Random commentary and senseless acts of blogging.
The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
Prisoners of Azkaban
Thursday, September 18, 2003
Why Clark Can Win
Claims that Clark can't win repeatedly make the same arguments: he has no voter base, it's too late to get into the race, and Clark lacks political experience.
The voter base problem is easily solved. Clark's base is Democrats who are determined to beat Bush and want the strongest candidate to do it. That base is easily large enough to win in the Democratic primaries.
Is it too late? Critics claim that Clark doesn't have time to build a nationwide organization before the primaries. Wake up, folks: it's already there. Clark has over 20,000 volunteers and around 150 local coordinators in 50 states. It's true that a group of volunteers can't really substitute for a professional campaign organization, but no Clark rival except Dean really has those running yet in more than 3 or 4 states. And the party leadership, sensing a disaster if Dean is nominated, is likely to do a lot to help Clark bridge the gap between meetup volunteers and a serious campaign organization.
Clark is without political experience, but that's as much an advantage as a disadvantage in American politics. Voters prefer non-politicians, but critics say that Clark will stumble due to his inexperience, or be unable to handle questions outside of his military/foreign policy expertise. The truth is that Clark has been doing many interviews recently, and these appearances suggest he is extremely effective. Here's a sample from an extremely successful appearance on Bill Maher:
On a question he couldn't nave been expecting, this really couldn't have been any better. Dean, the seasoned professional who supposedly is going to take apart the inexperienced general, slipped up and implied he was a liberal. Excepting unorthodox views on guns, he pretty much is, obviously. After which, Trippi was pretty much reduced to saying, "Nassty liberalssess. We hatess them. But those who are volunteering for our campaign shouldn't take it personally."
Clark stood up for liberals - but notice he did it without actually saying he was one. He hit the sweet spot, where he's reaching primary voters on subjects they feel strongly about - the media smearing of liberalism and Bush's attempts to delegitimize opposition - while he doesn't say a single word that can be used against him in the general. His answers to Maher's earlier questions on Iraq were similar, hitting Bush hard on lack of competence and preparation.
If he can hold to this formula, Clark has a real winner. Hit Bush hard and consistently for extremism, dishonesty, inability, and especially for his endless failures in foreign and domestic policy. Do that through the primaries, where the Bush-bashing and the prospect of victory will draw in the party faithful. And in the general, keep on doing the exact same thing. Any Democrat, Clark included, can make the case on jobs and the budget deficit. But every poll shows that security, where Bush has in fact been as bad as he has on jobs, is Bush's political strength. No Democrat can make the case on security and terrorism as effectively as Clark.
Executed well enough, this can give Clark the left, the center, and even chunks of the right that are unhapppy with Iraq, infringements on civil liberties, and Bush's fiscal recklessness, leading to a blowout victory.