Newspaper Blogs

February 20, 2004

WESLEY CLARK....A number of people have noted that although Howard Dean may have failed to win the Democratic primary this year, he nonetheless had an outsized impact on the race. Unlike ordinary losers who just fade away without making any real impact, Dean can claim to have affected the race in two big ways: first, by revolutionizing fundraising via the internet, and second, by providing a welcome injection of backbone into the campaign. He demonstrated that voters wanted someone who would go on the offensive, stay on the offensive, and make no apologies for it.

Today, Washington Monthly editor Paul Glastris makes the same point about Wesley Clark. He's not just an ordinary loser, he's one who made a difference despite his loss:

Before he entered the race, Democrats were suffering from a peculiar cognitive dissonance on national security....This unwillingness to confront the issue of national security made it possible for Democrats to convince themselves that Howard Dean could beat President Bush.

As soon as General Clark entered the race, however, Democrats could no longer avoid the issue. General Clark leapt to the top of most national polls of likely Democratic voters even though he had no experience in elective office, little name recognition and no staff or money beyond what he was provided by a handful of amateur organizers. And this wasn't just a momentary bump; he stayed near the top of the polls for weeks.

Glastris makes a similar point about religion, which I'm not sure I buy, but I think he's right about national security. It's not all Clark's doing, but I do think Clark demonstrated that serious talk about national security was something Democrats both could and should do. That changed the dynamic of the race and will likely change the dynamic of the general election too.

When I decided to support Clark last year I did so knowing that it was a risky proposition. I liked his background and his policy ideas, especially on national security, but I also knew he was an untested campaigner and didn't have much time to learn on the job. And sure enough, he had a hard time finding his footing and avoiding the organizational problems and minor gaffes that can keep a campaign from ever catching fire.

But I don't regret it. He may not have won, but I do think he had an impact. If the Democrats win in November, I think that Clark, like Howard Dean, can take at least a small measure of credit for the victory.

Posted by Kevin Drum at February 20, 2004 10:41 AM | TrackBack


when does katha pollitt find the time off from google stalking her old boyfriend to churn out the shit she writes?

Posted by: rr at February 20, 2004 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

Ditto, Kevin.

I thought Clark was a great candidate, but I guess he turned out to be a rather poor campaigner. The fact that the right spun him as some "whacko", I think, showed just how dangerous a candidate they thought he might be.

He wasn't just a strutting pretender, he was the real deal when it came to the military, and he is smart as a whip. I hope he stays around in some capacity and will consider giving it another run sometime.

Posted by: Pug at February 20, 2004 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

That was an interesting observation about Clark. Don't overlook the need to inject faith into a campaign. That's yet another issue that the Democrats have to wrest from the Republicans. At some point, the Democrats will have to figure out how to out-God them and so remove their stranglehold on anything faith related. General Clark's remarks on faith at Interfaith Alliance and elsewhere are very important. It's clear from those remarks that he's a deep thinker and not just talking about faith because it's popular. The next best responses at Interfaith Alliance to the four questions they put to the candidates was Dennis Kucinich.

I think that the Democrats ought to wrest whatever issues they can from the Republicans and not be afraid to take strong stands and tell it like it is about any of it.

As a side note, I think that everyone should take a look at Jimmy Carter's blog over at the Carter Center. The man is truly inspiring.

Posted by: Debbie at February 20, 2004 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

Clark should immediately endorse Edwards, and offer (privately) to serve as his vice president.

I have a bad, bad feeling about Kerry. Even though he's a veteran. Perhaps you heard?

Posted by: Realish at February 20, 2004 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

Debbie: I don't doubt that Democrats ought to get more comfortable with religion -- although I'm not yet convinced it's a huge issue -- it's just that I'm a bit skeptical that Clark really took this to a different level. He may have mentioned it more often than other candidates, but it's only in the area of national security that he made a real impact, I think.

Posted by: Kevin Drum at February 20, 2004 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

I thought Clark was the most lacerating on the attack on Bush. His military credentials gave it special weight when the subject was security matters. I really wish he were still around.

Posted by: Bob H at February 20, 2004 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

I don't see this. Clark may have had some impact, but I think the biggest impact was the continued mess in Iraq, the holiday terror alerts, and the Kay Report. No sane observer could credit the Republicans with an advantage on national security after that.

Posted by: elliottg at February 20, 2004 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

I thought Clark really shined when he was interviewed one on one and in a clear concise logical argument showed step by step why the iraqi war was a distraction on the war on terrorism.

Gen Clark seems to be one of those people that learns from his mistakes and doubles his efforts when he is on losing end .. I imagine that Gen Clark is going to be a force in the democratic party in the future..and i am extremely happy about this

Posted by: smartone at February 20, 2004 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

As a Clark supporter, I was proud of what I thought was a very clean campaign that kept its attention focused on the challenge of unseating Bush, rather than on sniping at the other candidates.

I just wish his articulation of his message could have been clearer, and control of the media better.

Posted by: sockeye at February 20, 2004 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

Would AWOL be the smoking hole in the Bush campaign if it weren't for Clark? (Granted by accident.) I'm not sure if Kerry would have been able, or willing, to bring it out. Clark was the only lighting rod who could take the hit without running away from the subject. Another candidate who put some spine in the Democrats and Kerry.

Posted by: ch_noir at February 20, 2004 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

I really like Clark, and I'm sad about the end of his campaign. I think he has a ton of integrity, and was weak on the stump-speech rhetoric and BS.
I hope he re-enters politics in the future, or participates in a future administration. (I'd also like to hear more thoughts about his run from his son's perspective.)

Posted by: Tecla at February 20, 2004 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

If the Democrats win in November, I think that Clark, like Howard Dean, can take at least a small measure of credit for the victory.

And if we lose, do they get some of the blame?

Posted by: rachelrachel at February 20, 2004 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

I think he should be invited to be the opening speaker at the convention. Let's start the campaign for the general election with a bang, taking the defense issue to the democrats.

"Ladies and Gentlemen: Introducing Gen. Wesley Clark, No. 1 in his class at West Point, a Rhodes Scholar, a four-star general, and the former Supreme Allied Commander for NATO. A winner of the Silver Star and the veteran of 38 years of public service in the US Army. A man who knows more about the use of military power than the entire republican establishment."

"Thank you for that kind introduction. I have a simple and sad message to all Americans tonight. We have have been betrayed by the Bush administration. We have been lied to, by people who sought to use our military's power in their own self-interest. America today is weaker, has fewer friends and is at greater risk of a new terror attack than at any time since Pearl Harbor.

I call on all Americans to reject the blood-soaked militarism of the Bush administration. I call on all Americans to vote for John [kerry/edwards] as representing our last best chance for real peace.

I have devoted my life in the service of the defense of this country. I have led men in combat, and led men on the road to peace. I know that this country will be safe only when it is led by john [e/k]."

So i'm not a speechwriter. i think the good general could bring tremendous credibility to the democratic candidate on national defense.


Posted by: FDL at February 20, 2004 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

Clark's influence:

A Clinton-sent missile to torpedo John Edwards and keep the 08 open for Hillary.

He succeeded.

Beyond of the biggest jokes of a supposedly serious candidacy since John Glenn or Phil Graham.

Posted by: Blue at February 20, 2004 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

Not to be too critical, but what affect do you think Clark had in muting Edwards' showing early on v. Kerry? and do you think, if he had an effect in this way, that he contributed to inflating Kerry's bubble?

Posted by: bubba at February 20, 2004 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

wow, Blue, that's really stupid.

Posted by: Tecla at February 20, 2004 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

I liked Clark from the start, and I think he did a remarkable job of campaigning given his lack of experience and preparation. This is a man who jumped into a full swing presidential campaign with no organization, no talking points, no rehearsals, etc. It's a testament to his extraordinary abilities that his flubs were as minor as they were.

I also think it's clear in retrospect that he effectively cleared the way for Kerry. He showed the attractiveness of a military background, just as Dean showed the attractiveness of Bush-bashing. Kerry has that military background, but he also has the rest of the resume needed to inspire confidence.

Clark is a real asset for the Democratic party. I'm very happy that he's going to stay involved.

Posted by: Andrew at February 20, 2004 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

Instead of a high-risk northern strategy with John Kerry, why not opt for an Edwards-Clark ticket that leverages the South? Edwards and Clark are by far the most dynamic of the Democrats, and Clark shores up Edwards in foreign policy and national security. Perfect complements. Moreover, as a measure of southern intensity, look at the voter turnout in the Tennessee and Oklahoma primaries. (South Carolina and Virginia held caucuses in 2000, so there are no vote totals to compare.)

TN Democratic primary votes cast in 2000 209,587
TN Democratic primary votes cast in 2004 358,840

71% increase

OK Democratic primary votes cast in 2000 126,965
OK Democratic primary votes cast in 2004 299,806

136% increase

Now compare the votes cast for Edwards/Clark versus Kerry

TN votes cast for Ed/Cl 182,928
TN votes cast for Kerry 151,436

OK votes cast for Ed/Cl 179,836
OK votes cast for Kerry 81,073

If southern intensity is high, and if the South is the election maker/breaker, why not play to it with strength?

An issue with Edwards has been his relative inexperience in foreign policy and national security coming at a time when Bush has screwed America so badly in the world. Clark on the ticket could solve that problem, and the two of them could neutralize, and quite possibly overtake Bush in the South. They each also have national appeal.

This approach also provides a haven for vagabond Deaniacs, who always had an affinity for Clark, and who seem to detest John Kerry; a better coalescing of the party. I like the thought of a unified approach to kicking shrub's ass.

Posted by: poputonian at February 20, 2004 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

A Clinton-sent missile to torpedo John Edwards and keep the 08 open for Hillary.

Funny, before Clark was a Clinton-sent missile to torpedo Dean's candidacy. Can't the propagandists make up their minds?

Posted by: Constantine at February 20, 2004 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

Amazing how Iowa matters so much.

I hope Clark ends up in a democratic president's cabinet in January.

Posted by: carsick at February 20, 2004 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

Neither the multicultural crackpot left or the antiabortion religious right reflect the views of most registered Democrats or Republicans respectively. When they dominate the primaries and more importantly the news coverage of the primaries, normal, relatively apolitical voters are alienated.

Posted by: mark safranski at February 20, 2004 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

I don't understand this notion that "unwillingness to confront the issue of national security made it possible for Democrats to convince themselves that Howard Dean could beat President Bush." Dean's campaign did confront the issue of national security in a rather fundamental way. In fact, it was the Democrat's attempt to avoid the national security issue in October 2002 (by just going along with Bush's request for war powers, then attempting to change the subject to the economy) that lost the Senate for the Dems and launched Dean's campaign into the big time.

So, in short, Dean took off because he was willing to address the national security issue, however, he went outside the neolib consensus in doing so. When Clark got into the race, he took many of the same foreign policy and national security positions as Dean, however, folks like Kevin felt more comfortable because he had the uniform, so they felt he could get away with opposing war.

Note that I am defining "national security" in a broader sense than is the usual practice in the press. As Dean used to point out in the stump speech, the Berlin wall fell not because the West's overwhelming military superiority caused the East to surrender, but because the people behind the iron curtain wanted to be like us. Today there are few countries where a poll would show that people admire America in the same way ... and that is a national security issue.

So, maybe Clark made Dean's war opposition more "respectable". But in the end, the lines I heard coming out of Kerry's and Edwards' mouths as they shifted to a more vigorous attack on Bush were Dean lines, not Clark lines.

Posted by: Joe Buck at February 20, 2004 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

That's an interesting observation, one I never considered. I think you're right. He was well known and respected for his knowledge from his TV stint, and of course for his background. His campaign made it immpossible for the Repugs to claim war issues for their own.

Thanks. I knew there was a good reason I joined the Draft Clark movement.

Posted by: tings at February 20, 2004 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

I still believe that Dean/Clark is the best ticket that never was, would have changed America into something better, like FDR in the Depression, and Truman rebuilding Europe and Japan, and starting the whole civil rights thing by integrating the army. Thank God, no more neocons for awhile,hopefully, or we are really screwed, but we don't need more of governing for it's own sake, like Clinton, and that's what we are going to get. A chance for real change rarely comes along, and we blew it.

Posted by: peteypuck at February 20, 2004 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

I was really interested in Clark when he first announced. To the point that my wife was convinced I was a Clark guy, even though I swore otherwise.

I never really got sold on the guy, though. He has a lot of amazing and unique qualities, but he's got a few major things that suggest he's not quite ready to campaign at this level.

Most of all, he has what you might call "lively mind syndrome" -- he's so sharp and so intrigued by the world around him that he rarely approaches the same issue in quite the same way he did the last time. Staying "on message" becomes a nightmare, in that scenario.

During that time that I was "not being sold" on Clark, I became ever-more impressed with John Edwards -- in part because he does something that Clark did. The two of them actually talked in substantive ways about the steps to take to protect America from terrorist attacks.

The other candidates were so completely focused on Bush-bashing that the issue of 9/11 only came up as a kind of backdrop for explaining how Bush ruined our country.

Clark treated the terror threat as an issue in it's own right. And no Democrat can win the White House without doing that. We were indeed attacked on 9/11, and Americans want a president who seems focused and engaged on what to do about it.

That's a strange observation to make, I know -- Clark as the anti-terrorism guy, and Edwards also as an anti-terrorism guy in spite of his lack of experience.

That's how I see it, though. Edwards has serious policies for combatting terror, and more importantly he *talks* about them. He brings them up. Acts like their important.

I've often wondered, in the last week or two, what this race might have been like if Edwards had some of the resources or media attention of his rivals. Clark had the Clinton people behind him, and with it a lot of money. He also started his campaign at the top of the national polls -- even higher than Dean.

Kerry has the party establishment behind him. Dean has a huge grassroots and fundraising network.

I sense that Edwards did more with less than anyone in this campaign. I think he's uniquely strong, as a candidate, but underresourced.

Take a moment to consider what the Bush folks are planning to do to Kerry, per this article out today. Then imagine their campaign against Edwards. It's worth thinking about.

Posted by: William Swann at February 20, 2004 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

I got interested in Clark because I thought he could beat Bush, what with the glittering resume and all. But I stayed with him because of the biography. He's the anti-Bush incarnate. Instead of always seeking the easy way out, doing a half-assed job and sliding by, he has done what he saw as the right, but difficult, thing, even when it meant risking his life or risking his career. I love that he looked at Rwanda straight on, when the rest of the world (including the Clinton administration) just wanted to avert its eyes. I hope he gets offered Sec. of State. We certainly need someone who can mend the fences the Bushies have so gleefully smashed.

Posted by: Julie B. at February 20, 2004 12:28 PM | PERMALINK


Another good post. I have been reading Calpundit regularly for just a short while, and I find I like your posts. Your numbers were intriguing.

Edwards/Clark would be two Southerners. It worked for Clinton/Gore, but both had more experience in elective politics than the combination Edwards/Clark. If Clark were to energetically endorse Edwards, I think his support would be more influential if people imagined him as a candidate for Secretary of Defense. It wasn't just Republicans who though Clark kind of kooky, and Clark's conversion to the Democratic party was, shall we say, sudden.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler at February 20, 2004 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

You know, again it refuses to cut and paste. I hate that. Anyway, there's an apt quote in the post I'm referring to.
Kevin, it is always heartwarming to see someone defend a good candidate they admire. Moreover, your national security argument furnishes a shiny, compelling narrative for all who like one, not least disappointed Clark supporters. But I must call bullshit. You may indeed not have noticed Kerry speaking to national security, or for instance publishing an op-ed in the Post about Korea, long before Clark declared, but that doesn't mean he didn't. I'm certain you want a Democrat to win as much as I do, natch, and will see the danger of continuing to imply that Kerry is brainless once he crosses the Potomac. He's not, and he hasn't been. Maybe you need to see the nomination now.

Posted by: John Isbell at February 20, 2004 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

I was also a Clark supporter, and I like Edwards. He has a quality of Clinton's that I miss on the national stage. He looks so genuinely happy to be there. I know that sounds trite, but aside from prancing around in his flight suit, when was the last time Bush looked happy in the job? Or even comfortable? Or truly confident? I really get irritated with Bush when he performs state visit duties. As he's escorting visiting dignitaries through the routines you just expect any minute to see him roll his eyes. He looks like a teenager whose parents have made him get dressed up and go through this crap.

Again, I'm sounding trite, but at heart I am really disappointed that Bush either has no idea, or doesn't give a shit, about the effect a state visit to the United States has on a head of state from Africa or Eastern Europe.

However, my original point for posting was to suggest that we already have an inexperienced president with a powerhouse of a vice-president to give "guidance." I would be wary of an Edwards-Clark ticket. Let's make sure that our next president can stand alone.

Posted by: AzRez at February 20, 2004 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

I was very happy when Clark entered the campaign, and agree that overall he was a positive influence (in opening the eyes of some southern and military voters, as well as helping Dean to get the media to address the real opposition to the military adventures in Iraq.)

He clearly is the smartest, fastest learner among all the candidates, but wasn't able to shape an image fast enough for the pace of the primaries.

Kerry (or Clark) really need to do something dramatic to counter the upcoming BushCo negativity dumps.

Here's a put-Bush-off-balance idea I've heard mumbles about that I like a lot:

The Democratic "Shadow Cabinet".

1. The apparent nominee (likely Kerry) reveals his VP choice very early, well in advance of the convention. Edwards would be great, but Kerry may have someone else in mind.

2. The nominee names some key players for major positions (if elected). These guys campaign actively across the media and country, countering the fools in BushCo's cabinet, and making the democratic attack very aggressive.


Clark for Secy of Defense (or maybe State)

Dean for Education, Health and Human Services & HUD (proposed to be combined)

Edwards for a combined Labor/Commerce secretary

Larry Summers for Treasury

Laura Tyson for Council of Econ. Advisors Chair or OMB head.

Homeland Defense ?

Posted by: JimPortlandOR at February 20, 2004 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

The thing that bothered me about Clark was that every other sentance out of his mouth was devoted to making sure everyone knew he was a blood-n-guts veteran. I think the "General" in front of his name pretty much took care of that. But when one is running for president, there's also these nagging little things called "issues" that one needs to address from time to time. Clark utterly failed at that.

As far as Kerry goes, I'm glad he's been so successful and all, I'm glad the Dems are able to rally around a banner, and I'm VERY happy that the infidellity attack failed to gain any traction - true or not.

But Kerry is still, ideologically, no different than Bush - WRT his background, rhetoric, and folks with which he surrounds himself. I know he can beat Bush. But will a Kerry presidency change America in any meaningful way?

I'm going to vote for Edwards.

In California anyway, I see Schwartzenegger's victory as largely an endorsement of "getting rid of Career Politicians" (despite the fact that this is what Arnold basically is, now). I'm all for that. I followed Gov. Ventura's political career, and I'm saddened that it's over. The man had too much integrity to continue in Politics. I saw Dean as a non-insider, but unelectable, due to his incoherent rhetoric. I saw Clark as the same. I see Edwards as the next-best thing, and I'm kind of pissed that this whole "evil trial lawyer" slur has risen unchallenged. But I'm not fooled, and Edwards will receive my vote. I guess the best I can hope for is Kerry falling seriously ill and dropping out?

Posted by: Occam's Cuisinart at February 20, 2004 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

I neglected to mention in my post above that I'd really like to see Clark debate Rumsfeld on the national security/intelligence/terrorism issues. Chew Rumsfeld up and spit him out!

Posted by: JimPortlandOR at February 20, 2004 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Per the National Security Act of 1947, Clark isn't eligible to be Secretary of Defense until he has been retired from active duty 10 years, so not until 2010.

Posted by: apostropher at February 20, 2004 01:12 PM | PERMALINK

Would Hillary Clinton savage fellow Democrats to create her own political opportunity?

Evidently. That's why Hillary Clinton is so revolting. She wants above everything else to be the Dem. candidate in 2008 and will do anything to get there.

Like Karl Rove she is Machiavellian but worse because she is purposely helping the Repukes for Nov 2004 by setting up Kerry for a fall because Kerry cannot beat Bush.

So what's the really vile Machiavellian part ? she has her guy Clark endorse Kerry.

Brilliant ? perhaps but not if you can see through this transparent ruse.

Will most Americans be duped ? probably unless the press picks up on this ploy and starts to write about it.

The bottom line: The biggest threat to Hillary is Edwards gettting the nomination because this puts a damper of Hillary in 2008.

So if Kerry gets the nomination but ends up losing to Bush what is the downside to Clark ? Not much because it will be totally be blamed on Kerry. ( Clark could even join Hillary on a ticket )

Hillary is one smart Machiavellian cookie !!!

That's why I detest this witch because she just showed that savaging fellow Democrats ( Edwards and Dean ) is fine in her play book to be the Demo candidate in 2008.

Kerry is a turkey shoot for Bush with Karl Rove at the controls.

However, Edwards if he selected Dean as VP would stir some fear among Bush administration political operatives.

Posted by: standa at February 20, 2004 01:31 PM | PERMALINK

Dean and Clark's biggest contribution was adding to the view that the Dems are the party of nut jobs. You can excuse away Sharpton (although you can't excuse away treating him as a serious candidate). But with Dean and Clark's daily idiocies, you begin to realize that it isn't an exception.

I would change your final sentence to read "When the Democrats lose in November, Clark and Dean can take at least a small measure of credit for the victory." Dean, for making Kerry campaign even farther left than he wanted to. Clark, for just being batshit crazy.

Posted by: ken at February 20, 2004 01:32 PM | PERMALINK

Apostropher beat me to it. But Clark could have State and not be Powell. That building has a purpose, doesn't it? My foggy memory... Winston Smith etc.
I'm also very fond of Edwards. He'd be great next time, except he's given up his seat, no?
Maybe VP.
Cleland would be interesting for Defense...

Posted by: John Isbell at February 20, 2004 01:36 PM | PERMALINK

For Defense: McCain!

Posted by: John Isbell at February 20, 2004 01:38 PM | PERMALINK

And for the Supreme Court...

...William Jefferson Clinton.

I can hear blood vessels popping all over the place.

Posted by: pms at February 20, 2004 02:00 PM | PERMALINK

Could someone explain this whole "Kerry is no different from Bush" thing that I keep seeing in weblog comments around the net? Are these posted by Republitrolls? Or are there specific unsubstantiated rumors that contribute to this view? I'm really curious.

Posted by: Andrew at February 20, 2004 02:01 PM | PERMALINK

All good points above about why maybe not Edwards-Clark. And Clark as Secretary of State under either Edwards or Kerry is appealing. I would just ask these few things: If Edwards-Clark ran together, could they take the South? If they take the South, would they win the election? What impact could they have on the southern Congressional seats in 2006? Wouldn't that fact that their major accomplishments are outside "elected office" be just the thing that would confound Rove? When Campbell Brown said the RNC had an opposition research folder on Kerry this thick (she held up her thumb and index finger about three inches apart), well, it made me kinda nervous. Rove is already making hay with decades worth of Kerry votes to slam. I'm not saying it will work, and I like John Kerry, but is he a sitting duck for Rove?

Regarding Hillary, maybe she would be content to anchor the Senate for a while. Send the bad guys packing, and help get those southern seats for the Dems.

Posted by: poputonian at February 20, 2004 02:05 PM | PERMALINK

OK. Clark at State would be good.

McCain at Defense sounds fine, since it further undermines the BushCo "tough on national security" B.S. But could he be managed?

Or, if Kerry has the cajones: William Jefferson Clinton for Secy of State. (lol)

In recent TV appearances Cleland has been lots less than impressive - not up to Defense. Maybe homeland defense?

Clinton as Chief Justice has a certain Earl Warren quality about it though. He'd love it. Could he do an Earl?

Posted by: JimPortlandOR at February 20, 2004 02:12 PM | PERMALINK

I may still vote for Dean

just becuase I think the people not the media
should decide who they want as their

Also Dean was the first to
say that Emperor Phoney Flyboy had no clothes.

Posted by: Max Macks at February 20, 2004 02:12 PM | PERMALINK

Andrew: it is the forlorn mating cry of an extinct species. Every now and then you hear it drifting through the February air. Not that species' proudest moment.

Posted by: John Isbell at February 20, 2004 02:17 PM | PERMALINK

That was mean-spirited of me. I apologize. However, equating the likely Democratic nominee to George W. Bush is also mean-spirited, and it gives more ammo to the GOP than I do. I guess Kerry's not being compared to Hitler though, by either party. That's nice.

Posted by: John Isbell at February 20, 2004 02:40 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks Kevin. Frankly I was growing increasingly annoyed with the attitude, "Oh, Clark. Nothing there. His support just comes from Clinton Democrats and there wasn't any spark at all."

I was beginning to think I'd dreamed the last several of months. My partner and I were heavily involved as volunteers in the Clark campaign. Both of us had left the Democratic Party during the Clinton years, and it was Wesley Clark that brought us back. We had the opportunity to meet him twice, and Gert once. Out of the 40 some volunteers we worked with only a handful were committed Democrats - and one of them was last involved in a campaign back in 1976. All of us had different reasons for joining the campaign but we all really felt the fire for the first time in many, many years. I'm awfully glad he ran, and I consider myself fortunate to have been so involved.

Posted by: Todd Barnell at February 20, 2004 02:46 PM | PERMALINK

Dean and Clark contributed very positively despite losing, but people and pundits have so far not mentioned the likely causes of their respective losses, which are apt to be their enduring contributions.

I trace Dean's decline almost to the minute he said that deregulation had failed and that a new era of new deal like regulations was needed. Until that moment, he had been a tolerable, if not preferrable populist alternative to insiders Kerry and Lieberman, whom the Democrat's investment banking establisment preferred. After advocating New Deal like reregulation, the investment banking establishment, which abhors regulation, apparently turned on him decisively and the media quickly followed suit. It was only then that the question of Dean's electability was raised from a murmur to a roar. Kerry's fortunes rose coincident from that moment.

Clark's star rose until he said we needed to stay in Iraq and use combined US/UN/NATO forces to help build a stable, democratic Iraq. This statement apparently alienated him with the Pentagon (wich wants out now) and the democratic oil establishment (yes, certain non-Bush elements of big oil have positions in the Democratic Party). Frankly, noone in big oil--republican or democrat--wants a stable Iraq. Nor do they want to share control of Iraqi oil with UN or NATO members. What they all seem to want is a weak, nonrepresentative government that permits US oil companies to control the oil, and permits permanent US military bases securing oil fields and pipelines (as was achieved in the Balkans). From the moment Clark advocated a long term solution in Iraq involving legitmate government, his star faded.

Alas, the enduring lessons of Dean and Clark are: 1) don't cross democratic investment banking interests; and 2) don't cross the Pentagon or democratic big oil interests.

At least if you want to win the nomination.

Posted by: D.C. Wilson at February 20, 2004 03:32 PM | PERMALINK

Upthread interest in Shadow Cabinet --- For Homeland Security try Gary Hart as Sec, and Warren Rudman as Dep. Sec. They wrote the book on the subject, the book that Bush/Cheney tossed on the shelf to gather dust until after 911.

I turned on to Clark as a candidate for reasons that have to do with a sequence of issues. Way back in 1990 when I was working on what everyone told me was a hopeless romantic campaign -- Paul Wellstone for Senate -- I did lots of things, but one was to set up a briefing for Paul on the emerging crisis in Yugoslavia. (Minnesota has a very large Iron Range Pop made up of Serbs, Croats, and others -- and they were already exercised by Bush I's failure to take notice.) From that point on -- Paul and I frequently talked about the evolution of the Crisis. Making a long story short -- he pushed very hard on Bush I, and then on Clinton to engage -- and the first time he had a positive sense about it all was when the team of Clark and Holbrooke were sent into the fray in 1994. He said at last Clinton has found some folk who not only believe something can be done, they are willing to break the china and do something.

Thus when Clark brought out his book on Bosnia and Kosovo in 2001, "Waging Modern War" -- I was one of the early readers. Taken together with Holbrooke's "To End a War" -- the two actually set forth what a Democratic Foreign Policy execution can look like -- one which thoroughly integrates all the necessary elements of soft and hard power, is conscious of Human Rights, factors in quality intelligence, and yet is driven to actually address conflict. Our arguments for a prospective Democratic Foreign Policy post 2004 really ought to be built on this foundation -- and should Kerry win (I assume he will be our nominee) he certainly should include the best of Clinton's successful team members in any future cabinet. Yes, that should include Clark, and Holbrooke, -- but any President should figure out for himself what precise roles on the team make sense. To put it mildly, the next President has to rebuild State's leadership role in shaping policy -- and significantly downgrade DOD's leading role. So yes, a General/activist diplomat at State might make sense.

Paul Wellstone's last major Senate Speech was in opposition to the resolution on Iraq. It was a risky speech, given the nasty campaign Rove was running against him in 2002. Who did Paul quote as military authority as to why the resolution was wrong? Read the speech -- Read the quotes from Wesley Clark's Senate Testimony.

Posted by: Sara at February 20, 2004 05:37 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks Kevin for a thoughtful topic. I supported Clark and am excited at the thought of him staying in the Democratic party. I would love to see him at State and like the idea of a shadow cabinet.

I think he did great considering his lack of experience.

Posted by: JWC at February 20, 2004 06:20 PM | PERMALINK

Excellent analysis, Kevin. National security will be the fulcrum upon which the November elections rest. Dean was not credible in this area; in fact, other than populist anger, I am hard-pressed to really decide just what he stands for. I was always uncomfortable with him and, although I would have voted for him (yes, I want Bush out), it would have been with a lot of trepidation.

Clark made national security respectable for the Democratic Party. The idiots. They've catered to various leftie constituencies for so long that they've forgotten that there are millions of people who believe in traditional Democratic Party values, but also realize that the nation needs defending. Clark rendered a very valuable service by reminding them of this. And it looks like it served as a wakeup call for Kerry, who looks like the winner.

And, BTW, for Joe Buck, who wrote: "As Dean used to point out in the stump speech, the Berlin wall fell not because the West's overwhelming military superiority caused the East to surrender, but because the people behind the iron curtain wanted to be like us."

Doesn't Joe think that maybe the fact that the Soviet Union believed they had to devote a third of their GDP to the military to keep up with our spending had something to do with the crappy life their people led? And something to do with why the people "wanted to be like us"? It was a surrender. They gave up. Dean missed that.

Posted by: lost in rhetoric at February 20, 2004 07:07 PM | PERMALINK

General Clark is currently taking some time off to spend with his new grandson. After that I'm sure he has plans to continue being active.

As a member of Clark's Army of Supporters, I know his last email sure made it sound like he's not at all done. He's going to continue to work towards the defeat of George Duh-W.

Posted by: Marine's Girl at February 20, 2004 07:13 PM | PERMALINK

"Hillary is one smart Machiavellian cookie !!!"

If she's that damnned smart, she has my support in '08, even if Kerry or Edwards is president. Standa, you have a problem with tough, smart women?

What a load of hogwash.

Posted by: bobbyp at February 20, 2004 08:29 PM | PERMALINK

Here Here! Jolly good, sir!

Posted by: MP at February 21, 2004 04:43 AM | PERMALINK

Someone reminded me that Hugh Shelton was on Edwards payroll when he smeared Clark. I take back my suggestion of a dream ticket of Edwards-Clark. I hope Kerry asks Edwards about the character assassination in the upcoming debates.

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