Tuesday, October 10, 2006

My candidate for the Presidency in 2008: Gen. Wesley K. Clark

George W. Bush's biggest accomplishment has been to make all his Presidential predecessors look great and heroic by comparison. It will take a new President in 2008 with extraordinary skills to undue the domestic and foreign-policy damage that he has caused.

Of all the Republican aspirants to succeed him, Nebraska's Sen. Chuck Hagel is the only one for whom I would consider voting. But he is highly unlikely to get his party's nomination. The very factors that attract me are just what would undoubtedly prevent him from becoming the Republican candidate--i.e., his opposition to the Iraq war and his relatively liberal economic and social views.

Of the other leading Republican candidates, I once highly admired Arizona's Sen. John McCain. But I have lost my respect for him. His recommendation, for example, to send more troops to Iraq is extremely unrealistic. The integrity that had always impressed me now seems less genuine. I'm saddened by his pathetic effort to sell himself to the right-wing extremists who destroyed him during the 2004 Republican Presidential primaries.

Another avowed candidate for the Republican nomination is Virginia's George Allen. I consider him a political clown because of his attempt, as a born-and-bred Californian, to project himself as a genuine Southern redneck. Apparently it works, for he's been elected governor and Senator. His clumsy reaction to the recent disclosure of his mother's Jewish origins reinforced my negative view of him.

I doubt whether Rudy Guiliani, who is touted as another potential Republican candidate, could get his party's nomination. His relatively liberal positions on key social issues clashes with his party's establishment forces. And I'm not convinced that the American electorate--particularly in the South--is ready for a President lacking a WASP surname.

As for the Democrats, Hillary Rodham Clinton obviously leads in the race for her party's nomination. But I don't believe that she could win a Presidential election. She is not exactly a flaming leftist. But for reasons that I have never understood, she angers so many people that it's hard to imagine her being elected. Actually, I find her political views quite moderate. Her staunch support for the Iraq war and her sudden concern for such marginal issues as flag-burning strike me as being a pathetic effort to establish centrist credentials.

Al Gore is belatedly behaving like a dynamic national leader, an image he failed to project in 2000. But I doubt whether he is willing to endure another Presidential election campaign. John Kerry does appear ready for another run at the White House. However, I think he bears the stigma of being a loser, largely because of his failure to defend himself more aggressively against the sleazy Swift-Boaters who, I am convinced, were largely responsible for his defeat in 2004.

That year I was impressed by Gen. Wesley K. Clark when he threw his hat into the Democratic primary race. Here was an intellectually talented war hero like Kerry who was a fresh personality untainted by a background as a politician. As a military professional, he was well positioned to demolish the Republicans' nonsensical and traditional claim that the Democrats are "weak on defense." More important, his positions on vital economic and social issues showed that he obviously did not regard liberal as a dirty word. He was also skeptical about the wisdom of invading Iraq and later criticized what he regarded as the war's mismanagement.

Unfortunately, he proved to be an inept political campaigner and never gained any momentum. More recently, however, I have followed his frequent speeches on C-Span and his increasing appearances on TV talk shows. He is coming across as a more mature and dynamic type of national leader that this nation desperately needs, while expanding on his views on such issues as abortion rights, gun control and the economy. His argument that the Iraq war is hampering the war on terrorism also demonstrates a realism that has yet to sink in at the White House.

As the NATO commander during the wars in the former Yugoslavia and as a participant in the Dayton peace talks, he gained important diplomatic experience. He is a brilliant, intellectually curious man, wholly unlike George Bush.

Clark, who will be 62 in December, graduated at the top of his class at West Point, was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford, and was briefly a professor of economics and politics at the military academicy. He is fluent in four languages. He is unlikely to have been visibly annoyed, as Bush was, when an American reporter questioned France's leader in French at a press conference in which the President was in attendance.

In the past, Clark usually voted as a Republican before he became a Democrat. He apparently decided that traditional Democratic positions were more ideologically compatible with his own. He has yet to formally declare his candidacy for the Democratic nomination in the next Presidential election. But an active political action committee, WesPAC, exists as a remnant from his unsuccessful 2004 campaign.

Clark says he is waiting for the outcome of this year's Congressional elections before declaring his candidacy for the Presidency in 2008. The outlook for a Democratic takeover of Congress seems to be favorable in the face of the Republicans' recent bonanza of bad news. The likelihood of Clark running for President thus seems quite strong. For what it's worth, he has the support of this aged, cranky citizen who wants our nation to be restored to its former glory and to regain the world's respect.


Blogger Chancy said...

I join you in admiration for General Clark and disdain for John McClain who has sold his soul in his quest for the presidency.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006 10:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good analysis,however much is likely to happen before 2008 .The economy is going down--big time--the Fed. is delaying action because of election--globalization is still hurting domestic job creation--housing has peaked.Many of these issuses are beyond the contol of our leaders.The real danger is that the Democratic Party will be taken over by some extreme leftist--who will charm us with quick solutions.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006 8:20:00 AM  
Blogger Charlie said...

I'm hoping that Chuck Hagel is voted into the White House in 2008.
General Clark has certainly earned my respect, though.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006 9:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I agree wholeheartedly with your analysis. the question becomes however, whether Clark will be able to field an operation that will have to run 4 simultaneous operations in Iowa, NH, Nevada and SC. the amount of money and effort could be overwhelming. Let me ask you this: what do you think of the idea of a presidential candidate taming up with a Vice Presidential candidate early on in the process- say spring 2007- so that they could run as a ticlet along the lines of how a govenrnor/Lt. governor sometimes run as a ticket? My intuition tells me that as a team they could double their clout, their fundraising, their coverage of these four early states. If you think Clark is the best person for the presidency, who would you see as best person to help his candidacy as an early VP pick?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger Mortart said...

Your idea of a Presidential candidate selecting a VP candidate to run with him in the primaries is a sound idea. I am unaware of it happening before. I think Iowa's governor, Tom Vilsack, who has had Presidential aspirations of his own, would be a good partner for Clark.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006 10:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vilsack has the same deficiency as Clark- lack of congressional experience and contacts.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006 7:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What would be the downside of a team ticket?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006 7:25:00 PM  
Blogger Mortart said...

One problem might be that the team was arranged too quickly and that the two guys might prove to be incompatible on indeology or simply personality.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006 8:25:00 PM  
Blogger Mortart said...

Re: Clark's and Vilsack's lack of a Congressional background. That might be a plus for such a team. They don't have a paper trail of legislative actions that could haunt them. Note that most recent Presidents have been ex-governors and not Senators and U.S. representatives.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006 8:31:00 PM  
Blogger Ginnie said...

It's way too early for me to make a definitive choice...but I agree with your assessment of John McCain. I've lost the begrudging admiration that I once had for him. I'll stick with my crazy, mixed up Democrats...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006 9:09:00 PM  
Blogger UndoBush said...

I'm about to have a 40 page story published about what a mistake it was for Clark to not be the nominee. Here's what one WWII vet said about it: "Found the message worth the time it took to read. Its references are most impressive. And the teacher and use of well known folk as students worked. [This is coming from a reader who] is a 79+ year old vet of WWII and a former college journalism and political science teacher. I was a senior staffer and speech writer to a governor, research assistant to a U.S. Senator and personal staff consultant to state-wide office holder. You made me feel guilty for not paying closer attention to Clark in 04!" --Jim E. Gregg


Thursday, October 12, 2006 12:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Damon in Phoenix said...

As a 32 year old Democrat, I find myself more in sync with your analysis and views than with many of my own generation. While I do not support the current war, the current administration, and am continually disgusted, disheartened and dismayed at the Republican controlled congress, I do not feel that a strong swing to the left is what this country needs. I supported Wes Clark in the primary, even though I had an inkling that he wouldn't be able to pull through to the election. I voted for him because I liked his politics, and his integrity. I had hoped that America was ready to vote for integrity and honest conviction after 4 years of neo-con manipulation, lies and foolishness. I was wrong. I voted for John Kerry with a heavy heart, not quite convinced that he would make a good president, but sure that I didn't want to see another four years of crippling and damaging foreign & domestic policy. I am a fan of Hilary. I like her politics, her wit, her intellect and her consensus-building style of government. However the one thing that I can't get around is that by voting for her in 08, I'd be helping to perpetuate the legacy that two families would have controlled this country for 20 years. It just doesn't seem democratic at all. It seems a page out of a Shakespeare tragedy.
I am ready for a Democratic Congress, however, and fully support any effort that they'd give to bringing swift and severe investigation and committee work to the policies of the last 6 years. Personally, I long for some dignity and integrity in government - but I'll settle for someone who can speak eloquently and carry an air of duty and honor with them in the international community. Sad, but really that's all I'm asking for at this point.

Thursday, October 12, 2006 9:37:00 PM  

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