Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Draft Clark?
The big question for months in Democratic circles has been whether retired General Wesley Clark, the former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, will seek the party's nomination for president. The Washington Monthly's Amy Sullivan makes a very persuasive case for Clark in the latest issue. Sullivan argues that deficits in fundraising, grassroots support, and national exposure are not too deep to overcome, even at this stage in the game. She also claims that the Democratic field has no clear frontrunner, and that the Dems might coalesce quickly around Clark should he declare.

This is all well and good, but doesn't explain why Clark got fired from the army after the Kosovo war, of which he was one of the chief architects. The General, who has gotten some much-deserved praise for basically predicting the post-war fiasco in Iraq, seemed to have miscalculated before the Kosovo conflict, believing that a brief display of air power would cow Milosevic immediately. Unfortunately, the war stretched on for months and caused a great deal of suffering, both for Serbs and for the hundreds of thousands of Kosovar refugees who took flight after the beginning of the campaign. While the conflict looks rosy in retrospect -- Milosevic is gone, Kosovo is peaceful if not stable -- critics would be well within their rights to question the conduct of the war itself. Clark also allegedly wanted to intercept Russian forces who occupied Kosovo's main airport in Pristina, in apparent defiance of NATO. Thankfully, he was overruled.

Beyond Clark's conduct of the war, I'm not convinced that Clark really has time to secure the nomination. And in light of recent polls, the idea that the Democrats have no frontrunner is also questionable. Dean leads in New Hampshire, according to Zogby, 38-17 over Kerry and company. 21 points! The New Republic may still be fawning over soon-to-be-goners Joe Lieberman and John Edwards, but Dean is now the man to beat. I still think Dean-Clark is the best choice. They would also be the first monosyllabic ticket since Bush-Quayle. Minor consideration? Perhaps.

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