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Sunday, August 31, 2003


LA Weekly Profile & Clark

posted by G at Sunday, August 31, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
Little new information for Deanyboppers in this impressionistic first-person, all-about-me-the-journalist profile in the LA Weekly, and it's too steeped in political details to be good reading for the Dean neophyte. One bit is notable:
When I ask Dean about Clark, his response is characteristically two-fold. He praises him with sincere fervor: “I know Wes Clark, he’s a very good human being, and he’s got an enormous amount of integrity.” At the same time, on the subject of Clark entering the race, he shows more than a glint of steel. “It’s going to be very hard to start late,” he says, “and think you’re going to do well in Iowa and New Hampshire. It’s going to be incredibly hard. I mean, we’ve already got 39,000 people working for us all around the country . . . I really do believe — and I think about this — I want to get this nomination, and if I don’t . . . these kids are not transferrable. I can’t just go out and say, ‘Okay, so I didn’t win the nomination, so go ahead and vote for the Democrats.’ They’re not going to suddenly just go away. That’s not gonna happen.”
So will Clark run? Like many Dean enthusiasts, I like many things about Clark, chiefly the fact that his positions on the major issues mirror Dean's. However, I have deep concerns about a Clark candidacy.

First, unlike Dean, Clark is an unproven campaigner. He has zero experience in the world of electoral politics. He has never run for office or raised money for a campaign. While he might do fine at these tasks, we just don't know.

Dean's comment in the LA Weekly article points to another concern--that the passion he's generated won't be transferable to another candidate. This is certainly true for the other current candidates for the Democratic nomination. But I think many Dean supporters would embrace Clark with enthusiasm in the main election.

What is most worrisome is the danger that Clark could draw some energy away from Dean's campaign without generating enough to achieve lift-off himself. It's possible to imagine scenarios under which Clark enters the race, neither Dean or Clark win Iowa and New Hampshire, and then Kerry ends up getting the nomination. While I'd certainly support Kerry in the general election, I think he would be a weak candidate against Bush.

Despite rumors to the contrary, I'd wager Clark won't enter the race. He's a smart guy. He won't risk a nearly guaranteed VP or Cabinet spot for a gamble at the presidency. He can run in 2012.

I also doubt the speculation that Dean will declare Clark his VP choice before the primaries. While Dean would have everything to gain from such a move, Clark would have everything to lose. Like the methodical military man he is, he'll keep his options open. That's my read of the tea leaves. How do you see it?


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.