Angry words and personal insults erupted in Congress this week when a representative from
By Bernie Quigley
I remember first of all Wesley Clark’s silvery-grey hair and his great smile, almost ear to ear when he is among friends, as he was in Little Rock, standing at a podium and addressing a small group who had come out to hear him announce that he would be running for President of the United States. It is the smile of a man with a certain Southern innocence – a man seemingly incapable of duplicity; or at least incapable of intending to be duplicitous – a smile unbeknownst to us northernmost New Englanders who have to think before we smile. It is a smile that is an honest and spontaneous reaction to life that is characteristic of many Southerners. But behind the Southern General could be seen the strong, classical lines in the distinctively handsome Semitic face that came from his
I was lucky enough to be in the crowd that greeted him a short while later when he first arrived in
Howard Dean was a local phenomenon. Deaniacs were everywhere . . . middle-aged urban types with orange hats, the Starbucks crowd and loads of college kids with great enthusiasm. Armies came to my door. Before the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries I invited them all in to warm before the wood stove during one of the coldest winters on record, and asked them who Dr. Dean should pick for vice president. Most often they said “Wesley Clark.” John Kerry seemed a nonentity until he suddenly emerged in
Then at one point General Clark said, “I’m not going to be Howard Dean’s Dick Cheney,” replying to the suggestion that Howard Dean had asked him to be Vice President if he won the nomination, and before Iowa for awhile it looked like he would. It was a brilliant reply as it pointed out to Dean supporters that what they were seeking in Dr. Dean was in fact a figurehead, as President Bush was seen to be an empty and symbolic figure while Dick Cheney ran the country.
But beneath that was an instinct related to the actual work that needed to be done, and there they saw Wesley Clark. I made phone calls and wrote letters for General Clark throughout the
But this was disturbing: they seemed afraid of him. They were afraid of him because although they could see that he was a gracious and gentle man, he was a Southern General. And he was a Southern General who spoke without duplicity. When George W. Bush said he would bring Osama Bin Laden back “dead or alive” it was the hubris, bluff and extended innocence of a man who had never truly served his country in uniform.
When General Clark, who had come back from Vietnam literally a basket of wounds and broken bones, said the same thing, it meant it would be his head on a pike. And people knew, we knew what had to be done, we were just not quite ready to do it yet.
Maybe we still aren’t ready. My thought during the presidential campaign was that there were two radical reactions to the invasion of
When he signed the register to enter the
Not so with Wes Clark. Recently he has been appearing on Sunday talk shows and has posted an op-ed in The Washington Post, expressing his position very clearly.
“In the old, familiar fashion, mounting
From the onset, he says, we needed a three-pronged strategy in
Clark calls for a public
“The growing chorus of voices demanding a pull-out should seriously alarm the Bush Administration,” he writes. “For President Bush and his team are repeating the failure of Vietnam – failing to craft a realistic and effective policy, and in its place, simply demanding that the American people show resolve.”
General Clark, as he has shown in