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.
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.