The great white-haired hope

John Hult

John Hult

So Howard Dean is a snotwad. By now, astute Republicans and Democrats alike know this, something any respectable Green or Reform party member or sympathizer already knew at the start of the Vermont governor’s presidential campaign.

Supposedly, there is an alterative to Dean. And thank heaven, seven-eleven, right?

Dean lied about his position on increasing the social security age. He lied about his position on Medicare funding. He called Hamas members “soldiers” and not “terrorists.” Extreme liberals already called them that, but the sometime dim-witted, black-or-white American public (whatever that means) isn’t ready to hear anyone call a group that kills civilians “soldiers.” Never mind the fact that the Associated Press’ conservative estimate puts the number of dead Iraqi civilians at 3,200.

Yup, “Nikita Dean,” as Rush the Nonsense Limbaugh calls him, is full of cow dung. He’s too extreme for the general public and too big a dung-spewing doofus for super-liberals. That’s the corporate media message about our preliminary Democratic frontrunner.

What is the solution for middle-of-the-road Democrats-the ones who swing an election for one party or the other? Why it’s Wesley Clark, of course, the ‘anti-war general’ with the southern charm and a heart of golden American Pie whose supporters have nudged him toward a candidacy he didn’t seem to want in order to secure the Democrats a moderate voice in the heretofore-crowded field of 10 anti-Bushes.

Wesley Clark. The anti-Iraq war General.

Wesley Clark, the great white liberal hope for a party fraught with criticism over its military softitudes. Clark, the moderate, southern Democrat rowing the campaign trail late, with the voice of the people and sensible tie and haircut in tow. Clark, the viable choice among a cadre of know-nothing, do-nothing whiners who alienate the moderate public with their obscenely direct Bush-bashing.

Problem is, he’s not even the slightest bit anti-Iraq war. As Democracy Now’s September 18 newscast so bluntly pointed out (see the archives at , CNN hired Clark as an analyst on the Iraq War before it ever happened and let show his true pro-war colors in the pre-war circus.

Of all his criticisms of the blowhard, bunk-logic Bush administration’s Iraq policies, not a one actually criticized the reasoning behind the war. He only criticized the methods. They didn’t prepare well enough for the aftermath, said General Wesley, they didn’t prepare for the guerilla war; they didn’t prepare for the Arab resistance from olive-skinned civilians, etc.

Clark basically said that Bush needed a better plan. Not that Bush needed to avoid war.

Oh, and another thing: Clark was head of the NATO forces that bombed broadcast stations and hospitals during the Clinton Administration’s Kosovo operations and lied about the consequences of the military’s actions whenever possible. “Did we kill civilians? Of course not! Oh, you saw it happen? Then we didn’t mean to kill them . . .”

Wesley Clark’s could-be crowning achievement ought to be enough to send him looking for a less scrutinizing public job. See “Bowling for Columbine.” There is a lot of bullshit in that movie, but Michael Moore is right on about one thing, at least: the Kosovo/Serbia campaign was a botch of the most embarrassing order.

The most telling portrait of all, however, comes not from Clark’s military history, but from his pre-announcement sound bites. Before he gave the speech announcing his candidacy on Sept. 17, Clark was pressed gently for his positions in regards to other issues-i.e., issues other than the Iraq war.

He said he didn’t know yet. He had to talk with his advisors. He had to talk with the American people (I’m sure he’ll manage to speak with each and every one of them over the next few months). He had to do some thinking.

Basically, he had some image work to do. As nice as that may seem on the surface, it’s not enough to persuade me that a guy with no experience governing civilians in a nation or a state or a county or a city or a school board or a precinct voting booth should run a nation.

I don’t care if he changes his mind halfway through the campaign to accommodate voters. Whether or not he changes his mind after talking to the public is not important to me in the slightest. I hope that the public’s opinion makes a difference.

What does bother me is that Clark had no gut reaction to any issue that wasn’t the war. At least he could have said, “I’m anti-drug war! Or I’m pro-choice” or something to that effect.

But, alas. General Wesley Clark, friend and confidant of the Clinton White House has no idea yet what his positions are on the issues of the day. Well, I’m sure he does-he’s just not willing to say.

At this point, I don’t care if Wesley Clark gets the Democratic nomination or not.

All I want is a clear debate about the current administration’s destructive actions on everything from steel tariffs to the oil drilling in the ANWR to “Star Wars” weapons systems. If only Dennis Kucinich had a chance. Sigh. . .

Reach John Hult at [email protected].