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September 20, 2003

Welcome aboard, General

Posted by Phil on September 20, 2003 9:57 AM

You'll note a few qualifiers and exit strategies in my post yesterday about Wesley Clark. I hope I'll stay comfortable with it as a first take on his candidacy, but even as I wrote, the spheres were filling with caveats and criticisms of his sit-down with reporters on Thursday, in which he apparently came off a bit clumsy.

Here's a particularly salty one from Salon's Joan Walsh. She almost writes as if she was there; I don't know if she was, but I know I wasn't, so I'll take her word on the scene. Either way, she flatters herself as a colleague of the cigar-chomping, whiskey-shooting, yellow-eyed newspapermen to whom a green candidate like Clark is fresh meat.

Believing that Clark has been foisted on us by DNC leaders afraid that Dean, Kerry, and the rest aren't cutting it, Walsh gloats that Clark clearly wasn't ready for "the rough and tumble of campaign trail journalism," though "he deserves credit for meeting with the nation's toughest political reporters." She also quotes an anonymous Democrat outraged that party leaders thought "it would be a good idea to subject their neophyte candidate to the country's savviest reporters."

Wow! I was wondering where all the tough, savvy journalists were! We sure could have used them in the White House press room for the past two years! I guess they stepped off the Gore campaign jet and have been boozing it up in the Dulles VIP lounge, waiting for the next election to harass another Democrat for being a shade too smug!

Josh Marshall is a bit more charitable here, and also notes that Howard Dean hasn't been quite as consistent on the Iraq issue as he and his supporters claim, either.

Me, I don't care. I'll vote for any of them over Bush, and it'll all be decided by the time of my state's primary anyway. Consequently I haven't really done my homework. I like Kucinich's platform best, but people think he's weird. I like Kerry, but people think he's stuffy. I'm prepared to like Dean, but he seems a bit...humid, and I think his radical style conceals a fairly right-leaning politician.

Democrats are going to have to invest in one of them pretty soon. Maybe Clark just had a bad day, but if the DLC has queered things by pushing a guy who's neither of solid timber nor even a "real" Democrat, then that's bad. And if Clark starts showing real stature and Dean's self-styled outsiders won't shift their support, then that would be bad, too. The longer we withhold or diffuse the support that builds real presidential momentum--and the longer our candidates and constituencies chip away at each other--the weaker our nominee will be in the general election.

And the only thing that matters in 2004 is removing George W. Bush from office.


I'm looking forward to what SNL will do with the crew of Dem. candidates. Though, I fear it will not stand up to what Phil Hartman, Dana Carvey et al did in past years...

Posted by: thp at September 24, 2003 9:21 AM