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.