!!"

"All part of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy Productions!"

"GO HOW-ODD? GO!!!!!!!!"

"A two-man race? Sounds like a massacre to me. Looks like a Dean win in New Hampshire is a virtual guarantee, and if he can beat Gephardt in Iowa it's basically over."

"Ha-ppy days are here a-gain . . .

"DEAN/SHARPTON 2004 = White racists and black racists welcome!!"

"Bring 'em on! :)

"Smiley-stiff Dean looks like he just got home, it's 2 am and he's trying too hard to look sober.
Best thing to happen to the Republican party since Walter McKakis."

Check it out:

You get the picture... Frankly, I have no idea who Walter McKakis is, but does anyone else find this disturbing? Why does the Republican party so desparately want to run against Howard Dean? And what does this say about the all-important electability issue?

I in no way think that Howard Dean is liberal, but that's what he's been pegged as, and he's going to have a hard time reaching out to all ina general election.

I'm pretty progressive but live in a southern state (Florida), and it's really, really hard to see Dean doing well anywhere except the 4 southern most counties, Gainesville and Tallahassee. Everywhere else Dean would be smushed; it's hard to think of him picking up any votes that Gore didn't pick up, and I could actually see him picking up far fewer because he's perceived as a much more polarizing figure here than Gore ever was. Clark, on the other hand, could pick up the liberal pockets, more of the military in Jacksonville, and more of the rural vote.

(All of the above contingent on our votes being counted by the way).

Just my thoughts.

Posted by: Halle at November 6, 2003 09:34 PM | PERMALINK

Regarding Dean's "confederate flag" remarks--

First, his full statement was not featured in many of the news stories when it first broke- the media quoted selectively, which served to distort his meaning and create a mountain out of a molehill.

Second, Dean's rivals are in damn poor shape if the best they can do is hang around hoping he will commit a verbal gaffe that will boost their sagging campaigns. While the media and much of the blogosphere were abuzz with Dean's remarks, he and his campaign were going about the task of raising the $200 million that it's going to take to unseat Bush.

Posted by: peter jung at November 6, 2003 09:34 PM | PERMALINK

V in atlanta writes
"Been reading your comments for awhile, and very much like your summaries...and your reasonable approach. But on two things I disagree:

My family has served in the military in nearly every campaign since WWII. My younger brother served in Desert Storm, my neice is currently in Ft. Stewart waiting for deployment overseas.

My older brother served with General Clark and he wouldn't vote for him on a bet. His experience of the man is that he has no honor and that he is self-serving."

Well My Family has been sick so many times since WWII we stoped keeping track and my bother was a patint of Dr. Dean for many months and he told me he would never vote for him...never ever ever...His experiance of the man is one of a money grubbing asshole that was blinded by power. And sharp finger nails.He finally got a new Doctor after the prostate exam gone bad.
As for Clark he is the Second comming of Jesus don't you know. His is going to save the Jews( again) and the muslim and the cristians and every one else even the freaking aitheist. He can pay down the debt with his daily workout, he looks good in black and he could kick Sadam and UBL's ass at the same time one-on-one. What more can you ask for.
It's just one man's and his sore ass's opinion.

Posted by: BenDover at November 6, 2003 09:39 PM | PERMALINK

Remember, to get elected Bush only has to get one less vote than the other guy. Sorry, I couldn't resist the now old joke.

Posted by: Poputonian at November 6, 2003 09:42 PM | PERMALINK

One observation about whether southern states are really needed or not to win the general election:

Sure a candidate can afford to concede some states in the general election that they know they'll never win, but the more states are in play, the less time/money Bush has to concentrate on the swing states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, etc. Make him work for (and spend some of that money in) Arkansas, Tennessee, South Carolina while our candidate is busy in Pennsylvania and Oregon!

Posted by: Halle at November 6, 2003 09:43 PM | PERMALINK

The following side of Clark's career is rarely heard in the media since he announced:


From a recent in-depth article (see after the quote for the credits):

"I spoke recently with retired General Walter Kross, a former four-star Air Force general under whom Clark served on the staff of the Joint Chiefs in the mid-1990s. For two years Kross worked with Clark from 6:00 in the morning until 9:00 at night six days a week, and sometimes on Sundays. He disagrees strongly with Shelton and Cohen about Clark's abilities and character. When I asked him why Clark was disliked by some military officers, Kross replied,

He's not the army general officer from central casting. He's the extra-ordinary senior officer who can do extra-ordinary work on the entire range of challenges senior officers have to face—including Kosovo and the Dayton Accords, on which he worked himself into exhaustion. No army officer from central casting can do that work, but Wes did. "

- From a portion of the article in the current New York Review of Books by long-respected journalist, Elizabeth Drew, who actually took the time to further investigate the recent claims by Shelton and Cohen (and now Schwarzkopf, who admitted he didn't know the man, but would not trust him due to Shelton's statements - Geez).


Here's a couple of excerpts from Samantha Power's 2002 Pulitzer Prize winning book, "A Problem From Hell": America in the Age of Genocide," considered a "masterwork of contemporary journalism" and gives a very nicely balanced look at the various issues involved in the Balkans and other foreign policy issues of the really difficult 90's:

"Only one voice within the Pentagon regularly dissented: that of Wesley Clark... He urged that war criminals be arrested immediately, while the parties were still smarting from NATO bombings [earlier in Bosnia, before the Kosovo conflict]. Not for the last time, Clark was ignored" (444).

"In July 1999 [Clark] was curtly informed that he would be replaced as supreme allied commander for Europe. This forced his retirement and ended thirty-four years of distinguished military service. Favoring humanitarian intervention had never been a great career move" (473).

From some folks who served with him (and this is not to preclude the person in a post above whose husband also did and had no respect for him; just note that there are other voices as well):

T. Ryan
Rank – SSgt, USMC
City – Boston, Ma
80-84 87-2003

Prior to joining the Marines I was a 17 year old Soldier in the 1st Bn 77th Armor 4th ID. Then LtCol Clark was my Bn Commander. I can honestly say he was top notch, very well respected by Enlisted and Officers a like and lerned a lifetime of respect from myself. A true Soldiers Soldier. Thanks for everything Sir and Semper Fidelis.


Forrest (Bill) Hilbish
CW04 (Retired)
US Navy
Mogadore, Ohio

Comments - I worked for General Clark while stationed at SCJ6 Current Operations Branch for USSOUTHCOM in Panama. He was an excellent leader and commander. My wife was impressed by the fact that even though there were hundreds of officers working for him, he knew both of our names. He replaced General Barry McCaffrey (Drug Czar for Clinton). I am a Republican but I would vote for the "ONE" Democrat. Good luck General...


Sam Closkey
Rank - LTC - Army
City - Palm City, FL

I worked with General Clark at the National Training Center. I always thought he would be an excellent president. He was the easiest guy to work for, smart, appreciative, confident and he really cared about people. I am a registered republican, but he's got my vote. How can I help?


Joyce Elaine Gowey (Sanbowers)
Rank - SSG/E-6 - Army
City - Bedford, PA

I worked for Wes Clark at NTC Ft Irwin, CA 1985-1988.

I would like information on how I can help (work for) him to become our President.
I will return home on 1 Oct and would like to work in the Altoona PA, Cumberland, MD
area for him. I now hold a BS in Sociology, and would be willing to work campaign
in this geographic area, western MD and the tri-state are of PA, MD, WV I look
forward to hearing from someone. Joyce


Please, I just ask that folks not make snap judgments about this man... The media has ridden him very hard since he announced; we hear little of the positive side since he's come in, with the exception of mostly dismissive statements about his "resume." He deserves better than that; all the candidates do...

I've never been involved in politics in my 38 years.

But because of what this man has now reached in me, I will be "walking across America" in support of him.

I don't have a word to say against any of these courageous men for stepping forward into this grueling, most often terribly thankless campaign season. But this is the man that has touched most deeply both my head and my heart.

Take care...

Linda G.

Posted by: Linda G. at November 6, 2003 09:45 PM | PERMALINK

Josh makes a good point. It does take organization to pull something like that article off, and I hadn't thought of that.

So maybe it's just a different, more media-centric kind of organization. And maybe Clark is somewhat "under the radar" because he aims to compete primarily in the South.

Posted by: praktike at November 6, 2003 09:45 PM | PERMALINK

Halle, you may need an intervention if you take any credence in the Freepers. They represent some of the very best this country has to offer in the form of protection of free speech.

As for "Walter McKakis," I assume it is an amalgam of Walter Mondale, George McGovern, and Michael Dukakis, whose electoral college results were not very pretty. Clever how it ignores, Clinton, Gore, Carter, and Johnson, Dems that beat the GOP offering.

Posted by: 537 votes at November 6, 2003 09:46 PM | PERMALINK

Halle--I am not going to vote for president based on any opinions expressed at Free Republic. Come on. These are not paragons of cool reason. Sure, consider electability, understand that this election is more crucial than most, but we can't be that scared. We just can't.

Posted by: Katherine at November 6, 2003 09:48 PM | PERMALINK

LBJ got the sympathy vote in 1964. And, by 1968 was afraid to run again. Carter got shoved out of office. And, when '537 votes' says Gore did well, and everyone's ignoring this piece, all I can say to the post directly above, is huh?

Posted by: Carol in California at November 6, 2003 09:49 PM | PERMALINK

Mitch: I do have some concerns about Clark (he's only been in the race a few weeks, after all, and it's not like any of us know him well), but being a figurehead isn't one of them. Just the opposite, in fact. Based on what I've read about him, I think the danger is that he might be a micromanager, someone unwilling to give up control to his subordinates.

I suspect that no 4-star general can have that problem *too* badly or else they just wouldn't succeed, but that seems to be his inclination, not the opposite.

Posted by: Kevin Drum at November 6, 2003 09:49 PM | PERMALINK

God, Carol in California is annoying. Can't she be banned, or something? Most of the time I have absolutely no idea where she's even coming from...

At any rate, I think Kevin's right about everything, as always.

Posted by: John at November 6, 2003 09:57 PM | PERMALINK

Dean Gets Nod From Service Workers
Further Union Backing Expected
By Edward Walsh and Dan Balz
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, November 7, 2003; Page A01

Former Vermont governor Howard Dean won the support of one of the biggest and most politically powerful labor unions in the country yesterday and is favored to win another one next week, actions that would give his presidential campaign an enormous boost and that also signal a significant split within organized labor.

GO Howard!

Posted by: susan at November 6, 2003 09:57 PM | PERMALINK

Why, thank you, Ben! Such a lovely description of your brother's medical problems (I hope he is recovered fully by now.) I promise not to let Dean practice medicine on me. And what a stunning testimony to General Clarke's capabilities! I didn't know we could vote on the new messiah! I though we were electing a Commander in Chief.

Makes me want to run right over there and donate money to his campaign...


Posted by: v in atlanta at November 6, 2003 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

I'm pretty progressive but live in a southern state (Florida), and it's really, really hard to see Dean doing well anywhere except the 4 southern most counties, Gainesville and Tallahassee. Everywhere else Dean would be smushed; it's hard to think of him picking up any votes that Gore didn't pick up, and I could actually see him picking up far fewer because he's perceived as a much more polarizing figure here than Gore ever was.

I seldom (read "never") go to the Freepers for advice on who a democratic candidate ought to be.

Make that, I never go to Freepers for advice.

But the comments are interesting, nonetheless. Don't throw me into that briar patch!

Just got back from the supermarket where I say a dean sticker on a vehicle right alongside the "God needed a driver" #3 sticker.

Not saying this means anything, since come Sunday I'll be cheering for the #24 Dupont Chevy to bring home the Pop Secret checkers at The Rock.

Posted by: Rick at November 6, 2003 10:07 PM | PERMALINK

Right on, Kevin.

I want Dean to move out here to California and be our governor for a term or two, then run for president based on the success of his policies in a big state. In 2012, after Clark's second term is up.

I want Clark to debate Dubya next fall and cut his legs off at the fuggin' knees on foreign policy, domestic policy, extemporaneous speech, and overall leadership qualities.

Posted by: ahpook at November 6, 2003 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

If whichever of Dean or Clark isn't at the top of the ticket makes a real commitment to bring his strengths to the campaign—and this campaign may be the most important in my lifetime—we have a chance.

Posted by: Andrew Lazarus at November 6, 2003 10:11 PM | PERMALINK

I think CH is secretly afraid that the Democrats will win next year, thus smashing her held-with-bailing-wire theories to hell, and thus taking the ground out from under her feet, politcally speaking.

(Did I reach my metaphor limit for the day?)

Posted by: The Dark Avenger at November 6, 2003 10:17 PM | PERMALINK

I like Edwards. I like Clark. But I love Dean. I'm a 26 year old guy from Pennsylvania and I'm 100% liberal. Dean lights a fire inside of me like no other. I get enraged reading so many Dean-bashing comments. I am SICK and FUCKING TIRED of accepting the lesser of two evils. I'm tired of watching career politicians throw a (D) after their name only to go blow dubya and his crew so they can protect their jobs. MY vote has to be earned. And so far, no one else has come close. A lot can change in a year, but right now I'd rather go down swinging with Dean than compromise with a group of people who only want to move the Democratic party further to the right.

Posted by: Mr. Palmer at November 6, 2003 10:32 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I think Dean has already won the nomination. You just do not know it yet. The two union endorsements next week means he wins Iowa (then he has $50M in free publicity going into NH where he is already leading by 14%). Kerry and Gep are OUT. This leaves just Clark in SC to try to stop him. Since Clark's campaign is not running right, he does not have the ground game to be effective in SC. If Dean outdoes Clark there, it is all over!

I personally like Clark too, but he has no experience campaigning? He is definitely the smartest guy running but is very weak in domestic policy. A 12 year Governor is a much better choice to GOVERN the country than a military guy no matter how qualified/experienced.

A Dean/Clark ticket would be good, but Graham would do since it would put FL into play. Without FL Bush is toast. Jeb will cheat again so we can not count on this. Clark shore's up Dean's FP resume so would help nationwide.

Time is not Clark's friend here. Unless he gets traction soon, it is already too late.

Posted by: Young Turk at November 6, 2003 10:48 PM | PERMALINK

I'm torn between Clark and Dean right now, and will vote for whoever the Democratic nominee is. BUT, we REALLY need the Dean Machine for the general election. I hope that we can put it on steroids, whether Dean is the nominee or not. I understand the affinity that the Deaniacs have, and I partially share it. I just hope we will all put forth the same effort that the Deaniacs are in the primary season for the general election. They've been truly inspiring.

Posted by: alias at November 6, 2003 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

"Frankly, I have no idea who Walter McKakis is, but does anyone else find this disturbing? Why does the Republican party so desparately want to run against Howard Dean?"

Well, Stephen Moore has an article over at the Weekly Standard kinda-praising him and saying he'd be a dangerous opponent.

I wouldn't take the Free Republic as a valid input source on anything. Still, it's not like Republicans know how to elect Democratic candidates.

Posted by: Jason McCullough at November 6, 2003 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

That NY Review of Books article that Linda G posted a link to is quite enlightening; thank you. I can attest to the politics of upper-level military rank; I watched it happen to my father and to others. Thus I'm quite willing to believe that Clark ran afoul of some people who didn't know what to make of him.

Posted by: Linkmeister at November 6, 2003 10:56 PM | PERMALINK

Come to think of it, Ike's campaign didn't roll out like this.

Posted by: Carol in California at November 6, 2003 10:56 PM | PERMALINK

I volunteer with a woman at my son's school once a week. A military wife, common enough where I live. Her husband worked under Clark and said Clark made his life a misery by micromanaging everything. He won't be voting for him. But his wife will. She told me the things about Clark that bothered her husband wouldn't effect his ability to be a great president. And then there are the usual military politics; the envy, backstabbing, etc. And she said Clark did a lot for his people, including her husband, no matter how much the General got in his face.

I've met several people who've worked with Clark in some capacity in the past and I've reached this startling conclusion: there are people who disliked him intensely and people who would follow him to the ends of the earth.

No, he didn't follow orders every time and he wasn't a yes man. Why is this a bad thing? He wasn't part of the typical army culture. He was just too much. I suspect he has always been too much. Too smart, too driven, good at everything. Champion swimmer. Sang in the church choir. Innumerable acts of heroism, both physical and moral. Does funny impersonations. Great marriage. Nice son. Fabulous smile. Stop, already!

Hey, he's not a regular guy. Isn't that a good thing? My SAT scores were higher than the current occupant of the White House. Does anyone else find this as scary as I do? Who the hell wants a regular guy? And what kind of regular guy would be crazy enough to run for president?

For the record, I'm a woman, and feel that the General "connects" with me quite well. I've never felt this type of emotional response to ANY candidate. Last year I was angry, scared, frustrated, and worried; I knew the war was a bad idea, I couldn't understand why more people didn't see it that way, why our leaders were just rolling over for Bush; I was one of those protesters jeered and mocked for being an "appeaser" and "unpatriotic" and "Saddam-lover."

And then I heard the anti-war general on CNN. "Waffling" my ass. I heard the man. He testified before congress. He wrote an article in TIME called "Let's wait a while." He would NOT have taken us into this war.

And then I heard him talk about patriotism and dissent and love of one's country; I heard him defend people like me and, honest to God, it was like a light shining down from Heaven followed by a Hallelujah chorus. Sounds hokey, I know, but it felt dammed good. It still feels good. You know what? Hope feels better than anger.

Yeah, so I think Clark is more "electable." I think foreign policy/national security will be the #1 issue. The Republicans will make sure of it, as I've said before. What else do they have going for them but fear--and we know who good they are at producing fear, don't we? Dean just doesn't have it, and it just isn't good enough to say you will surround yourself with "good advisors." Furthermore, I think Clark is the guy who can get the job done, get our allies working with us again and fix the Mess O'potamia. And be tough when he needs to be and never, ever, ever get us into this kind of unnecessary nightmare again.

Posted by: Laura at November 6, 2003 10:58 PM | PERMALINK

Mr. Palmer,
"All these people who want to move the Democratic party further to the right"
Tell me how many Dems have won the presidency since 1968. I'll give you a hint-two-Clinton and Carter. Both moderates. McGovern, Mondale, Dukakis-all liberals-got killed.
I'm as liberal as anyone, but you have to face reality. The reason this country is further to the right than 25 years ago is not the Dems moving right as much as the Repubs becoming a party of radical right-wingers. There used to be a lot of moderate Repubs and they worked with the Dems-probably more than some of the Dixiecrats in their own party.

But moderate Repubs are as dead as the dodo bird. And until the pendulum swings back anyone that is labeled "liberal" is going to have a tough time. Of course the Repugnants will try the liberal label on any Dem candidate. It would just be so much easier with a guy like Dean-even though he probably isn't all that liberal. Anti-war, gay marriage, repeal all the tax cuts, northeast liberal. It will be easy to frame him that way and IMHO he would not only lose, but get slaughtered.

Posted by: rover at November 6, 2003 11:02 PM | PERMALINK

Frankly, I'm confounded by the whole Dean thing. I have friends who lived in Vermont while Dean was Governor there and they find his whole campaign to be fraudulent in its appeal to the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party. I think the last couple days have shown Dean to also be a fairly incompetent politician. This election is far too important to put it in the hands of a guy who is consistently running at the back of the pack in head to head matchups with Bush. I understand your interest in Clark, Calpundit but with all due respect it seems to me that John Kerry brings the entire package to the table. Clark has some attractions and I think he would be a fantastic VP or Secretary of State but Kerry is far more well-rounded than Clark. Clark has virtually no domestic policy credentials. And, as important as foreign policy has become we do still have an ecomonic crisis on our hands here at home. Clark is my #2 but Kerry is the #1 by a longshot.

Posted by: MIke in Colo at November 6, 2003 11:17 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think SEIU and AFSCME lock things up for Dean by a long shot (assuming it will happen; it looks very likely to me but is by no means assured). They are, obviously, a big help. They are also a big blow to Gephardt and to Kerry (since ASFCME initially leaned towards him)--so to the extent that it makes a Dean-Clark race more likely it's in some ways great news for the Clark supporters here. But Dean is weak in the South, and Clark will be strong there.

The thing is, though, the primary calendar favors a northern candidate. Super Tuesday includes New York, California, Massachusetts, I think Illinois....there are Southern states too, (including Texas) but in year's past it has been mainly southern and this year it is not. If it's a close two man race it will probably decided on that day. Clark probably needs some hard core support in New York and California before the primaries are over. If I were involved with his campaign, I would advise him to go to New York City some time pretty soon, and give the speech of his life.

Posted by: Katherine at November 6, 2003 11:28 PM | PERMALINK

Kucinich? Who?

I went to see Kucinich about two months back here in Houston, Texas. He was not covered in any local paper or on any of the local TV media. He had a few hundred in attendance filling the hall at Drexler's BBQ, a new restaurant on the edge of the black getto run by the mother of a basketball star. Kucinich is a vegan. He is a slight man with a thoughtful demeanor and a ten point platform.

For instance, he wants everyone to have full medical and dental coverage under a Medicare plan which he thinks will be cheaper and easier to manage than the current stopgap measures proposed by other candidates. Full coverage. Medical AND Dental. For everyone. Cradle to grave. Like the Canadians.

He wants to fund universal preschool for all children with a 15% defense budget cut. I particularly like the idea of providing kids with language skills at the earliest age so that they can grow up to be productive members of society instead angry, tongue-tied teens. Just think if Reagan had funded just such a program instead of Star Wars and the B1 bomber. Think of how many 20-year-olds would now have the tools to contribute to society.

He wants to abolish the Patriot Act.

He wants to end our occupation of Iraq. In Congress, he voted against the Bush stampede to war. He wants all the oil revenues in Iraq to benefit the Iraqis, not Cheney and Company. Other Democrats, worried about their "electability", rushed to war.

He wants to end job losses to countries with unfair labor practices that result in non living wages both here and abroad -- the rush to the bottom. Fair trade, not "free" trade. If you have time, you might check his platform in detail.

My problem with the consensus presented by most analysts is the emphasis on "electability", instead of distributed benefits to society as a whole. Those candidates that have the most egalitarian and socially supportive programs are ignored and under funded. Why is that? The Democratic candidates with the most progressive agendas are ignored. Why is that? Who benefits? Insurance companies, defense contractors, international corporations with overseas sub-standard wage structures? Why should I assume that a Democrat is going to reform the status quo? My suspicion about the "front runners" has to do with their close and possibly cozy relationship with vested interests that oppose the changes to make this a better place to live.

For instance, what does Sen. Lieberman do for the insurance industry? How does their financial and political endorsement further his career? Could health care be delivered to everyone without an intervening "private insurance institution" extracting a profit? The middle man, is he necessary? If everyone is covered in a single actuarial pool with transparent accounting, would you be able to factor the true costs of medical care and manage those costs? How do the other industrialized countries do it?

There are a number of rich and powerful liberals who fearfully protect their advantages by supporting less costly halfway measures to fixing the social ills borne by the disadvantaged.

So I support Kucinich. He is an egalitarian. He is an underdog. He is being ignored. He piques my sense of fair play.

Posted by: deeejaaay at November 6, 2003 11:35 PM | PERMALINK

Crank: Regarding the issue of national security and the “importance of the issue, the yawning gulf between the two parties and the intensity of emotion the divide generates,” all I have to say is that Bush presided over the worst failure of our intelligence and an unprovoked invasion that serves as a recruitment drive for Al Queda. You are right that there is a yawning gulf between the competent Democrats and the Republican failures. If the election were to be honestly decided on the issue of national security no one would vote for the proven failure of Bush, or the Republican Party that has given us consistent failures in this area.

Rick: you’re not a #8 guy :-)? Really, another win for Gordon? Didn’t he just get a back-to-back pair? Doesn’t he already have more than five-dozen? Why hog the spotlight? (disclaimer: I think DEI’s money advantage is part of what gets the #8 quite a bit of its success. When you have essentially a new car for every track that makes life a lot easier). And what about the guy currently blowing away the competition for the championship - #17? Are there even enough races to keep Kenseth from walking away with it?

Posted by: Lori Thantos at November 6, 2003 11:40 PM | PERMALINK


Don't know if you'll actually read this far down in the comments. :)

"I don't have the instinctive revulsion toward Lieberman that a lot of liberals seem to have..."

I just wanted to explain the reason for my revulsion. I had no problem with Lieberman until this happened:

Lynne Cheney-Joe Lieberman Group Puts Out a Blacklist

If he gets the nomination I'll support him because he's still better than the alternative. But the idea of criticizing academics for trying to understand why we were attacked, beyond hollow explanations ("they hate our freedom", "they're evil"), is simply abhorant to me. Every time I see Lieberman I remember that and get creeped out.

So, yeah, it is an instinctive revulsion, but not one without a rational basis.

Posted by: Aenea at November 6, 2003 11:43 PM | PERMALINK

Ack! My link didn't show up in the previous message - accidentally put it inside brackets like in email. Here it is:

Lynne Cheney-Joe Lieberman Group Puts Out a Blacklist

Posted by: Aenea at November 6, 2003 11:44 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I totally agree with other posts in here that seem to suggest you are too comfortable in your lifestyle to understand that economic issues will trump every other issue for this election. Voters are afraid for their livlihoods. I am glad you support Clark, but he has yet to show a campaign organization that actually reaches people. I have already received mail from Kerry, Dean, and Gephardt..... not a thing from Clark. It takes a strong organization to win. He does not have one like Dean, Kerry, or Gephardt has. Nobody will remember the Confederate flag truck driving thing a month from now anyway. It was harmless really. I support whoever wins, but Dean or Kerry are my choices. They talk like Democrats.

Posted by: Pancho & Lefty at November 6, 2003 11:49 PM | PERMALINK

And what about the guy currently blowing away the competition for the championship - #17? Are there even enough races to keep Kenseth from walking away with it?


Now you have me feeling guilty!

The guy driving the #17 is the closest thing to a hometown driver around here… At least since Kwicki died.

And, still I root for Jeffy...

I hang my head in shame.

Posted by: Rick at November 6, 2003 11:53 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Kevin that, particularly on domestic issues, instincts are as good (maybe better) of an indicator of future policies than wonkish policy positions.

In the area of foreign policy, however, Clark brings something to the table that no other candidate does. That is, I believe, the ability to repair the damage Bush has done in alienating damn near every other country on this planet. Without that, Iraq will be lost.

We simply don't have the resources, particularly military personnel, to go it alone. I fear that "Iraqification" is merely Bush's "Ace in the Hole" to cut and run before the 2004 election if the situation there continues to deteriorate.

In this White House, everything is subjugated to politics, i.e., Bush's reelection.

Posted by: Richard at November 7, 2003 12:00 AM | PERMALINK

Why Kerry?
John Kerry has more experience, wisdom, and compassion than the other candidates. These three strengths work together to create a candidate that I very excited about.

Senator Kerry’s experience in Vietnam where he was awarded three purple hearts is important but on its own is does not qualify him for the Presidency. Since serving our country in Vietnam he has become a prominent U.S. Senator who also serves on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He is a former Prosecutor who is opposed to the death penalty. He is a Vietnam vet who eventually was leading voice of opposition to the war in Vietnam. He has lived a fortunate life, but much like the Kennedy’s, he has used his advantages to fight for those less fortunate.

Senator Kerry’s position on the Iraq war has been derided by the media but as a supporter of his I can say that he has never deviated from his original position. He always believed that more diplomatic work needed to be done. He always believed that more planning needed to be done for post-war Iraq. He voted with Hillary Clinton, Tom Daschle and many other Democrats to extend to the President approval to move forward with plans to invade Iraq in order to strengthen the President’s hand in negotiations with the United Nations. Agree or disagree with that vote, Senator Kerry never agreed with Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in February.

There are a couple true progressives running for President this year. John Kerry is one of them. Howard Dean is not and Wes Clark the jury is still out. Dean has used the Iraq War to position himself in the race for President of the U.S. Howard Dean has been on the wrong side of issues surrounding Medicare/Medicaid, gun control, civil liberties, and the confederate flag. John Kerry has always been a strong progressive voice for those less fortunate then himself. Wes Clark not so much.

Watch the nine candidates for President sometime. John Kerry stands out as the most Presidential amongst them. One of Bill Clinton’s greatest strengths was his ability in any crowd whether he was with Chirac, Blair, Sharon, or Mandela to command attention. Bill Clinton was an American President in the strongest and greatest sense of the word internationally. John Kerry has that same presence and ability (minus Clinton’s baggage). We need that now more than ever.

Posted by: Mike in Colo at November 7, 2003 12:17 AM | PERMALINK

Lets not overlook a couple of advantages Clark has...What will be Dean's big "point" in the debates that will really bring a stammer out of d..d..dub..W. Lets Uhhh... taxes...ouch. Outsider status...come-on...a politician for 12 years. Foreign policy...(huge) Southern Cross over voting...not as of Hamptons/ I just don't see the great contrast and the home run shot Dean can make to trot around the bases with.

What about the about a shot four times GENUINE ALL PATRIOT, NO ACT WAR HERO vs a national guard on silver spoon/ binge status. How about great cross over appeal from the whole spectrum. There aren't many pubs clammoring for Dean...there are thousands of ind/pubs very intrigued by the southern/military/veteran/outsider thing. Dean doesn't need to insult the southerners further and put a #8 sticker on his new pickup...they are all on to him. Clark could go to a race and be thought of as a war hero southerner and a vet. Clark had to work with diplomats and dignitaries from over 10 different countries in europe to get the Kosovo campaign aligned and won and it was very taxing...with NO CASUALTIES. Dean...well, he went to Canada on a skiing trip during the nasty ass WAR and burned a few spleefs. Clark doesn't have a Northern problem...Dean has a Southern problem.

The only way to beat W is Clark/Edwards...but it looks like Dean will win the Dem nom. It really bums me out. Can I get a Hillary as V.P. PLEASE for Wes! I don't understand how Dems could be so misguided....

If Clark is on the ticket...I'll vote and donate and work like hell. If he is not, I'm not voting...Dean just doesn't have what it takes to be competitive during this time of war...ok I may be wrong. I think Bush will BEAT THE "never served anti defense/voted against the war on terror AND our troops" SHIT out of Dean.

If there is a Clinton connection...we could use some magic/money/press/org support/the Man is has been only 7 weeks and we haven't even made one commercial!

Peace... Go Clark!

Posted by: Tracer at November 7, 2003 12:37 AM | PERMALINK

Dean/Clark or Clark/Dean.

It's all good.

Posted by: Troy at November 7, 2003 01:11 AM | PERMALINK


completely agree! wish everyone would read your comment thoughtfully.

Posted by: selise at November 7, 2003 03:58 AM | PERMALINK

If the Dems want to win any significant portion of the South, the #1 thing they can do is drop their antigun stance. It gains them little and loses them much. Most of the suburban 'soccer moms' (how I hate that phrase) who support strict antigun laws are not single-issue voters and would vote for the Dem candidates anyway. On the other hand, a lot of rural and semirural voters are single-issue voters on this front: they won't vote for anyone who is antigun, period. I guess it comes down to what you guys think is more important: ranting about how evil gun ownership is, or kicking out Bush in 2004. As a libertarian, I find both major parties' positions on guns to be absurd and contradictory to their basic premises, but that's ultimately their problem. If you guys on both sides want to start a second regional Civil War, you're well on your way.

Posted by: Firebug at November 7, 2003 04:02 AM | PERMALINK

I think the problem with the Dems is basically that there's no Bill Clinton in this race. By this time in the process (which has changed) Clinton was the up and coming candidate, who had only Paul Tsongas to beat (a pity too, I liked Tsongas. But I digress). People were enthusiastic about his candidacy, and he showed the real resiliency necessary to pull the Dems together. Clinton was able to get support from the Democratic core while appealing very much to the swing voters and, yes, the southern middle-class with Confederate flags on their pickup trucks.
Dean seem to be the only one people are excited about. Most support for Clark seems to be like Kevin here, kind of a "he's the best we've got" type of attitude. There's echos of Al Gore all over again.
I think the Democratic Party would do better behind a Dean. When you're down, you have to make some bets. Dean is a long shot, but has a chance if he gets some breaks. Clark seems too much like an android, "safe bet" candidate. Like punting on fourth and short when the game is on the line, instead of just going for it. Sure, it's the safe thing to do, but sometime you gotta lay it out there if you want to win the game.

Posted by: rhinoman at November 7, 2003 04:52 AM | PERMALINK

If the Dems want to win any significant portion of the South, the #1 thing they can do is drop their antigun stance

If the libs want to win any significant portion of the civilized world, the #1 thing they can do is drop their progun stance.

Dean's "states-rights" policy position on guns (even though apparently controverted by his "god guns" statement makes sense. Cities, counties, & states with urban crime ought to be able to make any sensible gun control they want to democratically try -- 2nd amendment be damned, so to speak.

The slams on Dean above are just more divisive politics as usual, here's the full context of his statement:

"We have got to stop having our elections in the South based on race, guns, God and gays - and start having them based on jobs and health insurance and a foreign policy that's consistent with American values."

Posted by: Troy at November 7, 2003 04:58 AM | PERMALINK

(I agree that Dean being a northerner using the " have got to stop" wording is condescending and unfortunate).

Posted by: Troy at November 7, 2003 04:59 AM | PERMALINK

Clark is the anti-Democrat Democrat. i.e., he is the one least associated with the Democratic Party that so many Democrats are furious with for being spineless for the past 3 years. He is a viable and likely preferred candidate not only for the anti-Bush crowd, who will vote for whoever the Democratic candidate is, but also independents, who may hold their nose and vote for Bush if they don't like the Democratic candidate, and disgusted Democrats who will stay home if the "wrong" Democrat gets the nomination.

Posted by: danuube at November 7, 2003 05:37 AM | PERMALINK

I admittedly am no history expert, but what I do know leads me to believe that generals elected straight to the presidency are ineffectual.

Which of the 11 generals elected president are you basing this upon? How many of them can you name?

Posted by: apostropher at November 7, 2003 05:46 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, i listened to Kucinich on NPR Talk of the Nation yesterday (talking about the Iraq exit strategy), and, speaking as a Clark/Dean supporter who just totally hates Kucinich's creepy haircut, i have gotta say: Kucinich was GREAT. I was totally impressed with him. I found myself agreeing with him 100% and was impressed by both his eloquence and logic. He dealt with a Bush caller very skillfully. I can see why Max Swacky likes him. Anyone who is interested in giving it a quick listen, here is the NPR url.
(click on "Alternative Exit Strategies in Iraq")

Posted by: Trillian at November 7, 2003 05:51 AM | PERMALINK

God, Carol in California is annoying. Can't she be banned, or something? Most of the time I have absolutely no idea where she's even coming from...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who noticed. She says so many inane things it's hard to keep up, best to just scroll past and hope she eventually goes to peddle her b.s. elsewhere.

Her comment on the other thread accusing someone of being unamerican, based on a complete lie, was one that I couldn't let slide though. That told me all I needed to know about her--just a bad troll making endless anti-Democratic comments which aren't supported by reality.

Posted by: Ringo at November 7, 2003 06:19 AM | PERMALINK

A few points:

First off, the day I base my vote in any way on what someone says on the Free Republic is the day I stop voting, for the good of America.

Secondly, I found it hugely amusing to see a post suggesting Dean go govern California or another "big state" to get experience, followed immediately (in the same post) by excited support for Clark. The doublethink was staggering.

Thirdly: If Dean is currently beating your candidate into the ground, but can't beat Bush, what does that say about your candidate's chances?

Fourthly: With the SEIU and what looks like a lock on the AFSCME, Dean's very likely to win both NH and Iowa...which will give him the aura of (it not actually have) invicibility. Should Dean take both states, every other candidate has a sudden disadvantage. Succcess stacks, and people like to vote for a winner.

Fifthly: It's amazing that, after being hammered by Edwards, Kerry, Gephardt, and Shaprton...Dean is getting a giant (and surprise) Union endorsement. The man appears to be coated with Teflon.

Posted by: Morat at November 7, 2003 06:20 AM | PERMALINK

Dean, like Bush, has been consistently underestimated. In my state he has soaked up precinct officer positions and swayed party chairs which will give him an easy victory in the caucus. Non of the other candidates have even started campaigning here yet. I'm sure this is true all over and it's downright frightening at some level. Whatever you want to say about his personality, Dean is a political juggernaut that is still cruising 90% below the surface.

Posted by: Boronx at November 7, 2003 06:35 AM | PERMALINK

Why is it surprising? Of course the front-runner will be hammered by everybody else.

Posted by: Barry at November 7, 2003 06:36 AM | PERMALINK

I too am supporting Clark. However, in this comments thread, and also in a few on Hesiod's Counterspin, I see passionate support for Howard Dean, which, I must admit, is rather significant in the blogging world.

This makes me think a Clark/Dean or even Dean/Clark ticket is beginning to sound good.

Posted by: mat at November 7, 2003 06:50 AM | PERMALINK

I disagree with those who insist voters can't be told what to do. There are a bunch craving direction from a firm voice, even a demand for sacrifice. Though Dean's pointed remarks toward Southerners have veered into troubled territory they've also been overblown by some.

Furtheremore, I can't believe Democrats need southern white racist wannabes but I don't mind reaching out to them. I wouldn't be surprised if a few are looking for an excuse to shed an antiquated notion or two. Dean issued a challenge, not just to his party, but to "confederates" which some flag-bearers might interpret as the kind of sacrifice worthy of their much ballyhooed manliness. One can hope.

Even if he doesn't get many southern converts I think his frank talk helps isolate that crowd from Bush-fatigued moderates and conservative working class elsewhere. I'd want some distance from wannabe racists when they've become the story.

Clark is great. Hope he's part of a Dean/Clark or Clark/Dean ticket.

Posted by: dennisS at November 7, 2003 07:02 AM | PERMALINK

I see Dean as the most viable Democratic candidate because his supporters are passionate about his candidacy. I just don't see the same for Clark. Clark's never having held elective office, and pure military background, are ultimately a liability. In addition, Dean knows how to tack to the center when necessary, as it certainly will be if he gets to the general election. Dean also has guts, if not alweays good sense, and I think this greatly appeals to more conservative potential Dems who hate the PC-wimp wing of the party, where no one can make any faintly controversial remarks without abjectly apologizing three days afterward.
Dean's biggest liability in the general election (but also his biggest asset in the primaries) is his hot temper, his hyper-serious qualities, and his tendency to react verbally before thinking.

Dean's liabilities: he could easily blow up in September 2003 by doing something like, say, criticizing Laura Bush as a clueless small-town Texan librarian who married beneath her, as the rebel flag debacle demonstrates. The "God, gays, and guns" remark grates not because it isn't true that these are big issues in the South, but because it's so damn condescending; two or three more remarks like this and he'll have pissed off half the electorate.

I see Dean as a high-risk strategy for the Dems but as the only candidate who has a chance in hell against Bush. Even if he fails, a Democratic debacle would clear the decks and position the Dems far better in 2008.

Posted by: Daniel Calto at November 7, 2003 07:04 AM | PERMALINK

If the Dems want to win any significant portion of the South, the #1 thing they can do is drop their antigun stance. It gains them little and loses them much.

i've been advocating this for some time. the political issue has reached the point of diminishing returns, imho. and i think it's a very bad time to try and make arguments for policies that narrow the rights of our citizens.

Posted by: danelectro at November 7, 2003 07:31 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with you completely Kevin-- Dean is a disaster waiting to happen in the general election.

As frustrating as it is, in the general election it comes down to personality for many, many voters. The most "likable" candidate wins. And even I, a devoted democrat, don't think Dean is "likable". He would lose to Bush by a landslide.

I like Edwards too, and I don't know either why he hasn't gotten more support. I'd like to see a Clark/Edwards ticket.

Posted by: mary at November 7, 2003 07:35 AM | PERMALINK

Clark and Edwards are two of my favorites too but I think a Clark/Edwards ticket is a bad idea. Balance, people. It works. Clinton didn't need it, for whatever reason, but an unbalanced ticket working once (well, twice) is not proof that balance is unimportant.

Clark/Dean, on the other hand, is probably our most formidable combination as far as electability. South and North, a general and the serious anti-war candidate (the two best candidates to challenge Bush on Iraq), swing voters and the base, media skills and a volunteer/fundraising/organizing juggernaut, the guy with the best foreign policy experience and the guy with the most relevant domestice experience (yeah, Vermont's teeny but being governor of a small state is still a better test than the Senate or House), a unified party...I can't say enough about it. I think Dean/Clark would be a great ticket too, and personally I would prefer it right now. But you win over Dean supporters by putting him at VP without a risk of alienating the moderates, whereas I'm not sure you win over people who don't like Dean by putting Clark at VP.

Posted by: Katherine at November 7, 2003 07:48 AM | PERMALINK

one more thing: the traditional idea is for the VP to be the attack dog. Dean, as you may have noticed, has a certain flair in that area. I don't think we would be as close as we are in the polls right now if he hadn't been in this race. I really don't. I wouldn't give that up lightly; there's a need for a positive agenda but this election is ultimately about Bush's record.

Posted by: Katherine at November 7, 2003 07:53 AM | PERMALINK

Hi Katherine, yes I realize a Clark/Edwards ticket wouldn't be balanced. It's just a "wish list" for me, but not necessarily the best strategy.

I can't imagine Dean ever agreeing to take the VP spot on anybody's ticket. And you're right-- you wouldn't win over people who don't like Dean by putting Clark on the ticket with him.

Posted by: mary at November 7, 2003 07:55 AM | PERMALINK

Calpundit: Beautiful analogy of General Clark. You hit a home run with this article. Babe Ruth would be proud.

Posted by: Lorraine at November 7, 2003 07:59 AM | PERMALINK

Mike in CO is right that Dean is not a progressive! Lets get this message out there.

I like Clark over Kerry though.

Posted by: josh at November 7, 2003 08:16 AM | PERMALINK

It's great that Dean is raising so much money on the internet and the fact that he's done that is a clear indication that he's bringing new people into the process. But even if he raises an astonishing $100 million he won't be competitive with Bush. He'll be at a 2-1 disadvantage. And having a million volunteers will be awesome, but the Republicans literally own the national media and that will trump the huge volunteer corps.

On the other hand, the success of the Clinton years combined with the disaster that is the Bush deficit has probably eroded if not erased the notion that the Republicans are more responsible with money.

And Wes Clark represents an opportunity to debunk another Republicans myth. Namely that Republicans are more patriotic than Democrats. Clark proudly says he's a liberal and that he believes that the country was founded on liberal principles. There's simply no way to paint Wes Clark as unpatriotic. It's a trap to try and the Republicans know it. The patriotism bludgeoning stick is one of their biggest weapons and Clark neutralizes, if not reverses, it. In fact, Clark may represent a chance to "check-mate" the Republicans on this issue for a generation or two.

So far, it seems that Dean has produced the best tactical plan to defeat Bush. But because of the current political climate, he's a weaker candidate in terms of overall strategy vs. Bush. It's not clear how Dean can improve that situation.

Ulysses S.Grant deserves better than:
"Grant was a drunk" (but reconstruction was a motherfucker)

Posted by: Mark R at November 7, 2003 08:17 AM | PERMALINK

Dean would make a superb VP candidate, he's got Attack Dog written all over him, and he'd sure make Bush's life uncomfortable. I wouldn't get too worked up over it, though, Bush once ran against Ann Richards and (in a smaller way) Molly Ivins, and they both were all over his ass and he never once rose to the bait.

I think Clark's overall liability is that he seems really slick, but without Clinton's everyday guy likability. Let's see how he handles it when his own honeymoon wears off, Dean seems to be able to cope with being the front runner without going to pieces.
Also, people say that it's impossible to paint Clark as insufficiently patriotic. But if they can do it to Max Cleland (and they did), they can do it to Clark. He's a much easier target, as an E-Ring type Army brass, not a field soldier. These guys can be painted as careerists, in a way that you couldn't do to someone like Schwartzkopf or Cleland.
I still think that Dean is the best hope for the Dems. He's not the safe bet, but a safe bet spells defeat for the Democrats, unless they get really, really lucky.

Posted by: rhinoman at November 7, 2003 08:46 AM | PERMALINK

Balance, people. It works. Clinton didn't need it, for whatever reason

The reason is that the VP usually doesn't give anything to a ticket because nobody is voting for the vice-president. It can only hurt it, like Eagleton or Stockdale. Did Bentsen help Dukakis in the South? Did Kemp help Dole in New York?

I think the import of the VP slot is greatly exaggerated.

Posted by: apostropher at November 7, 2003 08:48 AM | PERMALINK

There are three factors to consider before making an endorsement. The first is the candidate's qualifications. The second factor is message. Do you agree with the candidate's message? The next is the campaign, or the effectiveness of the candidate at articulating that message. I like Clark's qualifications and I agree with most of his message, but his campaign has not been effective at articulating his message. I also like Dean's qualifications and agree with most of his message. What puts Dean over the top for me is his campaign. Dean's campaign is bar none the best out of all the Dems. I would say Dean's campaign is even better than Gore's was in 2000. Dean is about to flatten the other candidates like roadkill, Clark included. I still like Clark and I think he would make a great Veep candidate, but unless he gets his campaign together fast he won't be the nominee no matter how much anybody likes his message.

Posted by: Big Tex at November 7, 2003 08:59 AM | PERMALINK


Clark would welcome the chance to have patriotism made into a big issue vs. George W.

Posted by: Mark R at November 7, 2003 09:00 AM | PERMALINK

There are so many comments on this page this probably won't be read. However, if it is, I wish Clark supporters would contact MSNBC (and other stations that allow this to happen) as I have, below:

During the 11 a.m. hour today your program perpetuated a specious slander against Gen. Wesley Clark when you allowed GOP Gen. Schwarzkopf to repeat the allegations made against Clark by Gen Shelton and former Defense Secy. Cohen.

If your news readers kept up with current events you might have learned that Shelton refused to say what he had against Clark....only implied it was a question of integrity. This is nothing more than a smear.

I believe, along with others who know, that what Shelton and Cohen have against Clark is rooted in jealousy.

Check this out.....and keep up with the news. Shame on you for not having someone there to answer this piece of filthy gossip.


Posted by: Jo Ann at November 7, 2003 09:08 AM | PERMALINK

Sooner or later you guys are going to figure out that Clark is simply John Edwards with more press.

A political rookie doesn't have a prayer against Rove, nor any other experienced political machine (ni the Dems' case, Dean).

Posted by: Rob Mac K at November 7, 2003 09:39 AM | PERMALINK

He's a much easier target, as an E-Ring type Army brass, not a field soldier.


He took 4 bullets walking around in Vietnam. He was CAVALRY. He ran TANK outfits. What are you talking about?

You're making it sound like he rose up the ranks behind a desk, via the Quartermaster corps or something.

Posted by: Julia Grey at November 7, 2003 09:45 AM | PERMALINK
Sooner or later you guys are going to figure out that Clark is simply John Edwards with more press.

A political rookie doesn't have a prayer against Rove, nor any other experienced political machine (ni the Dems' case, Dean).

No military officer with even one star is a "political rookie".

Posted by: cmdicely at November 7, 2003 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

Running for office is completely different than being a career soldier. You can't run for office armed only with a resume. You need political experience both running for office and governing, and Clark doesn't have either (and Edwards precious little, which is why he's getting pasted despite the fact that he should be the ideal anti-Bush).

That being said, I agree with the fellow who said that barring some unforseen politcal land mine, the nomination race ended yesterday, you guys just haven't figured it out yet. If Dean captures both Iowa and New Hampshire (which he will, with both big labor unions on board), he wins it all before it even gets started for anyone else.

Zogby even has Dean preferred over Clark amongst Southern voters (of which I am one, along with my 200+ other local Dean Meetuppers in a Southern battleground state - Clark has perhaps two dozen people at his Meetups here.)

Posted by: Rob Mac K at November 7, 2003 10:17 AM | PERMALINK
Running for office is completely different than being a career soldier. You can't run for office armed only with a resume.

You don't get appointed SACEUR with only a resume either. Dean's definitely got a "relevant political experience" advantage, but its not as stark as you portray it, I don't think.

I do think that the union endorsements through things heavily in Dean's favor.

Posted by: cmdicely at November 7, 2003 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

The only thing more lame than being pro-affirmative action is adding a comment to a weblog with 173 comments posted.

Posted by: bj at November 7, 2003 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

Well, we'll just have to disagree. I like Clark, I'd campaign and vote for him were he the nominee, but the fact of the matter is that his campaign has not caught on the way I thought it might and in my humble opinion, the reason for that is because Clark lacks the requisite skills and experience to campaign for national office. I think he could develop those in time, with some seasoning, but this time around I think those deficiencies are going to doom him. I hope he stays in public life in some capacity even if he's not on the ticket.

Posted by: Rob Mac K at November 7, 2003 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

OK, sure, Clark has combat experience. So did Max Cleland. Didn't help him.
And, sure, anyone who dedicates his life to the US Army is beyond having his patriotism questioned.

But I'm not talking about reality. I'm talking about politics. Never confuse the two.

The question is not, "What is Wes Clark?". The question is, "What can Wes Clark be made into?". Both his political team and Bush's political team are working on this very, very hard. From that perspective, I think Clark will be vulnerable on the campaign trail. Just my opinion, there it is. Like I said, let's see how he copes when his honeymoon is over. Clinton started to be taken seriously after the press started snarking at him, Gennifer with a "G" took her shots, and he still came out fighting. Dean is doing pretty well at this. Let's see how Clark does it.

Posted by: rhinoman at November 7, 2003 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

Good point on Max Cleland. It was Georgia voters who voted him out of office, right? Well, his service record, and his wounds were well known. So it must mean people don't vote 'sympathy votes,' any more than they give military men credence for leadership skills outside of an army base.

Clark got a big swoon when he showed up on the track. Then, it faded. Happens. But the reality hasn't yet registered in Arkansas. Hillary Clinton IS Clark's campaign 'manager' when it comes to finances; and where he's getting his money to run. So it should be interesting to see how this news, that Clark isn't running all that well against Dean, is going to hold up.

The sooner the democrats begin to notice something is out of whack with their clown show; and they get behind Dean, probably the better for the run against Bush that will need lots of energy to keep the democrats from sinking under the outrage of the voting public. (What will Sharpton and Mosley-Braun, do? Jessie Jackson's footsteps contain some kind of stage glue. These two may not exit gracefully at all.)

The truth is, though, that if a Black Man was sick and Dr. Dean showed up at his bedside, the man would be very grateful, indeed. I'm not so sure in such a case that the appearance of either Sharpton or Mosley-Braun would bring any kind of relief. I'm not willing to write off Black voters as sheeple.

In California, if you can learn anything from the recall election, the Latino vote, which is very strong here, only got Bustamante 55% support. True, it's a winning percentage; but it wasn't enough to carry the recall into Davis' win column.

Do you think professional pollsters, and others in the political sphere notice this?

Posted by: Carol in California at November 7, 2003 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

I like Dean better than Clark because Dean doesn't back down. He'll raise eveyone's taxes and will fight gun control and isn't afraid to say it. It's time we had a fighter even if he doesn't win the big election.

Posted by: dean yes yes at November 7, 2003 02:15 PM | PERMALINK

"I like Dean better than Clark because Dean doesn't back down. He'll raise eveyone's taxes and will fight gun control and isn't afraid to say it. It's time we had a fighter even if he doesn't win the big election."

Oh wowie, Kevin Drum gave it his best shot. However, I don't think it did much good. The ardent Liberals aren't listening to him. This is Howard Dean’s year---and the train is already pulling away from the station. Is there any truth that George McGovern will be closely advising the Governor?

Posted by: David Thomson at November 7, 2003 03:35 PM | PERMALINK

RE: Carol in California -- "Clinton won against Bush #41, in 1992, because Ross Perot put up his own money, and ran a grass roots organization called United We Stand that grabbed 19% of the vote. It would have been more of a percentage, but Ross decided to 'quit' ... and then didn't. Leaving his insiders in tears. With all this craziness Perot pulled 19% of the vote. That's why Bush #41's re-election bid crashed."

Ah, Carol, Carol ... your historical revisionism is positively breathtaking in scope, and I can't decide whether it's due to conscious duplicity on your part, or simply self-delusion.

Do you honestly believe that, if not for Ross Perot, President George H.W. Bush (Bush 41) would have been re-elected over challenger Bill Clinton in 1992?

Bush 41 was the INCUMBENT PRESIDENT, and as incumbent he received only 38% of the votes cast in 1992. This was the lowest percentage for any incumbent since the bumbling President William Howard Taft finished in a dismal 3rd place in 1912 against New Jersey Governor Woodrow Wilson and Taft's predecessor, Theodore Roosevelt (who left the GOP to run as an independent).

In other words, 62% -- SIXTY-TWO PER CENT!!! -- voted AGAINST the incumbent Bush administration in 1992.

When an incumbent draws only 38% of the vote in his or her re-election bid, the fundamental problem with the incumbent's lack of success is the incumbent, and not outside factors.

Further, Bush 41 got only 60% of the vote in GOP primaries against Pat Buchanan. That would lead most reasonable people to believe that by 1992, most voters -- be they GOP, Democrat, or independent -- were soured on the incumbent president.

Ross Perot's mercurial insurgency probably took more votes away from eventual winner Bill Clinton than from George H.W. Bush, and in all likelihood kept Clinton from gaining a true majority (he got 43%), which led to GOP claims about Clinton's so-called "illegitimacy".

Posted by: Donald at November 7, 2003 04:12 PM | PERMALINK
I want Clark to debate Dubya next fall and cut his legs off at the fuggin' knees on foreign policy, domestic policy, extemporaneous speech, and overall leadership qualities.

The advantage of a Dean/Clark ticket would be we'd get to see Clark debate Cheney.

Posted by: cmdicely at November 7, 2003 04:48 PM | PERMALINK

When was the last time the 18-24 year olds decided an election?

Posted by: h in colorado at November 7, 2003 10:20 PM | PERMALINK

Someone way up thread wrote:

(1) As Hesiod pointed out in an anti-Dean blogpost, Dean has already succeeded in energizing most of the other candidates against Bush. You didn't hear Gephardt saying "miserable failure" pre-Dean.

Well, actually that's not really true, as Gephardt used the phrase in November of 1991 to describe the Bush Administration... The first Bush Administration, that is.

Posted by: MB at November 8, 2003 02:26 AM | PERMALINK

Someone else opined well up in the thread that Clark's lack of experience in government would be attacked by Bush and Rove ... but there's a quick, cutting reply to them if they are foolish enough to do so: "Well, if I run into Arnold I'll let him know you don't think he's up to the job, Mr Bush."

That said, I'm leaning towards Dean. One of the qualities people like about Bush is that he's supposedly a "straight shooter". The reality is that he's a liar, but his simplistic worldview (or way of presenting a simplistic worldview) just makes him *seem* like a straight shooter.

But Dean can beat him at that game, because Dean really is a straight shooter, but not because he sees the world in black and white. Rather he cuts to the chase, and more importantly sticks up for what he says, even when attacked for it, ie the confederate flag and race, god, gays and guns things.

Believe it or not, people tend not to mind the ocassional lapse in brain-to-mouth judgement from a leader, as long as he/she is honest and sticks to their guns without leaping to apologise at the drop of a hat ... because that's just weakness.

Clark looks great on paper, but he needs to do a lot and quickly to gain momentum. Dean just needs to keep doing what he's been doing, so for now, my money and my hopes are on Dean.

Could change, of course.

Posted by: Damon at November 8, 2003 02:42 AM | PERMALINK

"I just wish Dean has said 'Dale Earnhardt #3' stickers on the back of their trucks. Same statement, but less politically tone-deaf."

Great line. And anyone who has spent much time in a state like Tennessee (unlike Dean) would know it. I still don't see Dean getting a single Southern state. It will be hard for him to win when he starts out down 160-0 in the Electoral college.

Posted by: Robert at November 8, 2003 06:21 AM | PERMALINK

Robert -- That's not right. First, giving TX, LA, MS, AL, GA, FL, SC, NC, and VA to the GOP gives them only 136. I wouldn't count AR and TN because the Dems (OK, Clinton) have shown an ability to win them. And don't forget Gore "lost" FL by a whopping, you got it, 537 votes. Razor thin margin that could have gone the other way.

Second, the Dems can walk away with CA, NY, MN, DC, MD, MA, HI, and that's 125 EVs. Throw in Dem softballs like RI, VT, and CT, you are up to 139 EVs.

GOP counters with the Big States Out West and MidWest--ID, MT, WY, NV, UT, AZ, AK, OK, KS, NE, SD, ND and IN. GOP now up to 204.

So giving up the South, while unwise, is not fatal. The race starts, as it usually does, with the GOP ahead by about 204-139.

Not a bad position for Dems -- PA (21), IL (21), NJ (15), OH (20), and WI (10) close the gap pretty quickly.

Keeping the Gore states, plus winning only
one of FL, NH, AR, or TN tips the election to the Dems.

The truth is, if the Dems win a single Southern state, GWB may as well call the moving company. So your premise is correct--in the reverse. If the GOP doesn't start the race with all 136 EVs from the South, they are toast. has a link to a nifty "Electoral Calculator."

Posted by: 537 votes at November 8, 2003 09:43 AM | PERMALINK

Pretty much agree with the post. Swing voters decide Presidential elections, and Rove and his gang are chomping at the bit to face Dean, who's appeal drops off sharply after you're done with the liberal wing of the Democratic party of which I'm a member of. With Clark however, you couldn't invent a better swing vote magnet if you tried. From the South, Rhodes scholar, Four star General, won a war WITH ALLIES and ZERO CASUALITES...

Rove knows all this, which is why you see the National Review, the Weekly Standard and all the right wing talking heads spinning like crazy to try and make Clark look bad.

But anyway, the prime directive for me (and for any sane human being) in this election is that Bush MUST LOSE! (AGAIN) And thus, because Clark stands the best chance of trouncing Bush, he's my man.

Posted by: john McKinzey at November 9, 2003 03:29 AM | PERMALINK

Carol in California: To those who don't believe there's a Clinton connection with Clark, should be more aware that both Clinton and Clark share Arkansas as their hometown. And, Hillary is Clark's FUND RAISER.

This stuff about Hillary is absolute nonsense.

And who cares that Clinton and Clark have the same home state? I live in Virginia; does that mean I love Ollie North?

Posted by: Phil Riley at November 10, 2003 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

So giving up the South, while unwise, is not fatal. The race starts, as it usually does, with the GOP ahead by about 204-139.

Um, why would you want to give Bush a head start?

Posted by: Phil Riley at November 10, 2003 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I am really interested in which primary(s), Wes is expected to do well in.

South Carolina, for one.

Posted by: Phil Riley at November 10, 2003 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

A lot of the pundits on this board seem to have been confused by the drone of conventional wisdom. The idea that Dean is unelectable or even less electable than the other Dems is a blinkered one. Yes, the odds are against the Dems next year, and Dean is no exception. But do you really think that Clark is a better foe vs. Bush? Come on! The guy doesn't have the mettle for big time politics. Can't you see that when he stands before the camera? He looks so amateur, like some dumb smiling nobody a magician has drug on stage to test the sharpness of some swords. He's too scripted and bland. Dean has some spark. It may not prove strong enough to ignite a voter conflagration, but at least people won't totally tune him out. There are things worst than being too liberal (or conservative for that matter). What about too boring? Bush is theorically too dumb to be president, but that didn't stop him.

Posted by: Jeff at November 19, 2003 06:23 AM | PERMALINK

Gratitude is born in hearts that take time to count up past mercies.

Posted by: Takahashi Retsu at December 10, 2003 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

I am an independent -one vote in THE group which will determine the winner in the next election. While firing up the base raises turn out, swing voters decide elections. Caveat: The vast majority of swing voters are not paying attention yet so the fact that I have been since the day after the last election makes me an odd independent. I did and do support the war in Iraq but because the war already happened I am not interested in whether a candidate supported it but in what they would do NOW. Given all that here is my take on Dean and Clark ( the others have, IMO, already lost). Both Dean and Clark claim they could have talked France, Germany and Russia into either supporting the war or bringing some other pressure to bear on Saddam Hussein that would have left him in power but prevented SH from developing WMDs and therefore those 3 would be helping rebuild Iraq now. Not a chance. European worry about American power and its uses did not begin with GWB but with HST. Clinton was very popular in Europe ( more so than in the US) and HE could not get France, Germany and Russia to cooperate on Iraq (and he was just pushing better inspections) or the Balkans. Remember the war in Kosovo was NOT sanctioned by the UN. Clinton and everyone else paying attention knew it would be vetoed so he did not even ask. Both also want the UN in charge of the Iraqi reconstruction. When the UN gets Kosovo up and running ( 4 years and ticking) as a democracy they'll have a better chance of selling this idea. But nothing divides them here except the fact that Clark KNOWS fighting a war in which every target must be debated by every member screws up the mission and he is pretending it did not in Kosovo. Ignorance beats deception?
Neither has any real plans for Iraq as it exists NOW other than more or less troups while the big questions on Iraqi reconstruction are all civil: the new government, the constitution, the day to day politics and government services. How would Dean or Clark improve the physical infrastructure in Iraq? How would they promote small town institutions which are the forebearers of democracy? Zero to Zero.
neither have displayed any detailed policies for the other foreign policy questions facing the US. tied game.

Domestics ( 5th floor) Dean has both policies and a record on all domestic issues, Clark has no record to judge and came out as having no opinion on and little knowledge of any domestic issues. Huge Dean advantage as long as one can stand Dean's positions. Centrists probably can as Dean is left on some right on others just as most swing voters are ( issues may vary) and swing voters like that appearance of non-ideological pragmatism even when they disagree on an issuue or 2. But most swing voters will not know Clark had no domestic opinions and will accept his views as his when they start to take notice so Dean's advantage decreases dramatically. But then Dean can tack back to center without the swing voters knowing. If he does he loses all his "integrity" votes and the enthusiastic grass root volunteers his campaign is built on.

Gaffes: Clark has to deal with dozens of pro-Republican statements he has made in recent years as well as his late choice of party. Dean has alienated many southern voters because all of his statements about bringing in white southern votes have been condescending. "Confederate flags in trucks" describes many but not all and the rest are not flattered: that southerners should not base their vote on "race, guns, God and gays" also denigrates southern whites who believe they put as much rational thinking into their votes as everyone else does. Do you think the southern white voter is so dumb that he or she notices only the Republicans using these issues? To top it off, when Dean did back pedal he further alienated this crowd " I understand that the Confederate flag is a loathsome symbol". So much for reaching out to the proud southern white working man. advantage Clark.
Brainiac issue is a draw. American voters are not enthused by "eggheads" see Adlai
Clark as new Eisenhower. LOL!! Eisenhower was a huge hero for his leadership in a huge war. His name recognition was wide. Clark was a big bureaucrat in a small war in which bombing was the only action and few Americans knew we were bombing let alone why. If Dems avoid this ridiculous comparison they can use both Clark's military background and his Kosovo experience ( not many swing voters know just how inapt his experience is to his policies) to great advantage. Dean has no background to give his pronouncements on war any weight. That Bush did not does not matter anymore; he has present day creds.( and for the 2 Kerry fans out there- being a small time officer or grunt does not in any way prepare one for being CIC. Bush has done that Kerry has not. That Bush may not have done it well is not answered by Kerry reminding everyone he was a low level officer)
campaign fervor/organization. Dean has it all over Clark on both inspite of the call for Clark from the grass roots.
VP slot: "balance" is not the purpose. Gaining electoral votes is. There is no reason to choose a vp who will not bring in more ELECTORAL votes. When the Dems choose a NE presidential candidate they pick a southern VP to help bring in southern states and spin it as "balance" but the electoral vote is THE determining factor. Clinton /Gore was not "balanced". Clinton needed help in the south not the north. Clark /Dean will pull in how many more electoral votes than Clark can? The northeast is pretty solidly Dem already, except NH. Dean as VP might bring in NH ( how many electoral votes) But then he might not. Favorite son status did not help Gore in Tennessee. But if the south is a write-off, then why waste your time on another southerner on the ticket? Dean /Clark is more logical if one thinks a vp nomination = favorite son votes; the Dems need more southern states.
I have more but I know I have gone on too long already.

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Everyone is born with genius, but most people only keep it a few minutes.

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An unimportant door is never locked.

Posted by: Sakano Jennifer Goldsborough at January 10, 2004 02:28 AM | PERMALINK

I think Mr. Wesley Clark should be president because George Bush is taking the United States to hell in a gift basket. He is causing a big panic for most of the people in the United States and it is to much for us to handle. I feel that the united states should let Wesley Clark have a chance to help the united States, and try to clean up the mess George W. Bush caused.

Posted by: renee at January 20, 2004 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

Genius hath electric power which earth can never tame.

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People are just smart enough to not be happily ignorant.

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