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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Wednesday, September 17, 2003


Clark can't fill Dean's shoes

posted by Aziz P. at Wednesday, September 17, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
Gabriel points out below that Clark's entry could conceivably demolish Kerry. And several have pointed out that yesterday's pre-announcement leak was timed to undercut Edwards. Clark is well-positioned to take the gloss of of every major candidate - except for Dean. Kos pointed out that the Clark campaign is rejecting the Dean-pioneered campaign model for a more traditional approach - one that also highlights the divisions within the Draft movement:

The Clark plan is probably simple enough -- set themselves up as the anti-Dean. They probably figure Dean will take care of Gephardt (Iowa) and Kerry (NH) all by himself. So they'll give Dean a temporary pass and train their guns on Edwards and Lieberman. (Clark's announcement date was strategically timed to drown out Edwards' effort -- something I previously missed.)

Take those two out, and Clark has a clear path in the SC and OK primaries. Then he and Dean can fight over AZ, DE, MO and NM -- the rest of the states on Feb 2.

After that, it would be a Dean/Clark battle to the bitter end. And with Fabiani and Lehane in the mix, it won't be clean or amicable.

It pains me to say this, but it's not looking like a Dean/Clark or Clark/Dean ticket will be viable.

Also keep an eye out on the competing Draft teams and the role they'll play in the campaign.

There's the classy team of, and then there's the team (who should get along really well with Lehane. They're cut from the same cloth). There is no love lost between the two groups.

Clark is building a team with high-powered Clinton guys, seemingly deploying a traditional top-bottom approach that runs counter to the very spirit that fueled the Draft movement.

Clark's challenge is to integrate the Draft movement into his organization despite any resistance his new consultants may exhibit, while also forcing the feuding Draft camps to settle their differences.

The major weakness of Clark's entry positioning is that it is routinely described as "aided by the Clinton/Gore campaign team" - a phrase that suggests Clark is entering as another blank slate candidate, a vehicle for the ambitions of the advisors rather than someone who brings original ideas to the table and stimulates debate. This may be incorrect, and Clark may well prove himself to be the driving force behind his own campaign, but the litmus test will be what happens to the Draft movement.

If the (DWC) folks are sidelined, and their ideas of distributed campaigning are brushed aside, then Clark will have failed. The people will probably quickly abandon all grassroots-centric ideas and fall into line, whereas the DWC might find itself feeling betrayed. If that happens we need to make a case to them to join us.

Ultimately, the benefit of Clark is that he embodies the counterargument of the "Dems soft on defense" meme. And his entry is to be lauded for that reason alone. But at this point it doesn't look like the Emperor has any clothes. And if that turns out to be true, we need to extend a hand to the DWC people and make our case, that Dean is still strong on defense without Clark, simply because its a simple case to make that Bush's foreign policy has been harmful to the national interest.

So, it would be great to have Clark be a strong candidate, but we need to be ready in case he isn't.


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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.