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December 22, 2003
Now, Now, Gentlemen, We're Mostly Democrats Here

Apparently, there's been a miscommunication between Howard Dean and General Wesley Clark regarding the potential VP slot on the Democratic ticket:

Speaking in a taped interview on ABC's "This Week," Clark said Dean had asked him to be his running mate should Dean win the Democratic nomination in a conversation before Clark entered the race.

Unfortunately for Clark, Dean's campaign doesn't recall ever having that conversation, and spokesman Joe Trippi said so shortly after Clark's comments were made. This prompted a testy retort from Clark's campaign:

"Joe Trippi may want to check in with his candidate before talking," Matt Bennett said in a statement from Clark headquarters in Little Rock, Arkansas. "Howard Dean did in fact offer Wes Clark a place on the ticket in a one-on-one meeting that Trippi did not attend."

This offer supposedly took place in a meeting over three months ago, when Dean's campaign still looked like a dark horse. As Trippi pointed out, Dean was hardly in a position to start offering VP slots to anyone else in the campaign, especially since conventional wisdom was that Dean would be getting VP consideration in order to bolster leftist credentials for a Kerry-led ticket, or possibly Lieberman, who of course had been on the last Democratic presidential ticket.

However, while we have been busily pointing out all of the inconsistencies and flat-out lies coming from the Dean campaign, this points out a similar problem in the Clark campaign as well. As noted in Power Line, Jeff Jacoby's piece in the Boston Globe, "Clark's Fading Credibility," underscores a number of areas where Clark has twisted reality and his own positions in order to pander to the anti-war leftists currently favoring Dean. For instance, regarding Clark's conceited boast that he would have had bin Laden "two years ago", Clark not only couldn't deliver when he was in charge in the Balkans, but had genocidal nutcases as drinking partners:

But Clark has had extensive experience in the Balkans and ought to know something about capturing international war criminals. After all, the two most-wanted men in the world before Sept. 11, 2001, were Radovan Karadzic, the former president of the Bosnian Serbs, and Ratko Mladic, the head of the Bosnian Serb army. They are widely considered responsible for the worst atrocities in Europe since World War II, including the "ethnic cleansing" of Bosnia and Croatia, the murderous siege of Sarajevo, the slaughter of 7,000 unarmed boys and men in Srebrenica, and the systematic rape of thousands of Bosnian women and girls.

Karadzic and Mladic were indicted in 1995 by the UN war-crimes tribunal, but their barbarity was common knowledge well before that. As far back as 1992 they were publicly identified by then-Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger as war-crimes suspects. So how did Clark, who claims he would have "had Osama bin Laden dead or alive two years ago," collar the two Serb butchers?

Well, actually -- he didn't. Karadzic and Mladic are still at large.

And yet it probably is fair to say that Clark knows more about dealing with war criminals than the rest of the Democratic field. After all, none of the other candidates has ever horsed around with a mass murderer. Clark has.

On Aug. 27, 1994, when he was a three-star general working for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Clark paid a visit to Mladic in Bosnia. In so doing, The Washington Post reported, he "ignored State Department warnings not to meet with Serb officials suspected of ordering deaths of civilians." Clark says he wanted to get Mladic's views for a policy paper he was writing and thought he had permission to do so.

Either way, Clark did more than take notes. The two men drank wine and posed for jovial pictures that showed them merrily wearing each other's caps. Mladic plied Clark with other gifts, too -- a bottle of brandy and a pistol inscribed "From General Mladic." It was like "Ike going to Berlin while the Germans were besieging Leningrad," one disgusted commentator wrote, "and having schnapps with Hermann Goering."

This is so bad that it's difficult to imagine how he stays in the race with this record behind him, but there are more inconsistencies than that, including the fact that he was a Republican until he entered the Presidential race, and that he spent the last two years toasting the president he's currently roasting. Then there's his position on post-war Iraq, where he gets even more incoherent, as Jacoby states:

Yet Clark, bowing to the Democratic fetish for multilateralism, insists that the conduct of the war in Iraq be taken out of US hands and turned over to an international organization.

"I would go to NATO," Clark says, "and I would tell John Abizaid, the [US] commander, `You're now working for NATO.' " And what would that change, exactly? Not much, Clark admits. "When you do NATO, it's the United States, anyway, that's doing it. I mean, NATO doesn't have an intelligence system. It relies almost exclusively on the United States." It is an incoherent position, and the more he tries to clarify it, the more he retreats into windy platitudes. "I think if the United States works in efficient multilateralism through NATO, we can move the world."

Before he became a presidential candidate, Clark strongly supported the Iraq war resolution; since entering the race, he has tied himself into knots insisting that he actually opposed it. Before becoming a candidate, he described Saddam as a menace requiring urgent action -- "the clock is ticking," he said last year. Now Clark labors to explain why Saddam wasn't a burning issue -- "there was no ticking clock," he said last week.

Neither Dean nor Clark are prepared for the hard questions that governance of the US requires. Neither of them can give a straight answer. Neither of them have a position that they can't modify to pander to a target audience. In a way, it's a shame they won't be on the same ticket, so the country can repudiate both of these rank opportunists in one election.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 22, 2003 5:52 AM

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