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January 23, 2004
Clark Stumbles Again

General Wesley Clark continues to turn this election into an emulation of the Little Bighorn by heedlessly charging into hostile territory without a clue as to what he's doing, and then expecting to succeed on sheer personality alone. (Talk about being unarmed!) Yesterday, Clark attempted a full-speed retreat on his previous statements on abortion:

In his latest statement, Clark reaffirmed his support for abortion rights during an appearance at a Planned Parenthood conference timed to coincide with the 31st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling upholding a woman's constitutional right to an abortion. ...

Asked when Roe v. Wade stipulates that life begins, Clark said: "I'm not going to get into a debate on viability. . . . Viability is a standard determined by a doctor, and I'm not going to get into a specific time frame." When asked to explain Roe v. Wade, Clark said, "I am not going to go into detail. . . . It's there for everyone to read."

Clark's campaign tried to spin this latest statement as a clarification of his position on abortion. But as the Washington Post's political reporter Terry Neal writes, it actually contradicts Clark's position earlier this month:

Earlier this month, Clark told a Manchester Union Leader reporter that he didn't have a "litmus tests" for choosing judges. He later called the reporter to say, "I'm not going to be appointing judges who are pro-life." Clark also told the paper that he believed abortion should be legal until the moment of birth. His campaign said later that he had not intended to get into a debate over the timing of abortion.

No court has ever ruled abortion to be legal up until the moment of birth, and that certainly wasn't the ruling or intent of Roe v Wade, and most people who support legal abortion would find that position repulsive. But that is exactly what Clark said:

The Presidential candidate also told The Union Leader that until the moment of birth, the government has no right to influence a mother’s decision on whether to have an abortion. “Life,” he said, “begins with the mother’s decision.”

Do I think that Clark wants to kill babies the day before they're born? No, but like so many other issues during this campaign, Clark shifts positions based on the amount of flak he gets after he opens his mouth. It demonstrates a lack of intellectual process on the part of the General, as well as a deficiency in honesty. I believe that Clark had no idea what he thought about abortion, if anything at all, and gave what he thought would be the mainstream Democratic position. When challenged on his inconsistencies and missteps, Clark (or his campaign) blames the media for getting it wrong, and when he's presented with hard evidence -- like his London Times editorial praising Bush and Blair for their tenacity and congratulating them for successfully prosecuting the war in Iraq -- his response boils down to the old joke: "Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?"

Both Dean and Clark carry a pattern of inconsistencies, flip-flops, and outright lies that bode ill for a national campaign against George Bush and Karl Rove. I suspect that both candidates will have a hard time finishing any higher than third in the upcoming New Hampshire primary. Clark will not be around too much longer than Lieberman.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 23, 2004 12:26 PM

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