Turning on Dean

The debate among the Democratic candidates at Pace University yesterday notably included Wesley Clark, whose principal debate partner appears to be himself. Click here for the New York Times account, here for the Washington Post account, and here for a transcript of the debate.
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Although the first question went to Clark, Clark generally stood to the side while the other serious contenders went after Howard Dean. Here’s how Clark handled the opening question of the debate: “On May 11th of 2001, as reported in US News and World Report, you addressed at the Republican Party Lincoln Day Dinner in Arkansas, expressed your support for the leadership of Ronald Reagan, for that matter, the leadership of our current president, George W. Bush, his immediate staff and Cabinet, and indicated they were needed in place. Did you believe it then? Do you believe it now?”
“CLARK: I think it’s been an incredible journey for me and for this country since early 2001. We elected a president we thought was a compassionate conservative. Instead we got neither conservatism or compassion. We got a man who recklessly cut taxes. We got a man who recklessly took us into war with Iraq. I was never partisan in the military. I served under Democratic presidents, I served under Republican presidents. But as I looked at this country and looked which way we were headed, I knew that I needed to speak out. And when I needed to speak out, there was only party to come to. I am pro-choice, I am pro-affirmative action, I’m pro-environment, pro-health. I believe the United States should engage with allies. We should be a good player in the international community. And we should use force only as a last resort. That’s why I’m proud to be a Democrat.”
UPDATE: OpinionJournal has posted Clark’s May 2001 Lincoln Day Dinner speech to the Pulaski County Republican Party: “Politics has to stop at the water’s edge.”

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