Yesterday, in assessing the nomination prospects of an apparently surging Wesley Clark, I noted the difficult dynamic of his campaign — his need, as a general and a brand-new Democrat, to establish himself as an anti-war liberal induces him to indulge his predisposition to make off-the-wall statements that undercut his status as a good alternative to Howard Dean and (if it comes to that) President Bush. Today, Paul Greenberg, in the Washington Times, provides a further glimpse into this dynamic. Citing some of Clark’s more offensively strident statements, Greenberg notes, “Wesley Clark’s great appeal was that he wasn’t supposed to be every politician. He was supposed to be a different kind of candidate. But it’s not always easy to see any difference. All too regularly, the general’s campaign degenerates into a series of sound bites.” Consequently, “Wesley Clark is conducting a kind of split-level campaign, trying to position himself as the moderate Democratic alternative to Howard Dean but, when addressing the party faithful, sounding just like him. . . If he tries to play both of those conflicting roles, people will notice. And in this more serious decade, they might even care.”
Greenberg. though, seems to blame much of the problem on “a campaign staff filled to overflowing with knee-jerk libs who are trying to make The Candidate over in their own image.” I don’t doubt that such a staff exists. However, as noted above, I think the primary source of the problem is Clark’s untenable status as a “fish out of water,” with his flakiness the number factor, and his campaign staff a distant third.
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