Monday, June 18, 2007

Is Wes Clark the Last Hope for the Democrats?

by Bernie Quigley for The Free Market News Network 6/18/07

Senator Clinton's negatives are now to 52% according to Gallup, the highest of any candidate in the human history of the Democratic Party. Up from 46% about nine months ago. The more money she spends the more her negatives go up. And John Edwards, who recently cited Paris Hilton as poster-child for his “two Americas” pitch has drifted into Triple A. A few of the other Democrats who want to be President are so forgettable that most can’t even remember their names.

In contrast, Mitt Romney is beginning to boom and will continue to do. Headlines in my morning paper: "Romeny Grabs Lead in Early Voting States." Romney is smart as paint, is a masterful administrator and is very rich. I don't think the people who care about religion will actually much care that he is a Mormon when it comes time to vote. He goes to church and that is what they want; most of the others seem to go for the camera.

Any of the Democratic contenders against Romney will fail. But this time the Democrats approach a catastrophic failure. It will be the Democrats fourth total failure since Eisenhower.

It is quite possible that the Democratic Party itself cannot survive such a failure. I’m sensing entrenched retreat: Nihilism, born of desperation, has poisoned the blogs like DKos and some of the major bloggers are dropping out. This will further sink the Democrats' chances.

Ships come and go in such an uncertain political environment – last week Colin Powell and the week before, Al Gore. Then they pass again into the night and fog.

Wes Clark is still here. He says consistently that he has not ruled out a run in ’08. Wes Clark, as Dark Horse, can retrieve this for the Democrats and now he is quickly becoming the only hope the Democrats have.

We have been hearing from General Clark quite a bit, but you have to want to listen. He’s not on the Big Screen; he has no Hollywood poster child like Edwards and no mangled and misbegotten “quotes” from Lincoln of things never said (grabbed form the Internet) like Gore. He is right on the facts and accurate in his historical perspective. He is precise and perfect in presentation. And he’s been going on and on about Iran, like the Ancient Mariner, to anyone who will listen; in the Huffington Post, on Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now, and at the 92nd St. YMCA in New York City, on Fox news and now as a commentator on MSNBC. He’s at StopIranWar.com, alone among the Democrats to warn of impending neocon-inspired invasion of Iran.

Like those who denounced Churchill as crying wolf, Rove & Company have called Clark’s claim about a pending Iran invasion absurd, and most of the Democratic contenders hope this will pass them by as well, as they hoped Iraq would. But this weekend in the NYTs, we are told that Vice President Cheney and the incompetent war cabinet has been pushing for strikes against Iran all along. Joe Lieberman, who used to be a Democrat and sometimes thinks he still is, is openly pushing for strikes on Iran. The Republican right is calling for the “nuclear option” as it has been since the beginning of the Iraq conflict.

Only General Clark speaks up.

Condi Rice, the Administration's Incredible Shrinking Woman, is said to prefer conversation rather than bombing Iran, but the NYTs reports that “ . . . Mr. Cheney believed that Ms. Rice’s diplomatic strategy was failing, and that by next spring Mr. Bush might have to decide whether to take military action.”

Cheney is incapable of seeing warfare as anything beyond revenge and dominance. He is the Anti-Eisenhower; he has a mind which rebels from strategic thinking and planning. They still haven’t avenged the Ayatollah Khomeini and the taking of American hostages in 1979. It will be the administration’s last bit of business as they finally close the door that Ronald Reagan opened.

Only General Clark and a few others – Eric Massa of New York, Andrew Horne of Tennessee and Jon Soltz; all military officers – are speaking up. But they are building a new Democratic Party and General Clark was elementary in organizing and husbanding its awakening.

I was pleased to hear on NPR this week and again on NBC over the weekend, a tribute to Jim Webb, the new Senator from Virginia, for Father’s Day. He talked about fathers and sons and the tradition of military service which has gone back in his Virginia family to before the American Revolution.

How times have changed in the last two years.The rise of Jim Webb, Joe Sestak, Tammy Duckworth, Andrew Horne; the kind of solid-stock heartland politicians like New Hampshire's Carol Shea-Porter and Arkansas's Woody Anderson that we haven't seen since the days of JFK. Clark tirelessly supported these candidates throughout '06 political season. They are forming a new Democratic sensibility.

They bring a new and different attitude to the Democratic Party - a positive attitude.

This new Democratic sensibility is a good fit for our country at the beginning of the new century. My feeling is that it is unfortunately the Democrats own internal energy - the pseudo-Republicans of the DLC in particular and what Democratic strategist Mudcat Saunders recently called the Metropolitan Opera branch of the Democratic Party - that is sinking these efforts, striving to return to pre-9/11 conditions.

The Democrats have to get serious now or it will soon be too late: As said; Romney is smart and he is a fantastic manager. But sending the country to such a detached manager as Romney, who was key to the progress of financial institutions like Bain & Company and Bain Capital, would be sending it into receivership.

And the crisis which begins our century could well be at hand right now as Hamas takes the Gaza Strip. This victory by the radical force in Palestine will empower a new generation of revolutionary, anti-Western young people. As General Clark said, Gaza could now be a breeding ground for Al Qaeda connected radicals. It is the beginning of a new framework of discussion and diplomacy and it is possible now for warfare to spread and alliances to harden.

I hope General Clark continues to speak up. Harry Reid is hitting a wrong note: This is not the time to go after General Petraeus with personal criticism. It encourages a negative mood for the Democrats. And it is wrong to criticize soldiers on the ground as “detached” and “incompetent” as Reid has recently done. It shows an intrinsic misunderstanding of the matrix of power in our country.

Perhaps only General Clark can forcefully and effectively shape the issues now for the Democrats and prevent the descent into this kind of "shadow" criticism that they are rapidly sinking into - it will drive the Democrats to nihilism and irrelevance, which at this point could lead our country to hidden disasters.

In The Wall Street Journal this week Reagan speech-writer Peggy Noonan all but called for a third party. David Broder of the Washington Post actually called for a third party last week.

Mainstream conservatives like Noonan and Broder are getting the idea: There are always other options.

One such attractive option is New York mayor Mike Bloomberg, who said he would start his own third party if the standing parties can’t come up with something original and dynamic. Bloomberg himself is nothing if not dynamic and he does speak to the heart of New York City as great mayors like Ed Koch and Fiorello LaGuardia did. But he is enigmatic as well and is said to have all but sponsored Lieberman’s forey into third-party politics in Connecticut in ’06. Bloomberg could well bring the same Lieberman perspective to the national stage. Coincidentally, Mayor Mike is up here in New Hampshire this weekend. Just visiting, he says.

Bloomberg, nominally a Republican, has bi-partisan support, and political venerables like Ham Jordan, former chief for Jimmy Carter and Angus King, former Independent Governor of Maine, have been calling for a third party all year.

It should be noted as well that "post partisanship" being advanced in California in particular by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is an ascending political trend in political journals like The Nation. These new directions would well coalesce in a new framework provided by Bloomberg and the half billion of his own cash that he is willing to put up for this new venture. If so, one of the two standing parties could get a one-way ticket to Palookaville, as the Whigs did in the mid 1800s.

The Democrats need a candidate with the smarts and managerial abilities of Romney or they will be dead in the water come September. They need Wes Clark: If they don’t come forth now with their best First-Tier managers and strategists - Mark Warner of Virginia, Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, Mike Easley of North Carolina, Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania have been strangely overlooked for the naive and ideological American Idol lineup - they may find themselves descending into a spiral of irrelevance and caught in a twist of fate which they can no longer find their way out of.