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Candidate Wesley Clark

By Carol Devine-Molin
web posted September 22, 2003

Does this nation really need another power-hungry, double-talking Liberal from Little Rock, Arkansas, to run for President? Well, Hillary and Bill Clinton think so. Retired four-star General Wesley Clark has announced his White House bid with the full blessing of the Clinton couple. He now stands among a gaggle of Democratic presidential hopefuls that are vying for their party's nomination.

Wesley ClarkNever mind that former NATO Commander Wesley "The Weasel" Clark was fired only a few short years ago for unprofessional behavior. Reportedly, not only would Clark regularly "end-run" his superiors and go directly to President Clinton, but he was an awful micromanager as well. According to Jed Babbin of the American Spectator Online, "Clark and his wife are good friends with the Clintons, but that didn't save him from being fired from the SACEUR -- Supreme Allied Commander, Europe job. Clark was fired not by the Clintons, but by then Defense Secretary Bill Cohen. Clark got cross-wise with Cohen for routinely going to Clinton around both Cohen and then-Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Hugh Shelton". And it also irked Bill Cohen that Clark was a media hound that couldn't stay away from the cameras.

Have we seen the left-leaning media investigating General Clark's dismissal by the Secretary of Defense, which was obviously approved by former President Clinton? That's an important story. No, they're too busy fawning over Clark's candidacy. In fact, CNN provided Wesley Clark with a significant perch to launch his presidential bid by utilizing him as an on-air military commentator during this Iraq engagement. CNN was blatantly unprincipled since it knew darn well that Clark was considering a run for the oval office and had every reason to criticize President Bush and his approach to Iraq. That's fair and balanced? I think not! Lou Dobbs was the only CNN host that demonstrated moral fiber by refusing to interview Clark under these circumstances.

Sure, Wesley Clark is a brilliant man, who graduated first in his West Point class and moved on to become a Rhodes Scholar, a well-decorated Viet Nam hero, and a four-star general before his retirement. None of this can be taken away from Clark who has a stellar background. Clark indeed possesses an impressive intellectual IQ and intestinal fortitude, but here's the crux of his difficulties: He apparently lacks sufficient "emotional IQ", which, in turn, blunts his common sense and people skills. Moreover, there are indications that he exhibits ethical shortcomings. At this juncture, it's certainly fair game for the media to examine whether Clark is suitable presidential material.

In a piece by Jack Kelly of the Washington Times, a defense consultant who dealt with the upper echelon of the military stated that General Clark "is able, though not nearly as able as he thinks, and has tended to put his career ahead of his men to the point of excess…He is opportunistic and lacks integrity". Unfortunately, Wesley Clark is often portrayed in unflattering terms by others, as an incredibly driven, self-centered and unscrupulous individual that is more than willing to step on toes to get his way.

Some believe that Clark's poor judgment and massive ego are thoroughly dangerous, as illustrated by this often cited account. When the Russians took the airport in Pristina, Kosovo, a few years back, General Clark was poised to challenge the Russians, which would have generated a profound international incident that was unwarranted. Journalist Jack Kelly noted, "After a Serb surrender had been negotiated with the help of the Russians, Gen. Clark ordered British Lt. Gen. Michael Jackson to parachute troops onto the airport at the Kosovar capital of Pristina, so NATO would hold it before Russian peacekeepers arrived. Gen. Jackson refused. 'I'm not going to start the Third World War for you,' he told Gen. Clark, according to accounts in British newspapers". Rumor has it that this incident weighed heavily in Bill Cohen's decision to fire Clark.

One thing is for certain -- former President Bill Clinton, political strategist extraordinaire, views Clark as a mere pawn to benefit the cause of the Clintons. Bill Clinton is the consummate manipulator who does nothing in the political realm without first floating it before focus groups and considering all angles. Many political analysts now believe General Clark is clearly onboard "Team Clinton", and represents a "stalking horse" put forth to shake-up the current political field and further divide the vote among Democratic presidential hopefuls for the benefit of Hillary Clinton. And Wesley Clark has done just that, according to the latest Newsweek poll that finds Clark is now leading the pack among Democratic presidential aspirants. Whatever Bill Clinton is conniving, it's multifaceted in nature. He always considers the larger political landscape and operates on several levels.

That begs the question - Why would Bill Clinton need a stalking horse for Hillary? Three major theories have emerged, all of which seem quite plausible: 1) Clark prevents Howard Dean from enhancing his lead and tying up the nomination, thus keeping the stage fluid in the event that Hillary decides to step in at the last minute and declare her own presidential bid; 2) Clark, ostensibly a "centrist", blocks the Democratic Party from veering too far to the Left with a Howard Dean nomination that would prove deleterious to the party in general, and to future presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, in particular; and, 3) Clark must establish his bona fides in the political arena in order to run with Hillary as her VP in 2008. Even though it's all smoke and mirrors, Bill Clinton is keen on positioning the Democratic Party as "moderate" in order to attract "heartland" votes for Hillary in 2008. For Bill, all political calculations are now about situating Hillary in the White House.

Carol Devine-Molin is a regular contributor to several online magazines.

Other related stories: (open in a new window)

  • Clark and Vietnam by Col. David Hackworth (May 1999)
    Col. David Hackworth has a really low opinion of NATO Supreme Commander Wesley Clark. Real low
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