September 18, 2024

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  • Is Clark Weird?

    Given the current boomlet about Wes Clark, here's more on the topic.

    To be honest, despite the fact that I obviously don't think that Clark can win the nomination, this question (as posed by Ricahrd Cohen in his WaPo column today) never occurred to me:

    Is Wesley Clark too weird for prime time?

    Although really what Cohen seems to asking is whether Clark has the temprament to run for the Presidency (and indeed, if he has the personaility needed to govern). I expect this to be a major question among columnistas and the chattering class over the next week or so.

    Cohen clarifies the reason that he asks the question in the first place:

    Let me first tell you why I asked the question: It's because Clark in effect got fired from the Pentagon. Not to put too fine a point on it, then-Defense Secretary Bill Cohen, joined by many of Clark's colleagues, came to just plain dislike him.
    Some of this had to do with policy -- the Kosovo campaign -- and some with their suspicion that Clark went over their heads to the White House. But some of it was deeply personal. Clark is sometimes compared to Eisenhower, another general who went into politics. But Ike was beloved. That's a word that never comes up when Clark is discussed.

    Something about Clark makes people bristle. He is undoubtedly brilliant -- a Rhodes scholar and first in his class at West Point. He is a fine athlete and a Vietnam combat veteran who was decorated for bravery. He won the respect, even the awe, of his colleagues, but too much of the time he did not win their friendship.

    The rap on Clark is that he lacks precisely those qualities that define a politician, particularly warmth and affability. David Halberstam, in his book "War in a Time of Peace," writes of Clark that even his most steadfast champion in the army, Gen. John Shalikashvili, recognized that Clark was too brash, too cocky, too driven, too self-absorbed, too hard on subordinates, too dismissive of critics and criticism -- but also too brilliant and talented to be overlooked. Shali promoted him.

    Indeed, I start to see a pattern in much of the writing on Clark: the need to affirm, up front, that he has an impressive resume, but then to launch into the "However" part of the analysis.

    It is noteworthy much of this comports with Kevin Drum's reading of Clark's book(Hat Tip: James of OTB).

    Posted by Steven Taylor at September 18, 2024 10:25 AM | TrackBack

    Beat those drums, Steven.

    Clark's weird, he voted for Reagan, he's friendly with the Clintons, he likes French dressing on his salad, he doesn't like baseball's designated hitter rule...

    You're oozing fear, Steven.

    Posted by: JadeGold at September 18, 2024 11:11 AM
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