Mark Steyn says that the Democrats should be looking for a way to get rid of Wesley Clark. His reasoning?
Dean might be bad for the health of the party, but that’s no reason to go from bad to Wes. If the rap against Dean is that he’s gaffe-prone, shoots from the hip, says loopy stuff, that goes tenfold for Clark. Let me say, by the way, in a spirit of bipartisanship, that I don’t believe Howard Dean is nuts. From my perch in New Hampshire, I watched him across the river governing Vermont for a decade, and although he was certainly mean and arrogant, the chief characteristic of his political persona was its blandness. But this is no time for a Democratic candidate who feels your pain. Democratic activists want someone who feels their anger, and Mad How the mad cow was pretty much invented by the somnolent Governor Dean to fit that bill.
So I’d say Howard Dean is a sane man pretending to be crazy. Whereas General Clark gives every indication of a crazy man pretending to be sane.
I think Steyn is on to something here. Putting away my conservative partisanship for a second (as tough as that may sometimes be), I’d rather have Dean as a nominee than Clark. What Clark supposedly offers that Dean doesn’t are all superficial trappings. Clark’s military history supposedly makes him look stronger on national security. Clark supposedly is less radical than Dean. Clark will supposedly do better in the South.
The problem with that train of thought is that none of it is true. Clark’s positions on the war on terror have been nothing short of idiotic. He was on record as wanting the Saudis to help hunt down bin Laden in Afghanistan (the same Saudis who have been paying off al-Qaeda for years). He is on record as wanting to put bin Laden on trial in the Hague rather than a bullet through his head. (Assuming bin Laden isn’t smeared all over a cave wall.).
Clark’s positions on gun control and abortion also doom him in the South. Just because he’s from Arkansas doesn’t mean that Southerners will vote for him. Indeed, his positions make him just as electorally dead in the South as Dean would be. Southern states aren’t going to vote for a radical anti-gun, pro-abortion candidate who spouts lines like "Life begins with the mother’s decision." Clark’s positions make NARAL look like moderates on abortion. I’m sure if Clark were told that he could get votes by advocating infanticide he’d be all for killing newborns.
Clark is the only Democratic candidate who makes Howard Dean look downright appealing. While Dean might lose, he at least has a chance to remake the Democratic Party – Clark would likely put it even further into the political wilderness.
There is no other way to describe it – Clark is a snake. He has the raw ambition and unfamiliarity with the truth that Clinton had, without the charm, charisma, or political savvy. He’s a political opportunist who is already providing GOP opposition researchers with enough material to batter him until November. When someone shows themselves to be too paranoid, narcissistic, and foolish for Bill Clinton then you know that you’re not dealing with someone who has their head screwed on right.
The Democrats wanted Eisenhower, what they got was Dr. Strangelove. If the Democrats want war experience, then Kerry is a bona fide war hero. If they want anti-war street cred, Howard Dean has the best ground game in town. If they want someone who can appeal to swing voters they have Lieberman.
Instead it looks like many Democrats will go for Clark’s empty uniform instead, not knowing that behind that uniform lies one of the worst candidates in recent political history.