The Unifying Choice: Wes Clark for VP

by: Matt Stoller

Mon Jun 02, 2008 at 15:46

I'm going to lay out my brief case for why I think Clark would be the best candidate for VP.  There are a number of possible candidates for Vice President being bandied about.  The most prominent is the one for Jim Webb, with Webb himself leading the charge against anyone not in elected office.  As the only elected Democrat in the Senate identified as a strong military leader, this argument inherently leads the field open to him on national security grounds.  Webb's argument is that, "Other than Eisenhower, the great military leader in that incredible World War II experience, you're going to want someone on your ticket who's demonstrated he can get votes."

I've already laid out my case against Webb.  On the plus side, Webb was forcefully against the war from the beginning, and he pushed through the GI Bill in the Senate.  He won in a swing state, and has an appealing background as an ex-Reagan official turned Democratic populist Senator.  On the downside, Webb has huge problems with women, and it's not clear that he offers anything in terms of getting votes.  His base in 2006 was white liberals from Northern Virginia, hardly a constituency group Obama is likely to need help with.  And he doesn't help heal the Clinton-Obama divide; he isn't identified with the Clinton wing of the party.  He's an island, an independent power source, which maximizes his leverage in the Senate, but isn't helpful in unifying the party.

Contrast that to Wes Clark.  Clark, though not in elected office, has a better sense of what it's like to run for President.  He has after all done it before, and for a neophyte, he did very well.  More importantly, he has excelled at the real job of a VP candidate, which is not getting votes for the top of the ticket, but being a surrogate for the campaign and for lower ticket races.  In 2006, Jon Soltz of Votevets tells me, Clark was the single most requested surrogate in the country, with the possible exceptions of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.  Clark is heavily involved in both his own PAC and Votevets, raising money and supporting Democrats up and down the ticket.  He has huge credibility with officials all over the country because he was reliable and helpful to groups, candidates, and activists.  There is simply no one else who comes close to his ability and track record of delivering a persuasive and progressive argument on national security on behalf of Democrats.  

Matt Stoller :: The Unifying Choice: Wes Clark for VP

On the other political point, Clark is a Clintonista through and through, and so putting him on the ticket would be a key signal to the Clinton world that they will have influence in an Obama administration.  You may not like that, but the Clinton people need an incentive to work aggressively for the ticket, and Clark is that incentive.  While Obama backers may not like a Clinton person having such an important seat that the table, Clark is actually a supremely progressive advocate, and probably the best Clinton loyalist on national security issues that progressives have.  This is a guy who not only opposed the war but, along with Ted Kennedy, fiercely opposed Lieberman in 2006, shooting a TV commercial for Lamont when the entire edifice of the institutional establishment was against him.  He was not only against the war, but he is demonstrably more progressive in his politics than almost any other Democrat.  Clark would in other fulfill the political requirement of VP masterfully, uniting progressives and Clintonistas and with a clear track record of serving as an important and trusted surrogate for Democrats all over the country.

Finally, Clark would be an excellent VP, and a great President.  The guy won a war using multi-lateral strategies with zero American casualties, and he can and will be able to help ride herd over the Pentagon.  He has stated that he thinks it is important to keep investigating Bush administration crimes and not just drop it (which is what happened with Iran-Contra in 1992).  This is an important test of our democracy, and a good addition to Obama's clear statement that he will rescind unconstitutional executive orders.  And if you read his real State of the Union, you'll see that Wes Clark is a seriously progressive visionary who understands that education, child care, health care, and leadership training should be core responsibilities of the government; and since he's already run a military that had huge responsibilities and systems in these areas, he knows it can be done.  

As VP, he will do an excellent job of working to repair our international relations and designing a new national geopolitical strategy.  He knows a lot of world leaders and has spent substantial time in nearly every continent working with them.    And just to pander to Chris, the VP runs NASA, and Wes Clark believes that one day we'll be able to go faster than the speed of light.

The downside, and this is a real downside, is that he is not a woman.  I believe that the Clinton's can solve the gender divide in the party, though, and if Clark is on the ticket, I think they will do so willingly and aggressively.  Finally, on a personal level, it's no secret that Wes Clark is the guy who brought me into politics.  What's interesting is that Clark came into politics around 2002, at the same time that the blogosphere and the new progressive movement was developing.  In a lot of ways, he's one of us, not a dirty hippy, but a frustrated professional that came to progressive principles because of real world experience in which those norms of honesty, equity, and accountability worked to produce real outcomes of value.  We smacked into a political system that valued none of these things, and used the internet to drive serious change.  We helped push him into the race, and it would be an amazing outcome if the progressive movement could have some real role in putting one of our own into one of the top slots in our government.

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I am completely behind you with this one (4.00 / 3)
Wes Clark offers everything Webb more progressive stances and he is a Clinton supporter

I Must Disagree (which pains me) (4.00 / 1)
I was a very early Clark supporter in 2003 (actually I started in 2002 after the Time article).  I even organized the UVA Students for Clark chapter back in 2003.  

I would like nothing more than to see Clark as the VP.  However, in order to become VP, one must first be the VP nominee and win the election.  On this front, I don't think Clark would be the strongest choice.  

The role of running mates is usually very different from the role of the candidate on the top of the ticket.  Typically, the role of the running mate is to play bad cop, pointing out all of the opponent's weaknesses and hitting them HARD, in order to allow the candidate on the top of the ticket to stay positive.  

It is not a personal flaw, but I don't think that it is in Clark's nature to level harsh criticisms of opponents.  I think he is a deep thinker (like Obama) who is incapable of seeing the world in black and white.  Clark tends to want to see several sides of an issue and give honest reasoned responses to questions.  The downside of this is that in 2004, he was often unable to pivot during debates, because he always wanted to give full responses to the questions he was being asked, rather than using the forums to inform the voters about the issues that were most important to him.  

As a VP nominee, we would have to be prepared for a lackluster debate, which would squander a rare opportunity to go after McCain in front of a large national audience without too much mud getting on Obama.  

Clark also seems to lack that certain quality of appearing 100% confident in his own words.  I have no doubt that he is confident in his own words, but he lacks the bravado to sell it.  This is a key quality that the VP nominee must have if they are going to be the point person for attacks on McCain's foreign policy.  

The 180 degree comparison to Clark is probably Biden (who I think would make the best running mate for Obama, after Al Gore).  Biden always appears to be 110% confident that he is the smartest guy in the room, which turned-off some voters when he was trying to convince them that he should be President, but is a great asset when trying to convince people that someone else should NOT be President.  

Biden is a tenacious debater who revels in sticking the knife into the ribs of Republicans (just like Gore did, and just like Cheney did for Bush).  He is the bare knuckled "fighter" that can appeal to working-class voters.

I can't even properly express how giddy I get just thinking about the possibility of Biden as the VP.  I have no doubt that he would get up every single day and just hope that he got the call to go out and hammer McCain as hard as possible.  I realize that this is not the post-partisan message Obama has been pushing, but it's going to be a very ugly campaign, and having someone who is not only willing, but will beg for the opportunity to do all of the mudslinging will help Obama stay above-the-fray as much as possible.  

Plus, Biden's tendency to make over-the-top remarks would most likely be a net positive in the race, because his "gaffes" would be remarks that made it clear how little regard he has for McCain's foreign policy positions.  

As an example (I will cite West Wing in order to avoid having to cite Cheney), it's not hard to imagine Biden making remarks like the ".22 mind in a .45 caliber world" about McCain, and then "apologizing" after a couple days of media flap, by saying it was over-the-top, but McCain's foreign policy is dangerous (getting in another free shot).   I can't really imagine Clark taking these types of shots at McCain.  

As a side note, isn't it strange how Lieberman and, to a lesser extent Edwards, both had problems attacking Bush and Cheney as VP nominees, but that Lieberman, and to a much lesser extent Edwards, were both willing to attack their fellow Democrats during the primary 4 years later?  


A vote against Health Care Reform is a vote for ten 9/11s every single year!

[ Parent ]
Clark Holding His Own Against Pundits (0.00 / 0)
This was a very interesting comment to read - thank you for the insight.  It got me thinking. Although Clark's role of a running mate would be important for the election, his role of VP on the job after the elections would be much more important.  Quayle was selected to balance the ticket for GHWB but didn't help the White House much afterwards.

However when it comes to a face-off, Clark recently has shown he can hang and then some.  He impressed me against Bill O'Reilly (link) and when he was on Hannity & Colmes (link).

Obama trumps McCain over every important issue that concerns everyday American except for the war. With an Obama-Clark ticket, that would hands-down trump a McCain-Crist, McCain-Jindal, or McCain-whoever ticket.

[ Parent ]
I was a huge Clark supporter in 03-04 (4.00 / 1)
But my big impression from that race was being let down time and time again by the General's lack of debating skills and his near complete lack of telegenic charisma. He may be a great leader in person but he can't inspire his way out of a wet paper bag on TV.

If you put him in a debate with someone like Jindal he'll get steamrolled. Also I don't think he does much to win Arkansas or  any other recently red state honestly.

I really like the man, and would love to see him as VP, but I don't think he's a great choice from a campaign perspective.  

Lack of charisma is a serious flaw (0.00 / 0)
Al Gore would have been a better president than he was a candidate. To be a really effective leader you must have communication skills and the ability to project yourself and your cause. Clark is very smart, good resume, and a Clinton supporter, but he would be a weak V.P. candidate.

[ Parent ]
Compared to Obama, anyone would lack charisma. (4.00 / 5)
Given that, IMHO Clark's staid, commanding, in-control persona would actually be a boon rather than a detriment.  

Cunha for Congress (FL-06)

P.S. I'm not a big fan of John McCain

[ Parent ]
True (0.00 / 0)
I was an Edwards supporter and he did outshine John.

[ Parent ]
you've convinced me. (0.00 / 0)
and while my choice is Dodd, I think this unity choice is more important.

Now we need to work on Obama's fair but unrealistic view that he doesn't need, and will not seek, a VP who is seen as shoring up his national security cred. The great opportunity of choosing Clark is that his unity vibe can be highlighted, and his military experience downplayed.

Nope! (0.00 / 0)
Not after he was on TV saying that Hillary should take it all the way to the convention. He's now disqualified.

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!

enh, that pisses me off. but that's just campaigning. (4.00 / 1)
If Clinton does go all the way to the convention, I might feel differently. But let's not let campaign bullshit get in the way of good candidates.

[ Parent ]
once she's out (4.00 / 8)
we have to forget all that. not the evil, egregious stuff from the Clintons themselves (and Ickes, Penn, et al)--that won't be forgotten. But the stuff from surrogates like Clark, Rendell, etc., it was really all just politics. It wasn't toxic, and we've got to rise above it and pull together to win.

[ Parent ]
That race is over (4.00 / 7)
Obama won the nomination fight.  Now Democrats need to unite to beat McCain.  What side people were on during the squabbles up until now just shouldn't matter very much.

Clinton is not, and has never been, the enemy.  I've disagreed with some of her decisions, and have been frustrated with her a lot over the last couple months.  But it's a frustration that you can feel for people who are on your own side.  That Clark supported Hillary and spoke about that support matters very little to me.  

In fact, if it sends a concrete signal that Obama isn't mad at Hillary or her supporters, all the better.

[ Parent ]
Except Clark didn't say that. (4.00 / 2)
Not on the Dan Abrams clip that I saw. Watch it again, mike.

He is twice asked by Abrams if Hillary should carry the debate over Michigan and Florida to Denver and Clark is obviously being careful to not endorse that idea.

Rather, he stresses the general principal that everyone's votes should be counted, and he mentions the possibility of a re-vote. At no time does he say what you claim.

It'd be interesting to know why your perception was she should take it to the convention, but watch it again and see if I'm not correct.

[ Parent ]
Clark beats Webb in two out of three categories: (4.00 / 4)
(1) He's more progressive.
(2) He'd make a better president. The VP is one heartbeat away.
(3) He's AT LEAST equally electable. If not more so.

That said I think Edwards has shown himself to be better on #1 and #3. And #2 is always a debate, but when you get to the level of guys like Clark, Edwards and Dean, arguing about who would be the better president is almost moot.  

What's the evidence of Clark's progressivism? (4.00 / 8)
Matt says: "he is demonstrably more progressive in his politics than almost any other Democrat."

Really? It's never been demonstrated to me, and Matt, in this long post, provides little proof of his progressivism except that he opposed the war and Joe Lieberman.

But his opposition to the war was somewhat overstated: he never clearly opposed the AUMF and praised Bush's "resolve" on Iraq in April.

Matt says the speech he linked to shows him to be a progressive visionary. I just read the speech and found nothing strikingly progressive, much less visionary. But I did notice that in this speech--in 2006--he said that, "A substantial US troop presence will likely be required for years."

He was pretty good on Iran--until he strongly supported Kyl-Lieberman.

What am I missing?


[ Parent ]
you have a point, but that's still more progressive than Webb. (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
read (0.00 / 0)
His real state of the union address.

[ Parent ]
Clark is only a progressive (4.00 / 3)
on issues like reproductive rights, Iraq, the environment, health care, renewable energy, defense spending, tax policy, FISA and domestic spying. Maybe some other similar, minor issues. But other than that I think you're right.

He seems to have fooled all these 2004 endorsers though:

"For as long as I've been in Congress, I've fought against the idea
that the way to create jobs is to give large tax cuts to the rich... Wes Clark's Job Creation Plan--which calls for investments in homeland security, state fiscal, and tax credits targeted to job creation relief--is the right way to
create opportunity for all. That's why I am working with Wes Clark to
put Americans back to work."

- Charles Rangel
U.S. House of Representatives, Democrat, New York

"I am proud to have worked with Wes to develop his progressive
environmental policy. Be assured that Wes Clark will not only reverse
the disgraceful Bush environmental record, but will bring a higher
standard of leadership to addressing America's most pressing

- Gaylord Nelson
U.S. Senator, Wisconsin, 1963-1980

"American men and women are working harder than ever, for less. We
need a leader who will stand up for hard working Americans. I think
Wes Clark has the conviction and the integrity to be that kind of
leader. I know he will stick by working families. That's why I am
working with him."

- George McGovern
U.S. Senator, Democrat, South Dakota, 1963-1980

"...I support Wes Clark because he understands that the independence and choices of Americans with disabilities are rights not privileges, that these advances have been bitterly opposed, and our common progress has been hard-won.  As a man of action, I know that Wes Clark will not allow an activist judiciary to undo American history and undermine the federal
government's power to preserve these protections...

- David Paterson
New York State Senator, (now Governor), Democrat

"We need a leader like Wes Clark. I've known many men of stature and many great leaders. I believe that Wes Clark is the kind of leader we need to lead us into the 21st century a safe and secure America. That's why I've worked with Wes Clark to create a strong civil rights agenda. We need a strong Democratic leader in the White House."

- Andrew Young
U.S. House of Representatives, Democat, Georgia, 1973-77; U.S.
Ambassador to the United Nations, 1977-79; Mayor of Atlanta, 1981-1988

"I support Wes Clark because he unequivocally supports women's full
reproductive rights, including access to legal abortion without
intervention. His clear position underlies his vision of public policy
that acknowledges women's pivotal role in the stability and security
of our families, economy and nation..."

- Barbara Lawton
Lieutenant Governor, Democrat, Wisconsin

[ Parent ]
Taxes (4.00 / 1)
In 2004, Clark was the only candiate, outside of possible Kucinich and Sharpton (and I'm not sure about them), whose platform included raising taxes on the uber-rich (making $1,000,000+ per year) to above Clinton levels.  He wanted to raise their taxes to 5% above Clinton levels, and use the money to eliminate income taxes for the poorer half of families with kids.

Every other candidate (Dean, Kerry, etc.) considered Clinton levels the highest level which the rich should be taxed, even though they're very low by historican standards.

[ Parent ]
CW is that he was a horrible campaigner in 2004 (4.00 / 3)
I'm a huge Clark fan and really wanted him on the ticket in 2004.  Do you feel the CW about his 2004 run is wrong?  Or has he improved enough since then such that this CW is outdated?  

Judge for yourself: (4.00 / 3)

I don't remember Clark in 2004. I wasn't paying very close attention and I wanted Dean to win the nomination. But I think Clark was a brilliant campaigner in '06.

For now, I'm rooting for Edwards. Clark is a close 2nd.

[ Parent ]
How'd he do in 2008? (0.00 / 0)
I'm not talking about any perceived slights of Obama--that's just politics, perfectly fine. But what did he bring to Clinton?

Seems there's no reason to look back to 2006 to see how Clark grew as a campaigner. This year might be more telling.

[ Parent ]
Honestly (4.00 / 3)
I didn't hear much from him. He wasn't very vocal in the primaries this year. I assume he wasn't interested in going tough on another Democrat.

[ Parent ]
That's my impression, too, (4.00 / 1)
that he hasn't been all that vocal, but I miss a lot of TV. Wasn't sure if he'd been out there really working it for Clinton. I wonder why they didn't use him (or he didn't want to be used) more aggressively.

[ Parent ]
Most of Clark's effort... (4.00 / 1)
...has been going toward congressional races.  I think he's aware that most of his supporters were for Obama.  (At least I saw a regression of town-by-town NH results which showed that.  Sorry no link.)

[ Parent ]
Clark can be down-to-earth yet passionate and inspiring. (0.00 / 0)
This video clip of him speaking in front of Democrats in Alabama (mostly on the Don Siegelman Case, which he expands into an attack on the Bush regime in general) shows both sides.  I think most OpenLefters will find it pretty compelling.

(Note: I think whoever shot this was a little jacked up on coffee, so try to be patient with the sometimes frenetic camera work, and just listen to Clark as he connects with this audience.)


[ Parent ]
Are we due for another OL VP survey? (4.00 / 1)
Chris, Matt, I'd enjoy an update on the mixed results of last survey a few weeks ago - my impression is that political junkies like us only began really digging into the possibilities around the time of that survey, and the Richardson/Sebelius result was as much a reflection of CW as of the preferences of the OL or the online activist community.  

I posted a run-down "Top 20 VP Candidates" ranking here a little while ago, and am planning an update post soon.  

What do you say we do another survey/poll?  

I'd be interested in this! (0.00 / 0)
Especially after the primary.

One note, if you guys consider this you may want to think about being a little more inclusive about who you add as choices this time. (Off the top of my head Graham, Rendell, Nunn, Hagel (lol) and Edwards were missing from the list last time...)

[ Parent ]
Ummm, no.... (0.00 / 0)
Not unless you want endless repeats in the media of his swapping hats story with General Ratko Mladic.

Sorry, no.

The Clark Kool-Aid (4.00 / 8)
I was a big supporter of Clark in '04 and an early commenter on some of Matt's Clark sites.  Matt lays out some good arguments here on his behalf, but I think there are some potential negatives here too:

-- Matt says that "for a neophyte, [Clark] did very well" at running for president, but I'm not sure I agree.  I thought he was actually pretty inept and shot himself in the foot in some surprisingly bad ways, like stumbling immediately out of the gate on some very basic "how would you have voted on the Iraq war" questions.  I remember Clark looking extremely tired, haggard, and uncomfortable on one of his last Sunday morning talk show appearances before he dropped out of the race.  But just a few days later, after he officially dropped out, he came on Charlie Rose and looked infinitely better: smiling, confident, sharp, on-point, the old familiar Clark.  It was clear that he was incredibly relieved to be free of the burden of campaigning.  I took all of this as a sign of how incredibly difficult it is to run for president without making a fool of yourself: for someone as brilliant and talented as Clark to flop that badly just showed how much political talent it takes to be even remotely competitive at that level of electoral politics.

On the other hand, I didn't know that he had been so active as a surrogate in '06, which sounds like an encouraging sign that he may have developed his political skills since that unsuccessful '04 campaign.

-- Every potential VP candidate will carry some potential baggage or weakness with them, but let's remember that the end of Clark's military career was a nasty business that involved some serious backstabbing by his Pentagon superiors (at least, that's my pro-Clark opinion of what happened).  Several blatantly dishonest anti-Clark hit pieces came to the forefront while he was running, and several of those talking points and/or memes might rear their ugly heads again if he's on the ticket.  That crap could end up muddying one of Clark's strongest potential assets to the campaign that Matt points to: his credibility in making the the progressive case for national security.

Maybe these points shouldn't outweigh the positives that Matt lists, but I think they're worth considering.  Overall, I believe that the most effective way for Clark to serve the country would be as the national security advisor in a Dem administration.  

Kool-aid (4.00 / 8)
Can we please stop using this phrase in reference to Democrats, liberals, and progressives?  It's little more than a sly way to accuse people who disagree of lacking the intellectual fortitude to be trusted to make their own decisions.

Trying to raise this issue during the height of the Obama/Clinton fights seemed like a lost fight, but now that those are dwindling, can we try and remind ourselves that reasonable people may disagree on all kinds of issues, and the best way to reach a resolution is to maintain some limited amount of respect.  Reaching for the Kool-Aid freeze is too easy and too dismissive to accomplish that.

This is not a comment on the rest of your arguments, which I think are well-made.  I don't agree - I think Clark is the best gamble out of many relatively close choices out there - but I can totally see where you're coming from.

[ Parent ]
Wacky, wild, Kool-Aid style! (4.00 / 1)
I actually didn't mean to imply that anyone specific was drinking any Kool-Aid in this situation, seeing as how Matt's arguments in favor of Clark are very well-made and pretty much the opposite of a (metaphorical) Kool-Aid drinker.  I probably should have just used a different subject line for that comment.

[ Parent ]
It's also historically innaccurate (0.00 / 0)
The idiom originantes from Jonestown, where cult members drank poisoned Flavor-ade, not Kool-ade

Conduct your own interview of Sarah Palin!

[ Parent ]
Clark (4.00 / 2)
Might work out as SecDef, but I don't see how all of what you said negates any of his weaknesses.  

Can't be SecDef (4.00 / 1)
have to be out of the military for 10 years, Clark is at something like 8.

[ Parent ]
Calrk can't be Secreatary of Defense (4.00 / 1)
There has to be a civilian in charge of the military not a former military man.

[ Parent ]
He might help with the professional Clintonistas (4.00 / 7)
That is, the political professionals, but I can't see how he helps much with Boomer women.  I think it would take a woman, or really hard, sincere campaigning from Hillary, to do that.  And I'm hoping for the latter.

I still think Gore is the best bet, though I wqas impressed by Sibelius in her last surrogate appearance on TV.  

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

you're not serious about Sebelius are you? (4.00 / 1)
the woman managed to put a nation to sleep 30 seconds into her rebuttal speech to Bush's state of the nation. Plus Democratic governors in red states are few and far between.... she's far more helpful to the party in her current capacity.

[ Parent ]
I meant a very recent appearance (4.00 / 2)
I saw her on TV in the last few days and was impressed.  I didn't see the SOTU and people say she is better than that.  I think she is the most prominent non-Hillary female candidate (I surely don't want someone like DiFi).  Personally, as I have said many times, I would prefer Al Gore.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
One would like to hope (4.00 / 1)
One would like to hope we could think of a candidate as being about more than a single speech.

Plus Democratic governors in red states are few and far between

Do remember, her term limits run out in 2010. She won't be in that seat much longer anyway. (Though I have seen speculation she attempt to pick up Sam Brownback's Senate seat when he retires in 2010.)

[ Parent ]
I agree completely. (4.00 / 2)
A woman VP or a very very convincing Hillary Clinton appearances/convention speeches, etc.

[ Parent ]
Boomer woman Clinto supporter here... (4.00 / 1)
If Clinton is not the VP pick, any other woman would be a slap int he face.  Obama should not even be considering that.  

Clark would be great.  That would win me over. He's brilliant,  closes Obama's experience deficit, and is a good enough campaigner and debater.  Obama does not need another charismatic campaigner on his ticket.

[ Parent ]
Bingo! (4.00 / 1)
First thing one thinks when they think of Obama-Clark:

Obama's trying to cover his inexperience by picking Clark!

Clark is a balancing choice, not a reinforcing one. He is mildly reinforcing, in that they're both Democrats.

I see no way, however, how this won't turn into the headline: Obama Makes Up For Lack of Experience.  

[ Parent ]
Right. (0.00 / 0)
Because that didn't work for Bush.

[ Parent ]
it didn't, really (0.00 / 0)
Bush lost in 2000.  Cheney was dead weight on the ticket, only in comparison to Lieberman does he come off less horrible than usual.

[ Parent ]
Really? (0.00 / 0)
See I don't get that at all.  I see a lot of that in the comments though.  

To me it doesn't do any good for Obama to pretend he has military expertise.  Who is he fooling?  Would you rather have the headline be: Obama Doesn't Make Up For Lack Of Experience

[ Parent ]
hm (0.00 / 0)
"If Clinton is not the VP pick, any other woman would be a slap int he face.  Obama should not even be considering that."

Could you elaborate on that? I mean, I think I get where you might be coming from, but it would be a whole lot easier to see it spelled out.

[ Parent ]
Clinton women want Clinton (0.00 / 0)
They want her on the ticket.  Preferably in first place.  Second is just barely ok; first is much better.  

Having the slot go to another (less qualified, to them) woman would be an insult to Hillary and look like pandering to women, even if it was a long-time supporter like Sebelius.

I have thought that, which is partly why i suggested that a sincere effort by Hillary would go the fartherst to get most of these women (at least the Dem ones) back into the Dem fold.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
So (0.00 / 0)
Obama should pick the manliest man possible to deflect charges of pandering.

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both

[ Parent ]
No, just not a less qualified woman (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
You said it better than I (0.00 / 0)
Yes, a sincere effort from Hillary will get a lot of us.  Even what she has said so far has mostly gotten me. If she can get over this campaign, so can I.  

And you are absolutely right about how Sebelius or any other woman less qualified than Clinton would be viewed.  I have nothing against Sebelius, but I'll never be convinced she is as qualified as Clinton, or more of a help electorally to Obama.  

[ Parent ]
On the Other Hand (4.00 / 2)
As a Kansan, I'll never be convinced that Clinton is more qualified than Sebelius.

I realise this opinion may be in the minority, but, for me, a very successful red state governor is a much stronger qualification than moderate New York senator.

To be honest though, I should proably admit that I've basically been dreaming of an Obama/Sebelius ticket since 2006.

[ Parent ]
I admire your loyalty (4.00 / 1)
and you are certainly infinitely more likely to realize your dream than I am (Clinton/Obama).

I admit I don't know much about Sebelius, but it seems to me a red state governor would by necessity be more conservative than I would like. I will give her a chance though if she is the VP nominee.

[ Parent ]
That Makes Sense (4.00 / 1)
If your issue is uncertainty about Sebelius' policies, I definitely understand completely. There are some issues that will come up in a national campaign that, as the governor of a conservative state, she just hasn't had to clearly address in her career in Kansas politics. This is a concern, and I hope that the Obama team vets her very thoroughly if she is under consideration.

On the other hand, I think it's unfair to Sebelius to argue that she is less qualified than Clinton. She has been involved in politics since her election to the Kansas State Legislature in 1986. Also, if anything, as a governor since 2003, she has significantly more direct executive experience than either Obama or Clinton.  

[ Parent ]
maybe you caught her on a good day... (0.00 / 0)
...or maybe she has improved, but either way I'm still really skeptical of Sibelius after that weak SOTU-response snoozathon.

Good point on politicos vs. people, also.  Even if Clark as VP placates the hardcore Clinton-backing politicos, I don't see it helping with the real issue -- there are actual voters who want to see Clinton on the ticket.

[ Parent ]
Agree about Gore, Disagree about Sebelius (0.00 / 0)
I'm not a woman, so I definitely lack a certain perspective here, but I don't think picking a female running mate (other than HRC) helps Obama.  Some of her supporters have even suggested that it would be a slap in the face.

Also, I don't think that Obama is going to woo these voters back by appealing to their rational side, and selecting a former HRC surrogate.  The HRC holdouts are, almost by definition, holding out because they feel an emotional detachment from Obama (I realize I'm heading into dangerous territory with the use of words like "rational" and emotional," but I think it is accurate and applies to HRC's holdout males supporters as much as it would have to many Obama supporters had the shoe been on the other foot).  

In order for Obama to woo back these voters, he is going to need a VP that appeals to their guts and reminds them of why they are Democrats and reminds them that John McCain would be a terrible President.  I can't see Clark or Sebelius reaching these voters.  As I've said above, I think that Joe Biden, or perhaps Ed Rendell, is the model VP who can make these voters feel good about being Democrats once again and learn to despise McCain.  

Of course, I'm curious to hear other opinions of possible VPs who may fit this description, because I think that the only way to reconnect to the voters that are hostile to Obama right now is have a VP who can reconnect with them on a very visceral level.  


A vote against Health Care Reform is a vote for ten 9/11s every single year!

[ Parent ]
Please, no (1.00 / 4)
Didn't Clark allow Belgrade to be bombed? Isn't he, in fact, a war criminal?

Also, wasn't he wack-a-doodle enough to risk WW3?


Clark is one politician we can do without, thank you just the same.

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa

Here's what Robert Reich said about Bill Bradley: (0.00 / 0)
OK, this quote is from a Reich recommendation of Bradley for President. However, don't we want a VP who's good enough to be President, instead of just capable of striking a (militaristic) pose? We do have a civilian controlled military, after all.

The Case For Bill Bradley
by Robert Reich

I worked closely with Al Gore in the first Clinton administration, and I admire him. Gore is earnest and smart. For the past seven and a half years he's taken on god-awful projects that no one else wanted to do--like "reinventing government"--and has done them well. He's been loyal to a fault. Contrary to his public persona, he has a droll sense of humor that occasionally tips into deadpan sarcasm. So why do I support Bill Bradley? And why do I continue to support him, even when his boat seems to be sinking? Maybe it's because I kept clean for Gene, passed out leaflets as a kid for Stevenson, and would have voted for Wilson in 1912. I'm a sucker for decent, smart, soft-spoken idealists with lofty visions about where the country should go and what we can do together. For good or ill, that description fits Bradley, not Gore.

As for SecDef, I really don't know a lot about him, but Zinni has a nice face. :-)

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa

[ Parent ]
Bradley is pretty impressive (0.00 / 0)
I'm ok with him.  He really knows tax policy, which Obama needs, as that (and getting our of Iraq) is the key to whether there is money for health care or anything else.  He's another solid not-in-the-beltway-now choice and might help with older voters.  Plus, he fits Obama's love of basketball.  I had kind of forgotten about him, but he'd be good.  Not such a charismatic campaigner but as somone said, next to obama no one is anyway.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
Bradley as 'integrationist' VP (4.00 / 1)
As if that's not enough, some quotes from "Values of the Game"

   You can't play on a team with African Americans for very long and fail to recognize the stupidity of our national obsession with race. The right path is really very simple: Give respect to teammates of a different race, treat them fairly, disagree with them honestly, enjoy their friendship, explore your common humanity, share your thoughts about one another candidly, work together for a common goal, help one another achieve it. No destructive lies. No ridiculous fears. No debilitating anger.

   Why, of all places in America, is that ideal closest to being achieved on a basketball court? I believe it's because the community of a team is so close that you have to talk with one another; the travel is so constant that you have to interact with one another; the competition is so intense that you have to challenge one another; the game is so fluid that you have to depend on one another; the high and low moments are so frequent that you learn to share them; the season is so long that it brings you to mutual acceptance. That is not to say that no racists have ever survived a multiracial team experience with their prejudices intact, but my guess is that the numbers are few.

My off-court role sometimes involved taking aside a white rookie with a residue of resentment for black players and telling him that that's not how we did things on the Knicks.

At the very least, Obama can take some advice from Bradley:

I can learn more about people by playing a three-on-three game with them for twenty minutes than I can by talking with them for a week. I once hired a new director for my U.S. Senate offices in New Jersey. I liked him, but it wasn't until I played basketball with him that I knew I'd made the right choice. I found out that he was a hard worker (he went for the rebound), competitive with a fierce desire to win (he played close defense), and unselfish (he screened away from the ball).


435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa

[ Parent ]
Someone also once commented that Bradley (0.00 / 0)
has showered with more African-American men then others in the Senate had shaken hands with, or something like that.

But Googling reveals Bradley has an atrial fibrillation.  I have known people with that and I wouldn't think it would disqualify him, and besides the McCain people aren't the best ones to be making health-related arguments.  But maybe so.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
Executing a lawful order from President Clinton does not (4.00 / 3)
make him a war criminal. IF you disagree with any military operation in a populated area that's you're right, but it slaps the war criminal title on any officer who has been in command during any urban operation in our history. If Clark was a war criminal then what the hell was Eisenhower?

[ Parent ]
War Crimes (0.00 / 0)
The answer to this is probably best answered by a lawyer, who remembers the operant principle of not excusing hypocrisy, as Noam Chomsky often reminds us. (Not to mention being familiar with the facts. WW2 was way before my time.)

Personally, I don't think an ex post facto prohibition of "war crime" is fair - and fairness is something that should apply to all sorts of people, including Nazis - so the answer wrt Eisenhower has to depend on what the relevant laws were at the time he was a general. I frankly don't know what they were during WW2.

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa

[ Parent ]
Not to be too bold (0.00 / 0)
I admire your willingness to admit ignorance about WWII. If you are seriously interested in War Crimes, peace advocacy, the Geneva Conventions and rules of engagement, there is a lot to study. I would assume that starting with WW1 might be necessary, with poison gas attacks and tremendous casualty and officers shooting troops refusing to move forward against  withering fire. But not knowing WWII is impossible if you want to be taken seriously.

One of the Great American Books is Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five, about the firebombing of Dresden. These issues have not been ignored, they are in common parlance. Nazi horror has in many minds prevented real assessment of Allied war crimes, and Nazi horror certainly sets the standard for "even-in-this-circumstance?" arguments that you will hear.

WW11 also had the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. The use of nuclear weapons must forever be prevented, on this you find little argument with the great majority, but large numbers have the heard the defense of Hiroshima's destruction often enough to recite in their sleep.

The world, with few exceptions, has banned land mines, the most disgusting destroyer of children after starvation, and the cluster bomb, which is also an indiscriminate maimer of toddlers and slaughterer of civilians, except the United States, which continues to deploy, and sell, both.

There are issues of great impact, complex revolting issues of "trade-offs" between greater good, and simple decency. Become a scholar of peace, the world has need more now than ever before, our weapons grow uncontrollable.


The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky

[ Parent ]
SecDef (4.00 / 1)
Matt makes a good case here, but I agree with most of the commenters above: Clarke is much more suited for Secretary of Defense.  My uncle and I discussed this exact possibility a few weeks ago (or over Easter, I forget which), and that was my position: he's good, but (as my uncle admitted) he comes off rather, ah, boring in front of large crowds and debates.

Besides, do we really want Joe Biden running the Defense Department?

Clark can't be SecDef until 2010 at the earliest (4.00 / 2)
Former military personnel have to be retired for at least 10 years before serving as SecDef:

Clark retired from the military in mid-2000.

Like I said upthread, I think the best position for him in a Dem administration would be national security advisor.

[ Parent ]
Congress can grant a waiver n/t (4.00 / 1)

[ Parent ]
True (4.00 / 2)
Although the only time they've ever done it was for George Marshall.

[ Parent ]
I didn't know that... (0.00 / 0)
I just figured I'd throw that in there because it seems to come up in every post that talks about Clark in a new administration.

[ Parent ]
Didn't know that! (0.00 / 0)
And this is why I love this site: I'm lernding!

Yeah, if he can't be SecDef I think NSA would be a decent fit.  What about Homeland?  Who gets that?

[ Parent ]
The VP is Chairman of the NSC! (0.00 / 0)
Probably the main function of the VP in any administration is that the VP chairs the National Security Council.

Cheney used this position to advance his insane agenda, and Clark would do use his chairmanship to advance a rational one.

He'd be a very great strengthening of the Obama administration, since his foreign policy expertise would counterbalance Obama's lack of it.


1. Obama might not want someone with such established views who might challenge him. He's not like Bush, an intellectual midget who needs a Cheney to tell him what to do.

2. It's unclear whether Clark really adds much to the ticket.

His selection only hightlights Obama's lack of experience. It says that Obama's really not ready to be the commander in chief if he needs Wes Clark there to back-stop him.

Of course, the same thing could have been said about Bush, but the media gave him a total pass as they do all Republicans.

It's questionable whether any VP candidate can deliver any state. Perhaps some governor can deliver their own state, but even that is doubtful. Lloyd Bentsen sure didn't do much for Dukakis to shield him from charges of "inexperience."

Remember that Bentsen destroyed Dan Quayle during their debate as badly as any candidate has ever been owned, and it made absolutely no difference.

People just don't vote for VPs that much. I think for that same reason that Hillary would have minimal impact as a VP candidate, no matter what her supporters might think.

[ Parent ]
It depends on the president's preferences (4.00 / 1)
NSA is a position whose influence varies quite a bit depending on how the president sees it.  Kissinger and Brzezinski were both very influential NSAs who had more influence with their presidents on national security than the VPs did.  But Reagan went through several NSAs, probably none of whom had as much influence as G.H.W. Bush did as VP at the time.  And of course things were the opposite in the G.H.W. Bush administration, with Scowcroft as Bush's most trusted advisor; obviously Dan Quayle didn't have much pull in that situation.  

I would want Clark to be a visible NSA in a Dem administration--as public a figure as Rice was in G.W. Bush's first term, like Hadley now--with wide-ranging influence on coordinating Defense and State.  I'm not sure who the other leading candidates for Defense might be, but my ideal situation would be to have a competent administrator as SecDef (a pretty tall order for even the most talented administrators to pull off), with the heavy-lifting of coordinating military and diplomatic policy as the main purview of Clark.  He's the most qualified person we've got to perform that specific duty, which is a huge challenge for any administration.

[ Parent ]
Samantha Power has the inside track for NSA (4.00 / 1)
She needs a job that doesn't require Senate confirmation, since she called a prominent Senator a "monster".  But she's good and smart.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
I'm not sure she's the most qualified for that job (0.00 / 0)
She could be useful in any number of high-ranking diplomatic jobs, but Clark, just to name one person, seems far more qualified than her to be NSA.

[ Parent ]
please! (0.00 / 0)
are you kidding?
That'd actually probably WIN her some (Republican) votes.

[ Parent ]
Biden will be .. (0.00 / 0)
Sec of State ... that has always been .. what he wants .. not Rummy's old job

[ Parent ]
I agree. (4.00 / 2)
   I didn't support Wesley Clark in 2004, and I certainly haven't supported Hillary at all.  I think Clark would be a good choice for the vice presidency if only because other possibilities leave much to be desired.  He's certainly progressive and strongly pro-hillary - which is good.  I don't think people care very much about the VP choice.  We should lobby for the most progressive and most uniting choice.  It might Wesley Clark.  
  Also, if I have to hear another person advocating a Virginia politician for the vice presidency, I might explode.  No Warner.  No Kaine.  No Webb.  Stop it!  They are not progressives!  And what exactly do they bring to the table?  Hardly anything.

John McCain lets lobbyists shape his economic policy

sorry (4.00 / 3)
can't agree on this one. In a world that is reeling from numerous ongoing wars and civil wars, which does not trust us one bit, in country that spends more on military that the rest of the world combined, in a political process still dominated by the military-industrial complex, nominating a General for vice president is the wrong message to send.

In fairness, (4.00 / 1)
we will have just nominated a black community organizer who was editor of the Harvard Law Review, for president.  Even with Wesley Clark it would still be the least MIC-based ticket of the last 50 years.

[ Parent ]
Clark is another Pentagon insider who should have spoken out earlier (4.00 / 1)
I know I don't have a copy of his book any more, lent it to someone who never gave it back, so I cannot fetch the quote.  But I recall he had a telling passage that took place shortly after 9-11 where he is with some insider friend who outlined that they were gonna fake the needed "intelligence", lie to the UN, the Congress, the public, whoever and do what they had to do to get to invade who they wanted to invade and that was that.

In the book Wes says he knew this was wrong when he heard it.  But still, we had to wait a year or three for the book to come out for the good general to tell us so.  

There are four thousand Americans and more than a million Iraqis dead, in large part due to the reticence, the bureaucratic loyalty of moral midgets like Wes Clark.  His silence when he could  have spoken out, when the book says he knew this vast evil was afoot, is eloquent.  Sure you still want this amoral mope?

"If you want that good feeling that comes from doing things for other people, then you have to pay for it in abuse and misunderstanding..."
Zora Neale Hurston

um (4.00 / 3)
Clark testified before the Senate and was on TV during 2002 speaking out against the war.

[ Parent ]
Can you provide (4.00 / 4)
a link or two to Clark's opposition to the war in 2002? I know he expressed skepticism about going to war (so did John Kerry and Hillary Clinton) but he didn't have to vote on the AUMF, and I found nothing indicating that he clearly opposed the AUMF.

In any case, the op-ed below, which he wrote in April, has long bothered me. He sounds like someone who doesn't want to be on the wrong side of a political debate. And check out this line:

As for the political leaders themselves, President Bush and Tony Blair should be proud of their resolve in the face of so much doubt.

[ Parent ]
Clark on Iraq (4.00 / 2)
Nov 14, 2001

Senate Armed Service Sept 23, 2002.

There are a lot more, and he was trying as hard as he could to put some sense into people he was friends with in the Pentagon. Few "Out here" knew who he was before he became hevily involved politically, and if not for the disaster that is Iraq, he would have happily enjoyed working on his golf game as a University Professor somewhere. :)

He would be a key intermediary to helping Clinton supporters look more honestly and closely at Barack Obama, and I hope that he is at the very top of Obama's list. :)

[ Parent ]
Thanks for ALL the armor! ;) (4.00 / 1)
General Clark will definitely strengthen the Democratic ticket for and together a Obama/Clark ticket will absolutely clinch the GE's, imo.  The DEMs must secure the "national security and foreign policy" creds NOW!  This is the time to put the nail on the GOPs trumped claim on this perception by Americans    

They're both progressives and have staunchly defend Democratic principles.   In fact, Clark was the first Dem to coin the phrase "strategic blunder" and force should only by used as a "last, last, last resort" regarding Bush's decision to go to war on "false pretenses".  

From his numerous WaPo, Atlantic Monthly and WSJ OpEd peices, Clark was the most vocal critic on behalf of DEMs against Bush's policies towards the ME and Ameerica's national security. I agree with Matt Stohler point earlier that one only needs to hear Clark's "The Real State of the Union" address for Steve Clemons at the New American Foundation to fully support the significance for his case.  Imo, he's the also first Dem leader to propose that the US must also engage in regional diplomacy and dialoque that included Iran, Syria and Lebanon.

[ Parent ]
he was more skeptical than some in 2002 (4.00 / 2)
but in his book he went a lot further --- wish I had that copy back now --- saying that they were lying and he knew it all the time.  If Clark was all that, a bag of chips & a profile in courage, wouldn't he have done a Daniel Ellsberg and told us on TV --- he was one of the talking heads -- flat out that the administration was lying, as he says he knew in the book.

In fact, he seemed to be pretty much for the war after it started, when it seemed to many that it might work the way Cheney and Bush said it would.

Is it too much to ask those who wannabe leaders to take a risk in the public interest?  Ordinary people with families, car notes and mortgages get fired from jobs every day for trying to organize unions on the job --- one every few minutes, according to the Dept. of Labor.

These people, whose names nobody  ever knows are real American heroes, taking risks for their neighbors.  If just one of these guys (or girls) in our nation's political elite risked his or her career standing up to power, to  Wall Street or the warfare state, I'd vote and work for that one.  But Wes Clark does not make that grade.

"If you want that good feeling that comes from doing things for other people, then you have to pay for it in abuse and misunderstanding..."
Zora Neale Hurston

[ Parent ]
Yes (0.00 / 0)
I think this post and the discussion helpfully move us away from Warner, Kaine, and Webb and toward a progressive who has leadership abilities. Sebelius might be another.

Did you miss Paul Rosenberg's 3-part series on Edwards as VP? (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
Edwards (4.00 / 1)
I should have mentioned Edwards as another strong choice.

[ Parent ]
Clark would make Obama look weak (4.00 / 2)
The major strike against Clark as a potential running mate is also his principal strength: military expertise. If Obama puts Clark on the ticket, the media will have a field day with Obama's "military weakness". We will never hear the end of pundits espousing how Obama had to choose Clark, because he's so weak on foreign policy and McCain is so strong. Selecting Clark as VP essentially admits a perceived weakness, and adding Clark's military prowess to the ticket could therefore, perhaps ironically, ultimately harm Obama's electoral performance.

They are going to have a field day (0.00 / 0)
with Obama's military weakness anyway, whther Obama wants to admit it or not.  People are not blind.

[ Parent ]
But it's not a real weakness (4.00 / 1)
Certainly when compared to McCain, Obama is not weak on foreign policy and military affairs. He has a far better understanding of the Middle East and the role of diplomacy in foreign affairs. There is little question that McCain's policies would make the country - and the world - less safe.

Obama's "military weakness" is a fiction created by those who believe that serving in the armed forces is a more valuable qualification for president than a nuanced understanding of policy, strategy and morality.

Not only is this not a real weakness, it is a point that Obama is prepared to argue, and could actually win. Putting Clark on the ticket would set him back in this regard.

[ Parent ]
How not to counteract this (4.00 / 1)
I'm skeptical that Obama has military weakness, as opposed to military inexperience, but I'm not skeptical at all that if he tries to compensate, by making a tank commander commercial, ala Dukakis, he will lose the election. Even if he does so with a better-fitting helmet. :-)

Obama's a smart guy, and should do just fine reminding the public that we have the largest military in the world, atomic bombs that we should never have to use, etc., etc., and the real challenge is to win hearts and minds, which you can't do by pointing the business end of a rifle at foreigners who have little interest in mimicking America.

I also hope that he pushes the meme that the world cannot afford to be involved in endless wars. We are facing problems that can easily lead to world-wide catastrophe, and need the cooperation of presumed military rivals to solve them. Unfortunately, we may be seeing large scale food riots and strikes by the time Novemeber rolls around ($200/barrel oil may do just that), so this case may be particularly easy to make.

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa

[ Parent ]
true. (4.00 / 1)
but then again we ran a war hero in 2004 against a draft dodger and they still turned it around on us!

[ Parent ]
Let alone the fact (0.00 / 0)
that while arguing for Hillary he went dangerously close to actually straight-forwardly state that Obama was not qualified to be CiC. That and the call for her to stay til the convention put him far down the list for me although above Ted "Nod-on-Shame-on-You" Strickland.  

[ Parent ]
I agree the Clark choice makes Obama look weak, for a couple of reasons (0.00 / 0)
First of all, Clark underscores Obama's lack of military experience.
Second, a Clark choice will be construed as an attempt to mollify Clinton fans.

And for what it's worth, I see no evidence that Clark is such a great campaigner, even though I've always liked him personally.  

Clark isn't a terrible choice, but I think we can do better.

[ Parent ]
Expertly handling your weaknesses is not weak. (0.00 / 0)
Ignoring your weaknesses and letting them fester and rot is, however, weak.

To illustrate: the punditocracy thinks it knows that Obama has a Clinton problem, AND a Clinton-voter problem.  Obama does need to consolidate the party behind him somehow.

If picking Clark is seen as a graceful and successful way of accomplishing this, Obama gets praised: "Obama now has an emissary to the white working class, he's put the Clinton team back in his corner, he's got Hillary herself out campaigning for him now, bringing women voters back to his side, this is a very astute and winning move by Obama."  Winning moves, smart plays, get praised, and earn the good kind of media (and media narrative).

On the other hand, clumsy attempts to deal with your weaknesses do magnify them.  So, choosing a general who doesn't also have the political advantages of Clark's connection to the Clintons -- like, say, Tony Zinni -- would be a blunder, because all it does is highlight Obama's military inexperience, without any other real advantages at all.  He would get hammered for that kind of choice, rightly.

Anyway, my point is that dealing with your own weaknesses isn't the real problem.  Rather, it's a requirement -- it has to be done in some way or other.  The problem is that you have to address and mitigate your weaknesses very skillfully, because if you fuck it up, boom, you have the national spotlight directed right at your weakest spot.

So, just cause Obama has a given weakness, doesn't mean the right choice is for him to ignore it, or else "look weak because he's addressing (admitting) his weakness".  That's a bad prescription based in a false duality.  The correct path is to deal with it, well.  Ignoring your own weaknesses makes you Dick Cheney.

[ Parent ]
But picking Clark is not dealing with a problem expertly (0.00 / 0)
Yes, you're right, of course, that dealing well with a weakness isn't a problem.  But I disagree that a Clark selection would be interpreted so positively.

Nor do I think it will be viewed principally as addressing a need to consolidate the party.  My view is that the choice would largely be considered an attempt to address Obama's lack of military bona fides.  

[ Parent ]
Clark underscores anyone's military experience... (0.00 / 0)
including McCain's.

During 04, the General was Kerry's best surrogate. I love his attack dog act...he does it with Southern style and a smile. When Clark slides the knife they know it but they're not quite sure what just happened.

BTW, Wes Clark does the best townhalls that I've ever seen...better than Bill Clinton's. He's amazing in that setting.

Clark is the only southerner being discussed with the exception of Edwards who doesn't bring any foreign policy/military creds. To tilt those western states into the "D" column, we need to strengthen our appeal to one of major constituences in those states...the active and retired military.

Not Clinton. An Obama Administration cannot move independently with Bill in the wings. Really.

Finally, while I think that Clark would be wise choice for VP, I would personally like to see Clark as SoD. The necessary waiver would only have to cover one year and with a Dem. congress is doable. In exchange the military, and the country would get the most qualified person to straighten out one of the biggest messes that bush is leaving behind.  

[ Parent ]
Why can't it be reinforcing? (0.00 / 0)
He can say the main criteria he used were opposition to the Iraq War from the beginning, and someone who worked with Hillary in order to provide for Party unity. There really aren't too many people who fit that bill.

Politics is a strong and slow boring of hard boards.

[ Parent ]
Hi Jennifer! Long Time No See! (0.00 / 0)
I hope we'll be seeing you a little more often!

I'm not sure you've read the diaries where Chris first made and reinforced his argument on this point, but as he laid it out, it's much more of a perceived identity thing than something you get to define for yourself.

After Edwards endorsed Obama, I wrote a diary arguing that Edwards could actually work expand the sense of what's being reinforced, but that depends on a number of factors working together, not just a plausible message.

With Clark, it's just a given that the contrast with Obama's lack of military experience would be hammered over and over and over again.

I actually think that Obama is much better off making the most of that.  He's got family stretched out across the globe, and that gives him a whole different sort of foreign policy strength that no president has ever had before.  He ought to make the most of that.  And while logically, it would be even better to match with someone like Clark and his background, what we're talking about here is not a matter of logic.

Hence, Clark for Chief of Staff.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Can campaign anywhere... (0.00 / 0)

I certainly agree with Matt that Wes Clark can campaign in every corner of our country.  We are in the midst of running a contest with General Clark to send him to a Congressional District where a Democratic challenger is running in a currently Republican seat.  (He will be doing a community service event in one district with our organization, Democrats Work.)  The eagerness of folks in a bunch of diverse districts - north, south, east, west - to have Clark come to those districts is impressive.

(We're down to the final five districts -- WA-08, CA-04, NC-10, CO-04, MN-03 -- having narrowed the field from forty three districts last week.  You can cast your vote in the "Serve with the General" contest here:

Military Industrial Complex (4.00 / 3)
I agree that Clark is too ingrained in the military-industrial complex to qualify for the #2 position in an Obama administration. His command in Yugoslavia was reckless and ill-considered, and I never found his opposition to the Iraq War when he was running in 2004 to be much more than political posturing.

More importantly, I don't want any Clintonistas within reach of the presidency. Rank-and-file Clinton supporters are not going to care much that Clark is somehow a sop to them; it will only serve to appease the wealthy, anti-populist Clinton donor community that I despise.

There is a place for Clark in the administration, as a relatively sane, sober and pleasant representative of the Clinton wing of the party, but not at #2. We can throw them a bone or two, but the Clinton Machine must not be a heartbeat away from the presidency. How about National Security Advisor for now?

Sherrod Brown is my first pick at this point. He is a high profile economic populist with great appeal in a major swing state. Plus, Ohio has a Democratic governor, so the seat should be safe in the short term.

Brian Schweitzer is my second pick. Extremely charming, economic populist, high-profile opponent of Patriot Act bullshit and Bush's espionage culture.

Bill Richardson impressed me by meeting with Hugo Chavez. I had previously written him off as an establishment hack, but anyone willing to pursue a detente with Venezuela is on the right track.

Kathleen Sebelius seems good except for that awful SOTU response I have burned into my brain.

Remember Bill Clinton's speech (4.00 / 2)
at the convention in 1988 ?
I mean everybody seems to agree she would be awesome "except for her SOTU response"
Well, she had a bad day. Let's get over it.

[ Parent ]
Remember Bill Clinton's speech (0.00 / 0)
at the convention in 1988 ?
I mean everybody seems to agree she would be awesome "except for her SOTU response"
Well, she had a bad day. Let's get over it.

[ Parent ]
I understand you not wanting to throw (0.00 / 0)
Clark as a sop to us Clinton supporters, but openly antagonizing us with a Kathleen Sebelius pick would not be a wise move. It would be seen as a sop, since it is hard for me to believe Obama would be considering her if she were not a woman when he had just defeated a woman.  If he picks a woman, it better be Hillary Clinton.

That aside, I agree that Sherrod Brown and Brian Schweitzer are great picks.  Richardson not so much.  He was not even a good campaigner for himself, much less anyone else.

[ Parent ]
Completely agree about the female VP (4.00 / 2)
I don't understand why people are suggesting that Sebelius would be a popular choice among Clinton supporters. Hillary Clinton has established herself as the female candidate. If another woman, with minimal name recognition among the national electorate, is chosen instead, that would be received as a personal slight against Hillary, and as a condescending appeal to women generally.

To highlight this point, imagine that Clinton is the nominee and ask yourselves what would happen if she chose Deval Patrick as her running mate.

[ Parent ]
Or Harold Ford. (4.00 / 1)
Yeah, Hillary narrowly beats back the entire Obama campaign, denies them the nomination, then picks Harold Ford?  Yeah, that would antagonize a lot of people.

Picking Sebelius has this problem: it implies that Clinton supporters didn't support that woman specifically, for her policies and her experience and her expertise, but rather just supported the person with a vagina.  So adding a different person with a vagina to the ticket ought to make it all better, right?  Wrong.  It insults the supporters of Hillary by suggesting that their support is facile and superficial and easily redirected, when it is none of those things.  

I hadn't really got that before, but it's true.  Many of Hillary's casual voters would be impressed, but her real supporters most certainly would not be.

[ Parent ]
Okay. (0.00 / 0)
So, I can totally see this argument, that randomly tossing a woman in the VP slot with the intent of placating Clinton supporters (or attempting to promote a VP candidate on the grounds that candidate is female and that will supposedly appeal to Clintonists) is condescending and likely to backfire.

On the other hand, what if we pick Kathleen Sebelius simply because we determine she is the most suitable person for the job?

Is that allowed? If not, why not?

I mean, not wanting to be cheaply pandered to is one thing-- but surely there is something terribly wrong with the idea of Clinton supporters targeting, and outright banning from office this cycle, women as a group simply because they're not named Clinton?

[ Parent ]
I think it would not be worth the effort (4.00 / 1)
you would have to expend to convince people that Kathleen Sebelius is the most suitable person for the job when you have Hillary Clinton sitting there ready to go with her 17 million supporters. No way it would not look condescending.  Best to just move on to your favorite male VP choice.

I know it does seem terribly wrong, just as it would if the shoe were on the other foot.  Could Clinton even think of picking another African American besides Obama?  It would be a shame to eliminate John Lewis or other qualified people, but if party unity is what we are after, some sacrifices have to be made.

[ Parent ]
I think that makes sense (0.00 / 0)
because Obama got where he is by himself, and Hillary got where she is by herself*, generating great excitement among blacks and women respectively; but on the other hand, Geraldine Ferraro never generated that sort of excitement: because the VP slot isn't earned, you're chosen for it. Unless, in this case, if the VP pick is Hillary, because then it will clearly have been a necessary concession to her success in the primary.

So I can see where choosing any other woman is not going to be a substitute, but would it have an actively negative effect? I think Sebelius is still very worthy of consideration purely on the basis of her electoral and political history in Kansas.

* well, mostly herself, if you ignore the whole "being married to Bill Clinton" bit

[ Parent ]
He is a Sibelius fan (4.00 / 1)
She is the governor of a neighboring state, where his mother's people are from, and she has been a supporter and surrogate for a long time.  They evidently get along well.  She wouldn't be done as a sop, although I can see how Clintonistas would see herr that way.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
I'm sure he is, and under other circumstances (0.00 / 0)
I would be a fan too.  Just not this year.  

[ Parent ]
I'm still for Feingold (4.00 / 3)
The rationale for which is, if there's any way we can put that man in the White House, you'd need the most damnedestly good reason in the history of damn good reasons not to do it.

The fact that he'd actually have a lot of great synergies with Obama as a candidate, plus some great tactical posititioning as the other half of McCain-Feingold, is like the extra bar of chocolate you just found in the closet and didn't know you had.

[ Parent ]
Not to mention .. (0.00 / 0)
it would give me 7 years to save up money .. so I can get ready to volunteer in Iowa(along with Bowers)   ;-)

[ Parent ]
Military Industrial Complex (0.00 / 0)
Remember, the warning against the Military Industrial Complex came from an ex-general.  Clark would be better than most at fighting back and has pointed that out from time to time.

Clark has always been my first choice, so this is an obvious pick for me.  And this pick would mostly be re-enforcing:

1) Outsiders
2) Internet-driven candidates
3) Can actually write books
4) Intuitive instead of Sensing"

In some sense the experience thing is also re-enforcing as well as complementary.  Many complained when Clark first ran he didn't have any political or governing experience.  Obama is lacking some experience as well, but of complementary nature.

[ Parent ]
Oh yea (4.00 / 1)
0) Against Iraq from the start!

Clark on CNN was the only guy keeping me sane during the buildup to war.  He couldn't quite say what he was obviously thinking, but he kept mentioning over and over that we really don't know why Bush wants to go to war.  

Clark and Jon Stewart were the only two sane people on TV that year.

[ Parent ]
"He was the only sane guy on TV that year." (0.00 / 0)
That's an amazing reason to support someone as VP.  And I mean that in a good way, not a critical one.  It's just amazing to me that that sentence can be fairly said about anyone, in any year, in this country.  And if it can be fairly said -- if someone really is the only sane person who can manage to get on TV in this country -- then hell yeah, make that guy president!  All the other choices are almost certainly worse!  

Unless you can find a community organizer from Chicago who wasn't on TV that year...   ; )

[ Parent ]
NO WAY (0.00 / 0)
After his behavior of late, I cannot see this in any way!

I Like Clark (0.00 / 0)
...but I am more in Paul Rosenberg's "Edwards for VP" camp.

And barring that, I like Mark Warner.

Clark would be my third choice though.

an ok pick (4.00 / 1)
Gore's the best choice (if he'd do it, of course), but you've convinced me that Clark is a decent pick. I like the idea of picking someone close to Hillary to unite the factions. Webb doesn't even make my list....way too conservative/macho.

Yes! Gore! (0.00 / 0)
Although he's better endorse tomorrow.  I still like him best.  Glad someone else sees this.  I think there's three of us, plus DHinMI at Kos, whom I respect greatly.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
Supreme Allied Commander (4.00 / 2)
you don't get a better title than that...he should insist on being called Mr. Supreme Allied Commander in debates.

seriously, i think he's a terrific choice; every time i see him speak, he's inspiring


Well (4.00 / 3)
McCain does have to salute him...and that is a plus.

[ Parent ]
Good Choice (0.00 / 0)
Back when I didn't know Edwards didn't have a chance in hell, I was thinking Clark would be a great VP for Edwards.  I'd be happy with either.  I still say Edwards would make a monumentally great Attorney General.

"Ignorance is the most dangerous element in any society." - Emma Goldman

And I'll Say Exactly What I Said About Webb: No, No, No, No, No! (4.00 / 4)
Pick Clark and get ready for the press to vomit ad nauseam that, "Obama picked Webb because Clark knows he's weak on national security." For the love of God, no! All Obama would be doing is playing directly into McCain's hands.

Why don't you have Obama go on TV and say, "You're right, Senator McCain, I know squat about foreign policy, so I picked this guy to help nursemaid me?" That's essentially what you're asking the man to do.

Obama has to play this as judgement vs. Washington "experience". If he makes it Washington "experience" versus Washington "experience," he loses this issue. If he makes it military machismo versus military machismo, he loses this issue. And it's not an issue he should lose! He's got McCain dead to rights! All he has to do is frame it right. Quick pivot to judgement vs. Washington "experience", mock McCain's utterly miserable foreign policy votes and quotes, and then right back to the economy and trade, trade, trade! Lock up that Midwestern vote in Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin and then pour on the media behind McCain's front lines in VA, FL, MO, and NV. I swear, if you locked a family of monkeys in a room for a week even they could figure out the playbook to win this election. This really isn't complicated.

There's a stiff pro-Democratic breeze at Obama's back nationally. He should play to the strengths of traditional Democratic issues. Go get somebody who speaks forcefully to kitchen table economic issues and take the win.  

Good (4.00 / 1)
I think that's going to be Brown or Schweitzer.

[ Parent ]
My top 3 at the moment (4.00 / 4)
In this order:


[ Parent ]
Trade is for democrats what immigration is for Republicans: (4.00 / 1)
an issue that splits the party's donor base from its electoral base.

Running on trade is a very tricky issue for Democrats.  Witness how well Edwards did with the donor class and the DC media this time around.

Sherrod Brown had the Chuck Schumer stamp of approval in 2006.  I don't know that a "fair trade" platform would get a similar pass from the halls of power on a presidential ticket.

Running on trade in a big way is risky business for Obama.  Start giving speeches about trade, and media rhetoric along the lines of "is Obama too liberal, gosh he's really liberal, is his liberal campaign too liberal to beat maverick McCain?" appears really quickly.  They'll never ever specify what they mean by liberal, but they'll hit him back for going anti-trade, really hard.

Doesn't mean he shouldn't do it.  If he does it and still wins, he has the Mandate of Heaven.  But, it's a riskier strategy than I think you're suggesting here, especially for a candidate who can so easily be demagogued on race and Otherness with the very white working class midwestern voters in question.

[ Parent ]
Not quite. (4.00 / 3)
You're forgetting that unions are a huge portion of the donor class during the general election.

Also, if I recall, it was Democrats getting in bed with corporations and doing their bidding for easy money that first got us into the electoral wilderness of the 1980s, 90s, and 00s in the first place.

[ Parent ]
Donor Class Be Damned (4.00 / 5)
McCain is grass in the Midweast if Obama runs aggressively on trade. Because he's fresh to the Senate, he doesn't have much of a voting record and can't be painted as a hypocrite on the issue. If he picks one of the governors or Brown who are similarly clean on trade, he's got a bludgeon to beat the tar out of McCain with. McCain's got a 100% voting record as a free trader from Cato. NAFTA. CAFTA. Pick your brand of trade alphabet soup, and McCain's voted for it. He's also got a slew of stupid soundbites on tape about trade, and many of those are from just months ago during the Republican primaries. I'm talking, ready made, shrink wrapped, ultra-damaging attack ads. If Obama makes that record a central part of his appeal to Midwestern voters, McCain can't win in Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, and without those states, McCain's path to victory is almost completely cut off. He'd have to somehow get Colorado, New Mexico, and Iowa wrangled back into his column and pick off one of the Kerry states (New Hampshire would probably be his best bet). That's making them hit the triple bank shot for a change.

And I hate to tell you this, but they're going to call Obama too liberal and the Republicans are going to demagogue about his race whether Obama chooses to run on trade or not. Holstering his best weapon in the Midwest isn't going to change that, nor is pandering to the whims of the DC donor class.

[ Parent ]
Wasn't McBush .. (0.00 / 0)
the one that went to Michigan during the Rethug primary .. and told MI voters to get over it .. cause their jobs ain't never coming back?

[ Parent ]
Exactly (4.00 / 2)
I remember seeing it live on TV and thinking how completely out of touch and callous he looked. It's like he watched the shipyard scene in Primary Colors but forgot to project anything resembling empathy while delivering his so-called "straight talk." He looked tone deaf and black hearted, and there's more than one video clip like that just waiting for Obama's campaign to use.

Plus, you've got McCain himself on record admitting he doesn't know economics from his elbow. It's like shooting fish in a barrel.

[ Parent ]
Well, that's a good argument. (4.00 / 1)
Which is always fun.

I think the difference between your take and mine is on the relative importance of the campaigns themselves, vs the establishment media's descriptions of the campaigns.

You're ascribing a lot more power to the campaigns themselves, to the ability of the organized Obama campaign to set agendas, communicate to voters about issues, and move votes, than I do.

Obviously they do that, but if Obama makes trade his centerpiece, I think the donor class and the establishment hit back not through the McCain campaign, which may well be defenseless on that issue proper, but through the press.  The press can and would 1) change the subject, 2) invent new personal attacks and/or political attacks on Obama, 3) deny him the ability to set the agenda for the national conversation, and 4) hammer him hard, possibly denying him the presidency, over it.  

I'm literally thinking of the Edwards campaign all over again.  Edwards raises important issue X, the press gives it zero airtime at all, then annihilates him with a haircut story.  He did not have the power to set the agenda on the subjects and positions he wanted.  At least not in direct opposition to what the establishment cared to hear.

And there's a world of difference between the marginal operatives of the GOP hitting Obama on Otherness, and the mainstream press doing it.  The mainstream press could declare 2008 the Year of Jeremiah Wright if it wanted to; not literally, but figuratively in that they could continually focus on casting Obama as an Unknown Other in various ways.  They could quite easily destroy his national reputation if they needed to.  The dark artists of the GOP will indeed try this regardless, but they are not anywhere near the Gatekeeper of Public Opinion role that the network and cable editors have.

Now, the key is that I'm imagining a real left-wing attack on trade.  If Obama can find a sweet spot on trade that allows him to attack the hell out of McCain while also not crossing the invisible line in the mind of the establishment, then hell yeah he should do it.  I don't know if a rhetorically coherent and campaignable sweet spot like that exists though.

[ Parent ]
Do You Honestly Think It Matters? (4.00 / 2)
Seriously, do you honestly think it matters? John Kerry had a very nuanced "fair trade" position in 2004 and a voting record that showed that throughout his career he had supported it. Now ask yourself, how many times did you hear that John Kerry was "the most liberal member of the Senate" according to CQ? How many times did the talking heads verbally vomit about whether the country could elect a Massachussetts liberal?

And you saw how fairly they treated him when the Swiftboaters came onto the scene. Yes, being nuanced and playing to the media and the donor base and the corporations sure did help old John Kerry in 2004.

And now think about Barack Obama. He has yet to have really been aggressive about trade. What's his payoff been from the mainstream media? How many stories have you heard about "whether or not Obama can connect with white working class voters?" How many times have you seen Rev. Wright's "God bleep America" clips on TV? Gosh, I sure do hope Obama continues to remain compliant and docile about trade so he can continue to receive that fair and balanced treatment he got in that sham of an ABC debate! Surely if Obama doesn't point out that John McCain voted to ship the working people of Ohio and Michigan's jobs overseas FOX news will stop wheezing about flag lapel pins, and Wolf Blitzer will stop bringing up that, "a fair percentage of Americans still believe Barack Obama is a Muslim." Right?

Don't hold your breath.

Surrendering one of his best political weapons isn't going to save Barack Obama from having to face unfair press over the course of this campaign. Unilaterally disarming isn't going to change the fact that more conservative talking heads appear on Sunday talk and prime time cable news. Becoming mealey mouthed on trade isn't going to change the fact the main stream media is still all to willing to regurgitate Republican press releases as fact.

Obama's going to catch the shaft from the media no matter what he does. So why bother playing the game if you know it's rigged? To heck with the media, and the donor base. They don't ultimately pull the lever in November, the people do, and the people of the Midwest are being waffled economically because of what John McCain and the rest of his free trader accomplices voted for in the 90's. Obama has the high ground on this issue and hopefully his running mate will too, and they shouldn't be afraid to use it to win this election.

[ Parent ]
Aha. Yes, I absolutely do think it matters. (4.00 / 1)
Press doesn't come in two flavors: good and bad.  There are HUGE differences in degree in how the press treats candidates.  Yes, Obama has been given some rough weeks in the press.  Three or four of them, maybe.  But if you think they're currently being as hard on him as they possibly could be, then, um, I disagree.  

If you think they were as hard on John Kerry as they could possibly have been, I disagree there too.  They were harder on him than they would have been on the same man in 2008, because in 2004 Dems weren't quite "supposed" to win yet, while in 2008 we are absolutely "supposed" to win.  (He also made some unforced errors, and had a somewhat more demagogue-able personality than most.)  But while they were a little hard on Kerry, they still could have been much harsher if they had wanted to be.

Howard Dean got some harsh media treatment at the end.  

John Edwards got some harsh media treatment in 2007 (but not 2003).

George Bush stopped getting softball treatment after Katrina.  I still wouldn't call it harsh, but it's not totally in the tank for him anymore.

Giuliani was disappeared from the press as an act of mercy, in order to avoid having to disembowel him on the public stage after Kerik was indicted.

Gore, and Kerry, and Hillary08, and Obama, and Romney have all gotten the standard negative press coverage that politicians usually get.  McCain and Bush2000 each got a pass on the normal negative coverage, and until he became frontrunner Obama did too.

But that's not the same as the all-out war that the press is able to launch.  It seldom really needs to, as not many people ever 1) get into a position where the press would need to attack them, and then 2) act in a way to provoke such an attack.  Edwards and even Giuliani were just disappeared out of existence; Dean was swiftly destroyed.  But I'm pretty sure that if Obama substituted a left-wing position on trade for the one he's previously articulated, the attack from the ruling class, through the press, would be pretty severe.  I don't think he'd be able to withstand it and still win, though I could be wrong about that, and a whole lot would depend on the details.  But at any rate I think there'd be a clear and present danger from establishment backlash with that strategy.  

In short, "to heck with the media, and the donor base" is a strategy I'm totally unable to endorse (although, "even factoring in the media, I think we can win it" would be fine.)

[ Parent ]
Gimme a Break (0.00 / 0)
Kerry didn't receive the harshest treatment? Really? Giving a pack of pathological liars (the Swifties), even though they didn't have a shred of credible evidence, a nightly platform on cable news to throw their dung at a decorated veteran wasn't unusually harsh treatment? Did you and I live through the same 2004? Michelle Malkin on Hardball claiming John Kerry deliberately shot himself? Bob Dole on Larry King flagellating that Kerry didn't deserve one of his purple hearts if the wound came from blowback shrapnel?

I respectfully disagree. The slime came out hard and fast against Kerry and the slime's coming out no matter what Obama does. Anybody with a (D) beside their name is going to have to deal with, and adopting conservative positions on a handful of positions like trade doesn't magically make the slime go away. Kerry is living proof of it.

But I'm pretty sure that if Obama substituted a left-wing position on trade for the one he's previously articulated, the attack from the ruling class, through the press, would be pretty severe.

I also have to say, this borders on tin foil hat stuff. Just saying.

[ Parent ]
Alright, you say tin foil, (0.00 / 0)
but I say that thinking you can adopt and run on issues with no thought to the opinions and reactions of the press and the donor class is delusional.  That's not the world we live in, I say.

And John Edwards is living proof of that.

[ Parent ]
Re: Edwards (0.00 / 0)
Or perhaps, instead of being the victim of a dark conspiracy between rich globalists and the media conglomerates they own, Edwards was just a victim of the fact he was running against not one but two of the biggest political superstars of our time who sucked all the oxygen out of the room? Maybe the press, for less than nefarious purposes, prefers the drama of a one-on-one horserace to a three headed cluster because it makes for better "infotainment?"

There's plenty of plausible explanations for the failure of Edwards to gain media traction that don't involve a sinister alliance of fat, rich, corporatists in their evil fat, rich, corporstist lair.

Which is why when you talk about it in absolute terms, it sounds a bit tin foil to me.

[ Parent ]
Yep (0.00 / 0)
Obama already said he doesn't need shoring up on National Security since he lived in Indonesia as a boy.


[ Parent ]
Howard Dean (4.00 / 1)
Why not? Great progressive credentials, has proven leadership skills and is able to cut through a lot of bullshit with concise answers to questions.

The notion that we need another veteran or retired military officer on a Democratic ticket is misguided at best. John Kerry had the resume, but he was a mediocre campaigner.

Maybe its time to be liberals again? Its not a bad word and the message is as strong as ever. The American people know they've been had by these conservative thugs in the Administration and need to hear a good strong argument for why the Democrats should have their hands on the wheel that steers the ship of state. Howard Dean in the #2 spot would be a strong signal that being forthright and talking to voters like adults is going to be a priority.  Wouldn't a candidate with a reputation for straight talk, like Howard Dean, confirm Obama's message of change?  

I agree completely. (0.00 / 0)
He would be a good reinforcing choice, and his time at the DNC has allowed him to build some excellent establishment ties as well.

The media mostly hates him though, and he's still blamed for a "lack of leadership" for the Michigan and Florida problems.

It's bullshit, but the spin on it is so pervasive that it's become conventional wisdom, even over people that should know better.

Dean should be in the cabinet, but I can't see him being offered VP.

I would be STOKED, if he was though.

[ Parent ]
Don't even say that. (0.00 / 0)
Too cruel, raising my hopes.

You don't get much more reinforcing, far as anti-Iraq and 50-states, too. Or, really, outsider cred despite being, y'know, DNC.

I swoon. I'm pretty sure people would say, 'Oh, he's been painted as too liberal (which, of course, no other VP choice would have to face ...) and let's be honest: he screamed!'

But can you imagine all the 'Told You So!' YouTube ads? Talk about good judgment.  

[ Parent ]
Where is Phil Ochs when you need him? (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
Webb, Clark, Clinton, etc. (4.00 / 2)
In this year of change, is it possible that maybe the Democratic VP could be someone other than a member of the DLC?  

Lets not forget that the DLC members and Blue Dogs made the rush to war in Iraq possible, and they have helped to keep the war going despite the promise to end the war.  It was also these same individuals who made impeachment impossible, and have fought the idea of investigations of the Bush administration.

For more than a decade, Democrats have offered DLC tickets of Clinton/Gore, Gore/Lieberman, and Kerry/Edwards.  Progressives and Liberals have waited far too long and worked too hard to settle for less.  This is our turn, it's our time.  No more DLC candidates!  Think Progressive.  Think Change.


Agree (0.00 / 0)
In my opinion, the outstanding candidate for vice-president is Russ Feingold.

[ Parent ]
Kerry/Edwards (0.00 / 0)
How was Kerry/Edwards a DLC ticket?

The truth about Saxby Chambliss

[ Parent ]
New Democrat Movement (0.00 / 0)
Since coming to power within the Democratic Party with Bill Clinton's presidency, the New Democrats/DLC have worked towards "essentially the same purpose as the Christian Coalition... to pull a broad political party dramatically to the right" according to John Nichols of The Progressive.

The New Democrat Movement is sometimes referred to as the Dixiecrat movement due to the DLC's origination in the southern states, their desire to get rid of affirmative action, and their membership's overwhelming whiteness.

Check out the membership list, which includes Kerry and Edwards.

[ Parent ]
"the New Democrat Movement is sometimes referred to as the Dixiecrat movement"? (2.00 / 2)
I'm no longer convinced you have any idea what you're talking about.

I'm open to being proven wrong, but that's where I am at the moment.  Sorry.

[ Parent ]
Check out the link (0.00 / 0)
If you would have visted the link, you would have seen that the description is not mine, but rather that offered by NNDB.

[ Parent ]
Appeal to authority? (2.00 / 2)
If you're gonna do that, you need to choose better authorities than that NNDB thing.

1) why would I click on the link of someone who sounds like they don't know what they're talking about?  waste of my time.

2) when I did, I was proven right.  your link is to NNDB, which appears to be an amateurish version of wikipedia, in that the material is completely unsourced, it's not clear who wrote it, but I can submit my own comments to improve it.  It's a clever/gimmicky web project that hasn't actually worked yet.  (You can tell it hasn't worked because authorship is ambiguous.)

3) even if it were sourced, it'd still be wrong.  HavingASource doesn't make a claim right, unless you're on a high school C-X team.  The fact that it was someone else, rather than you, who conflated DLC and Dixiecrat in the first place is a) unsurprising, and b) has no bearing on whether that particular notion is bullshit.

4) and, that particular notion is bullshit.  To equate the DLC with seggies requires that you be either very very far left, or just clueless.  There's no evidence so far that you're the kind of studied radical leftist who might make that claim (and have a legitimate point in doing so).  There's certainly no evidence that NNDB has a radically leftist perspective.  Rather, both it, and you, just don't know what you're talking about.

And you're getting called out for it all up and down this thread.  People who don't know what they're talking about say dumb things, and people who are used to reading smart comments get irritated by dumb ones, especially when they're posing as and intermingled with smart ones.  That's why every comment but one that you've gotten here has been a challenging one.  Because dumb and wrong statements bug people.

[ Parent ]
Didn't Edwards ... (0.00 / 0)
leave the DLC .. because the causes he's taken up .. aren't anything a DLC'er would talk about .. and I have a hard time believeing Bob Graham is DLC .. he isn't a war monger

[ Parent ]
I'm quite sure he did (0.00 / 0)
But the question asked in this particular thread was whether Kerry/Edwards was a DLC ticket, so the question is not whether Edwards is best described as a DLCer now but rather whether Edwards was affiliated with the DLC in 2004. As far as I know during that period he was, although accounts seem to differ on whether he actually was ever formally a member.

[ Parent ]
What? (0.00 / 0)
So a third-party website makes a list of so-called "New Democrats" and you're saying that Kerry and Edwards were members of the DLC? Can you please explain that connection?

Or are you saying that Kerry/Edwards was a DLC ticket because they were both white and one of them was a Southerner?

The truth about Saxby Chambliss

[ Parent ]
Clark is not DLC (0.00 / 0)
The General is a true progressive. You should read up on his positions. You should also watch the Lieberman take down that Matt has in his post.

[ Parent ]
Jim Webb: DLC Dem of the Week (0.00 / 0)
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure that means anything (4.00 / 1)
The DLC honoring Jim Webb as "new dem of the week" does not necessarily tell us that Jim Webb endorses or is a member of the DLC-- that's something the DLC, not Jim Webb, did (on their website, no less).

It doesn't even appear to be the case that someone the DLC gives this "new dem of the week" thing to is necessarily a New Democrat; the Wikipedia page for the New Democratic Coalition does not currently list Jim Webb as a member.

(A separate wikipedia page for "New Democrats", incidentally, has a curious section labeled "New Democratic Governors", under which they list a full 14 of the 28 currently serving Democratic governors-- including Rendell, Richardson, Sebelius, and Napolitano. It is not clear if this is any kind of formal designation, like the Congressional NDC is, or even what Wikipedia's source for this list is.)

Basically, it wouldn't surprise me to see the DLC trying to present the impression that they are close to popular Democrats who don't in fact specifically have anything to do with them. Remember, in 2003 the DLC put Barack Obama in their member directory without asking his permission, until he found out and asked to be removed.

[ Parent ]
Obama doesn't deserve Clark, the country does (2.00 / 2)
Clark brought me into politics as well- aside from not getting votes counted in 2000, a sad attack on democracy now comfortably advocated by... Democrats.

What a ridiculous mismatch- the ultimate pretender empty suit & one of the most brilliant men our country has ever produced.

Something erm wrong with Barack's national security creds- like, oops, he doesn't have any?


Not reasonable (0.00 / 0)
I don't think the General would agree with your vitriol. I speak as a member of his staff for almost 5 years.

[ Parent ]
Et tu, Brute? (0.00 / 0)
My gawd, Larry.

I'm shocked.

[ Parent ]
does he have to agree with me? (0.00 / 0)
Right, and I've been blogging there nearly the whole time as well. If not mistaken I sat behind you at the Hillary event at YearlyKos 2.

I get to have an opinion, Larry & this isn't CCN.

If you are with the new thought police that's wonderful for you- congrats.  

[ Parent ]
Opinions (0.00 / 0)
Never said you can't have your own opinion.  

[ Parent ]
The General appreciates respectful behavior (0.00 / 0)
I would say that is true.

[ Parent ]
I don't agree (0.00 / 0)
But don't think this deserves a troll rating, either.

[ Parent ]
Wes Clark and Act Blue (0.00 / 0)
Clark has a page up for Stop the Swiftboating, an attempt to raise funds for candidates who are military veterans.

If we've been reading Open Left, we all know who Leonard Boswell is.  What about the rest?  Who can tell me about Patrick Murphy, Eric Massa, and Charlie Brown?

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both

Yes Please (4.00 / 1)
VP Clark? Hell yeah.

As for Eric Massa, he's amazing. Some info -
- Split with Republicans over Iraq war
- Was Wes Clark's navy liason when Wes was head of NATO
- No money from corporate PAC's
- Full of energy - "fire in the belly"
- Runs on Universal, Affordable healthcare.
- DFA, local bloggers love him.

Fun outline of eric -

I blog on

[ Parent ]
Are you serious? (0.00 / 0)
All 3 ran in 2006 and got extensive coverage here and at Kos.  So much so that some of us tired just a bit of the "fighting Dems" theme.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
no, i'm not serious (0.00 / 0)
Just giving an opening to diversify the conversation.

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both

[ Parent ]
You fooled me too. (0.00 / 0)
I almost posted the "gee Anthony, I didn't realize you weren't online yet in 2006" comment, and then opted not to.  So, um, I think this particular attempt at opening the conversation confused more people than it stimulated.  Oh well.  It's a worthy cause at any rate (diversifying the conversation, specifically onto Congress).

[ Parent ]
I would absolutely put Clark on the shortlist. (0.00 / 0)
When the Clinton campaign started to get really divisive, he concentrated his work on electing downticket democrats and helping out with votevets and such.

He was one of Kerry's stronger surrogates in 2004 (and should have been VP then), and would be a hell of a Vice President.

I'd absolutely have him on the list, certainly over... Chuck Hagel or Michael Bloomberg or the non-Democrats constantly floated by the MSM.

Chief Of Staff??? (4.00 / 1)
I agree that Clark deserves a high post in the Administration, and the nation would be blessed to have him.  But I note concerns about his debating ability, and of course, picking him goes directly against Chris's logic regarding reinforcing candidates.

SecDef would be a logical place for him, and I would be happy with it.  But he could probably do even more good as chief of staff.

One thing's for certain, though. It really is fun thinking about which high government post Calrk should have.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

Reinforcing (0.00 / 0)
For reasons I stated above, I actually do think Clark would be reinforcing.  However, I'll completely concede that others might not see it that way and perception is all that counts on this matter.

The military is so broken right now we seriously need someone like Clark to clean it up, so I'd actually prefer Secretary of Defense to all these posts, but he has to wait a couple more years.  I think he could achieve the same result as VP, though.  Heck, if Cheney can break the military from the VP position, I can't see why Clark can't fix it from there.

[ Parent ]
I've been wondering about Clark as VP lately (4.00 / 1)
but haven't really had time to think seriously about it.  I'm glad Matt did most of the thinking for me, and I agree with most if not all of his arguments.

I don't think Clark's a bad debater, though certainly not the greatest and good enough for the VP slot, especially given how much he knows and how smart and credible he is.

My sense of his 04 primary bid was that he's not that good at giving a prepared speech, but is very good one-on-one, in Q&As and townhall meetings (I watched a lot of his on C-SPAN in 04), when talking off top of his head, and also pretty (sometimes damn) good as a talking head on TV (I still fondly recall him taking down a few Fox hosts when they tried to bully him).

I also think his weaknesses as a campaigner are not a real problem as VP, since Obama will be carrying the primary burden as the presidential candidate and doesn't necessarily need another super high-wattage candidate to join him (Clark does, however, have significant charisma, though its not always on display).

I think the same thing applies to the attacks made on him by others in the military establishment during 04.  He handled them pretty well and I don't see them hurting the ticket at all the second time around and with him as the VP, not at the top of the ticket.

I also agree with the comments that the initial value is that Clark's a loyal Clintonista and, as Matt notes, one that is also genuinely progressive on most issues, as well as a pretty loyal and genuine friend of the blogosphere.  The fact that he's got (in my view) a ton more credibility than McCain on national security (not to mention his "won a multinational war without casualties," "war is only a last, last resort" and "REALLY support the vets" credibility) won't hurt either.  

As VP, the fact that he let himself get snookered by reporters about the decision to go into Iraq shouldn't be a problem, though it was in 04, when it tripped up his late-starting campaign from its inception.

I also agree that his "Clinton should take it to the convention" comments were disappointing, but understandable under the circumstances, and certainly nothing to hold a grudge about (in fact, letting go of these grudges is very much part of what both sides of the primary fight now need to do).

I also like the idea of Clark traveling the world and meeting with world leaders as VP.  My understanding is that he can't be SecDef at least until 2010 or something like that, based on when he left the military.  Paul's suggestion of Chief of Staff is also intriguing, but I'd have to put him high on my VP preference list, especially after reading Matt's post.

One question is whether he'd want it, and whether Obama offering it to him would be seen as a sufficient move toward unity with the Clinton camp.  I'd like to think so though, as Matt notes, he's a male, and a "male military guy" to boot (though, to my knowledge, carries none of Webb's baggage re: sexism), so might not be seen as satisfactory to those who support Hillary in large part based on a strong gender identity.  But the fact that he was a very loyal Clinton supporter till the end can only help.

Since 04 (though not so much in this primary) I've seen Clark as a party uniter, since his background is anchored in the military establishment (though he sometimes rocked the boat), but he's also been strong on Iraq, vets, Lamont, and a genuine friend of the progressive blogosphere and a relatively selfless and active supporter of Democratic candidates.

And Clark's wife (I think her name is Gert) also seems like a smart and very likeable lady and, as I recall, a pretty damn good campaigner.  I remember seeing her speak a few times and was very impressed.  Like the Obamas, the Clarks spent a lot of their career working hard together in public service and not making much money.  If they can gel as a team on that level of GENUINE "non-elitism", it could help draw the contrast with the history of McCain's career and marriages.  One of my favorite elements of Clark's O4 campaign would be when he and Gert talked about what it was like to be responsible for the health, education and overall welfare of military families.  It actually did a lot to soften my own ingrained resistance to the military, and also gave me a sense of how his military experience was relevant to domestic as well as international issues.

Thanks for the post Matt.  It helped clarify my own still-fuzzy thinking. As an enthusiastic Clark supporter in 04 and one who has appreciated the arc of his political journey since then, I agree that:

We helped push him into the race, and it would be an amazing outcome if the progressive movement could have some real role in putting one of our own into one of the top slots in our government.  

And Arkansas Would Be A Great Pickup... (4.00 / 2)
Everyone else has covered the ground I would have but as a darn strong fairly early Clark supporter in 2003 and same for Obama in 2007, Clark is my number 1 choice for number 2.  In the coming weeks I will do more to make that case to fellow Obama supporters -- some of whom are only looking at this from the perspective of recent history.  Stoller hits the nail on the head again.

You need military to take on the military-industrial complex (0.00 / 0)
That is what Eisenhower showed.  The MIL would have bankrupted the country in the 50s if Eisenhower hadn't told the generals and admirals to f*** off with their requests for tanks and aircraft carriers.  The whole idea of strategic nuclear defense was to avoid a bloated conventional military that would have gobbled up the rest of the budget.

Then Reagan and Weinberger came along....

There is a very important point that I haven't seen anyone else make: The federal bureaucracy is now riddled with Bush dead-enders who will do anything they can to sabotage an Obama administration, ham-stringing it until Jeb runs in 2012.  You need someone with experience running a huge bureaucracy (and Kansas ain't it!) to go in and tear out the Bushie infestation root and branch.  The genius of the Bush administration has been Cheney's running of the bureaucracy in the background.  I have to say, Obama needs his own Cheney running things in the background.  A degree in law (or running a small state government) does not qualify you to run one of the largest bureaucracies in the world.  Just ask Bill Clinton.

Other things Clark brings to the table: his commitment to universal healthcare (based on his experience in the military) and to rooting out the corruption of the Bush-Cheney years (the thing about Obama I most worry about).

Who cares about Clark's campaigning skills?  Does anyone seriously think that VP debates make an iota of difference in a presidential campaign?

As for the Clinton supporters disappointed that we will not after all have our first female President, I've said before, the natural balm to salve that wound also makes sense on many pragmatic levels: make Hillary the Senate Majority Leader, it is a role in which she would excel, especially in what may be a historic Senate.

Clark and campaigning (0.00 / 0)
I know what the MSM narrative about Gen. Clark on the stump is. I don't think it's fair. He moves numbers. Ask the Hillary  people. Ask Jim Webb, Jon Tester or the DCCC. The final weekend of the 2006 elections, the DCCC sent General Clark to some of the toughest districts. He went to help Wulsin, Yarmuth, Gillibrand, Massa, and Maffei (I think, not sure if he got there). Those are really tough disticts where all the votes were close. I have no idea what's going on with the VP thing. I do know that Wes Clark is going to be making a difference this fall hitting the campaign trail for Democrats and it's way more than his first name being "general."

[ Parent ]
Matt, let me offer you some more reasons why (0.00 / 0)
pro-Obama people would want Wes.  I have thought about this quite a bit.

Some of us (like me) are angry at the Clintons over the war, and angry at the whole DLC wing of the party as well, and all the other elected figures who voted for the AUMF for tactical reasons.

We would like to destroy that whole wing of the party.  (Hang on...)  And the best way to do that would be to accept an ambitious member of the Clinton-friendly wing of the party as Obama's running-mate.

Why is that?

Any hopes that Hillary and her campaign aides may be pinning on 2012 evaporate if there is an ambitious and more deserving member of the same team who would be ready to run against her in 2012 or 2016.  By prepping an alternate heir to the Clinton legacy who is NOT Hillary Clinton, and one who is ambitious enough to not graciously step aside for her in a future race, the whole Clinton faction of party insiders becomes divided.  

There are a number of people that could fit this bill,  Richardson or Schumer, for instance.  But Wesley Clark has already run before and has his own ambitions, and he has a clearer head when it comes to doing the right thing about the use of American military power.  

I did NOT like his defense of Hillary's Kyl-Lieberman vote, but I can try to rationalize that to myself as a necessary political move on his part to mollify the Clintons.  He showed, however, that he had scruples that some of our other elected leaders don't have when he came out against the war early on.  Overall, if we want to choose from within the Clinton faction, but not Hillary herself, Wesley Clark would be the most palatable and make for the best intra-party political strategy.

Two cents worth (0.00 / 0)
Just read through the entire comment list and wanted to add my two cents:

1.  I think many of Clark's military critics now have their own credibility problems.  In any event, given the massive Bush military crisis, many of the criticisms of Clark (e.g., he had an ego and was convinced he was right) strike me as comparatively insignificant, even if true.  

2.  I find Clark very persuasive, but anecdotally others I am close to do not.  I'm interested in the fact that he has accumulated so much town hall experience, since practice does tend to improve one's communication skills.

3.  I was a big fan until he chose to join Fox News and, to a lesser extent, when he endorsed Clinton.  I can understand that he felt loyal to the Clintons, but I still find his "endorsement" of Fox News pretty hard to swallow.

Addendum (4.00 / 1)
The Taylor and Dumbo comments were posted after I finished.  I find both arguments and analyses very persuasive.

[ Parent ]
Although I'm glad Obama won, the GE race is NOT a given (0.00 / 0)
Otherwise, if this election were presumed more-than-likely won, why campaign?   We all intuitively know that this race is not a given for Obama and the DEMs, even against McBush.

Again, I'm glad that Obama is the our nominee, but I'm NOT at all convinced that an Obama/OtherThanClark ticket can and will clinch the GEs.  The DEM ticket demands the strongest possible NS/FP creds, as well.

In fact, this is something that the Dem Party can and must finally take away from the GOPs, once-and-for-all. Here, there is clear political strategic importance.

In my strongest view, Obama better not take any chances; .. esp given the possibility for a worse case scenario by which AQ attacks again or should the Iraq/ME crisis worsen prior to the GE's.  And if there's any ties link to Iran, trumped or not by the neocons or GOPs, ...then we're lost on a "weak ticket".  Regardless of our optimism for November, Security trumps hope, imo.  

I am 'hopeful', but the realist in me says never take anything for granted.

Lastly, the VP nominee is as important as the Presidential nominee in this race.  I'm strong on this conviction. BO can't do it alone, clearly.  Given the enormity of the problems that they'll both have to face from the chaos and consequences of Bush's policy blunders and failings, the discussion on the Presidential/VP ticket must not be marginalized at all by the Dem Party.

There's no doubt in my mind that our nation and for that matter world civilizations face its most serious challenges ever; and these challenges will persist for at least the next 2 generations or more.  This is NOT fear-mongering, we're witnessing how it's ALL tragically been unfolding NOW.

Therefore, I can 'hope' that I'm proven wrong and that Dems will track onto a better course for the country; but I'll work, act and react to the best of my ability to make sure that real change is matched with real solutions from our elected leaders, particularly.

Ethics optional? (0.00 / 0)
A VP should have some ethics, and even if one wants to make excuses for Clark given his subservient position in the 90's to President Clinton, I haven't noticed Clark expressing any regrets for what happened then, or since, in that part of the world. Am I missing something? Or is a narco-state, complete with a history of ethnic cleansing (200,000-250,000 Serbs expelled, thanks to the KLA), human trafficking, and ties to Al-Queda, really something he's proud of? Never mind any respect for (international) rule of law, such as the UN Charter, or the Westphalian order ( http://www.chroniclesmagazine.... ).

Why worry about such trivialities when oil pipelines under western control are safe and sound? From

PEPE ESCOBAR, TRNN ANALYST: There's a myth being spun all over the US and around the wealthy parts of the European Union-France, Britain, and Germany-that the independence of Kosovo is a great accomplishment, is a victory for democracy, and a successful accomplishment of US foreign policy, these in the words of Senator Hillary Clinton. Well, that's not exactly the case, but it may be the case depending if you come from a completely different perspective. Lots of people all over the world, in different parts of the world, are asking themselves, "Okay, if Kosovo can do it, why not us?" I'll give you a very, very short list that includes Flanders in Belgium, Northern Cyprus, the Serbian Republic of Bosnia, the Basque country in Spain, Gibraltar, Indian Kashmir, Tibet, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which are both in Georgia and they're both Russian-friendly, and Kurdistan. Why they can't do it? It's very simple: because the whole soap opera involving the unilateral and illegal independence of Kosovo, immediately applauded by the US and by the three European Union giants, is directly related to two key things: oil and the expansion or the worldwide empire of US military bases. This means in detail the AMBO oil pipeline and Camp Bondsteel. They are totally interrelated. The AMBO pipeline (Albania, Macedonia, Bulgarian Oil), which is an entity registered in the US, a pipeline that is worth $1.1 billion since 1995, actually, this whole thing started, like, 13 years ago with a feasibility study for a very important pipeline in the Balkans. This was four years before the 78-day, illegal, unilateral bombing of Yugoslavia by NATO but basically orchestrated by the Clinton administration. This feasibility study--And then there was another feasibility study conducted in '99-- itself was by a British subsidiary of Halliburton. This is when Dick Cheney was the CEO of Halliburton. Camp Bondsteel is also directly related to AMBO pipeline, because Camp Bondsteel was built by KBR, which is an Halliburton company as well. It's the biggest US military base built since the Vietnam War. In fact, military types always are joking that there are only two man-made structures that can be visible from the moon: Great Wall of China and Camp Bondsteel. The AMBO oil pipeline essentially having to go through Kosovo and Macedonia, this implied that the US or at least NATO had to control that area. So this was one of the main objectives for the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia.

In sum, I'm not impressed with "liberals" or "progressives" who have no problem killing foreigners and helping appropriate and/or control their resources for the benefit of American geopolitical and business interests, regardless of their position on domestic issues. Don't foreigners have a right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness", also?

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa

Too bad Clark's not female (0.00 / 0)
Clark looks good, but what if McCain gets an attack of political astuteness and picks a woman as his VP?  Obama will, I think, then wish he had done the same.

Absolutely right. (0.00 / 0)
Clark is the perfect choice.  I'm hopeful he's at the top of the list when Kennedy, Johnson, and Holder whittle down the list.

It's never too late to take a stand after it's too late. ~~Stephen Colbert


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