General Clark’s not so imaginary friend

The story of Wesley Clark’s “imaginary friend” has been oft-told. As recounted in this Weekly Standard piece by Matthew Continetti, “In June, [Clark] told Tim Russert that he had received a phone call on September 11, 2002, from ‘people around the White House’ urging him to publicly link Saddam Hussein to the attacks. Only after his accusation was picked up by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman did Clark go on the record and say that no one had called him from the White House. He now says he received a call from a ‘man from a Middle East think tank in Canada, the man who’s the brother of a very close friend of mine in Belgium.’” In Continetti’s telling, the caller my not have been imaginary after all — “someone who more or less fits that bill did call Clark and discussed possible connections between 9/11 and Saddam Hussein, [but] the call took place after September 11, wasn’t in any way sinister, and in any case certainly didn’t come from the White House.” Anyway, you get the idea. As one of our readers put, Clark seems “a bit off.”
Now Robert Novak reports on another of the General’s friends — indicted Bosnian Serb war criminal Ratko Mladic, with whom Clark met and exchanged gifts in 1994. This meeting took place against the wishes of the State Department. But, on the negative side, Mladic is “considered by U.S. intelligence as the mastermind of the Srebrenica massacre of Muslim civilians.” Clark and Mladic exchanged military hats, and Mladic gave Clark some brandy and a pistol, according to Novak’s account. A photo of the two wearing each other’s caps was circulated throughout Europe. Presumably, it is now circulating through various American campaign research files.
All-in-all, the Clark boomlet should liven up a race that was looking more and more like a Dean run-away. However, I tend to agree with Dick Morris’ conclusion, quoted in the Contenetti piece: “The Clark candidacy is a crazily overblown thing. Clark will do very well with Democrats living in Paris. But he has no base in the United States.”

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