September 22, 2003


The General Jumps In: Wes Clark has launched a presidential bid that has a four-star luster. But is the antiwar general prepared for this kind of battle? (KAREN TUMULTY, 9/21/03, TIME)

"He can save this goddam nation from self-destruction," declares New York Congressman Charles Rangel, who is arranging a meeting for Clark with the Congressional Black Caucus, possibly as early as this week. But Rangel acknowledges that he has never met Clark in person (they have talked on the phone) and didn't know a thing about Clark until he started catching the general's criticism of the Iraq war on cnn. The same was true of Sylvia Gillis, 57, an insurance broker who was among the 50 or so people who gathered to toast Clark's candidacy last Wednesday night at Frankie Z's Clark Bar in Chicago. "My mouth dropped open—a military man taking this antiwar position," she said. "He seemed honest, trustworthy, well versed and intellectual. My dream come true."

In fact, for Gillis and others like her who joined the draft-Clark movement that sprang up over the Internet this summer, there was something of a Field of Dreams quality to it all. They had built it; he had come. In that sense, the Clark blitz has less to do with the candidate than it does with the political landscape around him. Even as Democrats are beginning to believe for the first time that President Bush may actually be vulnerable, they are increasingly worried that they have not yet seen the Democrat who can beat him. Many are intrigued by the excitement and money that Dean has generated but are concerned that Dean is too dovish, too insubstantial, too cranky to survive the first presidential contest of the post-9/11 era. As for the rest of the field, it looks like a blur to most voters. "Frankly, none of them have gotten people very excited," says Eli Broad, a billionaire Los Angeles philanthropist who is one of the party's largest and most influential donors. "Wes Clark just might do it."

Adding luster to Clark's aura with dissatisfied Democrats is the perception that he is running with the benediction of Bill and Hillary Clinton. The former President has certainly stoked this impression; he has been talking up Clark's virtues in public and private for months, and a few weeks ago, he declared that his wife and Clark were the "two stars" of the Democratic Party. And no one could fail to notice that the Clark effort is salted with operatives from the campaigns of Clinton and Al Gore, like Mickey Kantor and Mark Fabiani.

Gen. Clark: Saddam Not a Criminal (Carl Limbacher and Staff, 09/21/2003,
In a little noticed interview with Fortune Magazine last week, presidential frontrunner Gen. Wesley Clark defended Saddam Hussein against charges that he was engaged in crimes against his own people at the time the Iraq war started, contending instead that the Iraqi dictator should have gotten a pass because his atrocities took place ten years ago.

Asked why it was right for President Clinton to use military force to halt Slobodan Milosevic's crimes against humanity in Kosovo, but not for President Bush to do the same thing against Saddam, Clark said that in Iraq, "The imminence of stopping a guy from committing a crime in progress - it wasn't there."

"In Kosovo you had ethnic cleansing actually unfolding, and we had intervened to stop it," the ex-NATO commander insisted, without commenting on the torture chambers, rape rooms and mass graves discovered in Iraq by coalition forces.

Instead, the Democratic frontrunner suggested that the Iraqi dictator deserved a pass by outlining what Fortune described as Clark's "Statute of Limitations for Genocidal Thugs."

"It was ten years ago that Saddam brutalized the Shiite Muslims in the south," he argued. "And he used chemical weapons 15 years ago."

It's getting harder and harder to choose which candidate would be the most catastrophic: Kerry, Dean, Clark...?

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 22, 2003 12:49 PM

Place Clark's resume next to Dum-Dum's. Wow. Such a shame that The Bobbi Fleckman Rule rules.

Posted by: Jimmy at September 22, 2003 3:52 PM

Forgove me, but after comments like that, Clark is now the stalking microbe.

Posted by: jim hamlen at September 22, 2003 3:52 PM

Course the question would have been moot had Gore been Prez. 9-11 almost certainly wouldn't have gone down.

Posted by: Jimmy at September 22, 2003 3:53 PM

Clark was a governor?

Gore would have stopped al Qaeda?

The moon is made of green cheese?

Posted by: oj at September 22, 2003 4:12 PM

Is Jimmy really saying that Gore would have stopped the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001? That they would not have occurred under a President Gore? Does this clown read anything?

Posted by: EO at September 22, 2003 5:15 PM

EO: Laugh not. For you see, Al Gore (or "Al-El," as he's sometimes known) is actually not of our world -- no! He is the last survivor of an alien race, sent to our world on a government-subsidized space program. With his supernatural powers -- drawn from precisely ozone-filtered radiation -- he would have detected the planes coming, fired himself at supersonic speed into the Northeast, saved all of the passengers, and convinced the hijackers to become passionate Greenpeacers.

Jimmy's not illiterate; he just reads different sources than we do.

Posted by: Chris at September 22, 2003 5:25 PM