Public Nuisance

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.
-Ronald Reagan

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Tuesday, December 02, 2003
 
Coming to Clark

This essay by Andrew Sabl about how he came to support Wesley Clark after being initially opposed has drawn a substantial amount of deserved blogosphere attention. Another good one that most readers probably haven't seen was recently posted on DU.

I am going to just say it now and get it over with: Wesley Clark may just turn out to be the Democrats’ answer to Ronald Reagan when it comes to popularity with the American People. For years, Reagan drove Democrats and leftists nuts with an affability and sociability that could charm even his greatest detractors.

Of my many thoughts and reflections after this week’s Iowa Debate between the Democratic Presidential Candidates, I was left with a single, yet overriding impression after the dust had settled: General Kanne Wesley Clark has that special quality that many of us on the left have ridiculed for years: Charisma....

Monday night, Wesley Clark demonstrated on a stage in De Moines that he wields one of the most lethal talents any politician can ever hope for which is the ability to break down and communicate complex and even unpopular positions in a straightforward and engaging manner. And there is a refreshing, but subverting quality when Clark speaks; he does not sound like a politician and he doesn’t talk down to people.

Clark speaks in easy to understand sentences and he does so with power. In just seconds, Clark turns the current conventional wisdom that the Bush Administration has made America secure upside down with an unassailable assertion that the White House’s “sideshow” in Iraq diverted the West from rounding up Osama bin Laden thereby making the U.S. less secure. Clark effortlessly recasts the narrow culturally polarizing subject of gay and lesbian unions into a far larger context of America’s sense of fairness and tolerance, thereby appealing to the better nature of our citizenry.

I didn't actually see the last debate, but a few people who don't support Clark have mentioned to me how strong he was. Clark is already much better at campaigning than he was when he stumbled in September just after entering the race.

A really superior piece comes from Artemisia, a blogger in the Clark Community Network and former Kucinich backer.

So it was only after eliminating every other conceivable candidate, that I began to look at THE GENERAL. And much to my surprise, every single preconceived notion I had about a career military candidate for President was shattered. I was suspicious that Clark would run a top-down operation, an authoritarian campaign in which higher ups (large donors and campaign and party professionals) devised campaign strategy and assigned tasks to underlings. Frankly, I've seen a lot of campaigns run this way and so of course a General would run his campaign this way. Wrong! I find myself surprised at how grass roots the Clark campaign really is, starting with its origins as an internet-based draft movement.

Frankly, I expected THE GENERAL to be more like Lieberman, more supportive of the pre-emptive punishment doctrine and more conservative on social issues like abortion and gay and lesbian rights. Wrong again! Instead I find that Clark is much more open minded, liberal and progressive than I ever expected!...

So here I am, with my progressive, radical, lesbian, eco-feminist politics, supporting a 4-star General for President. And doing so not just because he can win and anyone is better than Bush. But supporting him because, surprise surprise, he has good progressive policy positions, the skill sets and experience necessary to lead a large administrative bureaucracy, and a very personal, very tangible, very real respect for all people, regardless of status, wealth, race, education, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or national origin.

He doesn't just talk the talk of progressive values. He holds those values dear. They are the values that define his sense of patriotism.

And yeah, he's electable. ...

But I find myself supporting Clark not just because he's electable, but because he's an electable candidate that I actually believe in. I don't have to compromise in order to support Wesley Clark. All I had to do was get over my own pre-conceived notions about military men.

Electability was what originally drew me to Clark. I have felt from the beginning that beating Bush was absolutely vital. I was and am willing to accept a lot of compromises to accomplish that goal, and make no apologies for it. But the more I learn about Clark, the more I find that backing him doesn't require compromises on much of anything. Clark is a solid progressive on issues, more liberal than Clinton and at least as good as Dean.

Clark's positions on the environment, for instance, are absolutely solid. Dean's record is acceptable, but, when you consider the fact that his state is arguably the greenest in the country, it doesn't earn any prizes. Fact: in all his races for Governor, Dean never gained the endorsement of the Vermont chapter of the Sierra Club.

In character as well, Clark is someone to support with pride. And I don't mean because he seems to be capable, unlike a certain Arkansas Rhodes Scholar, of keeping his dick in his pants. I'm talking about an entire lifetime spent in service to the country, with personal danger, hard work, constant transfers, and low pay. Going over a cliff under fire in Bosnia to rescue his comrades - and not bothering to mention what he did in his autobiography. But even more than that, it's how he treats people. That's the real test, the one that can't be faked.

On Nov. 9, 1999, Massa looked up from his desk to find Clark standing there. Clark told Massa that his wife had called worried about his health.

Clark had arranged another doctor's appointment for Massa, and when Massa protested, Clark gave him the only direct order Massa recalls receiving in four years. "I think we have lost the fundamental relationship between a four-star general and a Navy commander," Clark told him. "You will go to the doctor."

The doctor diagnosed Massa, who had never smoked, with advanced lung cancer and gave him four months to live. Clark cut through red tape to get Massa and his family back to the United States for treatment.

Just before Massa left, Clark convened the staff and tearfully awarded Massa the Legion of Merit medal for his work. Clark had received the same medal in the 1970s when he was a speech writer for the then-supreme allied commander....

Unknown to Massa, Clark had a soldier tracking Massa's surgery. As soon as Massa came to in recovery, staff told him he had a call. It was Clark. At the time, he was overseeing the bombing of Kosovo.

Massa retired about three years ago; he waited so that the last thing he did in uniform was attend Clark's retirement. Now he's living in a hotel in Manchester, trying to avoid a fast-food diet and bringing his family in from New York when he can.

He talks wistfully about the job he lost to get here. Massa was in Washington overseeing part of the Navy budget as a member of the House Armed Services Committee. His departure was reported by the press and has since become fodder for online political sites.

But he doesn't regret where it got him. On the trail, Massa is helping get Clark the veteran vote - and whatever else needs doing.

From another former aide:

Of the three SACEURs I served, General Clark was surely the most influential and memorable. General Clark invited all around him to join him on a journey. He inspired in me a sense of purpose that, until the birth of my daughter, was unmatched my entire life. It is most difficult to serve in an organization the size of the US Army and feel that what you did that day made of difference in someone's life. General Clark made sure that those around him did.

Incidentally, Damascus seems to be the place to go to this political season. The campaign blog now has a whole page of people telling why they decided to support Clark.



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