WOW! TODAY I GOT FREEPED BY WES CLARK! AND WELCOME TO DWT, CLARKIES!
First a little disclaimer: I only met Wes Clark once and I only heard him speak in person once. Maybe it was a bad night. And I do want to say that anyone with as charming and gracious a wife as Gert, can't be all bad. In fact, the general himself seemed like a nice enough fella-- and not stupid at all. If I was a betting man and I had to bet who could find Iraq and Afghanistan faster on a map, Clark or any sitting U.S. Senator, I wouldn't hesitate to put my nickel down on Clark. And I have no reason to believe he's anything but a top-notch military man.
A couple nights ago I met Ned Lamont under very similar circumstances to the circumstances in which I had met the general-- I had been invited to the home of a supporter, along with a few other people, to meet and greet and listen to a stump speech. Lamont's was inspiring, fresh and powerful and made me hope he wins his Connecticut senate race against the odious Joe Lieberman. I didn't just revel in Lamont's progressive policies and his over-all vision for our country-- which you can easily read on a website or in a newspaper interview-- but I was knocked over by his energy, his enthusiasm, his open-mindedness, his life-experience, the gestalt I detected in the man in terms of how he looks at a problem and attempts to deal with it. Parenthetically, there was a throw-away line in the story I did about Lamont: "He went right to Jack Murtha and showed me immediately that not only does he support a plan for withdrawal but that he has a far better grasp of what the war is all about than old-line Democratic 'thinkers' like Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and Wes Clark (all of whom are still babbling nonsense about 'winning,' an absurd concept to begin with)."
Well... who'da thunk the general and his little troopers would have even noticed, let alone get in such a snit? But when I woke up at 5AM I noticed an inordinately large amount of traffic here at DWT. "Wow," I thought, people actually are reading that long-drawn out schpiel I wrote last night about Bush's reverse Robin Hood Budget." I was impressed. But I immediately realized I was wrong. (Actually a couple people did read it-- and even left comments, but the surging traffic was because of the great plug the Lamont piece got on firelakedog, one of my favorite on-line hang-outs.)
Later in the morning, I found a very different kind of plug. The general's non-campaign campaign site put out an alert to all the general's little troopers (with 4 exclamation points, no less; I don't think I've even used that many in anything I've posted, not even about the deprecations of Cheney and Bush!): "Needs response!!!!" directing the Clarkies to respond to my disparagement and "disservice" done by yours truly to their beloved strong man, the general. So there they were rooting around on my site and on firelakedog. The first comment I saw was by someone I know, like and respect, Steve from the SteveAudio Blog. I met Steve at, of all places, a Clark rally. His comment was "Howie had no interest in attending our little meeting with Gen. Clark last Saturday, and I think he might have been surprised, since Clark actually talked about 'getting out.' It was really a 'between the lines' kind of thing, but still, it was better than the last time I spoke with him, when it was full on 'stay the course.'" Poor SteveAudio doesn't realize that by having accused the general of having said what he said at the rally-- the he believes in staying the course-- he could be subjecting himself to endless pestering by the general's silly little fanatics. His is the most party-line-only (one could almost say Stalinist) campaign I have ever seen (from a Democrat) in my life. These are very thin-skinned people. Anyway, although I didn't feel I would be welcome at the second Clark event, it wasn't that I had "no interest;" I had a little bit of interest, just not enough to start up the car and stuff. But it's true--I had just found Clark to not be worth paying much attention to as a presidential or vice presidential candidate. Remember what I said about Lamont's gestalt a couple paragraphs up? Would that I could say something so kind about the general's.
My impression of Clark-- from my one short meeting-- was of a nice guy, a sincere guy, a pretty smart guy. And I know some VERY smart people who say Clark's even smarter than they are. I don't mean to get his relatives', friends' and little troopers' panties all in a bunch, but-- like his supporter SteveAudio-- I absolutely heard him advocate staying the course. He laid out a policy at a rally attended by quite a few people (apparently mostly his supporters from his former race for the presidency) that was perhaps subtly different from Bush's-- but only subtly. Like Jack Murtha does comprehend but, alas, something the general apparently cannot, the U.S. cannot and will not win a war of national liberation inside an Arab country. The Iraqis want us out of there-- as we would want invaders out of here. That's how it will play out. Lamont gets it. Feingold gets it. Pelosi gets it. Dean gets it. Murtha gets it. Biden doesn't. Hillary doesn't. And when I met Clark, he didn't. Now SteveAudio says the general is making some tiny baby steps ("between the lines") in the direction of foreign policy sanity.
Clark will never be president (of the United States) so why does it matter? Well, for one thing, he is a smart and principled guy and he is admired and respected by a lot of people-- Democrats, independents and even Republicans. And, unlike most Democratic senators, Clark opposed Bush's unwarranted, dishonest attack on Iraq from day one-- and for the right reasons. There is a huge schism in the Democratic Party right now between idealists, who are behind Murtha, and possibly well-meaning but definitely ill-advised "pragmatists" who are afraid to join the majority of the American people-- let alone (god forbid) lead them-- in opposing Bush's war. Many of the so-called pragmatists' arguments for their position go no further than "Well, Wes Clark supports this and he's so smart and so experienced and he must be right."
One of Clark's little troopers left a comment on firelakedog that is more indicative of those who attach themselves to the political fortunes of a militaristically-minded strongman than the more interesting and worthwhile and thought-provoking one left by SteveAudio. A Clarkie only willing to identify himself as "W." (suspicious in itself) had this to say "Howie is a stupid motherfucker to conflate HRC, Biden and Clark. How can we trust him on Lamont if he can't be bothered enough to state the truth about Clark? And even if he is right about HRC and Biden, he could have avoided subjective language deliberately chosen to ridicule their positions. Jesus God. We are so doomed with supporters like Klein."
Thanks for the plug on your website, general, and, again, welcome all you Clarkies to DWT. The art department whipped something up especially for you. Oh, one more thing: last time I disagreed with the general about something I was bombarded with e-mails accusing me of hating the military. That's the kind of "argument" I've come to expect from Clarkies. Many members of my immediate family proudly served in the military and not only did I contribute to Paul Hackett's congressional campaign very early on, I also convinced a large organization I'm on the Board of to endorse him, someone who they hadn't even heard of previously. I honor and appreciate Clark's service in the military. He was correct about Bush making a catastrophic blunder by attacking Iraq. He's been wrong on the issue since. If he's changing... AWESOME. I'll be happy to welcome him into the majority.
Labels: Wes Clark