How important is Wesley Clark to the Democratic cause? Consider that, in 2006, he was the single most requested surrogate by Democratic congressional campaigns around the country:
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.
No one in the entire country is more important to Democratic credibility on foreign policy than Wesley Clark. No one. And this isn't just my opinion, it is the opinion of Democratic congressional candidates who requested him.
There are those who think that Obama is being super secret strategic on this one, and playing both the McCain campaign and the media for a fiddle. However, if you really want to be strategic, you need to see the whole board. Going well beyond this media cycle, and even going beyond this presidential election, Republicans score a huge strategic victory if they are able to permanently damage the credibility of the leading Democratic spokesperson on national security.
Imagine if the top issue in the mind of the electorate was energy and global warming. Imagine if, as a result, Al Gore become the most requested surrogate in the country by Democratic congressional candidates. Then, imagine if the right-wing began attacking Gore in an unfair manner for a benign, true statement. And then, imagine if the Democratic nominee condemned Gore for that statement. Now, you tell me, would dumping Al Gore for the rest of the campaign season be strategic in that case?
Taking out the leading Democratic surrogate on national security would be a huge victory for Republicans. This news cycle will come and go with little impact on the campaign, but losing Wesley Clark as a credible, effective national spokesperson would be a big blow to our cause. So, even if Obama doesn't want to, step up today and defend Wesley Clark. We need to fill in where other Democrats fail.