Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Journal - 6/25/08 - Gary Hart, Wes Clark, Sam Nunn, Obama's VP

War for the sake of war

Gary Hart makes the point in a NYTs op-ed that we enter a true new chapter in American history with the rise of Obama. Cites Emerson. My comment:

What we have been rising to since Eisenhower and Kennedy is a true globalism in American consciousness that is not shackled to the European tradition and its lore and burdens, but feels a comfortable visitor in Africa or Laos as well. Obama is the avatar who comes from the East to the center rather than from the West. We will also leave behind the internal North/South paradigm which has determined our fate these past two hundred years, to the burgeoning East/West political dynamic, which finds its center in Obama's Chicago rather than D.C. He needs to poach Bloomberg and Schwarzenegger who share his energy and excitement for new awakenings and rise to their challenges.

Wes Clark supporter, Ellen, asks about Clark's chance for VP. General Clark's conspicuous absence from a list of National Security Study Group people for an Obama administration suggested he was being considered for VP. My comment:

Tea leaves: Clark’s presence at head of flag officers (in this Reuters photo of Tony McPeak, Obama and Clark) bolsters Obama’s comments last week preparing/prelude to this moment. Obama said he was considering a military officer for VP and suggestion was James Jones. But Clark is prominent here; Jones comment was stealth.

Clark on left because Obama will use him on interior America role (Introvert – rebuilding a patriotic America; VP only does foreign policy in Bushworld) and use an older man for exterior World (Extravert). Clark VP, Sam Nunn, Sec. of State., Sebelius, Chief of Staff.

Clark v. Romney: I guess from my point of view the war on Iraq and foreign affairs are secondary. What is primary is how did Americans allow this to happen? We can blame the weakling Courts, Congress and the Press for Gitmo, torture, the repeal of habeas corpus and this phony invasion but 75% endorsed this. They may be tired of the war, but Romney will be back either as VP or as Presidential candidate in 2012 to restore the Bush vision. This is where I see General Clark as important and always have. You cannot abdicate your principles then go back to them after the moral crisis. The Iraq war was evidence that we as Americans are no longer guided by republican government and principles; like Sarko and the new Euro Bush Souls, we are collaborators. It is in human nature to justify our failings. Little wars lead to bigger wars shortly after as they empower the citizenry to fight; the Mexican War led to the Civil War. WW I empowered Hitler and Germany in the 1940s. We are now in the gulf between wars perhaps, waiting for Mitt Romney to fulfill Bush’s great vision. I saw only Wesley Clark as standing out in opposition at the very beginning. Others, like Howard Dean opposed, but it is one thing when a northern New England Governor opposes – we oppose everything – and a General with the status of Wesley Clark. This is just beginning and it will be a fight for the restoration of the soul of America. Bush is widely expected to convert to Catholicism after his shift. This is a weird twist in the Protestant Ethic (speaking as a Catholic/buddhist). I half expect he sees himself now as eventually being canonized; just as he and his father saw them selves as Adams and son. And although it is pathological, I see it not an impossible vision. Romney and Clark could fight this out in single warrior combat for the American soul.

. . . up here in Vermont (region) people have bumper stickers with the date of Bush's last day in office. But you can't do that; you can't let them take it and just wait till it passes. If yo do, it won't pass. You have to take it back from them or you lose your character as true citizens. You have to demand it. America's fate could well hang between Wes Clark and Mitt Romney.

. . . if not VP, he (Clark) will be what I wrote in one of my first articles about him - "the bull dog heart of a new Democratic Party."

Suggestion: Obama has some unique and enlightened perspectives but it is beginning now to be able to see at what every day level of decision making he will channel - that is, Sebelius, Webb, Gore, Clark would all be interesting VPs but each of those four would make fully different Cabinet packages and unique administrations. Obama is spending a lot of time these last two weeks with Tom Daschle and Tom is said to be pitching heavily several including Wesley Clark. I don't see Webb getting it - a great and interesting man but with the artist's heart and too unpredictable for the management quality - which I see as very, very high given Obama's campaign to date - that Obama will demand. A Webb decision would not fit Obama's decision - making pattern and it would be too many coyotes on one ticket. A Gore VP would be an emergency "save the environment" team - we may need that but we're not going to do it. Obama will demand management skills of the highest level. That is Clark, Sebelius, Mark Warner (Ed Rendell also a possibility - he was a great hero in Philly; I covered his first race for mayor - but two candidates from northern big cities? Clark as Southern karma.) Warner says no, he won't take it. Sebelius is possibly the best manager of a middle-size state. And she has a way nice Kansas, heartland karma and personality. But we need management plus; Clark has First Tier management but can bring an interior cohesion to the party and the country that the others can't. His work in '06 was important in giving the Democrats a new attitude. Clark fits Obama's recent decision-making patterns. His Cabinet will be mainstream - Tom Daschle - but with a positive new attitude and Clark adds real cache to it so he is currently my first guess since the naming of the National Security Study Group thing.

. . . but if it is a purely symbolic decision he'll pick the guy from Montana or Clare McCaskill, Senator from Missouri.

Ellen cites the Gary Hart comments in the NYTs: This campaign presents the potential for a new cycle of American history.

My thought:
Absolutely. He cites Emerson and Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. , but the cycles of history theme is most accurately described by William Strauss and Neil Howe in their books "The Fourth Turning" and "Millennials." Specifically, the authors re-animated a theory of Roman historians which describes a four-generation post-war period - an 80 year-period which Roman historians called a saeculum. The culture breaks and turns at the beginning of the fourth generation, which is now. Before General Clark entered the '04 race a friend and I each sent Gary Hart a very small amount of cash and asked him to run for President and asked him to come up here to NH to speak. He came up and spoke at Amherst and U NH and perfectly and in hindsight, with complete accuracy, outlined what would happen if the Bush administration invaded Iraq. A few months later he announced that he would not run for President and listen to this: He sent our money back! An example of cycles of history can be seen when W.J. Cash, from Shelby, NC, wrote a book called "The Mind of the South" in 1941, a criticism of the Confederate mentality which lingered in the segregated South. He fully expected to be denounced from every quarter. But he wasn't. His book was favorably reviewed by 50 newspaper editors in the south and became a turning point in Southern history writing, opening the gate for people like C. Vann Woodward and other great historians. The South had largely gotten past the Confederacy by 1941 and was ready to move on. We are at that point right now with WW II history and its afterglow, Cold War. The country is ready to move away from seeing Russia as our enemy and viewing our trials as all across the Atlantic. The fourth-generation simply doesn't understand. China is rising; India is rising. They present the world ahead and cannot be viewed as enemies. McCain is not ready; this creates the dangerous nostalgico condition that Spain suffered with Franco - Bush is a nostalgico President and guilty of the greatest of all war crimes and the mother of all war crimes; war for the sake of imitating valor; it is war for the sake of war. Bush's roll in the cycles of history is as a gatekeeper but his roll is to close the gate that Ronald Reagan opened. Bush closes the door on the post-Victorian century. The new gate and the new century opens now with Obama. Now we begin to look East as well as West.