Bashing Wes Clark goes into overdrive

It’s started. It looks like the Republicans are scared shitless of this guy. Already, Web sites have popped up to poke holes in what he says, any inconsistencies they can scrape up.

Once again, I marvel at the Republicans’ ability to sing together from the same songbook, always staying “on-message” as Karl Rove taught them to.

Sully, not surprisingly, is leading the pack of half-crazed wild dogs. Four posts over the past 48 hours with titles like THE CYNICISM BEHIND CLARK and CLARK FLOPS. Another post begins:

“CLARK AGAIN: This is getting dizzying. See from this FAIR report, how many positions Wesley Clark has had on the Iraq war over the last twelve months. He changes his mind every five minutes.”

But is it really Clark’s alleged inconsistencies that are “dizzying,” or is it the breathless, rapid-fire, 24-7 attacks on whatever he says? Leave it to Josh Marshall to shed some badly needed light on this topic:

According to the prevailing chatter, Wes Clark has been waffling on his position on the war. CBS said as much: “Clark Waffles On War.”

Frankly, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything quite so stupid.

The idea seems to be that there are really only two positions on the war, the Dean position and the Bush position.

Either you were against the war from the beginning, against even threatening force under any and all circumstances, soup-to-nuts, or you were for it, more or less under the same range of conceivable circumstances. If you have a position that falls between these two monochromatic options, you’re indecisive, a waffler or a trimmer.

Marshall looks at the same FAIR report cited by Sullivan and comes to vastly different and far more intelligent conclusions:

The fact sheet goes on to catalog various of Clark’s statements over the last year and argue that he’s stated contradictory opinions at different times. One of these contradictory statements, according to FAIR, was one praising the audacity of the original war-plan notwithstanding his disagreement with launching the war in the first place.

This last criticism goes to the heart of the matter — the difference between thinking that this war was ill-conceived and poorly planned (which I think is Clark’s –and my –position) and being ‘anti-war’ in the sense of some broader political ethic (which seems to be how FAIR is defining the phrase.) Expecting a retired four-star general to fall into this latter category seems a bit much to expect.

The truth is that Clark’s position on the war is at least as consistent as any other candidate in this race. He is one of the few candidates who strikes me as having given any serious thought to the question — outside the context of the politics. And he is the only one who’s written extensively on the national security challenges which face the country, Iraq, and the strategic and diplomatic shortcomings of the president’s policy.

I’m expecting the chorus to sing louder and louder on Clark’s “waffling” and “inconsistency.” And, of course, the fact that Bill Clinton seems to be supporting him. So get ready for lots of mud slinging, an area in which Republicans have infinitely greater expertise than their opponents.

All I can say is, “Bring ’em on.” Bush must be sweating bullets.

Update: The NY Times’ William Safire is grabbing the baton and committing every conceivable journalistic sin as he paints Clinton as the Antichrist (in regard to backing Clark). Amazing. Absolutely incredible, how the Clinton loathing turns Republicans into deranged automatons, discarding all critical faculties and running on pure white-hot hatred. Luckily, Josh Marshall catches Safire in the act and calls him to task for spouting idiotic, irresponsible conspiracy theories.

The Discussion: 11 Comments

But doesn’t the idea that Clark is in the military turn you off? Isn’t it the whole “commander-in-chief” role that Bush has used in his Iraq attack, et al that pisses so many liberals off? I didn’t like Clinton because I thought he was a schmuck, though a genious, and I’m not impressed with Bush, because he strikes me as beligerant and a bit of a goof. Don’t know much about Clark, but the thought of a military general running our country smacks of something soviet-esque… but maybe that’s my culture brainwashing me…?

September 22, 2003 @ 10:58 pm | Comment

I am not going to discriminate against anyone because of their military past. Being a pragmatist (although an idealistic one), I believe this is just what the Democrats need. Granted, I still need to learn more about Clark, but for now I am delighted that the Dems at least have somebody who appears to be a viable candidate.

September 23, 2003 @ 2:18 am | Comment

I don’t think a stellar military record helps or hurts overall. Washington and Eisenhower were successful Presidents, but Harrison and Grant were not.

September 23, 2003 @ 2:56 am | Comment


Even MICKEY MOUSE would get my vote.

September 23, 2003 @ 11:39 am | Comment

Have you thought about sending your comments in to Andrew Sullivan? I think you make interesting points, even if I don’t believe Clark is a shot in the arm for the Dems.


September 23, 2003 @ 3:47 pm | Comment

I don’t think a stellar military record helps or hurts overall.

It will most definitely hurt Bush when people start to realize that Clark one Democrat who — unlike Republican warmongers Bush and Cheney and DeLay and Limbaugh and O’Reilly and Perle and Wolfowitz — is absolutely, positively immune from the “chickenhawk” charge.

Which is, of course, whey they’re so utterly terrified of him. Democrats are supposed to be wimps, as opposed to all those stern, manly Republicans — and Clark clearly isn’t.

September 23, 2003 @ 4:12 pm | Comment

HA!!! Clark was called the ‘Perfumed Prince’, he got a waiver so he could get a ‘combat’ commendation for Kosovo, even though he wasn’t in combat. For 30 years he’s been what’s known in the military as a REMF (Rear Echelon Mother Fucker): someone who won’t get out in the field, and dictates from wwwaaaayyyy behind the lines.

He the worst sort of general officer, I guarantee that you DON”T want him as Pres. Hell I’m a fairly naked imperialist, and I’d rather see DEAN than Clark; if you think Bush and company are arrogant, you haven’t read much about Clark by those who have served with him.

Just saying ๐Ÿ™‚

September 28, 2003 @ 11:44 am | Comment

David, you may be right, but what’s your source? I’ve heard all sorts of things said about him, and I am not at all sure he’s the man we want as our next president. But there’s definitely a nasty smear campaign going on, and I’m going to hold off on believing anybody until the air clears a bit.

September 28, 2003 @ 12:32 pm | Comment

Donald Sensing at One Hand Clapping served under him, and while he didn’t work with him that closely, nothing he saw contradicts other reports that he is an arrogant, personally dis-loyal SOB. Clark expects absolute loyalty from those who serve under him, but doesn’t return it one whit. It’s his right you see by being your superior.

Oh and in 2001 he though Bush, Cheney, and Co. were the greatest thing since sliced bread. I don’t trust the man one whit. He’s a purely political general, but those aren’t generally skilled in ELECTORAL politics.

For which I thank god, as I think he’d be a huge disaster as Pres. Anyone from a US military family background could tell you that you don’t want a ‘Perfumed Prince’ as Pres. It is telling that that is his nickname, perhaps much moreso than those not familiar with military culture could imagine.

It indicates a snotty, holier than thou, condescending, political backbiting, ass-covering suckup of a general officer. If Clark somehow got the nomination and won, that’s the day I leave the US.

September 29, 2003 @ 12:12 am | Comment

I find it intriguing that anyone who thinks left would use as a source something that comes from FAIR, since any criticism that group has towards those on the right is laughed off as being the product of the Marxist “Democracy Now!” pinkos they obviously are. (For the record, I don’t think that of them, though I do believe they are sometimes too nitpicky with their criticism.)

October 6, 2003 @ 1:15 am | Comment

Yeah… the people who served under him loathe him… NOT!

๐Ÿ˜› David. Nice try.

January 25, 2004 @ 6:04 pm | Comment

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