Sunday, May 18, 2008

Obama’s VP: Wes Clark or Jim Webb? DKos diary, 5/18/08

A recent article in the Washington Post says top fundraisers for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have been privately getting together to converge the two teams. It claims there are growing reports that the only way to repair the rift between the two parties is for Obama to pick a top Clinton surrogate as his VP nominee:

“There’s a gale-force pressure for Obama to choose a Clinton loyalist as a running mate to heal the party but avoid putting her and her formidable baggage on the ticket,” said one Obama ally in Washington. “You hear the names (Ohio Gov. Ted) Strickland, (Indiana Sen. Even) Bayh, and (retired Gen.) Wes Clark almost constantly, and it’s no secret that Jim Johnson and Tom Daschle are purveyors of that wisdom.”

In making his decision, Obama might consider the importance of the historic moment. As he has been called a transitional candidate, so we are today in a transitional awakening – a springpoint of historical dimensions.

The candidate chosen should be one who intuitively saw the contours of that transition coming, as President Bush and his agents embarked on a misplaced adventure in Iraq: What we want here is the one who was the first to see and the first to act. Obama did, and so did Wesley Clark. And at every point in the delusional spiral of policy, Wes Clark provided a stepping stone to the truth and a new direction for the Democrats to take.

The Democrats have taken that path; incrementally at first and now in the mainstream. Democratic policy today on Iraq as it is expressed by Obama can been seen to have historical process and path from September, 2003 when Wesley Clark joined the 2004 race for President, to June, 2007 when Clark’s position on Iraq became the mainstream of the Democrats.

There is no doubt that the current breach in the Democratic Party could be fatal in November, so the question of Obama’s VP is a vital one.

But it is equally important to pick the candidate who will rise with the times and carry the generations with him. And generations here today are more important than region. As VP, Strickland, Bayh or even Ed Rendell, Gov. of PA would help Obama with regions which have been reading unfavorable to him, but – Rendell aside – some of the figures mentioned to bring regional balance and detente with the Clintons are benign Democratic figures and the thinking here goes perhaps: Let’s get a Hillary supporter but a benign one who would be seldom scene and will make no complaints – in the corporate parlance, it would be throwing a bone to the Clintons.

It is always a mistake to do this for in every situation we should strive to pick the best and the brightest among us; even with our enemies, the best and the brightest in opposition make us stronger and better. But in this grouping, General Clark should be the first and only choice considered.

Clark began to conform to the Clinton camp about a year ago and if he planned to do so earlier, there was no suggestion of it even in conversations with his closest friends, relatives and representatives. It is hard to imagine that he would do anything other than lend support to his former Commander-in-Chief, fellow Rhodes Scholar, fellow Arkansas traveler and friends and colleagues for 25 years. The country and the world got a lucky break when President Clinton specifically took General Clark’s plan and advice on Kosovo when the foreign policy establishment was otherwise adrift.

But that was then and this is now. We are today at the critical Millennial Makover, as authors Morley Winograd and Michael D. Hais say in a recent book of that title (Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube and the Future of American Politics). The generation which is rising now will continue to rise and create policy – create our world – into the next 30 years. The overall inclinations of this generation can be found daily here at Daily Kos. It is a harbinger and barometer of that generation’s hopes and yearnings, and that generation’s clear choice is Barack Obama. So what grows here in 2008, will continue to grow and flower into its own political eco system.

It is no secret that Senator Clinton has little support here. As DKos founder, Markos Moulitsas, recently pointed out, she has never registered above 11 percent in a monthly DKos poll of readers.

Thinking generationally seems to come more easily to the artist, monk and poet. It bugs most statisticians, political scientists and objective analysts because it finds its judgments not by specific causality of one event to the next, but by the study of parallel events and alternating events over extremely long periods of time; hundred-years intervals of thousand-year historical movements. But generations are history’s engine. Consider it this way: Imagine inviting Perry Como to have a role in The Beatles, so as to not hurt his feelings or those of his fans. It just doesn’t work, and bringing in the wrong Clinton surrogate to the Obama camp would likewise poison the pudding.

But not Wes Clark. As Senator Clinton’s approval ratings were hovering around zero here two years ago, General Clark’s was sky high. He has always been a favorite of the new generation and it was a web-based campaign which originally urged him to run in 2004. He was, with Mark Warner, the first prominent politician to appear at the first Yearly Kos, and all Presidential contenders would follow at the next.

So whatever else is taken into consideration, Wesley Clark would satisfy the needs of the Party and the new generation.

But Jim Webb, the Senator from Virginia, is also a favorite of the new generation and his election in ’06 was considered one of the first to resonate on the Internet. He was also a favorite here at Daily Kos. The recent publication of his new book, A Time to Fight, suggests he might like to be VP. The Nation says he is running for VP:

“Ronald Reagan's former Secretary of the Navy's got a new campaign book out -- A Time to Fight: Reclaiming a Fair and Just America -- and he is undoubtedly aware of the fact that he's currently topping Obama Veepstakes" survey.”

Jim Webb is certainly qualified to be President and VP on the First Tier as a former Secretary of the Navy and certainly one of the most versatile and creative individuals ever to enter the Senate. As a well-known author, Webb would pull in the Salon crowd but Obama already has them. Speculation is that as a rural Virginian he would help Obama with voters there. But there is nothing Webb brings to the southeast side of the Smokies and the Blue Ridge that a Southern General doesn’t bring as well.

Clark appeals to the South, the East, the West and the Great White North, and as a generational figure, he links time past with the future. There is a new generation of Democrats rising: Webb, Clark, Kathleen Sebelius, Mark Warner, John Lynch here in NH, hooking up with the Old School and the Wise, including Sam Nunn of Georgia and David Boren of Oklahoma. All of these will converge around Obama into a new kind of Democratic Mandala.

Clark, in his great support for veterans in the '06 race, has already altered the climate of the Democratic Party, bringing a strength of character and a patriotism to Democrats that we have not fully experienced in the most recent years. He should be Obama's first choice in this matter.


ted ford said...

intriguing idea. I remember you once writing of Clark's jewish ancestry and how you could envisage him with a yarmulke. Clark's acceptable and seems a bit more in control of himself than Webb. Of course, his support of Hillary was a bad error in judgment.

Bernie Quigley said...

There is a danger of an Obama ticket being "McGovernized" - that is, seen as "anti-war" and unpatriotic; it is a sham but General Clark would recover the veterans energies and not leave them dangling in the wind and despised as they were during the Vietnam war.

ted ford said...

Clark may be the best fit at VP, and the Clintons would be assuaged. I can see Sam Nunn at State. Would Webb leave the Senate to be Secretary of Defense?

Bernie Quigley said...

I'm thinking about an Obama Quarternity - would be Obama, POTUS, Clark, VP, Sam Nunn, State, and Kathleen Sebelius, Chief of Staff. Sebelius is considered the best sitting Governor right now although Wall St. gave her (and Warner) this accord several years ago - Arnold and Bloomberg are equally competent and should be poached for a special commission on environment. The critical issue now and crisis center is a management issue. No one should be on board Obama's ship who is not qualified in the highest tier. Someone needs to restore karma and character to the Senate - most of whom voted for the invasion of Iraq knowing it was an expedient. Webb could set a standard of excellence in the Senate running parrallel with Obama. But Webb should still be considered for VP; he is a Monkey God - Clark brings character and tradition, but Webb is one to awaken a whole new generation.

Anonymous said...