Those of you who are regular readers of this blog know that the usual title of my posts on democratic presendential politics is “Dean vs. Clark”.
Well I am now solidly in the Clark camp.
Last night we had about 70 people at our house to meet Wes Clark. He was everything I expected him to be. He is serious and funny, straight and compassionate, smart and warm, proud and humble, a great man and a regular guy.
He has that magic that great politicians have. He looks you in the eye and you feel special.
He spoke to our group for about 6-7 minues and then took questions for about 40 minutes.
He didn’t wait for the question about flag burning, he took it straight on. He said that free speech is a constitutional right and he recognized all the reasons why there may never be constituional protection for the flag. But he’s fought under the flag, seen men come home in coffins draped in the flag, and he knows how much the flag means to people. He said symbols are powerful things in our society. And so if all the things required to get a constitutional amendment passed on this issue were to happen, he’d be happy to sign it. I can’t argue with that logic. In fact, I think its right.
He talked about jobs and why we are are losing so many. I asked him to talk about his comment in Monday’s debate about software jobs going to India. He said that the US can’t and won’t stop these jobs from going to India, and for that matter, Russia, Eastern Europe, and possibly China. He said that anyone with a computer, an Internet connection, and a talent for writing great code can become an employee of a software company these days. He’s right. And further, I am impressed that he understands that. So many of our candidates don’t.
He talked about getting our troops out of Iraq. He wants to turn Iraq over to the Iraqis right now. He wants to bring Bremer home. He wants to bring the airborne and armor and all the traditional forces home. He wants to send in 20,000 troops who have been trained in policing. Teach them Arabic. Set them up all over the country in police stations alongside Iraqis. He wants to create a multi-national authority, not NATO, but something like NATO with Arab nations included. He wants that multi-national authority to oversee the transition. He wants to take our troops out of the impossible position they are in of being liqhtning rods for the Iraqi’s frustration and sitting ducks for their guns and bombs. That sounds like a good plan to me.
He said that the 2004 election is not going to be about the economy. It’s not going to be a replay of 1992. He believes the defining issue of this election, no matter who runs against Bush, is going to be our foreign policy, Iraq, the war on terror, homeland security, and the future of the America’s relationship with the world. He believes that he is the man to take on Bush on those issues, to show Americans a different and better way.
And that is why I am for Clark. I know he’s stuck in the low teens and is 20 points behind Dean in many polls. But I think he’s got what it takes to beat Bush, and I believe that Democrats all over the country will recognize that once they have the opportunity to take the measure of the man as I now have.