Clark: Mending our torn country into a nation again
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Clark is a courtly fellow, an odd mix of liberal ideas and
conservative values, worldliness and earthiness, a Rhodes
scholar and an unabashed patriot, an old fashioned type who
views his run for the presidency as a call to service. He
has had to struggle to distill his complex thoughts into sound
bite size, but his policy speeches are all of good sense and
down home clarity.
Clark senses that "what makes us special as America is being
lost in the world. We've always been a country that inspires
others not just through the force of our arms, but through
the force of our example." He talks about Peace Corps volunteers
finding portraits of John F. Kennedy on the bare walls of
rural huts and South Africans waiting in line to vote after
apartheid fell, carrying worn copies of the U.S. Constitution.
"We don't want to be the kind of country where grandmothers
need to travel to Canada to afford the medicine they need
to stay alive. We don't want to be the kind of country where
school budgets get cut to pay for tax breaks so millionaires
can have more leisure time. And we certainly don't want to
be the kind of country where our own President implies that
we're unpatriotic if we question the very policies that got
us into this mess in the first place."
Clark has said, "There really is one big issue you face in
this party and in this country. What is the nature of the
government we want?"
The retired four-star general hoping to take the White House
is a pro-choice, half-Jewish, Baptist convert to Catholicism,
who is a practicing Presbyterian and believes in the separation
of church and state. He voted for Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan,
Bill Clinton, and Al Gore. And he doesn't mind saying so.
He has a dry wit and a sharp mouth. He can ably impersonate
the voices of Charlie Rangel, Slobodan Milosevic, George H.W.
Bush, and Bill O'Reilly.
The so-called "anti-war general" favors a constitutional
ban on desecration of the American flag and is critical of
the Patriot Act. He is a Southerner who advocates affirmative
action, because it was successfully applied to the military.
He opposes the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy for military
gays and supports civil unions. He is a champion of human
rights and principled dissent, a clean environment and protected
fisheries, economic fairness and jobs creation, corporate
responsibility and deficit reduction.
He is not afraid to say that the traditional deathbed choice
in childbirth belongs to the woman, her family and her physician,
and not to any right wing legislative agenda. He says Eisenhower
was correct to "beware the military-industrial complex," and
would reduce the defense budget by one quarter. He is an internationalist
humanitarian who believes diplomacy leveraged with military
strength is the best national defense. Like any good commander
of force, he views it as the very last resort.
As a candidate for political office, he has been a quick
study. Senator Bob Graham of Florida, after withdrawing his
own candidacy, said of Clark, "Within the first couple of
weeks of Wes' announcement, he had given five or six major
speeches on different issues. He didn't just scribble those
on the back of an envelope. He was well-prepared - better
prepared than we were." And it has only gotten better and
better and better.
Bill Clinton says, "He's got a sack full of guts." Theodore
Sorensen says, "He does not need to dress up as a fly boy
to be called 'commander in chief.'" When he drinks a Sam Adams
with the guys down at the VFW Hall in New Hampshire, they
toast Wes Clark as "The best general in the world!"
Most voters want somebody, anybody, who will seam our torn
country into a nation again, return us to a sense of honor
in the world and safety at home. He is tough on terrorism
and not afraid to issue a challenge: "It's not enough for
Saudi Arabia to pursue terrorists within its own borders.
The Saudis need to join us in a worldwide campaign, and especially
in that harsh region on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan."
"As president, I will employ every weapon in the U.S. arsenal
to beat back the forces of terrorism," Clark says. "But the
weapons of our country must not be limited to our awesome
military capabilities. They must involve the web of international
relationships we have built over generations."
Yale intellectual Harold Bloom announced his endorsement
in the Wall Street Journal: "I am not suggesting that all
our future presidents must be generals. Yet the time and the
person have come together in Gen. Clark. There is potential
greatness in him: realism and hope intricately fuse in his
character. As a lifelong Democrat speaking to other Democrats,
I urge his nomination. To Republicans and independents, I
put the question: Weigh Gen. Clark's qualifications against
President Bush's performance, and who seems likelier to lead
us effectively in the years of trouble ahead of us?"
Is Wes Clark, as Howard Dean, Joe Lieberman and the Republican
National Committee insist, a Republican? Not according to
Democratic icon George McGovern. "There are a lot of good
Democrats in this race, but Wes Clark is the best Democrat,"
said McGovern, who is also a veteran and war hero. "He is
a true progressive. He's the Democrat's Democrat. I've been
around the political block--and I can tell you, I know a true
progressive when I see one. And that's why he has my vote."
Speaking as a Democrat of 38 years standing who proudly voted
for George McGovern, the peace candidate of 1972, Wes Clark
is my candidate for the Democratic nomination for President
of the United States of America.
For more information about Wesley Clark, please visit www.clark04.com.