Sunday, August 17, 2008

Wes Clark 'Not Welcome' at the D.N.C. ???

Tell us "It ain't so," Barack!?

I'm not feeling what I'm hearing.

Steve Clemons of the Huffington Post and Jay McDonough of the Progressive Politics Examiner are telling their readers that the Barack Obama team has de-selected Wes Clark for the vice-presidential spot on the 2008 ticket. In fact, they have stiffed Clark to the extent that his presence is not even welcome at the Democratic National Convention.


This decision to exclude General Clark from the '08 ticket is so incomprehensible and incredible, that I'm tempted not to believe it. Perhaps it's a subterfuge? Perhaps it's an effort toward being all the more dramatic and theatrical? A way to meet beat the press by shocking the MSM pundits out of their jocks with a last minute presentation of Wes Clark as Veep? Well, it's a slim and audacious hope, anyway.

As I have said countless times in my pages, literally no other Veep candidate takes the full measure of John McCain. And then some. Paul Abrams of The Huffington Post abundantly demonstrated this recently:

  • Clark was first in his class at West Point, won a Rhodes Scholarship, and studied (the "s" word) politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford. Similar to our Dear Leader, McCain was 5th from the bottom at Annapolis. Like our Dear Leader, that is a badge of honor for him, and he recently proudly professed that he did not know very much about economics ....

  • Clark did not come from a privileged background with contacts in the Army. McCain got into Annapolis because his fathers were admirals. As he was working his way up the ladder in the Army, Clark received numerous letters highly commending his acumen and performance from commanding officers.

  • Clark became a 4-star General. McCain left the Navy because he was not going to be able to make Admiral .... McCain also crashed several of his Navy planes when they were not being shot at.

  • Clark was Supreme Allied Commander of NATO--you know, one of the pesky little multinational things where hearing someone else's perspective occasionally comes in handy .....
Contrast Clark's sustained record of professionalism and interpersonal competency with John McCain's legendary temper, reported widely by insiders from both sides of the aisle. See, for example, Christopher Hitchens in Slate! McCain's track record has long demonstrated that he is a prime, poster-boy candidate for anger management seminars.

Snipping a little here and there, I'll let Abrams continue:

  • Clark opposed the Iraq invasion. McCain plumped for it. McCain said we would be greeted as liberators. Clark does not know just who the enemy is in Iraq, and what the definition of victory is. Neither does McCain. Clark not knowing leads him to doubt the wisdom of the continuing involvement of the US. McCain not knowing makes this, well, no different from just about everything else McCain espouses so why make an exception of Iraq.

  • Clark has been married to one woman his entire adult life. McCain dumped his wife who had been severely injured in a car accident, and had waited patiently for his return from Hanoi. Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan did not like McCain for doing that. McCain committed adultery with his current wife while he was still married to his ex-wife. He also received a marriage license before he was divorced .....

  • After decades of service in the Army, Clark retired with little money, and earned a few million himself. McCain dumped his injured first wife for an heiress, flies around in a private plane, owns 8-10 houses. Oh yes, incidentally, remember when McCain was working on campaign finance reform. (Guess what form of transportation is exempt from reporting? Yep, if you use your own private plane!) .....

  • Clark truly is an independent, a non-ideologue. He joined the Democratic party because of how bad Bush and the Republicans had become. McCain calls himself a proud conservative, and has already made multiple faustian bargains on judges, on taxes, and other matters. McCain voted with Bush 95% of the time.

  • When he ran himself for President, Clark proposed a major middle class tax cut, paid for by a small increase in tax rates on the top bracket. He has not wavered. When McCain was in the Senate, he opposed the Bush tax cuts on the grounds they were fiscally irresponsible and favored the rich; when he ran for President himself McCain wavered--he backs fiscally irresponsible taxcuts for the top bracket.

  • McCain has no experience in international diplomacy, and his first instinct in any confrontation is to escalate it--whether it is his own insane temper, or bombing Iran, or the in-your-face arrogance of power displayed by our Dear Leader. Clark, who has actually studied and operated in the world at large, displays a more nuanced approach.
At this time-out interlude in the presidential campaign between the primaries and the convention, polls mean jack. But it's not moot to point out that in poll after poll McCain has a sizable double-digit edge on security issues and Iraq. Rasmussen has McCain with a 51 percent to 39 percent lead on Iraq, and a 52 to 40 lead on national security. Time shows McCain leading on Iraq 51 percent to 36 percent, and on the war on terror 56 to 29. This demonstrates that Obama's task of undermining this popular perception has not even begun.

Who doesn't like Wes Clark? The Republicans and the Russians! The Russians hate him because of his attempt to block their Landing at Priština International Airport on June 12, 1999, and the Republicans hate him because he called McCain out on Face the Nation on 19 June 2008. Clark's short list of enemies is, you could say, very diagnostic.

OTOH, his list of friends is deep and wide as the Mississippi. His site, WesPAC, has raised thousands of dollars for Democratic candidates all over the country. And the motto of WesPAC, Securing America's Future, has been accepted as the official slogan of Obama's Democratic Convention in Denver. Do Obama's Democrats appear to want to use Clark's slogans but not his substance?

I don't know what else I can say in this, probably my last column in behalf of General Clark. This is exactly what I have been saying, beginning 10 May and again on 6 June, on 30 June, on 3 August, on 6 August, on 13 August and finally today. It's not rocket science or neurosurgery. It's smart, tough politics of truth-telling.

This exclusion of Wes Clark from the 2008 ticket is extremely poorly-advised. As a vice-presidential candidate, Wes Clark is the best man to repudiate and disarm Republican militarism. If Obama does not intend to do that, then I am beginning to doubt that the changes Barack has in mind constitute change I can believe in.

24 Moderated Comments:

Blogger MacDaddy said...

I don't believe it!

8/17/2008 08:04:00 AM  
Blogger the WIZARD, fkap said...

It might be classic misdirection. Keep the spotlight off Clark so the surprise will be bigger.

While I had originally thought Clark was not a viable VP choice (and wrote that here in your comments section several times), I thought his stock would rise with the situation in Georgia. Clark is an expert in tis arena.

8/17/2008 08:24:00 AM  
Blogger MacDaddy said...

wizard: With the flack in Georgia, I think it has risen. I don't subscribe to this, but many say that Obama's response to the Georgia situation was too even-handed, that he should have been more forceful in condemning the aggressor Russia. Of course, he did condemn Russia as the aggressor. It was in the first sentence of his statement at a press conference. Then he appealed to both sides to stop the fighting. But that wasn't enough for some folks.

So the idea is that, since Obama appears "soft" on foreign policy, he will need a military person to give his ticket more strength. For the democratic party, that means Wesley Clark. I still think he's going to be Obama's VP.

8/17/2008 11:33:00 AM  
Blogger Urban Pink said...

I heard on Air America that Clark will be in Europe during the convention. Subterfuge? I do hope that Obama picks someone with war cred AND an attack dog. I'll take the latter over the former, to be honest--but I've lately realized that we have to act like war mongers (in our rhetoric only) to get the votes of the Americans. We're evolving against our violent nature, but it's slow and we need to cling together...

8/17/2008 08:15:00 PM  
Blogger Utah Savage said...

Vig, I have burdened you with another award. Said nice things about Emily too. Come see me. Please.

8/17/2008 09:55:00 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Thanks to the readers who read, considered, and commented on this column in varying states of completion. I think I'm finished with it.

I might add that this is a rare moment of agreement with Ex-CIA Larry Johnson on his Clintonista blog, No Quarter, where he says if not Clinton, then Clark for Vice-President. Only I reverse it: the only possible excuse I can see for not calling upon General Clark would be to call upon Senator Clinton.

In any case, the road to perdition opens before the Progressive cause.

8/17/2008 11:21:00 PM  
Blogger Boris said...

Good riddance to the Perfumed Prince, Virgil.

8/18/2008 07:32:00 AM  
Blogger Soros' Proxy said...

Vigil, maybe Barry doesn't feel he needs to partner-up with an international affairs expert. Mayhill Fowler in the Huffington reports:

At a fundraiser in San Francisco, Barack Obama took a question on what he's looking for in a running mate.

"I would like somebody who knows about a bunch of stuff that I'm not as expert on. I think a lot of people assume that might be some sort of military thing to make me look more Commander-in-Chief-like. Ironically, this is an area--foreign policy is the area where I am probably most confident that I know more and understand the world better than Senator Clinton or Senator McCain.

"It's ironic because this is supposedly the place where experience is most needed to be Commander-in-Chief. Experience in Washington is not knowledge of the world. This I know. When Senator Clinton brags 'I've met leaders from eighty countries'--I know what those trips are like! I've been on them. You go from the airport to the embassy. There's a group of children who do native dance. You meet with the CIA station chief and the embassy and they give you a briefing. You go take a tour of a plant that [with] the assistance of USAID has started something. And then--you go.

"You do that in eighty countries--you don't know those eighty countries. So when I speak about having lived in Indonesia for four years, having family that is impoverished in small villages in Africa--knowing the leaders is not important--what I know is the people. . . ."

"I traveled to Pakistan when I was in college--I knew what Sunni and Shia was [sic] before I joined the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. . . .

"Nobody is entirely prepared for being Commander-in-Chief. The question is when the 3 AM phone call comes do you have somebody who has the judgment, the temperament to ask the right questions, to weigh the costs and benefits of military action, who insists on good intelligence, who is not going to be swayed by the short-term politics. By most criteria, I've passed those tests and my two opponents have not."


What do you think?

8/18/2008 07:41:00 AM  
Blogger Yellow Dog said...

It's going to be Joe Biden. Betcha!

8/18/2008 08:05:00 AM  
Blogger Beach Bum said...

Just for poops and giggles and general FYI I have to throw this out there. As I was driving home from work today I heard on NPR an improbable but very interesting speculation on who Obama's VP might be. I forgot the name of who was speaking but it was the chief political dude for NPR and he reported rumors that Collin Powell's name was being thrown around due to his military an foreign policy experience. Of course even he didn't think much of the rumor and brought Bidden's name up again.

8/18/2008 12:13:00 PM  
Blogger Anajo/Anijo/JoAnn said...

Clark dared to denounce war-hero McCain and the media attacked his ass. The Obama campaign has buckeled under the pressure.

8/18/2008 01:33:00 PM  
Blogger MadMike said...

I suspect something happened behind the scenes; something to which we are not privy. Regardless I never thought Clark would be the VP. What is forgotten here is that Obama has advisors to help him with situations on the world stage. What he needs is a VP who will help him win those states are in play. I still hope for Hillary but I also think it will be Biden.

8/18/2008 04:33:00 PM  
Blogger Utah Savage said...

Great post Vig. I love the way you lay out Clarks credentials and contrast them with McCain's slim resume. I'd love to see Clark as Obama's running mate. What I don't understand is the reason for the press taking him out of the running--though I have to admit I've yet to read the Huff piece. I like the idea that this is all misdirection. Good call, wizard.

8/18/2008 04:34:00 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Paul Abrams The BIG Reason McCain Dreads a Clark VP Pick

There is a list of contrasts to John McCain, which is too long for a single article.

Some were military, others character, still others "civilian." By all those accounts McCain pales in comparison to Clark.

.....It could have been added that Clark had several appointments that required Senate approval. McCain never did. Clark was approved by a voice vote of the Republican-controlled Senate to be Supreme Allied Commander Europe. John McCain was part of that Republican-controlled Senate.

.....Inevitably, inexorably, indubitably the military records of these two men will be opened, examined, sliced and diced and compared by the press. Enormous pressure will build on McCain to sign a release form that allows access to all his military records, a step he has never taken.

.....Despite his imprisonment in North Vietnam, there is reason to believe that McCain's entire military record will not look very good compared to Wes Clark's. Included in such documents will be the planes McCain crashed, his overall behavior and demeanor, comments upon his leadership potential by commanding officers, his temper and other events we can only surmise.


I can't let this go!

8/19/2008 07:29:00 AM  
Blogger Blogging4Food said...

Loosen up, Vigilante. It will be Kaine. rimes with McCain!

8/19/2008 08:04:00 AM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Just want to go on record as having noticed Yellow Dog's suggestion of Joe Biden. I'd miss him in the Senate, but he'd be great on the campaign trail as well as a facilitator in Congress. Biden's very acceptable.

8/19/2008 08:11:00 AM  
Blogger Stella said...

Well, once again, I'm with Vig. However, he may not go well in the south. As long as McGain picks Lieberman, whom no one likes, we have a slim chance. Huffpo posted a great article about Biden in June. And he's been anti-Bush since the beginning.

And, true also, Vig, that no one really knows what Obama stands for. This is been a problem with the Dems for as long as I can remember—quite a while, I might add.

From El Generico, place your bets: Vegas odds on Obama's VP pick.

DNC's treatment of Clark is beyond disgusting. The Dems will be seen as treating a NATO General who has worked hard for the party with complete disregard. I dont' think the DNC is being theatrical, Vig. Just stupid. Boris, sorry, no offense, but I'd like to see more background on Clark.

We can blame our own party if, and possibly when, we lose this election. This is the second time we've ignored and belittled Clark. I am disgusted and plan to call the DNC in protest.

I'll take Urban Pink's attack dog: and that would be Biden. I can't disagree with Wizard, but I certainly hoped the DNC would use their brains this time. Beach, Colin Powell? Hmmm... interesting. And Mike, I guess you can tell me you told me so. I don't mind, but Clark would have been a tour de force in this election.

8/19/2008 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger Stella said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8/19/2008 11:42:00 AM  
Blogger Stella said...

My email to Howard Dean regarding General Clark.

Gov. Dean, I think the Democratic Party refusing to invite General Wesley Clark to the DNC is disgraceful. This man has served his country with dignity and honor.

I fail to understand why the Democratic Party has not provided more support to Gen. Clark and appoint him to positions, such as Vice-President elect, for which he is duly qualified.

I hope this error has not cost my party another presidential election. I will support whatever VP nominee is chosen, particularly Sen. Biden, but I take great exception to the intentional oversight and our party has shown in not inviting the General to the convention is simultenously impolite and impolitic.

8/19/2008 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger Daniela said...

Such a boneheaded move it makes me believe this can't be for real. See my last post.

8/19/2008 05:44:00 PM  
Blogger MadMike said...

Actually Wes is in Europe during the DNC and cannot attend, much less speak. This was his choice and had nothing to do with decisions made by the Obama camp.

8/20/2008 11:35:00 AM  
Blogger Soros' Proxy said...

You're being far, far too credulous, Mike. Obviously, the general wouldn't have been allowed to go Europe, unless he had been informed that he's not on the short list.

There's another possibility of course, having to do with his no longer being in Europe.... To much to wish for, so I rescind this suggestion.

8/20/2008 03:36:00 PM  
Blogger Stella said...

A last grasp at a possibility Mike and Soros. Couldn't the DNC broadcast Clark in from Europe to the DNC (big screen ala The Bill Maher Show), and select him as VP.

Alas, Mike, I think Clark is off the short list. Although I completely agree with macdaddy: Obama appears "soft" on foreign policy, he will need a military person to give his ticket more strength. For the democratic party, that means Wesley Clark.

That's our Dems always tripping over their feet. I blog sometimes at a conservative spot and the contributors are constantly mocking Pelosi. How can I honestly disagree?

8/20/2008 04:19:00 PM  
Blogger Stella said...

It's Biden.

8/22/2008 10:33:00 PM  

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