Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Dean questions mother's "bona fides"

It was revealed today that presidential candidate Howard Dean's mother only recently registered as a Democrat after a lifetime of voting for Republicans. Upon intense questioning from Jay Leno, Dean admitted that his mother had only signed on with the Democratic party this year. He has not yet indicated whether he will be willing to accept her vote.

The real President may be in trouble

The Guardian

Wilson said Monday, referring to the leaking of his wife's name, that people in whom he had confidence have ``indicated to me that he (Rove), at a minimum, condoned it and certainly did nothing to put a stop to it for a week after it was out there.'' In an interview with ABC's ``Nightline,'' Wilson said he would tell the FBI, if asked, the names of ``everybody who called me and told me'' about conversations with Rove.

The focus on Rove brought an odd twist to Bush's travels. When the president boarded Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base outside of Washington, he walked up the steps and waved - and not a single camera followed. He looked perplexed. All lenses were trained on Rove at the bottom of the steps.

The Man on the Hill

I've got to think the folks running down the ticket are a tough crowd and not easily impressed.

Clark Looks for Endorsements on Capitol Hill

Wednesday, October 1, 2003

Presidential candidate Wesley K. Clark made a pitch to more than 60 House Democrats yesterday, trying to win over their support for his fledgling candidacy.

The enthusiastic reception Clark received -- several lawmakers left the meeting saying they were close to endorsing the former NATO commander -- underscored the fluid nature of the presidential race. Even though several senators and House members are running for the Democratic nomination, many of their colleagues are waiting to sign on to a specific campaign....

Rep. Mike Thompson (Calif.), who with Rep. Charles B. Rangel (N.Y.) organized yesterday's event, said the retired general's candidacy has generated "incredible interest" among Democratic politicians....

Several Democrats came out of the meeting heaping praise on the newest candidate. Rep. Brian Baird (Wash.) said he went in "skeptical" but came out close to signing onto Clark's campaign. "If the American people could spend an hour asking questions of Wesley Clark without a script and spend an hour asking questions of George Bush, Wesley Clark would win by 20 points," Baird said. "He was informed, articulate and has a clear vision for the country."...

Rep. David Scott (Ga.) wanted to know if Clark was "a stalking horse" for the Clintons. "He made it very clear he was his own man," Scott said, adding that he was inclined to endorse Clark because he is strong on national security and economic issues....

Members of Congress automatically become delegates to the presidential nominating convention, and they are influential in drumming up support for candidates back home by arranging events and meetings with local officials. "We connect back to people in our district," Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (Ore.) said.

Monday, September 29, 2003

The prepared pessimist

Ted Turner thinks we are not long for this world:

Even while his three foundations continue to spend millions of dollars on environmental and health initiatives, Ted Turner told a newspaper group Sunday night he does not have an optimistic outlook for the future of the world.

"If I had to predict, the way things are going, I'd say the chances are about 50-50 that humanity will be extinct or nearly extinct within 50 years," Turner said. "Weapons of mass destruction, disease, I mean this global warming is scaring the living daylights out of me."

But on the off chance that he's wrong,

Turner Broadcasting System acquires rights to 'Sex and the City'

NEW YORK - An edited version of HBO's "Sex and the City" will be moving to basic cable next year.

TBS announced Monday it had acquired syndication rights to the HBO series, which will end its run of original episodes early next year. Shortly after, in June 2004, old "Sex and the City" episodes will begin appearing on TBS.

Series creators have been preparing for a possible life after HBO, filming alternate scenes so a less racy "Sex" can appear outside of pay cable. The episodes will be also shortened from how they appeared on HBO to make room for commercials.

When the end is near, maybe we can finish things off with a Sex in the City marathon. I'll make the popcorn.

"I said 20 years ago newspapers wouldn't be around in 10 years, and I was wrong," Turner said.

Well, they're still around, Ted, they just aren't very good.

Clark in Dubya's backyard

Democratic candidate Clark pays visit to Lone Star State

September 29, 2003

AUSTIN -- Retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark swooped into the heart of President Bush's territory Monday and declared the nation needs a change in leadership.
"I'm happy to be down here in George W. Bush's home state.
Clark repeated his call for an independent investigation into reports that a Bush administration official leaked the identity of a covert CIA agent. ...

Clark said the U.S. Justice Department under Attorney General John Ashcroft is not the agency to investigate.

Clark also said Bush's tax cuts have hurt the economy and that Bush has taken the United States into "an unnecessary war in Iraq in which we've lost hundreds of people. We don't need to be there."

After folk singers warmed up the crowd in this Democratic bastion of Texas, Clark stepped onto a stage in front of a large Texas flag at a downtown park, where some 400 people greeted him with chants of "We want Clark!" Some held signs that said, "Texans for Clark" and "Don't Mess with Wes."

During a pause Clark's speech, someone in the audience yelled, "Give 'em hell, Wes." Clark responded: "Let me tell you something. We're going to give them the truth and they're going to think it's hell."

He went on to say that he was paraphrasing President Harry Truman and he praised Truman's presidency. "He understood where the buck stopped," Clark said.

Before the rally, Clark attended a fund-raiser at a private home and met with 18 Democratic state legislators who have endorsed him. One of the lawmakers, Democratic Rep. Richard Raymond of Laredo, introduced Clark and said of Bush, "General, if you send him back to us, we'll swallow hard and we'll take him."...

The Clark rally drew supporters of all ages.

"I figured the Bush economy is not exactly helping people out like me, young professionals," said Andrew Millspaugh, 25, an out-of-work sales representative. "General Clark, I think, understands our problems better."

Walter and Mary Autry, a retired couple in their 70s, drove two hours with a group of friends from Bandera to hear Clark speak. They cited several reasons for supporting Clark.
"He's a general. He's very intelligent. And he's a Democrat now," Walter Autry said.

If you live to be Walter's age, you know that now is what matters most.

Clark off to strong start in Granite State

A third place finish in New Hampshire would be a really good showing for Clark, but given that it is this early, he could end up doing even better.

Clark Third in NH

September 29, 2003

BOSTON -- Howard Dean topped John Kerry by 9 points in a new poll of likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters, with newcomer Wesley Clark speeding past the other seven Democratic presidential contenders.

Dean was the choice for 26 percent of voters, followed by Kerry with 17 percent and Clark with 10 percent, according to the poll by WHDH-TV and Suffolk University conducted between Sept. 26-28. The poll was released Monday.

Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut had 7 percent and Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina and Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri were at 6 percent. The remaining candidates were at 2 percent or fewer....

Madame Secretary

Albright defends Democratic candidate Clark

MIAMI - (KRT) - Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on Monday defended retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark, who since announcing his presidential bid has come under fire from former Pentagon colleagues who say he was disliked among fellow commanders.

Albright, who served under President Bill Clinton and worked closely with Clark during the war in Kosovo that he engineered as NATO supreme commander, credited Clark with the victory there.

"He really won that war militarily," Albright said during a lunch with Miami Herald editors and writers to promote her new memoirs, "Madam Secretary" (Miramax Books, $25.95).

"He's a very fine person and a very good friend," Albright added, "and I don't like some of the attacks that are coming about him. I think he was a very fine soldier and a patriot, and I'm glad that he got into the race."...

Open Thread

Not sure if there's interest, but with the Wesley Clark Weblog down, thought I'd start an open thread, just in case.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Is there an opportunist amongst us?

Some people seem to think so. Let’s explore. A little known governor from a small state. Who knows him best?

Garrison Nelson, a Vermont political analyst, thinks Dean can move toward the middle - because that's his instinct. Nelson said: "I've known him 20 years. Howard became a liberal six months ago. Up here, he never got any kind of visceral response from liberals. I couldn't count more than 10 people who would've walked through fire for the guy.

"He was always a man of the middle, what we used to call a 'Rockefeller Republican.' His father and grandfather were stockbrokers. He comes from old money. So has he really changed? Or is the Democratic party desperate to be in love with somebody? I think they're desperate to be in love."

Hmmm. Interesting. Of course we all want love, don't we? Is that so wrong?

Another Vermonter: Many who worked with Dean are astonished at his current image and comparisons to liberal icons such as George McGovern. "The Howard Dean you are seeing on the national scene is not the Dean that we saw around here for the last decade," says John McClaughry, president of the Ethan Allen Institute, a conservative Vermont think tank. "He's moved sharply left."

Well maybe it’s just hard for a liberal to show his true colors in Vermont. Perhaps stepping down as Governor has freed his inner liberal. What do you say about that, Governor?

“Oh, in Vermont..., you know, politics is much farther to the left. A Vermont centrist is an American liberal right now.”

Let’s put that quote in context. He was trying to explain why the Sierra Club had not endorsed him.

Dean had finished speaking about environmental policy at the contaminated site of a former tannery in Nashua when he struck up a conversation with Peter Flood of Merrimack, a Sierra Club member who lamented that Dean had not won the group’s endorsement while he was governor of Vermont.

That’s interesting. Seem like either you make the environment a priority over special business interests or you don’t.

Business leaders were especially impressed with the way Dean went to bat for them if they got snarled in the state's stringent environmental regulations. When Canada's Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. wanted to build a new manufacturing plant on 700 acres of Vermont farmland in the mid-'90s, for instance, Dean greased the wheels. Husky obtained the necessary permits in near-record time. "He was very hands-on," says an appreciative Dirk Schlimm, the Husky executive in charge of the project.

And when environmentalists tried to limit expansion of snowmaking at ski resorts, "Dean had to show his true colors, and he did -- by insisting on a solution that allowed expanding snowmaking," says Stenger. IBM (IBM ) by far the state's largest private employer, says it got kid-gloves treatment. "We would meet privately with him three to four times a year to discuss our issues," says John O'Kane, manager for government relations at IBM's Essex Junction plant, "and his secretary of commerce would call me once a week just to see how things were going."…

"Went to bat for them." So that's where the bat comes from. Well, the business folks loved him. Why couldn’t those damn Sierra Club people fall in line.

So is Dean just another posturing politician? Back to you, Garrison, since you know him best.

…Dean had a knack for positioning himself and never lost an election. Those who know him best believe Dean is moving to the left to boost his chances of winning the nomination. "But if he gets the nomination, he'll run back to the center and be more mainstream," predicts Stenger. Says Garrison Nelson, a political science professor at the University of Vermont: "Howard is not a liberal. He's a pro-business, Rockefeller Republican."

Wow. But wait, let’s hear from Howard himself:

"I was a triangulator before Clinton was a triangulator. In my soul, I'm a moderate."

Yeah, and you were probably talking about race in front of white audiences before the Big Dog, too. Got any evidence?

Plenty of evidence backs up that comment by the former Vermont governor to the New York Times Magazine a few months ago. The self-comparison with Clinton is apt. "During his five two-year terms as governor," the magazine noted, "Dean was proud to be known as a pragmatic New Democrat, in the Clinton mold, boasting that neither the far right nor the far left had much use for him."

Of course, what a mainstream publication is apt to call "the far left" often includes large progressive constituencies. In the battle for the '04 Democratic presidential nomination, Dean clearly finds grassroots progressives to be quite useful for his purposes. But is he truly useful for ours?

… "This is, after all, the governor who has at times tried to cut benefits for the aged, blind and disabled, whose No. 1 priority is a balanced budget."

Economic justice has been a much lower priority. During the early 1990s, Dean spearheaded a new "workfare" state law requiring labor from welfare recipients. The Vermont program later won praise as more humane "welfare reform" than what occurred in most other states. But in the summer of 1996, Dean put his weight behind the final push for President Clinton's national "welfare reform" law -- a draconian measure, slashing at an already shabby safety-net while forcing impoverished mothers to work low-wage jobs.

While some other Democrats angrily opposed Clinton's welfare reform, it won avid support from Dean. "Liberals like Marian Wright Edelman are wrong," he insisted. "The bill is strong on work, time limits assistance and provides adequate protection for children." Dean co-signed a letter to Clinton calling the measure "a real step forward."

Gov. Dean did not mind polarizing with poor people, but he got along better with the corporate sector. "Conservative Vermont business leaders praise Dean's record and his unceasing efforts to balance the budget, even though Vermont is the only state where a balanced budget is not constitutionally required," Business Week reported in its August 11 (2003) edition. "Moreover, they argue that the two most liberal policies adopted during Dean's tenure -- the 'civil unions' law and a radical revamping of public school financing -- were instigated by Vermont's ultraliberal Supreme Court rather than Dean.".

Can we get another opinion?

If Dean ever belonged to the ''Democratic wing of the Democratic Party'' before this year, he must have kept his membership secret. During his five two-year terms as governor, Dean was proud to be known as a pragmatic New Democrat, in the Clinton mold, boasting that neither the far right nor the far left had much use for him. He signed into law a measure that legalized civil unions for gay couples, a decision that was essentially mandated by the state's Supreme Court. But he also faced opposition from the left-leaning Progressive Party in two re-election campaigns. And he forcefully upheld the rights of Vermonters to carry concealed guns wherever they went, which helped him earn an A rating from the National Rifle Association.

Well, Howard, we know how much you resent being compared to Gingrich, but why do you call everyone who disagrees with you “Republican” or “Bush-lite”?

''I'm trying to figure out how to do this and not be arrogant,'' he confides. ''Sometimes I get impatient with people who don't agree with me.''

Sometimes? Hey, maybe Howie is from the Democratic wing of the Republican Party. Or the Republican wing of the Democratic Party? Oh, the hell with labels. Well, anyway, it's too bad Wellstone isn't around to object to the misappropriation.

Seriously, Howie, lighten up with the put-downs and innuendos. Stop calling all your DEMOCRATIC opponents "Republicans" and "Bush-lite." Fight hard, but fair and let the voters decide whom they think the best Democratic candidate is. That's democracy, right?

Dems consider countering with Chevy Chase

Republican Party seeks to draft Dennis Miller into politics

I’m not sure who looks worse—the Repugs or California. That’s okay, though. We Dems have options, too. Chris Rock would be formidable—he’s already played a president in a movie. So have Kevin Kline, Jeff Bridges and Bill Pullman. They're Dems, right?

Arnold Schwarzenegger may be the latest celebrity to transform himself into a candidate for high California office. But if some Republican political operatives have their way, he will not be the last.

The comedian Dennis Miller is being talked about, apparently seriously, as a Republican candidate for a statewide post. Three Republican strategists interviewed in the past week have said they want to draft Miller into politics. One, a prominent Republican operative and Schwarzenegger aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that once the recall election is over, he plans to recruit Miller to challenge Barbara Boxer for her U.S. Senate seat next year.

The Schwarzenegger campaign even provided Miller a political audition of sorts this week. The comedian, famous for his raunchy and irreverent rants and his stint on "Saturday Night Live" more than a decade ago, provided the campaign's official post-debate spin in Sacramento Wednesday night. Later the same evening, Miller spoke at a Schwarzenegger rally. ...

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Howard's not exactly "Joe Lieberman desperate," but he's hearing some footsteps...

Clark's Bid Prompts Some Dean Supporters to Reconsider

DOVER, N.H., Sept. 27 -- New Hampshire Democrat Larry Taylor was leaning toward supporting former Vermont governor Howard Dean for president until he turned out on a damp Friday night at New England College in Henniker, N.H., to see retired Army Gen. Wesley K. Clark. By the time Clark had finished his town hall meeting, Taylor was ready to change his allegiance.

"I think Clark can win," Taylor said. "I don't think Dean can win. I think Dean's going to be pegged as too liberal. He doesn't have the kind of military background and some of the strength that Clark seems to have."

Whatever else Clark's late entry into the battle for the Democratic presidential nomination has done, it has forced the issue of electability back to the top of the agenda for many Democratic and independent voters.

His candidacy threatens all of the other nine Democrats in the race in some respect, but here in New Hampshire, where Dean has risen to the top of the field, it has changed the dynamic of a race that, until now, was shaped principally by the former Vermont governor.

Dean has prospered in the Democratic race on the strength of his opposition to the war in Iraq, and because he captured earlier than any of the other candidates the deep anger among Democrats toward Bush. Clark's candidacy appears to have prompted many voters, some of them Dean supporters but particularly those still undecided, to think again.

Peter Lehmen and his wife, Theresa, of Keene, N.H., attended Clark's town hall meeting late Friday. Lehmen has given money to Dean and credits the scrappy Vermonter with having the courage to take on Bush and start a dialogue among the Democrats that has shaped both the tone and the substance of the debate. "He was talking about things that other people were afraid to talk about," Lehmen said.

Lately, however, both Lehmens have begun to question whether Dean is the best Democrat to beat Bush. Peter said he finds Dean inconsistent in some of his views. Theresa said Dean is "coming across as a little more abrasive" and appears to let his ego get in his way. Clark, she said, impressed her as someone who could successfully negotiate with foreign leaders. "He certainly presented himself in a very diplomatic but forceful way that I would call presidential," she said. ...

Arnold told us he's had experience signing people's checks on the front side...

But he didn't say it had been done lately. Solid money management on its way to the Golden State.

Schwarzenegger race now owes $2.4 million
By Don Thompson

SACRAMENTO - Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign accounts owe more than $2.4 million in unpaid bills to consultants and other creditors, leaving more cash free for his time-compressed governor's recall campaign.

Schwarzenegger, who promises to trim government overhead if he is elected to replace Gov. Gray Davis, is spending $500,000 a month on campaign consultants, new campaign reports show.

Many of his consultants, fund-raisers and office expenses have not been paid, however, freeing up that money for advertising and other creditors who demand payment up front, campaign treasurer Colleen McAndrews said Friday.

The high debt is a result of fund raising that slowed down as a federal appellate court considered postponing the election, McAndrews said. "We're hoping it picks back up."

I'm sure Dad would be proud

The General Finds Some Roots

NOW that he is a contender, General Clark is enduring not-so-subtle attacks that question his party loyalty. After all, it was only weeks ago that he confirmed he was a Democrat.

But even after admitting that he had voted for Richard M. Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, General Clark is going to great lengths to prove he has deep Democratic roots. Consider his appearance last week at DePauw University in Indiana.

"This is a Methodist school, isn't it?" he asked his audience, which assured him that it was. "There's something in theology about the prodigal son. My father — my real father — was a Jewish lawyer in Chicago. Many years ago, I found a little gold card. And it said, `Delegate, 1932 Democratic Convention, Chicago.'

"I'm just coming back."

Who you calling paranoid?

Paid a little visit to Dean’s Blog for America today-- not to stir up trouble, but just to take a look around. For the uninitiated, it is an interesting place where the residents are likely to say outsiders just don’t “get it.”

A recurrent theme:

OT: I was talking to my friend last night and she brought up an interesting theory - that Clark is a Bush plant. Here?s her theory: The reason Clark was so wishy-washy for months on whether he would or not run was because Clark (and the right-wing neocon Republicans) waited to see if Bush?s polls would start to go down and once Bush?s ratings did begin to plummet, Clark steps in and announces his candidacy. God forbid, the Republicans didn?t want Clark to run against Bush as a Republican, so here he is - a Democratic candidate. If Clark gets the nomination - it?s a win-win situation for the right-wing Republicans. Seems plausible to me.

Food for thought

About six posts later:

Good to see everyone being positive once again. We had a few ays where some cynacism seemed to be crawling into our blog. You gotta believe!

Scroll down a bit:

FOOD FOR THOUGHT - on your theory about Clark being a Bush plant...

I think this makes some sense and is another reason that so many Republicans would rather face him, they know in the off chance that Clark wins they will have a guy that only 2 years ago was a HUGE support of Shrub and Gang.

The true test will come when Dean wins the nomination and invites Clark to be the VP, if he joins or not! Then we'll see just how much of a Democrat he really is.

The theme continues:

Food for thought:

Good thought! NUMEROUS folks I know say the same thing--Bush vs Clark = Repug against Repug. Either way, THEY win.

The “scientific view”:

It has been hypothesized here and elsewhere that Clark is a plant placed into the Democratic campaign at the urging of the Republican Party. In my view, this is a reasonable hypothesis that merits investigation. Claims by the candidate to the contrary are noteworthy but not convincing. Neither are claims of betrayal by Republican leaders.

SCLM, let’s get on that, okay?

I think the Repugs are "freaking out" about Clark because they want the Demos to think they are afraid of Clark so they will nominate Clark, wehen in reality Clark is (excuse my while I adjust my tinfoil hat) a mole planted by Rove. They want Clark in so they win either way. They don't want to face Dean in the general election so they make a big deal about being afraid of Clark to the Demos will be head-faked into pushing him to the front.

Now, here is a brave soul, who knows he risks stern rebuke for being one of those reprehensible Dems that actually wants to win, apparently even if it means running an undercover Neocon for VP.:

I just would like to say that Clark as a Veep
still looks beneficial from my perspective
because he helps to balance the concerns
people express about dean:
1) no foreign policy experience
2) concerns about being tough on terror (whatever
that means)
3) being from a whimpy state like vermont...
4) plus he's a southerner.

please don't beat him up too bad.

i think he helps with electability ...

Not the E-Word!

Finally, a voice of reason:

RE: Wes Clark - guys, lets not bash him, he's a good guy, the "He's really a RePub" is all disinformation coming from the RePugs. (see MEdia Whores Online today, to see how Tucker Carlson took a statement of Clark's about George Bush, Sr. and said that it was about our current Chief Thief.

I think the RePug strategy is first destroy Clark, then turn their lies on DEan.

Dean will win, fair and square, because he's the best candidate, AND the most electable; and a Dean/Clark ticket is a great ticket.

Glad we got that settled.

"Come together, right now..."

Wesley Clark's Meetup numbers have recently gone over 30,000. Join up and make a difference.

Sign up: here.

Friday, September 26, 2003

Finally, a legitimate scandal from the White House

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26 — The CIA has asked the Justice Department to investigate allegations that the White House broke federal laws by revealing the identity of one of its undercover employees in retaliation against the woman’s husband, a former ambassador who publicly criticized President Bush’s since-discredited claim that Iraq had sought weapons-grade uranium from Africa, NBC News has learned.

THE FORMER ENVOY, Joseph Wilson, who was acting ambassador to Iraq before the first Gulf War, was dispatched to Niger in 2002 to investigate a British intelligence report that Iraq sought to buy uranium there. Although Wilson discredited the report, Bush cited it in his State of the Union address in January among the evidence he said justified military action in Iraq.
       Wilson published an article in July alleging, however, that the White House recklessly made the charge knowing it was false.

       “We spend billions of dollars on intelligence,” Wilson wrote. “But we end up putting something in the State of the Union address, something we got from another intelligence agency, something we cannot independently verify, in an area of Africa where the British have no on-the-ground presence.”
       The next week, columnist Robert Novak published an article in which he revealed that Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, was a covert CIA operative specializing in weapons of mass destruction. “Two senior administration officials told me Wilson’s wife suggested sending him to Niger to investigate,” Novak wrote.

       The White House has denied being Novak’s source, whom he has refused to identify. But Wilson has said other reporters have told him White House officials leaked Plame’s identity.

       NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell reported Friday night that the CIA has asked the Justice Department to investigate whether White House officials blew Plame’s cover in retaliation against Wilson. Revealing the identities of covert officials is a violation of two laws, the National Agents’ Identity Act and the Unauthorized Release of Classified Information Act. ...

I'm sure Ashcroft will be fair and balanced. How about Alan Dershowitz as an independent prosecutor?

On the cover of the Rolling Stone...

Okay, the Man in Black is actually on the cover. Wesley Clark is inside.

Why have you criticized the president for the war in Iraq?

It was a tough decision to become involved in partisan politics. I went to West Point when I was seventeen years old. I believed in this country. I served in the White House under Gerald Ford. To come out and oppose the commander in chief has been enormously painful. But after September 11th, I watched as the administration's policy diverged step by step from where it should have been. I went to the Pentagon nine days after the attacks and called on a man with three stars who used to work for me. He said, "Sir, I have to ask you, have you heard the joke going through the halls?" I said, "No, what is it?" He said, "It goes like this: If Saddam Hussein didn't do 9/11, too bad. He should have, 'cause we're going to get him anyway." He looked at me, and I looked at him, and we both knew that it would be a classic mistake if we did that.

I was relieved when we attacked Afghanistan, but I went back to the Pentagon as that war was going on, and this same guy said to me, "Oh, yes, sir, not only is it Afghanistan. There's a list of countries. We're not that good at fighting terrorists, so we're going after states: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia and Iran. There's a five-year plan." From that moment on, I couldn't believe anymore that I was just a retired general of the United States Army. I saw something wrong, but I couldn't get anyone to listen, so I started to speak out last September in a vocal way.

Why was going into Iraq a mistake?

We made a historic strategic blunder. We attacked a state rather than going after a terrorist. Iraq had no connection to the war on terror. Of all the states in the Middle East to give chemical, biological or nuclear weapons to terrorists, least likely was Iraq. Saddam's a control artist. He wouldn't have given bioweapons to Osama bin Laden unless Osama's mother, four wives and fifteen children were in one of his prisons so he could rip their hearts out if Osama screwed up. But we didn't want to face the tough task of going after bin Laden, so we did a bait-and-switch and went after Saddam instead. And now, look at the headline on today's New York Times: bin Laden seen with aide on tape. We're less secure now than we were before. Spending $80 billion and putting half the U.S. Army in Iraq has provided a supercharger to Al Qaeda recruiters.

We helped bin Laden. The only thing we could have done that would have helped him more is if we had invaded Saudi Arabia and captured Mecca. We've also squandered the support that brought 200,000 Germans out after 9/11 two years ago. They're not coming back out again -- not for this administration. You won't get any support out of the Germans and the French until you get a regime change in Washington.

When you were in the Army, you had a lot of contact with various White House staffs. Did you ever have any dealings with some of the people who now serve in the Bush administration?

When I was a thirty-year-old Army major, I was sent to Washington, where they put me in the Ford White House. This was 1974. Nixon had just resigned. They said, "How would you like to be staff secretary to this executive committee -- it'll have Henry Kissinger," who was then secretary of state; James Schlesinger, the secretary of defense; the director of the CIA and the counsel to the president. Well, for someone who'd just come to Washington, you can imagine how I felt. Pretty impressive, right? What I discovered was that the White House was full of paranoia and suspicion -- a real Watergate mentality. I'd bring something up, and they'd say, "Wes, if you ask a question like that, you can't work here." The reason the White House was that way was not only because of Watergate but because of the two guys in charge: Donald Rumsfeld, who was Gerald Ford's chief of staff, and Dick Cheney, who was his assistant.

Today you've got the same people in there running things, trying to close down access to government. Rumsfeld and Cheney are patriotic men, and I know they are doing the best they can. It's just that I disagree with them. I don't believe that government is made better by secrecy and restraint. It's made better by transparency, by being open and honest. If you're right, you're right. If not, you take your licks.

You call the war in Iraq unjustified. So why was the campaign you led in Kosovo justified?

Kosovo was OK because Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was engaged in ethnic cleansing that was destabilizing the entire region. By intervening, NATO could stop the killing. We tried every means to resolve it, and we ended up using force only as a last resort. But there was no imminent threat in Iraq. If Saddam Hussein did all these bad things, we should have indicted him for war crimes, held an international tribunal and ordered him to surrender. That's what we did with Milosevic. In Iraq, we just invaded a country ten years after the crimes happened, in violation of international law, without charging him with anything. It just doesn't work that way.

What would you do in Iraq now that we're there?

What we're going to have to do is change the regional dynamic. I know this is hard for some people to understand, but if you threaten people, you make them mad. And if you make them mad, then they want to fight you. That's the way the world works. If what we want is to persuade countries in that region that the democratization of Iraq is not a threat, we should not be out there saying, "Your day will come!" What do you expect them to do?

…I also found out that if you want a fight, you're gonna fight -- in a bar in Colorado, or in the Middle East. Of course, that makes some people in the administration happy.

You recently announced that you are a Democrat. Was that a hard choice?

I was worried about whether I could be a Democrat. A lot of my friends were Democrats, and it follows that I should be. This is the party that best reflects how I feel about the issues, that best captures my aspirations for mankind. But when you're a military guy, you have to understand that there's always been members of the Democratic Party who don't like the military.

Let's talk about issues beyond the war. What's your position on the environment?

… I believe in clean air. They believe in letting power plants modernize without pollution controls. I believe in clean water and preserving wetlands. They believe "shit happens." I don't believe in opening up old-growth forests for logging in the name of fire prevention.

How would you decrease our reliance on oil imported from the Middle East?

… I'd raise average-mileage performance on automobiles. That's something we can do right now that will decrease our oil dependence - but it's something the administration has dragged its feet on.

What about global warming?

If you want to deal with that issue, you've got to start now. We should never have pulled out of the Kyoto Accords. Instead, we should have worked to make them better. We're the biggest polluter in the world right now, but there's a huge brown cloud over China that gets bigger every year. So we have to set an example and work together on global warming. The most important thing is to change our mind-set.

What do you think of the administration's tax cuts?

They're tax cuts for the wealthy, sprinkled with a few cuts for the working class to make it seem like they got something. …We're borrowing money from our children to give tax cuts to wealthy people today.

The president is urging Congress to grant him wider powers to wage war on terrorism at home.

Come on, give us a break. The Patriot Act, all 1,200 pages of it, was passed without any serious congressional discussion. There was no public accountability, and now he wants more? What does he think this country is? We shouldn't do anything with the Patriot Act until it's unwrapped. …

Is it disloyal for a retired general to criticize the president during a time of war?

Look, I'm not going to let Tom DeLay or Dick Cheney or those guys who've never served in uniform take away from the right of men and women who served honorably in this country's armed forces to criticize policy. If soldiers' lives are at stake, the time to criticize the policy is now, not when it's over. I think the height of patriotism is to speak out. …

Clark Hits Homerun at Townhall Meeting

Wesley Clark seemed to win over the crowd at New England College in Henniker, New Hampshire tonight. After a few opening remarks, Clark took questions which covered a broad range of topics. Addressing the question of being a Democrat, the former general explained that as events continued to push him to speak out, he realized that being pro-choice, pro-affirmative action, and pro-environment, he could either be the loneliest Republican in America or be a Democrat.

He was articulate, personable and convincing. If you read this before 1am eastern time, Saturday morning, it will be replayed. Catch it!

UPDATE The interest in Clark was apparent throughout his day in New Hampshire. His town hall meeting tonight drew an overflow crowd of more than 300 people at New England College in Henniker. There Clark fielded questions on foreign and domestic policy for more than an hour, was regularly interrupted by applause and, judging from interviews after the session, impressed many with his confidence and knowledge of issues.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

The “Debate”

Clark’s best line of the night:

SHARPTON: Well, first of all, as the only New Yorker, I want to welcome General Clark to New York and I want to welcome him to our list of candidates. And don't be defensive about just joining the party. Welcome to the party. It's better to be a new Democrat that's a real Democrat, than a lot of old Democrats up here that have been acting like Republicans all along.

This will probably be the most replayed soundbite and only a small percentage of Americans watched the actual debate. Sixty and thirty second chunks of time don’t really lend themselves to detailed plans or thoughtful analysis. Clark held his own, especially considering that campaigning is a brand new experience. He referenced his jobs plan, but missed the opportunity to hit its high points. I doubt Clark is fond of being repetitive, and was probably thinking that was yesterday's speech, but he's going to have to get used to it. Other positions need to be clarified and more detailed, as he indicates he is the process of doing, but also distilled down to the soundbite. More time on the stump will bring a greater sense of comfort.

No homeruns or strikeouts for any candidate tonight. Brian Williams kept it moving probably as well as anyone could, although 10 candidates is simply too unwieldy. Gloria Borger and Ron Insana seemed to go into the debate intent on trying to diminish Clark with smug critiques not offered to other candidates, but he survived it. Borger is perpetually wound pretty tight.

Most reviews I’ve seen were mostly favorable, the clips I’ve seen played are positive. Keys for the coming days: 1) continue website improvements; 2) flesh out positions before the vague meme takes hold; 3) improve the organization so that grass roots momentum isn’t lost; 4) control the message/set the media agenda; 5) tons of face time in NH and SC; 6) raise lots of bucks; 7) continue daily swims, role modeling that executive fitness program—gotta stay fresh!

Much ado about nothing

Assuming Drudge has posted the juiciest stuff from that little gathering on May 11, 2001, this won't mean much. And that's not just my opinion:

Uh, grow up. I know I'd use that in all my speeches if I was Clark. I'd wave it like a red flag.

"Yes, I praised the President in 2001. But I am horrified in the job he's done in the last two years."
Steve Gilliard

I don't always agree with Steve, who is a strong Dean backer, but I think he nails this one. Clark was talking to a group of Republicans about America's role in the world. I expect he'll do so again. And many will listen. This was little more than basic boiler plate niceties about leaders and past leaders. In the South, that's called graciousness. A southern progessive doesn't get very far without it. Clinton was almost always polite and complimentary before making the case as to why he was articulating another view. Besides, I have no doubt that Clark, and most other military men at that time, did respect Reagan. Clark lived through seeing the institution he dedicated his life to, and in which he took four bullets serving, go from being held in low esteem by many Americans to being one of the most respected again. Given the primary focus of his then career, I'm sure those issues probably weighed more heavily at the time than an economic policy that lead to deficits few Americans even understood until Ross Perot broke out his charts.

The Drudge Sludge also gave Clark an opportunity to kick-off the show. (after the obligatory commercial, of course.)

UPDATE Not surprisingly, a review of the entire speech makes clear that Drudge tried to sensationalize the speech. For example, this excerpt:

The brilliant work during the 1980s in Africa--well, it's started to fade. Nelson Mandela was a great leader; he broke the back of apartheid. But now, we need help. We've got to get those AIDS drugs in there. We've got to provide opportunities for trade and investment. We've got to help end corruption. We've go to have a regional organization in the [inaudible] that can take care of the disputes and settle the boundary issues. We've got to break the back of greed and corruption, and [inaudible] illicit wealth from the diamond mines and the [inaudible] feeding and killing and the mayhem in Africa. And I think we've got to help Africans to help each other to do this.

Read it for yourself.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

I'm sensing some fire in the belly

Clark sounds more like a Democrat than most elected Democrats:

I don’t think it penetrates the minds of this Administration what it must be like for a factory worker to arrive home to his family with the news that he’s been laid off. What it must be like not to know what the future holds for your children, because you don’t know what the future holds for you. What it must be like to see the government take hundreds of billions of dollars that could be used to fund job training, unemployment benefits, or jobs programs – and instead to send that money off to people who have such staggering wealth that the new money won’t make the tiniest improvement in their lifestyle. What it must be like to be told that tax cuts for the rich are necessary to create jobs for working people, and then to see jobs fall month after month for more than 30 months. If that doesn’t break your heart, you don’t have a heart.

In the eight years before Mr. Bush, the economy created nearly 21 million private-sector jobs. In the three years under Mr. Bush, the American economy has lost more than 3 million private-sector jobs. Under Mr. Bush, we have lost 2.5 million manufacturing jobs. We have lost another half million jobs in telecom and high tech. Unemployment has jumped from 4 percent to 6 percent. Last year, more than 1.4 million Americans sank into poverty; 700,000 of them were children.

Three years ago, we were told we were getting a compassionate conservative. What we got instead were massive tax cuts for the rich, staggering deficits for the country, and the worst job losses since the Great Depression. That's not compassionate or conservative; it's heartless, it's reckless, and it's wrong.
And if you elect me President, I'll put it right.

Today, I’m announcing a Job Creation Plan that will direct $100 billion over two years to strengthen homeland security, assist states with education and health care and create American jobs. This Job Creation Plan is part of my overall approach – one that I will be explaining over the course of the campaign – to invest in people and economic growth, while returning to a path of long-term fiscal discipline.

My Job Creation Plan is a clear alternative to the failed policies of Mr. Bush. In his first month in office Mr. Bush told America: "A tax cut now will stimulate our economy and create jobs." Two months later, he said: "We can proceed with tax relief without fear of budget deficits.”

He was wrong twice. His tax cuts did not create jobs; they helped create the worst job losses in 70 years. His tax cuts not only created deficits; they helped create the worst deficits in history.

The Washington Post yesterday ran an item that explained how President Bush, urging the country to support his most recent tax cut, went to visit Timken Company, a company that makes steel bearings in Canton, Ohio. Mr. Bush predicted to factory workers that his tax cut would bring "more money for investment, more money for growth, and more money for jobs." A month later, Mr. Bush signed his $350 billion tax cut, and just last week Timken announced it is cutting 900 jobs.

The workers have no jobs, and this White House has no plan. They say tax cuts for the rich will create jobs. They say drilling in the arctic will create jobs. They say a new energy plan will create jobs. They say easing environmental regulations will create jobs. They are flailing. They are desperate. They know they have a problem, and they know they don’t have a solution. They came into office with one answer to everything. Tax cuts for the rich. But three years later – tax cuts for the rich have made us poor.

The most effective way to help an unemployed worker is not to run out and borrow billions of dollars to give to millionaires. That’s what they’re doing when they pass these massive tax cuts for the rich that deepen the deficit. They’re borrowing billions of dollars to give to millionaires. It ought to be obvious by now – it just doesn’t work. In the area of economics, this White House still needs some basic training.

My Job Creation Plan will directly fund job creation in a fiscally responsible way. Fiscal discipline requires not only reducing the deficit. It requires moving money from areas where it isn't advancing national goals, and directing it to areas where it is. So I will reduce the tax cuts Mr. Bush gave the richest households - those making more than $200,000 a year, and directs that money to three job-creating funds.

Click here for Clark's Job Plan.

After years of trying to regain "Reagan Democrats," Kerry and Dean tell 'em to go to hell

Kerry, Dean Question Clark's Democratic Credentials
Wed September 24, 2003 07:02 PM ET
By John Whitesides, Political Correspondent

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two Democratic rivals of retired Gen. Wesley Clark questioned his party credentials on Wednesday, wondering how a self-proclaimed Democrat could have voted for Republicans Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon.

Clark, the former NATO commander who became the 10th Democrat in the 2004 presidential race last week, declared his party affiliation for the first time earlier this month but said he had voted for Reagan and Nixon for president.

Two of his chief rivals, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, said the votes called into question his commitment to the party and its priorities but said voters would be the ultimate judge.

"While he was voting for Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, I was fighting against both their policies and what they did, frankly, to the average working person in this country," Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry told reporters.

"I'm confident that a lifetime of being a progressive, fighting Democrat will make a difference in this race," said Kerry, a decorated Vietnam veteran who opposed the war and Nixon's direction of it after he returned from Vietnam.

Dean, who has met with Clark several times to discuss foreign policy and other issues, told ABC's "Good Morning" that he was "surprised" to hear of Clark's support for Nixon and Reagan.

"That certainly doesn't disqualify him. Only the voters get to decide that," he said.

But asked if Clark was a "true Democrat," Dean said: "I think we have to find out about that. We don't know what all his positions are."

Clark spokesman Mark Fabiani said the former four-star general was trying to attract all Democrats, "including those who may have voted for Ronald Reagan. That's how you win elections."

He questioned Kerry's decision to focus on Clark's votes from 25 years ago and said it showed he lacked "a strong message about the future."...

If people who voted for Reagan aren't welcomed into the Party, we are doomed to minority status until a few generations have died off. Reagan appealed to alot of Democrats. Only about a third of the electorate is registered as Democrats and that percentage is shrinking each year. If Clark can make the case that the ideals he articulates are most at home in the Democratic Party there can be a realignment of the electorate. If Kerry and Dean want to insult Reagan Democrats they do so at their peril, and the party's.

I never voted for Reagan, but 20-24 years later, I don't really care who did. Reagan won his second term with 59% of the electorate and 525 electoral votes-- but Mondale was pure! Nixon won his second term with 61% of the vote and 520 electoral votes-- but McGovern was a "true Democrat", by gosh, by golly! "Fighting" John Kerry and "Doubting" Howard Dean don't care. So if you're reading this, and you ever voted for a Republican (including John McCain, New Hampshire voters) Kerry and Dean don't want your damn votes.

Seriously, this isn't 1972, 1980, 1984 or even 2000. It is 2004, people! If you haven't grown as a person over the last 20 years, you might agree with Kerry and Dean. If your thinking has ever evolved or if your views have ever been affected by changing events, then you should be able to wrap your brain around this concept. Clinton brought back many Reagan Democrats and independents who had previously voted Republican. Clark has allowed us to peek behind the curtain into his private voting booth. He didn't have to. This is only an issue because he was honest. Clinton ran a positive, inspiring campaign in 1992 that moved a lot of people. Clark was one of them. I was not bitter that everyone didn't bite the bullet with me on Dukakis in 1988. I was just glad ya'll came back! I want you to come back to stay-- and bring a friend!

Headline: Hugh Shelton craves straight vodka when stressed

Character and integrity are dear to Hugh Shelton's heart, so he orchestrated a deception on the President he served to settle to a personal score. Classy.

At a recent speaking engagement, Shelton weighed in on a certain presidential candidate:

"What do you think of General Wesley Clark and would you support him as a presidential candidate," was the question put to him by moderator Dick Henning, assuming that all military men stood in support of each other. General Shelton took a drink of water and Henning said, "I noticed you took a drink on that one!"

"That question makes me wish it were vodka," said Shelton. "I've known Wes for a long time. I will tell you the reason he came out of Europe early had to do with integrity and character issues, things that are very near and dear to my heart. I'm not going to say whether I'm a Republican or a Democrat. I'll just say Wes won't get my vote."

What The New Republic has to say:


To put it bluntly, Shelton has a lot of nerve smearing Clark like this--especially after the way he and Clinton Defense Secretary William Cohen engineered Clark's firing. Not even two months after Clark won the Kosovo war--with about as little help from the Joint Chiefs Chairman as possible--Shelton called Clark to tell him that he was being relieved of his command. The official reason was that, legally, Shelton's deputy Joe Ralston needed a new assignment immediately, lest he drop down to two-star status--a very flimsy pretext.

Then Shelton twisted the knife. Here's Clark's version of events--Shelton has not offered his--as related in his memoir, Waging Modern War:

Still, I hoped that there might yet be a graceful way out for everyone, if I could just explore it a minute with Shelton, but he needed to get off the phone. "Look, Wes," he said, "I have to tell the Secretary that I've notified you. He's in Japan and he told me that I had to have notified you before 4:30 Washington time, so I have to break this off and call him."

According to Clark, Shelton agreed to pick up the conversation later. But the next call Clark got wasn't from the chairman. It was from Washington Post reporter Bradley Graham, who told Clark, "I've got an official leak that says you are to be replaced by Joe Ralston." (Given that Cohen was in Japan, it's not hard to figure out who leaked the news.) When Clark finally got back in touch with Shelton, the chairman bluntly informed him that it was all out of his hands: "The SecDef's office has already sent information to the Congress notifying them of the change."

Even if Clark and Shelton had not sparred frequently during the Kosovo war, this would have been a dishonorable way to treat a general who had just led the U.S. to victory in NATO's first-ever war. So the next time Shelton wants to talk about "integrity and character issues," he had better make sure he doesn't have a few of those to work out himself.

Well, he may not have said what his party affiliation is, but given the hypocrisy and self-righteousness he displayed, my money is that he's damn good at being a Republican.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Clark Update: at DePauw

Clark criticizes Bush for not respecting U.N.

By John Fritze
September 23, 2003
GREENCASTLE, Ind. -- Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark said Tuesday that President Bush's speech to the United Nations is unlikely to build international support for U.S. efforts to rebuild Iraq.

"The president has caused a tremendous amount of problems for our allies, for our international organizations," Clark, a retired four-star Army general said.

"He hasn't treated the United Nations and our allies with the kind of respect and brought them into the problem the way that he could have. Now he's gone to them and asked them for help."

Clark, who led NATO forces during the 1999 Kosovo conflict, has been a frequent critic of the war in Iraq and reiterated that position Tuesday.

"The administration's policy on Iraq and the way it's been conducted has been faulty," Clark said. "I never saw the imminent threat in Iraq and I think the president failed to make the case of an imminent threat."

Clark came to Greencastle Tuesday evening to speak to students at DePauw University.
It was Clark's first trip to Indiana since announcing on Sept. 17 his plans to seek the Democratic presidential nomination.

"We're out here to speak to the people of Indiana and I'm looking forward to seeing these folks," Clark said upon landing at the Putnam County airport..

About 3,000 students and local residents were expected to attend Clark's speech.
What they witnessed was an unusual spectacle because Indiana rarely hosts candidates for the White House....

America "Needs New Strategy" Gen. Wesley Clark Tells 2600 at DePauw Ubben Lecture

September 23, 2003, Greencastle, Ind. - "Schools like this are really the heart and soul of America," said Democratic presidential candidate General Wesley K. Clark (Ret.) tonight at DePauw University as he began a Timothy and Sharon Ubben Lecture, "Facing America's Challenges." "You're participating in an educational experience here that prepares you not only for your employment but for the kind of citizenry we need to protect this country: to keep it strong, to keep it free, and to keep it safe in the future." The four-star general and former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO entered Neal Fieldhouse of DePauw's Lilly Center by walking through the crowd of 2,600, stopping to shake hands and greet the students, faculty, alumni and visitors he passed as he made his way through the gymnasium. ...

We have to respect other leaders, just as we expect them to respect us. In a democracy, of course, we understand that our president reflects public opinion more or less -- I mean, he has to. If he doesn't, he's held accountable at the next election. It's no different in any democracy. So there's no point in being that angry at the French, because their president is more or less reflecting the opinion of the political class in France. The German Chancellor is reflecting the opinions, more or less, in Germany. And the American President has to understand he speaks to an audience that extends far beyond the borders of these United States. He has to be a world leader."

Asked by students about the Patriot Act, Clark said the implications and effectiveness of the Act -- which he says he's read cover-to-cover three times and is still trying to make sense of -- must be carefully analyzed before, as Attorney General John Ashcroft hopes, its powers are expanded.

"Because when you're dealing with something like the Bill of Rights, it is so precious, it is so central to the this country that we must never allow an administration to abridge it without full, open and complete accountability to the American people."

General Clark, whose speech was interrupted many times by applause, offered this advice to students who may feel disenfranchised and that their vote means nothing.

"I want you to understand that politics is not a dirty word. I want you to understand that in a democracy -- if you love your country, if you love your parents if you love the town you've grown up in, if you love this University -- then you have to fight for it and protect it. And that doesn't mean you need an assault weapon at home. It means you need to use your mind, and your voice and your ideas."

Before attending a forum with 200 DePauw students across the street at the Performing Arts Center, Clark urged the students who filled the gymnasium to dedicate at least part of their lives to public service.

"There's nobody and there's no party in America that has a monopoly on wisdom. It takes dialogue and disagreement... And so, when you have a democracy you might have a pretty raucous set of discussions. But instead of the American public being worried because people don't always agree, we oughta celebrate that, because people have the courage to speak out. I encourage your generation to have that courage, to have that commitment and to care. And let one of your public services be that you vote, and another one be that you think about the issues, you look for the facts, and you listen to the -- well, what the political philosophers used to call -- the 'light of reason' to guide your dialogue rather than the heated emotions of talk radio."

Taking the message to Dan Quayle's alma mater.

From Blog for America

I called my parents tonight and asked each of them and my step-parents to donate $200 for the bat.

They told me NFW. That they had supported me for 6 yrs at Bennington while I never studied for a test, never got a job because food sevice was beneath me, and took pottery class and web design.

They quoted a 60s philosopher - Janis Joplin- who said freedom was just another word for nothing else to lose. They said Dean was AFU for hyperventilating about a $400 BFD tax cut while they had to work January 1 till May 20 as slaves of the state.

Maybe they will come around. All they care about is money, and they HAVE it. If I had any, I will certainly send it. Right now things are kind of tight because of the shrub.

Actually, Janis was singing what Rhodes Scholar Kris Kristoferson had written. Anyway, I don't know if this person is real, from another camp or an unaffiliated comedian, but regardless, I thought it was good for a laugh.

Monday, September 22, 2003

Clark: A new patriotism

Wes Clark speaking at the Citadel:(Yes, that Citadel)

"Patriotism doesn't consist of following orders—not when you're not in the chain of command. For the American people, for citizens in a democracy, patriotism's highest calling isn't simply following what the administration says. It's not blind obedience. It's not unquestioned adherence. The highest form of patriotism is asking questions. Because democracies run on dialogue. Democracies run on discussion. No administration has the right to tell Americans that to dissent is disloyal, and to disagree is unpatriotic. …

"We need a new spirit, a new kind of, a new American patriotism in this country. … [T]his new spirit of patriotism should be dedicated to the protection of our rights and liberties. … In times of war or peace, democracy requires dialogue, disagreement, and the courage to speak out. And those who do it should not be condemned but be praised."

Boy. He would've sure had problems running as a Republican with this message.

Has Roger Ailes fired this guy yet?

One of the smears being spread by the right wing and some of their patsies in the mainstream press is that Wesley Clark simply isn't liked by other military men. Do you think that's what Brit Hume was hoping for when he asked Fox's own military analyst his opinion on Clark?

BRIT HUME, HOST: Wesley Clark, Rhodes scholar, Four-Star general, supreme NATO commander during the Kosovo War has many admirers. But he also has critics who claim, not always publicly, that he's an abrasive man, extremely ambitious man whose priority has always been his career. So what about that?

For answers, we turn to a man who was a classmate of his at West Point and has known him ever since. Retired Army General Bob Scales, who is also a FOX News military analyst.

Bob, welcome. Nice to have you. What about Wes Clark? And what about these sometimes whispered criticisms of him?

MAJ. GEN. ROBERT SCALES, FOX NEWS MILITARY ANALYST: Well, first of all, they are whispered. You know, Brit, Wes Clark led a 19-nation coalition, he fought a war and he won it. If you are a general in war and you have to command such a disparate organization, there are times when you have got to be hard and you've got to be decisive. I mean no one complains about Jack Welch (search) running the best…being the best CEO in the country and he was tough.

HUME: You're talking about G.E.'s?

SCALES: Yes. Sure. There were times when Wes was hard when he had to be. But I've known Wes for 40 years; he's also a passionate, committed, empathetic individual. So, soldiers in wartime have to lead soldiers into battle and the lives of men and women are at stake. And sometimes that requires a degree of flintiness that you don't need in other professions.

HUME: What about those who suggest that his character reflects a kind of unbridled ambition that puts his career above all things, fair?

SCALES: No. No. Unfair. Again, like I say I've known him all my adult life. He is an individual who is committed to a higher calling. I mean he's got three holes in him and a Silver Star from Vietnam. He has a…the word patriot only partially describes his commitment to public service. And for as long as I've known him, he's always looked, you know, beyond himself and he's been committed to serving the nation. And I think what you are seeing happen here recently is an example of that.

HUME: Now, you differ with him on politics because...

SCALES: Well, obviously we have differences in our views of the war. We have obviously...

HUME: The Iraq War?

SCALES: Well, to some degree. But I will say this. From the very beginning, Wes supported the war; he saw Saddam Hussein as an evil influence in the Middle East and he believes that Iraq is better off with him gone.

HUME: He said recently in a kind of announcement that he's a Democrat. To your way of thinking or to your understanding of him, hasn't…wasn't he always a Democrat, or did you not know?

SCALES: That's an interesting question. Someone asked me that the other day. And I said, you know, this may sound mildly oxy-moronic, but in a way he's a sort of a Powell Democrat, if that makes sense to you. That's kind of how I know him. He is a…he appears to be a centrist. And it's not totally unusual that an Army officer would be a Democrat. There are more Democrats in uniform out there than perhaps most people realize.

HUME: On his departure from his post at NATO.


HUME: He was fired; it appeared, after disagreeing with Secretary Cohen and others in the Pentagon over the need for ground troops. As it happened, he won the war without ground troops. Who was right or wrong in that dispute?

SCALES: I think he was right. I think Wes was right in this case. I think had ground troops been introduced earlier in the campaign, there would have been far less suffering on the part of the 'Kosovoers' and the war would have been ended earlier. And he fought to have ground troops over there. I was with him…I was actually with him in his headquarters when those key decisions were made. And he was passionate about ending the war by putting boots on the ground to protect the refugees who were being persecuted by the Serbs.

HUME: Then when he was…after he was…I mean what's unclear to me is he disagreed, the war ended and he won it. Why was it…why did they find it necessary to fire him?

SCALES: First of all, they didn't fire him. He was retired early. You know, that all has to do with Wes' commitment. Wes is a man of passion. And he passionately believed on how that war should have been fought. He was outspoken about it, as he's been all of his life. And members of the Clinton administration probably took that wrong. Took his passion…mistook his passion for disloyalty.

HUME: One last question. He's new to this game.

SCALES: Right.

HUME: How do you think, based on his personality and his experience, he will cope with the vicissitudes of a political campaign, which you've got to do some things like kissing babies. We saw him do and you normally don't have to do as a General of the Army. Quickly.

SCALES: Well, I think he's going to do fine. If you can lead solders in combat and if you can deal with the lives of young men and women, you have put up with just about as much stress as any human being can be asked to put up with. I think he's going to be OK.

Hackworth comes around

A few years back, Col. David Hackworth wrote some unflattering things about Wesley Clark that have been flying around cyberspace for the last few months. Well, the Colonel recently sat down and spoke with Clark at length and has had a change of heart and mind.

Reporting for Duty: Wesley Clark
By David H. Hackworth
With Wesley Clark joining the Democratic presidential candidates, there are enough eager bodies pointed toward the White House to make up a rifle squad. This bunch of wannabes could make things increasingly hot for Dubya – as long as they don’t blow each other away with friendly fire.
Since Clark tossed his steel pot into the inferno, I've been constantly asked, “Hack, what do you think of the general?”
For the record, I never served with Clark. But after spending three hours interviewing the man for Maxim’s November issue, I’m impressed. He is insightful, he has his act together, he understands what makes national security tick – and he thinks on his feet somewhere around Mach 3. No big surprise, since he graduated first in his class from West Point, which puts him in the super-smart set with Robert E. Lee, Douglas MacArthur and Maxwell Taylor.
Clark was so brilliant, he was whisked off to Oxford as a Rhodes scholar and didn’t get his boots into the Vietnam mud until well after his 1966 West Point class came close to achieving the academy record for the most Purple Hearts in any one war. When he finally got there, he took over a 1st Infantry Division rifle company and was badly wounded.
Lt. Gen. James Hollingsworth, one of our Army’s most distinguished war heroes, says: “Clark took a burst of AK fire, but didn’t stop fighting. He stayed on the field till his mission was accomplished and his boys were safe. He was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart. And he earned ‘em.”
It took months for Clark to get back in shape. He had the perfect excuse, but he didn’t quit the Army to scale the corporate peaks as so many of our best and brightest did back then. Instead, he took a demoralized company of short-timers at Fort Knox who were suffering from a Vietnam hangover and made them the best on post – a major challenge in 1970 when our Army was teetering on the edge of anarchy. Then he stuck around to become one of the young Turks who forged the Green Machine into the magnificent sword that Norman Schwarzkopf swung so skillfully during Round One of the Gulf War.
I asked Clark why he didn’t turn in his bloody soldier suit for Armani and the big civvy dough that was definitely his for the asking.
His response: “I wanted to serve my country.”
He says he now wants to lead America out of the darkness, shorten what promises to be the longest and nastiest war in our history and restore our eroding prestige around the world.
For sure, he’ll be strong on defense. But with his high moral standards and because he knows where and how the game’s played, there will probably be zero tolerance for either Pentagon porking or two-bit shenanigans.
No doubt he’s made his share of enemies. He doesn’t suffer fools easily and wouldn’t have allowed the dilettantes who convinced Dubya to do Iraq to even cut the White House lawn. So he should prepare for a fair amount of dart-throwing from detractors he’s ripped into during the past three decades.
Hey, I am one of those: I took a swing at Clark during the Kosovo campaign when I thought he screwed up the operation, and I called him a “Perfumed Prince.” Only years later did I discover from his book and other research that I was wrong – the blame should have been worn by British timidity and William Cohen, U.S. SecDef at the time. 
At the interview, Clark came along without the standard platoon of handlers and treated the little folks who poured the coffee and served the bacon and eggs with exactly the same respect and consideration he gave the biggies in the dining room like my colleague Larry King and Bob Tisch, the Regency Hotel’s owner. An appealing common touch.
But if he wins the election, don’t expect an Andrew Jackson field-soldier type. Clark’s an intellectual, and his military career is more like Ike’s – that of a staff guy and a brilliant high-level commander. Can he make tough decisions? Bet on it. Just like Ike did during his eight hard but prosperous years as president.

He didn't explicitly say "endorsement," but I doubt anyone else will get this strong of a review from this tough critic.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

Don't Believe Clark is a Democrat? Keep reading...

When I seen Howard Fineman on a talk show, he always strikes me more as a gossip than a journalist. His latest dish:

Last January, at a conference in Switzerland, he happened to chat with two prominent Republicans, Colorado Gov. Bill Owens and Marc Holtzman, now president of the University of Denver. “I would have been a Republican,” Clark told them, “if Karl Rove had returned my phone calls.” Soon thereafter, in fact, Clark quit his day job and began seriously planning to enter the presidential race—as a Democrat. Messaging NEWSWEEK by BlackBerry, Clark late last week insisted the remark was a “humorous tweak.” The two others said it was anything but. “He went into detail about his grievances,” Holtzman said. “Clark wasn’t joking. We were really shocked.

I know a lot of dishonest Republican politicians. Republican politicians who possess a sense of humor are decidedly more rare. Apparently, Clark didn’t deny saying it. He just said it was a joke. Sounds like a joke to me. I don't necessarily doubt that he aired grievances with the Bush administration. He's still doing it. Clearly Bush's policies disgust him. But it seems highly unlikely that the same Clark that Bill Clinton, Madeline Albright, Richard Holbroke and so many other Dems think so highly of was just a Karl Rove call away from being a Republican. And for what purpose? To run against Dubya? Replace Cheney? What would have possibly been offered that compared to what he's aiming for now? And what is this suppose to imply? “Soon thereafter, in fact, Clark quit his day job and began seriously planning to enter the presidential race—as a Democrat.” Ah hah!

For a soldier returning from Viet Nam needing a year of rehab to learn to walk without a limp, one can seen why Clark would have supported Nixon. Some Democratic leaning citizens at the time didn’t always have the warmest welcome for returning soldiers. One can also understand why an officer would have voted for Reagan—a failed rescue of Iranian held hostages under Carter was demoralizing for many in the military. Besides, so many Democrats even voted for Reagan they were dubbed “Reagan Democrats.” And Dukakis? Well, seeing him in a tank may have been too much for many soldiers, particularly one who oversaw tank divisions.

But he’s voted Democratic the last three elections. I wasn’t in the booth with him, but if he was going to lie about that he could have just as easily lied about Nixon and Reagan. He seemed to have formed good relationships with many in the Clinton administration and contrary to what has sometimes been said, Clinton didn’t “fire” him—William Cohen did. Those decisions are generally made by the Secretary of Defense who, in this case, was the lone Republican in Clinton’s cabinet. Moreover, for what its worth, his father was apparently active in the Democratic Party.

Want more? Perhaps you witnessed this exchange:

BLITZER: But during the war, early in April, Tom DeLay, the majority leader in the House, really hammered you directly. I want you to listen to what he told our Judy Woodruff then.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX), MAJORITY LEADER: Frankly, what irritates me the most are these blow-dried Napoleons that come on television and, in some cases, have their own agendas.
General Clark is one of them that is running for president, yet he's paid to be an expert on your network. And he's questioning the plan and raising doubts as he becomes this expert.
I think they would serve the nation better if they would just comment on what they see and what they know, rather than putting their own agenda forward as an expert.


BLITZER: Well, pretty strong words from Tom DeLay going after you. What do you say to that criticism?

CLARK: Well, first of all, I'd be happy to compare my hair with Tom DeLay's. We'll see who's got the blow-dried hair. But beyond that, Wolf, he's got it exactly backward. It's upside down. I am saying what I believe. And I'm being drawn into the political process because of what I believe and what I've said about it.

So it's precisely the opposite of a man like Tom DeLay, who is only motivated by politics and says whatever he needs to say to get the political purpose. And so, you know, it couldn't be more diametrically opposed, and I couldn't be more opposed than I am to Tom DeLay.
You know, Wolf, when our airmen were flying over Kosovo, Tom DeLay led the House Republicans to vote not to support their activities, when American troops were in combat. To me, that's a real indicator of a man who is motivated not by patriotism or support for the troops, but for partisan political purposes.

BLITZER: Well, he was hammering you, and you're hammering right back.

You think Clark is still a little peeved at the almost total lack of support that the Republicans showed when he was trying to win a war?

Connect the dots, Howard. You’ve been had.

UPDATE Via Chronicles of an Anti-Apathetic: Thanks to those crazy whack-jobs at the Weakly Standard (who have compensated for Howard Fineman's lack of legwork) we know that Clark was being honest when he indicated that his remark about calling Karl Rove was, in fact, a joke. The best part is that they are so eager to play "gotcha", they don't realize they have proven him honest. Remember what I said about a sense of humor being decidedly rare among the Right Wing?

Clark Never Called Karl
Wesley Clark says he would have been a Republican if Karl Rove had returned his phone calls. White House phone logs suggest otherwise.
by Matthew Continetti
09/22/2003 1:45:00 PM

Matthew Continetti, editorial assistant

WHEN WILL Wesley Clark stop telling tall tales? In the current issue of Newsweek, Howard Fineman reports Clark told Colorado Gov. Bill Owens and University of Denver president Mark Holtzman that "I would have been a Republican if Karl Rove had returned my phone calls."

Unfortunately for Clark, the White House has logged every incoming phone call since the beginning of the Bush administration in January 2001. At the request of THE DAILY STANDARD, White House staffers went through the logs to check whether Clark had ever called White House political adviser Karl Rove. The general hadn't. What's more, Rove says he doesn't remember ever talking to Clark, either.

Fortunately for Clark, ya genius.

Since this underachiever thing isn't working...

Evan Thomas on Clark:

Clark also suffers from the anti-intellectualism of the military. At West Point, “star men” like Clark, who won stars for top grades, often declined to wear them on their cadet uniforms. They didn’t want to be singled out as nerds. Clark was a top debater at West Point. One of his superiors—a captain by the name of Norman Schwarzkopf, later the commander of Desert Storm—objected to Clark’s spending too much time traveling to debates, doing “puffy stuff,” Schwarzkopf complained, rather than more manly pursuits, like “socializing” and “professional development.”
       Some of the resentment against Clark is just plain jealousy. More-plodding officers dislike “fast burners” like Clark. It should be noted that Clark commanded the loyalty of many of his subordinates as an officer in the field in the ’70s and ’80s. By the sheer force of his personality and high expectations, he was able to turn around Army units that had drug problems, poor morale and racial divisions.

Well, let's see. For the last three years we've had an underachiever who went AWOL from the National Guard, was a drunk until he was 40, couldn't find oil in Texas, but was by all accounts a great social chair for the Dekes at Yale. I think I'm ready for an overachiever. How about you?

Method to his madness?

We need troops, but morale is low. How do we keep up recruitment levels? That's right, keep the economy in the toliet. Jobless recovery? Nah, we got your jobs right here!

Soft Economy Aids Army Recruiting Effort

FORT KNOX, Ky., Sept. 16 — The slumping American economy has proved to be a huge boon to the Army's efforts to recruit the 100,000 enlisted soldiers it says it needs this year to fill its active-duty and reserve ranks, senior Army officials say, so far relieving concerns that the turmoil in Iraq could crimp new enlistments.

All the armed services say they will meet or exceed their recruiting goals for the fiscal year ending on Sept. 30. But many military personnel experts say the Army's efforts are most vulnerable over time because the Army recruits more active-duty and Reserve troops than all the other services combined — 73,800 active-duty and 26,400 Reserve soldiers this year — and it is now fielding about 90 percent of the 180,000 troops in Iraq and Kuwait.

"That's the driver, the economy," said Maj. Gen. Michael D. Rochelle, the head of the Army Recruiting Command here, adding that the chaotic conditions in Iraq have yet to hurt recruiting.

Keeping an eye on our troops

As the situation in Iraq continues to drag on, much of the attention in the major media and blogosphere has focused on presidential politics. Lunaville continues to be an excellent source of information on the status our coalition troops in Iraq. Check it out.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Technical Difficulties

I went to Gephardt's website and had a pop-up that essentially said, Howard Dean thinks he's the only one who can raise money on-line. Click here and show Howard Dean!

Curious, though not willing to contribute, I clicked. This is what I got:

We apologize for the inconvenience, but this web service is temporarily off-line for an upgrade.

Please come back soon!

No, Dick, Howie ain't the only person raising money on-line, but perhaps you should have your webmaster disable the cocky pop-up when your contribution link's not working.    


Clark’s Fast Start
In a new Newsweek poll, the general takes an early lead among Democrats while Bush’s ratings continue to slide

By Laura Fording
    Sept. 20 —  Retired Gen. Wesley Clark may have only entered the presidential race on Thursday, but he is already the Democratic frontrunner, according to a new NEWSWEEK poll.  
       CLARK WON SUPPORT from 14 percent registered Democrats and democratic leaners, outpacing former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (12 percent), Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman (12 percent), Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (10 percent) and Missouri Congressman Dick Gephardt (8 percent).
Click here to to take the poll....

       The NEWSWEEK poll was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates, which interviewed 1,001 adults by telephone on September 18 and 19. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.
       Others in the race look especially weak. The Rev. Al Sharpton polls at 7 percent among registered Democrats and leaners, while North Carolina Sen. John Edwards received 6 percent, Florida Sen. Bob Graham 4 percent, and former Illinois Sen. Carol Mosely Braun and Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich received only 2 percent each. Nineteen percent of Democrats and democratic leaners are still not sure who they will vote for in the upcoming primary.
       When registered voters were asked who they would vote for if a general election if President George W. Bush was pitted against Clark, Kerry or Dean, none of the candidates were able to beat the incumbent, although Clark fared better than the others, polling at 43 percent to Bush’s 47 percent. Kerry was next, polling at 43 percent to Bush’s 48 percent. Dean fared worst, with Bush beating him by a full 14 points (52 percent to 38 percent).

Sounds like Clark's entry went better than many pundits seemed to think.

Friday, September 19, 2003

The Challenge for Clark-- and for all of us

Wesley Clark is a very bright and complex thinker who must adapt to dealing with simple-minded journalists looking for sensationalist headlines. The current state of journalism may be the greatest factor in dumbing down debate in this country and discouraging our best people from seeking public office. The rules of the game do not tolerate meaningful distinctions no matter how logical and reasonable they might be. Especially in our media driven society, politics favors simple thoughts, black-and-white thinking and soundbites.

This is the environment which allows someone like George W. Bush to first be elected and then be perceived as a strong and decisive leader by most of the electorate. He keeps it simple, which for him isn’t really a choice. You are with him or against him; you’re on the side of righteousness or evil; you invade a country and topple a regime or concede defeat in the war on terror.

Conservatives viewed Clinton as indecisive because he not only had the ability to see all sides, his thought process generally demanded that he do so. Although his communication skills were phenomenal, he lacked Bush’s certitude. Of course, to progressives, Bush’s certitude is seen as obnoxious, close-minded hubris. Still, many of us, even progressives, are too quick to find fault when someone else’s thinking doesn’t fit into a ready-made framework with which we are comfortable. This is the environment in which Wesley Clark has entered.

There has been much made over a conversation Clark had with four journalists Thursday night. The headlines read: Clark 'Probably' Would Have Backed War and Clark Says He Would Have Voted for War. But is that what he said?

The Post (and the only actual attributed quote in this passage is the last sentence):

[He] "probably" would have voted for the congressional resolution last fall authorizing war, as he charged out into the presidential campaign field with vague plans to fix the economy and the situation in Iraq…. "That having been said, I was against the war as it emerged because there was no reason to start it when we did.

The Times:

“I want to clarify — we're moving quickly here," Ms. Jacoby said. "You said you would have voted for the resolution as leverage for a U.N.-based solution."

"Right," General Clark responded. "Exactly."

Compare that statement to his supposed “flip-flop”:

"I would have never voted for war," Clark told Reuters before delivering a foreign policy speech at the University of Iowa. "I'm a soldier. I understand what war's about, but I would have voted for the right kind of leverage for the president to head off war and avoid it."

And again:

"Let's make one thing real clear, I would never have voted for this war," Clark said before a speech at the University of Iowa. "I've gotten a very consistent record on this. There was no imminent threat. This was not a case of pre-emptive war. I would have voted for the right kind of leverage to get a diplomatic solution, an international solution to the challenge of Saddam Hussein."

The simple-minded will cry “Word games!” They also seem to believe that the resolution voted on by Congress was a declaration of war. It was not. If you’ve never read it, you can do so now:

Joint Resolution to authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against Iraq.


This joint resolution may be cited as the `Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002'.


The Congress of the United States supports the efforts by the President to--

(1) strictly enforce through the United Nations Security Council all relevant Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq and encourages him in those efforts; and

(2) obtain prompt and decisive action by the Security Council to ensure that Iraq abandons its strategy of delay, evasion and noncompliance and promptly and strictly complies with all relevant Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.


(a) AUTHORIZATION- The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to--

(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and

(2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.

(b) PRESIDENTIAL DETERMINATION- In connection with the exercise of the authority granted in subsection (a) to use force the President shall, prior to such exercise or as soon thereafter as may be feasible, but no later than 48 hours after exercising such authority, make available to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate his determination that--

(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone either (A) will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq or (B) is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq; and

(2) acting pursuant to this joint resolution is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorist and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001….

Not a declaration of war. A blank check in the hands of a President bent on war? Maybe. However, it is also largely credited with providing Bush and Powell with the necessary leverage to achieve consensus on a UN Resolution that followed placing inspectors back in Iraq. If you were against the war, you may remember this being viewed by many as an indication that the more moderate Powell had achieved a victory over the Neocons and that war might be averted. No, didn’t happen, but look back at the press reports if you don’t remember that avoiding war seemed more possible at that point. In fact, what if Blair had not been able to bring the UK along for the ride?

The question to Clark—a hypothetical about whether to tie a President’s hands or give him bargaining leverage. As a candidate, he probably thought what position he would want to find himself to better negotiate a suitable outcome. (Although, with Clark as President, this particular resolution would have never been presented for consideration.) He may have remembered being asked to wage a war with it declared up front that there would be no ground troops. Not even a possibility for the enemy to worry about in their calculations.

So why did I call what Clark said Thursday night to be non-pandering straight talk, even in light of the clarifications? Because many in the Democratic base have come to equate the resolution passed in October as supporting the war and by trying to draw this distinction he ran the risk of having people make quick assumptions which were overly simplistic and simply incorrect. Even though he also said this:

Still, asked about Dr. Dean's criticism of the war, General Clark responded: "I think he's right. That in retrospect we should never have gone in there. I didn't want to go in there either. But on the other hand, he wasn't inside the bubble of those who were exposed to the information."

You can tell he’s not a politician because he passed up an opportunity to slam any of his rivals. He’s complex enough to understand why all of them may have taken the position that they did, although we will never really know how Howard Dean would have voted had he been in Congress, and perhaps he doesn’t either.

As voters and citizens we can withhold our snap judgments based on what the corporate media tells us is true until we examine the facts and reach well thought-out conclusions, or we can perpetuate a black-and-white political world in which cynical powerbrokers find simpletons like the current President who won’t go off on their own and have a complex thought.

For more analysis see Chronicles of an Anti-Apathetic and Josh Marshall

Thursday, September 18, 2003

He's got your straight talk right here...

Clark avoids the easy pander to Dems angry over the war by supporting the views of most of his congressional opponents. Well, it's honest.

He also mentions having voted for Nixon and Reagan. Many Dems will blanch at that, but the truth is you don't really know how anyone has voted over the years. You know what they tell you. And alot of people, including Dems, voted for Reagan. (not me)

The Dems need the people who have gotten increasingly disgusted with the Repugs over the last several years if we truly want to realign the electorate. Merely convincing the Greens not to nominate Nader doesn't get us there. Clark came up in a military culture and over 10 years ago appeared to diverge from most of those around him by voting for Clinton. Now, he looks at the political landscape, appears to be genuinely disgusted with how the Repugs have tried to co-opt patriotism and now identifies with the Democratic Party. This journey is the result of an openmind. It reflects personal growth. You know, two of the things some us say we value until we see them.

If he gets through the primaries, this honest evolution of his views and affiliation will be powerful with the general electorate and the parties will start early on election night.

Clark 'Probably' Would Have Backed War
On First Campaign Stop, Democrat Lacks Specifics but Rallies Crowd
By Jim VandeHei
Friday, September 19, 2003

HOLLYWOOD, Fla., Sept. 18 -- Retired Gen. Wesley K. Clark said today that he "probably" would have voted for the congressional resolution last fall authorizing war, as he charged out into the presidential campaign field with vague plans to fix the economy and the situation in Iraq.

Clark said his views on the war resemble those of Democratic Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.) and John F. Kerry (Mass.), both of whom voted for the war but now question President Bush's stewardship of the Iraqi occupation. "That having been said, I was against the war as it emerged because there was no reason to start it when we did. We could have waited," Clark said during a 75-minute session with four reporters.

En route to his first campaign stop as a candidate, a high-energy rally at a local restaurant, Clark said he has few specific policy ideas to offer voters right now and offered a few thoughts that might surprise Democrats flocking to his campaign. As recently as Sunday night, he was unsure if he should run for president, so Clark said voters need to give him time to think things through.

Clark's statement on the war resolution put him at odds with former Vermont governor Howard Dean, whose stock has soared among Democratic activists in recent months on the strength of his antiwar position. It could make it difficult for Clark to differentiate himself from the other nine candidates in the field on policy, other than by touting his résumé as a former Army general and commander of NATO forces in Kosovo.