September 22, 2003


Sydney Morning Herald pagefiller Mike Carlton praises Wesley Clark:

A puerile tactic of the ratbag right in this country is to denounce any critic of President George Bush as anti-American. Oblivious to the echoes of McCarthyism, the ratbags see this as a besetting sin.

I wonder, then, what they will make of Wesley Clark, the retired four-star US Army general who came out this week to run for the Democratic nomination in next year's White House election.

Hard to pin him as anti-American. He topped his West Point class in 1966 and was decorated in Vietnam. He ended his military career [actually, his career was ended] as NATO's supreme commander in the campaign to save Kosovo's Albanians from the horrors of ethnic cleansing. For good measure, he was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, with a master's degree in philosophy, politics and economics.

And he has been a trenchant critic of Bush's ill-planned invasion and occupation of Iraq, with its hubristic, neo-conservative assumptions that America can order the world to its whim.

Trenchant critic? Depends on which day you ask him, as Mark Steyn reminds us:

Here he is on Thursday: "General Wesley K Clark said today that he would have supported the Congressional resolution that authorised the United States to invade Iraq." Here he is on Friday: " 'Let's make one thing real clear, I would never have voted for this war,' Clark said before a speech at the University of Iowa." Got that? Everybody else on the planet knows what his or her position on Iraq is except General Clark.

And everybody on the planet knows about Clark’s vacillations except Mike Carlton, who is noted for his lack of attention to matters American. Here’s more on two-way Wesley, from the lefty Media Workers Against War:

A review of his statements before, during and after the war reveals that Clark has taken a range of positions-- from expressing doubts about diplomatic and military strategies early on, to celebrating the U.S. "victory" in a column declaring that George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair "should be proud of their resolve in the face of so much doubt".

Another one for Media Watch to follow up.

UPDATE. Not even Robert Fisk would vote for Wesley:

I have to say first of all about General Clark, that I was on the ground in Serbia in Kosovo when he ran the war there. He didn't seem to be very antiwar at the time ...

I remember General Clark telling us that more than 100 Yugoslav tanks had been destroyed in the weeks of that war. And when the war came to an end, we discovered number of Yugoslav tanks destroyed were 11. 100 indeed.

So this was not a man, frankly whom, if I were an American, would vote for, but not being an American, I don't have to.

Posted by Tim Blair at September 22, 2003 03:58 AM

Well, now we know that Wesley Clark and porn star/California gubenatorial candidate Mary Carey have at least one thing in common: neither likes to stay with just a single position.

Posted by: Randal Robinson at September 22, 2003 at 04:10 AM

Wesley Clark will be the Democrats Colin Powell.

Posted by: Fred Boness at September 22, 2003 at 05:08 AM

I propose that henceforth any American found falsely accusing another American of unjustifiedly accusing another American of being anti-American for speaking against President Bush or the war to oust Saddam be denounced as anti-American. Or something like that. Ditto: false accusations of neo-McCarthyism.

Posted by: S.A. Smith at September 22, 2003 at 05:34 AM

We we will have to extend the Godwin Rule to McCarthyism and neo-McCarthyism (and quasi-McCarthyism, and psuedo-McCarthyism, and post-McCarthyism) with the only exception being when you are denouncing Commies for being Commies.

Posted by: LB at September 22, 2003 at 06:57 AM

I wonder, then, what they will make of Wesley Clark

Un American....indeed not. Friend, cohort and bosom buddy of Bill Clinton, indeed. This says it all.

Posted by: wallace at September 22, 2003 at 09:13 AM

Wesley Clark was also the base commander of the base from which the Delta Force commandos were staged for the Waco raid in '93. Despite spinning, and lies, the Posse Commitatus act did not apply and their use violated the Constitution. He failed to uphold his oath to defend the constitution.

Also, we have the permanent problem that all who would run for public office tend not to be suited for the office they are running for.

Posted by: Dan at September 22, 2003 at 09:42 AM

You're not making things easier for those of us who may have to decide whether or not to vote for Gen. Clark. So far the biggest thing in Clark's favor is that Fisky opposes him. There must be something to him, if Fisk opposes him.

Posted by: timks at September 22, 2003 at 10:03 AM

I agree with Steyn's call on Clark. He is just a smokescreen for the real candidate - Mrs Clinton!!! bleh

Posted by: Rob at September 22, 2003 at 10:03 AM

I'm surprised Robert Fisk votes at all.

Posted by: unit at September 22, 2003 at 10:08 AM

Howard Fineman is reporting in this week's Newsweek that Clark told Bush adviser Karl Rove that he'd be a Republican but that no one returned his calls!!!

Hell hath no fury like a prima donna scorned.

Bill Clinton's using this guy (again) like a 23 year old chubby intern. Enjoy it while it lasts, Wes.

Posted by: JDB at September 22, 2003 at 11:04 AM

That's an unusually bitchy and ill-informed Steyn column ... anyone who describes Howard Dean as an "insurgent Leftie" who promotes "ideological purity" has not really been paying attention.

So, in the space of a few days, you have a Rush Limbaugh hatchet job, Andrew Sullivan dissing Clark on the basis that being a Rhodes Scholar makes him unfit for office, and now Steyn phones this one in.

I get the feeling that these folks are just starting to realize that Bush is going to lose.

Posted by: Mork at September 22, 2003 at 12:32 PM

'So this was not a man, frankly whom, if I were an American, would vote for, but not being an American, I don't have to.'

Don't have to what?

Posted by: ilibcc at September 22, 2003 at 12:50 PM

Mork - I have to agree with you that Steyn's comment was an unusual misfire. I haven't read or heard about Limbaugh's or Sullivan's opinions of Dean, but Steyn has the advantage of observing Dean from right next door and his comments have so far pretty much lined up with those of a relative of mine who until recently lived in Vermont.

Posted by: timks at September 22, 2003 at 01:31 PM

Timks - I have seen Steyn write things previously about Dean that seemed perceptive. But it's hard to reconcile the description in this column with a man who balanced the state budget while cutting taxes on the wealthy. If he's a "Leftie", he's clearly not ideologically pure, and if he's ideologically pure, it's pretty difficult to describe the ideology as "left".

There's clearly some unravelling going on in the Bushie camp.

Posted by: Mork at September 22, 2003 at 01:45 PM

That must be a first - Timmy B quoting Robert Fisk with approval!


But it's a good point - what the hell does Clark stand for? Be sure to keep us posted, Timmy?

But yes, Bush is going to lose, thank God.

Now THAT'S a real blow for liberty and democracy. God bless America!

Posted by: Nemesis at September 22, 2003 at 02:27 PM

Bush is going to lose? I'll take that bet, Nemesis.

Posted by: tim at September 22, 2003 at 02:48 PM

Hey, do I get a piece, Tim. I said it first!

Posted by: Mork at September 22, 2003 at 02:58 PM

Mork - Dean shamelessy stole the late Paul Wellstone's comment about being the "candidate from the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party." That sounds like Dean is at least claiming to be "more pure" than his opponents. His popularity right now also leads me to believe that many also view him that way.

Posted by: timks at September 22, 2003 at 02:59 PM

Timks - I think that any claim he makes to "purity" is based being outside Washington, not on any blanket policy differences. He charges congressional democrats generally (and Kerry, Gephardt, Edwards and Lieberman in particular) with compromising too much with the the congressional GOP and the administration.

Posted by: Mork at September 22, 2003 at 03:05 PM

Mork & Nemesis:

If Bush loses, this site is yours for a day. Post whatever you like. Deal?

Posted by: tim at September 22, 2003 at 03:14 PM

Tim - a very generous offer. What do you want us to put up in return?

Posted by: Mork at September 22, 2003 at 03:24 PM

Your lives!

Well, maybe not. I'll try to think of something.

Posted by: tim at September 22, 2003 at 03:48 PM

OK - as long you can come up with something that's amusing and only mildly humiliating, you're on. Where do I sign?

Posted by: Mork at September 22, 2003 at 04:04 PM

Mork - Yes, that's my impression of his approach, too. I was only suggesting where Steyn's "ideological purity" line might have come from.

Posted by: timks at September 22, 2003 at 04:17 PM

I wonder what a Clark presidency would do for US relations with Russia:

While commanding NATO troops in defense of Muslim Kosovo and against Serbian Christians, for example, the hot-headed Clark commanded a subordinate British General to attack Russian troops that had landed without NATO permission at the airport in Kosovo’s capital. (Clark speaks fluent Russian but chose not even to talk with the Russian troops before attacking them.)

The British General Sir Mike Jackson reportedly refused Clark’s risky orders, saying: "I'm not going to start the Third World War for you!"

Posted by: Alan K. Henderson at September 22, 2003 at 05:04 PM

Gee, Alan, did he really order Jackson to "attack" Russian troops at Pristina airport, or might that just be a product of the fevered imagination of Mr. Lowell Ponte, formerly of the Readers' Digest ("Can we trust Bermuda?") and now of the respected (cough) FrontPageMagazine website?

Posted by: Mork at September 22, 2003 at 05:24 PM

Tim, I think you may have a typo here: "Sydney Morning Herald pagefiller Mike Carlton"

Shouldn't that be "Sydney Morning Herald pantsfiller Mike Carlton"?

Posted by: R C Dean at September 22, 2003 at 10:16 PM

I would have never thought of voting for Clark, but if Fisk opposes him . . .

Posted by: tom beta 2 at September 23, 2003 at 06:15 AM

It's a kind offer, Tim, but no thanks. I'll be too busy celebrating. It is after all the basis of my nickname. These bastards must be made to pay.

I'll let Mork do the honours. I gather he's relishing the prospect.

Posted by: Nemesis at September 23, 2003 at 03:30 PM