Former Four Star NATO Commanders Grow on Trees

by: Matt Stoller

Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 15:19

Raising Kaine first reported that Wes Clark won't be at the Democratic National Convention.  Steve Clemons is now reporting that Clark was actually actually disinvited.

Clark was informed by Barack Obama's people that there was "no reason to come."

General Clark has been given no role of any kind at the convention.

Rubbing salt in the wound even more, the "theme" of Wednesday's Democratic convention agenda is "Securing America."

And there we go.  I heard this situation went down slightly differently than how Steve reports, though the outcome was the same.

Meanwhile, here's Clark making sense of the Georgia-Russia situation.  Clearly, we'd rather hear about how to handle this delicate military tussle from Evan Bayh and Ken Salazar.  I do want to point out how deeply we respect John McCain's service to his country, though of course, Wes Clark's 34 years in the military and near fatal wounds in Vietnam are kind of yawners.

Incidentally, I could see this situation with Clark changing, as the Georgia-Russia conflict does change the political dynamics.

... There's some discussion as to whether this was some sort official 'disinvitation'.  In general, such things do not exist, disinvitations happen when high level officials are told they have no role in an event.  The message is pretty clear.  Nevertheless if you want to believe that this is simply a veto of Clark having a role at the convention and him then choosing not to come, that's an accurate characterization as well.

Matt Stoller :: Former Four Star NATO Commanders Grow on Trees

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Disturbing (4.00 / 5)
It's troubling to think the depth of Obama's capitulation to the bs that came from all quarters after Clark's correct assessment (following Bob Schieffer) of McCain's qualifications to be president.  

So is this Obama's fault or his handlers (4.00 / 2)
If this is going down then I have lost respect for Obama, the people around him, Howard Dean for not speaking out, and all the rest of them. Fug  em as Norman Mailer would say. I will not knock on doors for Obama or actively support him but I will vote for him. No more Obama meetings for me. He's not worth it. Charming, intelligent but I have known a lot like him with not much more substance than he is showing.

I wish I had supported Hillary now.

But hasn't (4.00 / 2)
Hillary been equally annoying in her own way recently?

[ Parent ]
the buck stops with Obama (4.00 / 2)

[ Parent ]
Depressing news of the day. (4.00 / 3)
It does reduce my enthusiasm for Obama. What and who else will be sacrificed in his obsessive drive for the perceived center?

"Clark was actually actually disinvited' (4.00 / 5)
If that's true, that's simply scandalous.
And this won't be positively received by the Clinton supporters.
Is Clark's attack on McCain the reason?
Many think that more of this is needed, not less.
Or is it simply because he was in the Clinton camp?
This certainly isn't the kind of unity that's essential for winning.
No matter what the real reason, not wanting the most qualified Dem military expert at a convention named "Securing America" is dumb. Scandalously dumb.

What's this guys source for "disinvited"? (4.00 / 4)
What's this guys source? I'm sorry, but we some journalistic standards around here. Just because this guy heard a rumor, doesn't make it a fact. I think it's safe to assume he won't be speaking, but the "why" is still up in the air. But, of course, cue for everyone to make assumptions and freak out...

... (4.00 / 2)
It seems that Clark was told that he would be given a speaking role, and he decided from that not to attend. 'Disinvited' implies that he was actually invited to give a speech in the first place. I've seen no evidence that this was the case.

[ Parent ]
Big Difference Between "Disinvited" and "Not Invited." (4.00 / 1)
Either way, Clark will not be there.  Isn't that the important point?

[ Parent ]
"this guy"??? (0.00 / 0)
We aren't talking about some guy here, we're talking about Steve Clemons. Maybe you don't know him, or think he's just another blogger, but actually he's a very well connceted DC insider, and he isn't known for spreading false rumours. If he says Clark was disinvited, there's a high probability that this is true.

[ Parent ]
He didn't say that (4.00 / 2)
the word "disinvited" nowhere appears in that article - that's Matt's unsupported gloss on the article.

[ Parent ]
Ok, that's a point (4.00 / 1)
Even though not offering the most qualified Dem military expert, a former presidential candidate with a lot of support, any role at the convention is very close to disinviting him.

[ Parent ]
"no reason to come" (0.00 / 0)
If what Clemons reported is accurate (and I have no idea whether it is) -- that Clark was specifically told that there was "no reason to come" -- I would consider that a disinvitation, not in the sense of uninviting somebody who had previously been invited, but in the sense of making it very obvious you did not want someone there.  For someone of Clark's caliber, I would assume he would be told by the Obama campaign that they would be absolutely delighted and thrilled for him to come, and that they are counting on his active support at the convention and beyond.

[ Parent ]
Or... (0.00 / 0)
It's common knowledge that he is scheduled to be in Milan during some of that period.  "No reason to come" could mean that there would be no special reason for him to change his plans and return.  I prefer not to speculate when there are so few facts available, but I realize that that's par for the course.

[ Parent ]
Pls show me a single incident where Clemons lied (4.00 / 1)
You may not like his centrist views, you may think others deliberately feed him rumous, but when he says that several staff members of General Clark all tell the same story, that the Obama camp said there "is no reason to come", then it is highly probabable that this is what was said. Check his more detailed account in the comments:

"The background of this story is that I am organizing a Middle East policy event in Denver during the Democratic convention. I am doing the same at the Republican convention.

General Clark is one of those I had invited. My staff followed up with his office, and he was told that General Clark would not be going to the convention. After a bit of surprise and further discussion, my staff member sent me a note stating that Clark had been told that there was "no reason to come."

I was surprised by this and then called Clark's office and spoke with multiple people. I received the same message that my staff member did.

Essentially, the Obama team have not asked Wesley Clark to play any role at the convention. There has been very little contact between the Clark office and the Obama campaign since Clark's comments about McCain's lack of command experience on a TV show that the Obama campaign asked Clark to appear in at the last minutes.

Thus, Clark has decided that since he has not been asked to play any role at all on any of the days of the convention, he has better ways to spend his time. I think he has maintained a positive, pro-Obama demeanor through all of this -- but in my own view, Clark should appear in some role at the Convention and he does matter to many Dems.

I have no idea if the Obama team is throwing Clark under a bus -- or is just accidentally neglectful.

What I know for a fact is that Clark has not been asked to play a role at the convention. If there is nothing for him to do there, then there is no reason to go. The Obama team did not explicitly tell Clark not to attend the convention -- they just have given him no role."

See? "no reason to come". Well, if there's an event, and you call the organizers to hear if you can do something, and you get THIS answer, it's pretty damn clear they don't want you there.  

[ Parent ]
What's your definition of "disinvited"? (4.00 / 3)
The story that is cited does not say anything about disinviting him; it said that he was not offered a role at the convention.  This seems more than a little misleading.

I Don't Exactly Tend To Trust "The Note" (4.00 / 3)
"Trust, but verify," as Gorby famously said.  That's my attitude towards things read first on "The Note."

Only without the "trust" part.

It is a gossip center, and gossip be like that.

"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

"Gossip center"? (0.00 / 0)
The Washington Note? Well, that's not my impression. Imho you're doing Clemons wrong.

[ Parent ]
He's Well Connected, Which Means He Gets Used (4.00 / 3)
I'm not one who cares about the minute-by-minute on most matters, so I generally wait till things are well and openly sourced.  This may skew my perception of how often he's been wrong, but it's precisely these sorts of situations where it matters most.

I don't mind gossip.  I just have "other priorities", if you know what I mean.

"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 ]
Not ABC News' "The Note." (4.00 / 1)
With its gang of 500 obsession.

This is Steve Clemons's "The Washington Note".

Totally different ballgame.

[ Parent ]
Wasn't that Reagan, not Gorby? (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
and that's why i don't trust the Democratic party (4.00 / 1)
to be smart, to be principled, to win.

I think we can still win. But by God, we're gonna have to do a lot of heavy lifting to change discourse in this country and MAKE our Democratic president do many of the things he promised we'll do. We're a small group, but we're engaged, and we've already been instrumental in shifting the debate on a LOT of issues.

There may be stuff we don't know (0.00 / 0)
I am suspicious....I "love" Clark, am a big fan of his thinking (of course I really don't love any people I don't actually know) from what I know of him...but maybe he rubs people the wrong way on the inside.  There may be negative stuff about his personality that we don't know.  

Who knows.  I like Clemons, but he never gives inside skinny on personalities much; he doesn't pee on anyone.  He was reverential to McCain just a couple of years ago.

My point is, Clark really may not be good at playing inside politics as you must in any organization, and this is not a good thing. Or, we can hope (tho I doubt it) that this is one big fakeout.  

It's possible (4.00 / 2)
but to the point that he's shut out of the convention entirely?

John McCain opposes the GI Bill.

[ Parent ]
Red herring, or absolute stupidity? (4.00 / 4)
This makes ZERO sense, given Clark's popularity with the netroots and his expertise in military/foreign affairs.

This isn't the schoolyard. A candidate allowing grudges to escalate to this level within the party is almost unprecedented. There are many political rivals who hate each other's guts (Obama/H. Clinton, B. Clinton/Gore), but know better than to air that dirty laundry because it destroys unity. Clark would have great utility to any Dem administration. Obama and/or his handlers should be smarter than openly snub him in a manner that would be reported in the press...unless, perhaps, it is subterfuge

This smells like a red herring to me....

If it ain't, Obama has sold us a bill of goods to get the nomination.

When (4.00 / 3)
has Obama ever cared about the netroots?

John McCain opposes the GI Bill.

[ Parent ]
If this is true... (4.00 / 6)
This is one of the dumbest things I've ever heard.  Are Democrats really running around so scared with their heads cut off about Clark's comments that are not even controversial?

Maybe Clark said something terrible to Obama or something... because this is just too unbelievable to believe.

"A New Kind of Politics" (4.00 / 5)
Democrats taking up Republican talking points, running away from their activist base, and piling on when one of their own is attacked by the Republicans.

What's so new about this kind of politics, Barack?

[ Parent ]
"IF TRUE" = DUMB! (4.00 / 3)
That's what I keep coming back to. You first have to grant the possibility that it is a false report. But from there, if it's true that Clark is being pushed to the sidelines it's hard to come up with explanations that don't include some component of "dumb".

I first came to respect General Wesley Clark when he was doing military analysis on cable news. I thought then that he was one of the most persuasive and reasonable military analysts on television. He's gone to bat for Democratic politicians all over this country and is one of the Democratic Party's strongest advocates. Democratic leaders should be guarding his flank instead of cowering in their bunkers under the Republican assault on his character.

As I write this there's a John McCain commercial on that keeps being run with a similar frequency to Obama's Olympic commercial. Frankly, Obama's looks like every political commercial I've ever seen. He's promising "5 million jobs". I'd love to know the percentage of Americans that don't just snort when they hear a politician throw off a promise like that. It isn't credible and just encourages people to be skeptical about the other parts of his message.

McCain on the other hand doesn't promise anything specific but claims he's "The Original Maverick" and understands things are tough. Neither commercial is great but I'd give the edge to McCain here. It's possible that given the vast numbers of people watching the Olympics right now that the dualing Olympic commercials explain McCain's surge in the polls. Together with this report that Obama MAY have decided that Wesley Clark won't help him win I'm concerned the Obama campaign is not up to the task of winning the message wars that will determine the next President.

[ Parent ]
The answer (4.00 / 4)
Are Democrats really running around so scared with their heads cut off about Clark's comments that are not even controversial?


  This has been another edition of simple answers to simple questions.

  Be not afraid. By disinviting Clark, the Democrats look bold and resolute. Obama's poll numbers will soar now. They always do when he falls for Republican hissy fits.  

"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn

[ Parent ]
How Gullible are you guys? (4.00 / 1)
This is a head-fake.  He'll be at the convention...Wednesday night.

We shall see (4.00 / 1)
I think not.  I think the campaign wants to keep their distance from Clark as much as McCain wants distance from Bush.  Because the Village demands it.

[ Parent ]
Could you name (4.00 / 3)
the last head fake from Obama? Was it promising to filibuster FISA?

John McCain opposes the GI Bill.

[ Parent ]
Here's a neat diagram for one-track ninnies like you: (0.00 / 1)
Left : Fisa  :: Right : Rev. Wright

[ Parent ]
That's clever (4.00 / 1)
Name calling without any substance. You've completely turned me around on this.

I agree, Obama secretly agrees with all of us.

John McCain opposes the GI Bill.

[ Parent ]
Just to recap (4.00 / 10)
Obama has now cut out aggressive 527s, the netroots, and the best progressive/effective combo surrogate in the Democratic party while running full speed from progressive issues and refusing to substantively engage his opponent. Sure glad we were able to stop the DLC takeover of the party.

John McCain opposes the GI Bill.

Looks like the centrists hedged their bets wisely (4.00 / 7)
They didn't get their preferred candidate, Clinton, but got the next best thing (and possibly even better, since he's politically smarter and more effective). And I never bought into Edwards' alleged turn to the left. That was a pose, I always felt. Had he won, he would have run to the center like Clinton '95 and Dems '02.

Once again, we have a choice between a far right nutjob moron and a slick corporatist center-right "Dem". As the electorate shifts leftward, its establishment and their policies and leaders remain firmly entrenched within the center-right spectrum.

I think that anyone who still believes that he's a secret progressive who's had to do a head fake to the center out of political expediency is living in some serious denial bordering on delusion (a delusion that I foolishly held onto for a while, I will admit).

OK, he's not going to appoint judges who overturn Roe v. Wade or start WWIII (one hopes and assumes), but he ain't gonna be FDR II or even LBJ II. At best, he'll be Clinton II, preferably without the bimbo eruptions and paralyzing self-pity and indecisiveness.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
One thing wrong. (4.00 / 1)
LBJ and FDR were the models of corporatist center right dems.  

Clark is much more rightwing than most democrats so a shift away from clark is a shift to the left.  

The liberal wiki
Send an email to

[ Parent ]
Huh? (4.00 / 2)
Glass-Steagal, price and wage controls, and a massive growth in federal agencies, regulation and economic intervention under FDR, and Medicare and Medicaid under LBJ, were the model of corporatist center-right Dems? Perhaps Eugene Debs was too centrist for you too? I can only assume that you're referring to the massive growth of the M-I complex under both presidencies, the first unavoidable, the latter regretable.

But center-right corporatist Dems? Huh?

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
This is an interesting analysis (4.00 / 1)
In the past century, the vast majority of progressive gains have occurred under FDR and LBJ, but they're corporate centrists.

This sounds like a pretty compelling argument that corporate centrism is as far left as the country is capable of going, which is a disconcerting position to be throwing out here.

John McCain opposes the GI Bill.

[ Parent ]
at the very best, he'll have a failed presidency (4.00 / 3)
like Jimmy Carter's. At worst, he'll have a failed presidency more like Herbert Hoover's.

This country is going to fall apart not too long after Obama's inauguration, and the shitstorm he's going to face will be on the order of the Great Depression.

Just spending three trillion dollars on the war would be enough to cause this country to collapse, but Bush has fucked everything up: corporate deregulation, environmental devastation, eroding our remaining labor base and infrastructure, shredding the rule of law and the Constitution. The bottom's going to fall out, and soon.

What we're going to face next would try Washington, Lincoln, and FDR combined. And Obama shows little sign of being up to it. His "open-mindedness" and "post-partisanship" appears to be a rigid attachment to the kind of expansionist foreign policy and non-interventionist, free-market ideology that are the cause of this mess. That will hinder him from responding creatively to the crises we'll be facing.

[ Parent ]
I agree with you (0.00 / 0)
His shift is dooming his future. Which was pretty much doomed anyway. See this diary at kos.

[ Parent ]
Not quite, I think (0.00 / 0)
I think that Obama hasn't so much bought into the kinds of foreign policy and economic ideologies that you believe that he has, as he has realized that despite having been repeatedly proven to be idiotic disasters (for all but a few), they continue to be embraced by the establishment, and that the quickest path to ultimate power--and easiest way to avoid being taken down--is by associating himself with that establishment as their new golden boy. He's just prostituting himself to today's power elite and their preferred ideologies and policies. If FISA didn't prove that, then I don't know what could. Perhaps he truly believes in this stuff, but my gut feeling is that it's just a pose that's intended to ingratiate himself with the people who can most make or break his presidential bid. It's really irrelevant what he truly believes in--assuming that he believes in anything other than power. What's important is to realize that he wants to win and have power, and that his way of getting it is by taking the path of least resistance--offer himself up to the establishment as their ideal new representative.

I see no fight in him, no core set of principles that he's willing to go to the mat for. It's all about winning. Doesn't mean that he'll be a terrible president, just that he won't be the one that we want, and need, or anything like the guy who seemed to be running. What we're seeing isn't so much a transformation as an unmasking, and not of a committed neocon or neolib, but of a committed megalomaniac with no strong set of core beliefs, who just wants to win and have power (and, I suppose, be loved and worshipped by millions--what the hell was that Berlin rally all about if not that--something scary about this guy).

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
Wasn't that (0.00 / 0)
the complain about Clinton?

Maybe they're all like that?  

[ Parent ]
Eventually, it was (0.00 / 0)
But I disagree that they're all like that. Perhaps among those who can actually win the presidency, in recent years at least, given the role that an inherently dishonest media plays in it, they are. But not all pols are like that, IMO. I don't see folks like Wellstone, Feingold, Sanders or Boxer as being like that.

Perhaps we need a Jewish president, then--so long as he's not from CT? ;-)

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
I think Jane .. (4.00 / 3)
at FDL .. or maybe Chris or Matt .. mentioned that Obama admitted it was a mistake to cut out the 527's ... geez!!  who could have seen that coming .. considering what has happened the past few weeks

[ Parent ]
Turns out (4.00 / 1)
politics is ugly. who knew?

John McCain opposes the GI Bill.

[ Parent ]
Do not worry (4.00 / 2)

 Victory is guaranteed with Obama doing all that.

 It always works. The Democrats never, ever lose when they run as Republican-lites.


"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn

[ Parent ]
Totally agree (0.00 / 0)
2002 was obviously a blowout year for GOP Lite DINO's.

(And yes I know that you were snarking, as am I.)

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
Every Presidential (4.00 / 6)
Every presidential election it's the same damn thing--important Democratic assets are put on the sideline.  They aren't allowed into the game by the Democratic candidate.  Republicans do not do this.  They throw everything they got, usually at the Democratic candidate.  Republicans win presidential elections and Democrats lose them.  Same play book, every time.  It is frustrating.

Wes Clark group on my Obama site (4.00 / 1)
I decided that whether or not this is true, I started  Wes Clark needs a role group on my Obama site:-)

The site sent me an email: "Your group is pending a site administrator's approval."

When approved - here it will be:

Agree? Then join....


[ Parent ]
Agreed (0.00 / 0)
But your group has not been approved yet.  It is over the weekend.  So, let's hope there's some positive action on Monday.

[ Parent ]
my obama/clark group idea (4.00 / 1)
So much for my idea - finally got an email this afternoon saying there was a similar group and they sent me the link - that group had a total of 46 people and seems to be all about how much money each had raised..

How that group is similar I have no idea - shall  I be paranoid and guess they did not want the idea of Clark discussed on the Obama site?  [snark snark]

BTW-  the link I posted now says invalid group!

C'est la vie for politics!


[ Parent ]
Well, Lynn, That's Just Crap (0.00 / 0)
Fight the power Lynn.

[ Parent ]
And every 4 years (0.00 / 0)
...Democratic primary voters vote for someone who claims that he'll be doing things "new" and "rise abouve partisan bickering."  And then they get shocked when the guy goes fetal and starts whimpering in the fall...

[ Parent ]
If it's negative news about Obama coming from Stoller (0.00 / 0)
I'll believe it when I see it.

If Obama chooses Bayh, then, yes, Stoller wins, Obama has triangulated and capitulated and every other ulated that you can toss out. If, however, Obama picks someone reasonably cool or better than I don't really give a crap what Stoller has to say.

Reading Stoller isn't much different than listening to my anti-Obama coworkers.

Wow (4.00 / 1)
you're so right. people who question leaders are in fact hoping for failure.

John McCain opposes the GI Bill.

[ Parent ]
Never said he was hoping for failure (0.00 / 0)
I'm saying I don't trust this info given his anti-Obama tendencies. Two entirely different things.

He can question our nominee all he wants but I'm not about to give an official Obamaskeptic a benefit of the doubt on every anti-Obama rumor.

[ Parent ]
Biden going to Georgia (0.00 / 0)
At least that's what Josh Marshall's Empire says.  VP or Sec of State?  Looks better for him.

The two things that Obama has always listed as his most important criteria for VP are someone he feels comfortable with and someone who vcan help him with governing.  There has never been any evidence I have seen that he and Clark are or ever were particularly close.  So that has always made him not likely in my book.  And he knows military anfd foreign affairs, but so does Biden, plus Biden knows domestic policy.  And he's a savvier attack dog.  I'm not crazy about the idea of a retired general in thre VP slot.  But if so, a more likely retired general for VP has always been Powell, really.

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

um (4.00 / 3)
And he knows military anfd foreign affairs, but so does Biden, plus Biden knows domestic policy.

Sure, because Clark opposed the war in Iraq while Biden supported it.  Same difference.


[ Parent ]
most voters don't care about the war vote (0.00 / 0)
They don't like the war now.  They don't care about who voted for what when; that's "netroots purity think."

So I think Biden does no harm on this front, unless polling exists somewhere to prove the contrary.

[ Parent ]
If we're only discussing this quantitatively (0.00 / 0)
Then McCain knows military, foreign and domestic affairs. But it might be good to have a qualitative analysis involved at some point.

John McCain opposes the GI Bill.

[ Parent ]
there are far more reliable indicators (0.00 / 0)
of how centrist and corporate-friendly Obama will govern than whether or not he affords Wes Clark a speaking slot at the national convention.

Like? (4.00 / 2)
He's been progressive lately on ___________ ?

John McCain opposes the GI Bill.

[ Parent ]
using massive turnout operations (0.00 / 0)
as much as i critique obama on policy, if they are doing this the right way, it will have good results at a grassroots level.  on the other hand, everything i've read from other commenters suggests that they're not and they're treating the local folks as basically massive volunteer canvassing efforts.  so maybe someone better informed can help out here.

[ Parent ]
Yawners (0.00 / 0)
Wes Clark's 34 years in the military and near fatal wounds in Vietnam are kind of yawners.

As was his winning the Yugoslavia war without losing a man.

Well.... (0.00 / 0)
I'm still hoping this is a ruse.   Bayh and Biden I guess could be rearranged.  Kaine is lowering expectations.  You never know, this could be an attempt to deceive the media and GOP.


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