Howard Dean’s Gore endorsement and Dean’s recent pronouncements on issues such as the effect of Saddam’s capture have shifted the focus away from his Democratic rivals. Ironically, this seems to have helped Wesley Clark, whose ballyhooed candidacy seemed to wilt rather rapidly during the period, shortly after he officially entered the race, during which it was subjected to scrutiny.
Jeff Jacoby, in the Boston Globe, reminds us why Clark is not really a viable alternative for those who regard Dean as too goofy to (a) be the president and/or (b) run a strong race against George Bush. For example, Jacoby quotes the egomaniacal general as having said that if he were president bin Laden would have been killed or captured two years ago. However, Clark was never able to capture either of the two war criminals– Radovan Karadzic, the former president of the Bosnian Serbs, and Ratko Mladic, the head of the Bosnian Serb army — who operated in his former area of command. On the other hand, Clark did at least get to know Mladic when, shortly before the Mladic was indicted for war crimes, Clark paid him a visit, exchanged gifts (brandy and pistols), and posed for jovial pictures.
Clark now blames the non-capture of Karadzic on the fact that he had to cooperate with the French. But this dodge undercuts Clark’s insistence on multilaterlism when it comes to Iraq. And, speaking of Iraq, Jacoby points out that “before he became a presidential candidate, Clark strongly supported the Iraq war resolution; since entering the race, he has tied himself into knots insisting that he actually opposed it. Before becoming a candidate, he described Saddam as a menace requiring urgent action — ‘the clock is ticking,’ he said last year. Now Clark labors to explain why Saddam wasn’t a burning issue –‘there was no ticking clock,’ he said last week.”
It seems to me that Clark is even less ready for prime-time than Dean.
HINDROCKET adds: I agree. Yesterday’s argument between Clark and Dean as to whether Dean had offered the Vice-Presidential slot to Clark was amusing–did so, did not–but I have to say that, absent any evidence one way or the other, I’d believe Dean. Being less credible–and, frankly, less stable–than Dean isn’t an easy feat, but Clark has achieved it.
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