In the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Paul Barton considers some of the obvious similiarities, and some of the differences, between Bill Clinton's candidacy and Wes Clark's presumed one.
For the second time in 12 years, little Arkansas, a state with only six electoral votes, is on the verge of supplying presidential politics with a fresh face, one some think could reshape the race for the White House just as then-Gov. Bill Clinton did when he ran in 1992.
This time, it may very well be retired Gen. Wesley Clark of Little Rock, a 58-year-old former supreme allied commander of NATO and a 1962 honors graduate of Hall High School.
Similarities in the two men’s backgrounds are beginning to get noticed as Clark’s decision draws near. Both grew up Baptists and without their natural fathers. Both were Rhodes Scholars. Both met their wives while in school on the East Coast. Both are regarded as keen intellects.
And if Clark decides to run, the political atmospheres in which both began their campaigns will bear striking similarities as well.
On Oct. 3, 1991, Clinton stood outside the Old Statehouse in Little Rock, painting himself as a champion of the middle class and telling a crowd of more than 4,000 that he would seek the 1992 Democratic presidential nomination.
By October 2003 — or perhaps several weeks sooner — Clark could be making a sim- ilar announcement. While Clark and his staff in Little Rock insist there is still a chance he won’t run, indications that he will go for it continue to mount.
The Des Moines Register last week reported that Terry McAuliffe, the national Democratic Party chairman, has told party officials in Iowa to expect Clark’s entry. The Concord Monitor in New Hampshire noted that Clark had made another call to Manchester attorney George Bruno, a leading Democratic activist and former New Hampshire state party chairman.
Contacted by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Bruno acknowledged, "There is a lot of behind-the-scenes activity."
Other sources said Friday that Clark has made it clear to those closest to him that he is going to run, and that his wife, Gert, now backs the decision. The New York Times reported similar soundings as well.
If Arkansas does end up having another candidate, people may begin referring to the state as the "mother of presidents," joked William Schneider, political analyst for the American Enterprise Institute and CNN.
Hal Bass, political analyst at Ouachita Baptist University, said it surprises him. "I thought Clinton kind of took all the oxygen out of the room," he said.
Clinton was written off as long shot by the national media in 1991. His biggest claim to fame was a nominating speech for Michael Dukakis at the 1988 Democratic National Convention that many regarded as disastrous.
But Clinton had traveled frequently in 1990-91 to meet behind the scenes with party activists around the country, many of whom were impressed with his command of issues and his ability to sway a crowd.
As Clark considers jumping into the 2004 race, he, too, is seen as a long shot. Many political observers think his real aim is the vice presidency or a Cabinet post in a Democratic administration. Clark’s biggest claim to fame has been as a military analyst for CNN.
But Clark, as if following Clinton’s game plan, has spent much of 2002 and 2003 traveling the country, especially the East Coast, meeting with Democratic Party activists, union leaders and potential fund-raisers as well as appearing frequently on national television news shows, where he has repeatedly dodged questions about his intentions. In both races, Democrats faced the fact that the candidate they most favored wasn’t likely to enter the competition. In 1991, that was New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, one of several big-name Democrats who decided the senior Bush was unbeatable. This time around, it is New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.
[link via Shirley -- thanks]
Personally, I still think that a Dean/Clark ticket would be extremely strong. It would provide Dean with cover on National Security issues for people who are suspicious of him because of his stance against the war in Iraq, and would put the man with the most executive experience at the top of the ticket. (I don't at all discount or belittle Clark's experience at running NATO, but it's different in kind from running a state, even a small state like Vermont, just as experience as a CEO is different in kind and isn't necessarily a strong indication of the abilty to be an elected chief executive.) And a pre-emptive announcement of a Dean/Clark ticket so early in the campaign would also, I think, "take the air out of the room" and move Dean from the putative front runner (as far as the media is concerned) to the actual front of the pack.
Still, it would be a dangerous and risky move, since the party faithful might well respond negatively to having their nominal power to appoint the Veep candidate in the convention (despite the fact that in recent times the convention has simply rubber-stamped the choice of the guy at the head of the ticket), and the other candidates (and quite possoibly the press as well) will say that such an unorthodox move by Dean is arrogant in the extreme, and point to it as an indication that Dean is precipitous in nature and therefore unqualified to be President.
In my mind, not being on the inside in any way shape or form, the risk seems worth the benefits, but, then, I can't possible have before me all the information and variables needed to evaluate it properly.
So, even if the hints we've seen that there might be some commonality between Dean and Clark have been accurate, and may end up, eventually, in a Dean/Clark ticket, it may well be that they consider this path (Clark announcing as a candidate) to be a better one than the pre-emptive VP announcement. After all, this way, Clark gets a lot of publicity and press, draws people's attention to the important issues (which are basically Dean's issues as well) and also (and if they've thought of this then they're just a devious as I appear to be) takes the heat off Dean just at the time when the media is likely to turn on him.
(The media clearly behaves differently to a front-runner than they do an underdog -- they're more skeptical and dig deeper for flaws and discrepencies -- and Dean could quite possibly use the hiatus from the big spotlight to make some more real forward motion without having to continually duck and weave because of attacks from the media.)
Or, in the simplest explanation, it could also be simply that Clark wants to run, and will do so completely on his own, totally as a free agent, and thus potentially be available to any of the candidates as a running mate if his bid falls short (which, in my opinion, it is most likely to).
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
(click on image for more info)
Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.
If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.
(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)
Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.