View Full Version : 'A New Center'

September 4th, 2003, 04:03 PM
September 4, 2003

Something to Talk About


LOS ANGELES — When the Democratic presidential contenders meet in Albuquerque tonight for the first of their official fall debates, they'll be hamstrung not only by their "nine dwarfs" tableau and by President Bush's popularity, but also by a loss of ambition that has perversely narrowed the boundaries of domestic debate.

Consider one of the most pressing issues, health care. John Edwards and Joseph Lieberman have unveiled plans to expand coverage that are more modest than the proposal offered by President George H. W. Bush in 1992 (which would have covered 30 million of the then 35 million uninsured). On the supposedly "liberal" side, Howard Dean, John Kerry and Richard Gephardt say they eventually want to cover everyone. But in the years ahead their various plans would reach perhaps 30 million of today's 41 million uninsured. No serious Democratic contender today would endorse Richard Nixon's plans from the early 1970's for universal health coverage and a minimum family income: Nixon's package was far too liberal.

Health care may be the most glaring example, but the same timidity characterizes Democratic talk on schools, wages and more. Millions of poor children, for example, are systematically warehoused with the nation's least qualified teachers, making a mockery of Washington's pledge to "leave no child behind." Yet no Democrat is offering a serious plan to raise teachers' salaries to lure a new generation of talent to urban schools. Fifteen million people live in poverty despite being in homes headed by full-time workers. Yet no Democrat has presented anything bolder than a modest hike in the minimum wage that might bring its value, adjusted for inflation, to what that wage was worth in the late 1970's.

What happened to the Democratic Party's willingness to take on the problems facing ordinary people? Since 1994, when the Clinton health care plan imploded in a fiasco that cost the party control of Congress, Democrats have been too scared to think big again. Republicans, emboldened by this timidity, have reacted by pushing harder on their traditional priorities of cutting taxes and regulations. As a result, a commitment to two longstanding American ideals — equal opportunity and a minimally decent life for citizens of a wealthy nation — has been lost.

Bringing these ideals back to the political mainstream requires a fresh approach. Democrats need to frame these issues as matters of common sense, not as part of any particular ideology. Democrats also need to realize that the means by which the nation achieves these goals is less important than a shared commitment to results. For instance, if we can give uninsured families generous vouchers (or tax credits) to buy health coverage at group rates from regulated private insurers, we should do it — not hold out for a traditionally liberal, government-centered solution. This is a moment for pragmatism in the service of ambitious goals, not doctrinal purity that remains marginalized.

What American politics urgently needs, in other words, is not a new left, but a new center. Democrats need to refocus domestic debate around a handful of fundamental goals on which all Americans can agree — goals that in turn become the new basis for setting fiscal priorities and tradeoffs.

Yes, there will be fights over details. But if we first ask what equal opportunity and a decent life in America mean, can't we agree that anyone who works full time should be able to provide for his or her family? That every citizen should have basic health coverage? And that special efforts should be made to make sure that poor children have good schools?

Fixing these problems will take federal dollars, an amount of cash that is mistakenly viewed as "unaffordably liberal" under existing terms of debate. In fact, an agenda that covered the uninsured, subsidized a new living wage of $9 an hour and adequately compensated teachers would cost less than two cents on the national dollar, or 2 percent of the nation's gross domestic product.

Such new angles of vision are necessary if we're to get serious about America's biggest domestic problems. But the first step is for Democrats to climb out of their decade-long crouch. Republicans have been allowed to frame the conversation for so long that the terms of public debate have become surreal. After all, Margaret Thatcher would have been tossed from office if she'd proposed anything as radically conservative as Bill Clinton's health plan — which still would have left several million people uncovered and had the private sector deliver the medicine.

As Democrats start sprinting toward their primaries, the candidate who can take what the Republican Party denigrates as "wild-eyed liberal dreams" and reframe them properly as simple common sense will have the best chance to beat President Bush — and of deserving to.

Matthew Miller, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, is author of "The 2 Percent Solution: Fixing America's Problems in Ways Liberals and Conservatives Can Love."

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

September 4th, 2003, 08:27 PM
Clark mum on candidacy, but joins Democrats
By Associated Press, 9/4/2003

WASHINGTON -- Wesley Clark still won't say whether he will seek the presidency, but the retired Army general finally revealed his political affiliation yesterday: Democrat.

"As I looked at where the country is now domestically and look at our policies abroad, I have to say that I'm aligned with the Democratic Party. I like the message the party has. I like what it stands for," Clark said in an interview on CNN's "Inside Politics."

For months, the former NATO commander has said he belongs to no political party and is not raising money, though many expect him to enter the Democratic presidential primary. Clark has said he is getting closer to a decision and will make his intentions clear before a speech in Iowa on Sept. 19.

"I'm closer to working my way through it, I'm closer to understanding what partisan politics is about," he said yesterday. "My family and I are moving toward closure on this issue."

If Clark enters the race, he would be the 10th Democratic candidate.

He would be far behind his rivals in organization and fund-raising at this stage in the process, although he would bring an extensive military background and national security credentials.

Clark, 58, is a Rhodes scholar who graduated first in his class at West Point and served as NATO commander during the 1999 campaign in Kosovo. He now works as a businessman and consultant in Arkansas.

Clark said he has talked to potential staffers and held discussions about money, but has not made a final decision.

© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.

A new middle must mean moving to the right on defense and security for the Democrats.

Dean is too anti, Kerry is too wishy-washy, Liberman is too hawkish.

The U.S. cannot lose her autonomy to the United Nations, but being well connected internationally is most desirable.

This guy could have it.

:arrow: http://www.draftwesleyclark.com/ :!:

September 17th, 2003, 02:28 AM
I've been pro- Wesley Clark for about a 6 or 8 months now, since I first started hearing rumors he might jump in. I disagreed with him over entering Iraq, he was opposed, but we've already gone into Iraq, that's past history. I think he could be the right man to win the peace. His leadership role in NATO could help the U.S. mend fences across the pond. A four star general in the executive branch could be very much in the U.S. best interest today. I like Joe Lieberman, I thought the ticket was backwards when he ran with Gore in 2000 and of the current pack of Democrats, he is the most elect-able. I do think a President Lieberman could put the U.S. in a tough position on the world stage with middle east issues. I'm very pro-Israel, and I don't think Joe's religion should be a deciding factor in his candidacy... but it would be a tough time to go there for the U.S... on foreign policy, it could introduce complications.

The primary system is terribly flawed. Because only the "party base" participates in them, only the most hardcore-zealously right-wing ideologues vote in the Republican Party primary, and only the most radically-fanatically left-wing vote in the Democratic Party primary. It forces both party's to only nominate the extremes, which means the candidates that eventually run in the general election are the candidates from each party that are least desirable for the greatest number of people. Most people are in the center (that's why it's called the center). Wesley Clark will by far be the most broadly elect-able candidate the Democrats have proffered, and is likely too moderate to win the primary. My thinking is that Dean will win the Democratic nomination and even if he brings Clark on board as a V.P. running mate to "pull the ticket back to the center" as they say, at this moment I cannot see myself ever considering voting for him. On a national stage, I think Dean is unelectable. The Democratic party base loves him. If Dean gets the nomination, he will be another Dukakis. I'll still hold out hope for Clark. The current candidates selection is just poor enough that Clark might have a chance.

Maybe a Clark / Lieberman ticket.

Oh, and FYI, Clark is supose to anounce his candidacy later today... if that's not already old news...

September 17th, 2003, 06:38 PM
GO WES!! :) :)

I've been a Clarkster since June, and I think he has the best chance of getting the nomination. On one hand he has similar posistions on the issues as Dean (Dean is A LOT more moderate than the media says he is. BTW Dean is my second choice) he's also second in Grass-Roots on the internet behind Dean, and he also has support from insiders that Dean doesn't have.

Check out his website


October 3rd, 2003, 06:41 PM
October 3, 2003


Wes Clark's War


WASHINGTON, OCT. 2 — You can tell a lot about a politician by the way he handles a crisis. Retired Gen. Wesley K. Clark, the newest Democratic presidential hopeful, confronted his most important challenge in 1999, when he was the senior commander of NATO and the alliance went to war to stop Slobodan Milosevic from repressing the ethnic Albanian population in Kosovo.

It is no secret that General Clark's relationship with the Pentagon was strained during that conflict. So it is also not surprising that reporters have begun to mine that period for the sort of score-settling anecdotes that often serve as fodder for political profiles.

But it is worth taking a step back and taking a fuller look at General Clark's record. The larger story is this: General Clark believed the stakes were so high for NATO that the alliance needed to be prepared to confront Mr. Milosevic militarily.

When the fighting erupted, General Clark managed to keep the alliance intact. Along with Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, he believed that NATO could not ensure victory by relying on airstrikes alone and needed to have the option of using ground troops — a view that that put General Clark at odds with a risk-averse Pentagon, but one that was supported by many strategic experts.

NATO's military campaign was not perfect by any means. But the general's judgment on those critical issues seems pretty solid when viewed in perspective: a humanitarian wrong was righted and NATO won its first and only war.

So far, General Clark appears to embody a Democratic vision of what a military man should be — a cerebral West Point graduate who believes that building the United States' military might is just one of the nation's priorities; a multilateralist respectful of the United Nations; and pro-active on humanitarian intervention.

Whether a retired Army general and military intellectual has the political skills, breadth and temperament to succeed as a presidential candidate is an issue that will become clearer as his campaign unfolds. The country is just beginning to learn his views on the economy and domestic issues. The war over Kosovo, however, provides a window into General Clark's thinking on security issues and his instincts in an international crisis.

I covered the Kosovo conflict at NATO headquarters in Brussels, at allied air bases in Italy and on an Air Force command plane one memorable evening that flew near Kovoso as ethnic Albanian fighters tangled with Mr. Miloseovic army's at Mount Pastrik.

It was clear that the stakes for NATO were enormous and that its commander was not in an enviable position. The United States Air Force general, Michael C. Short, who oversaw NATO's air campaign was pressing for a freer hand in conducting strikes in Belgrade while some anxious allies were insisting that the air attacks focus on Serbian troops. General Clark had an ally in NATO's secretary general, Javier Solana, but still had to maintain the support of 19 NATO nations, not to mention the Clinton administration, which had divisions in its own ranks.

Since General Clark announced his intention to run for the presidency last month, a number of partial and even misleading accounts of the war have emerged. Some have suggested that his strained relationship with the Pentagon reflects badly on his skills as a leader. What is often overlooked in these accounts is that important issues were at stake in deciding whether and how to go to war.

There was a general sense in many allied capitals that the West had dithered too long in the early 1990's before intervening to quell the ethnic fighting in Bosnia, and that this had occurred at the cost of thousands of lives and the credibility of the NATO alliance. General Clark was among those who urged that the West act in a more resolute way when the Kosovo crisis developed years later. But not everyone at the Pentagon shared those priorities or was eager to commit the forces to back them up.

"There was giant resistance from the Pentagon to deepening the commitment to the Balkans," General Clark told me in a 2001 interview. He said the Balkans had not figured in "the Pentagon view of its national military strategy, which is to prepare to fight in the Persian Gulf and in Korea, and that short of that, the maximum amount should be spent on the procurement account."

That Pentagon resistance spilled over into planning for a possible ground war. In a misguided effort to build Congressional support, the Clinton administration indicated that it was not planning a land offensive, an assertion that removed a means of applying leverage on Mr. Milosevic. With the air war dragging on and concern that hundred of thousands of ethnic Albanians might not be returned to their Kosovo homes before the winter of 1999, the British began pressing to start preparations for a possible land campaign.

General Clark mounted a parallel lobbying effort. Even before his push to prepare a land campaign, General Clark was advocating the use of Apache helicopters, artillery and rockets, which were deployed in Albania and known as Task Force Hawk.

It was important for NATO to take a stand in the Balkans and foolish for the alliance to go to war with one hand tied behind its back. Conventional air power had never previously won a war single-handedly and there was no guarantee that it would succeed in Kosovo in a reasonable time frame. General Clark's insistence on preparing a ground option was sound military doctrine.

While General Clark was never allowed to send Task Force Hawk into battle, the White House was giving serious attention to a possible ground campaign when the war ended and Mr. Milosevic agreed to withdraw his troops from Kosovo. Indeed, the perception that NATO was moving toward a ground option might well have been a factor in Mr. Milosevic's calculations.

Another notion about General Clark's record is that he was reckless when he proposed occupying the Pristina airfield in Kosovo after the war to preclude the Russians from rushing in troops.

After Mr. Milosevic agreed to withdraw his forces from Kosovo, NATO and the Russians were still at odds over the sort of peacekeeping force that should be deployed. Anxious to avoid the partition of Kosovo, NATO insisted that the Russian forces come under its command. While that debate was still going on, the Russian military abruptly withdrew several hundred of its troops from Bosnia and dispatched them to the airfield at Pristina.

I was in Moscow at the time and it was clear that this had occurred without the blessing of the Russian Foreign Ministry and initially, it seems, the Kremlin. After reports of the troop movements first surfaced, I asked the Kremlin spokesman to check with his superiors. He later assured me no orders had been issued to send troops to Kosovo, something that did not say a lot for civilian command and control in Russia.

General Clark was anxious to prevent the Russian military from sending in more reinforcements and creating a Russian-protected Serb enclave. Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine were persuaded to close their airspace to Russian transport planes. But what if they relented under Russian pressure or the Russians defied the ban? Would NATO intercept Russian planes carrying troops?

General Clark's plan was to put NATO troops on the airfield to make it impossible for reinforcements to land. But a British general, Mike Jackson, who was in charge of the peacekeeping force that was to stabilize Kosovo after the Serb troops withdrew and who now serves as the head of the British Army, complained that it was too risky, famously asserting, with some hyperbole, that it would be risking World War III.

Britain was the United States' staunchest ally, and so the Clinton administration decided to defer to the British position. Still, General Clark's recommendation was not rash; it was a judgment call that had been discussed in detail in Washington and that was initially supported at senior levels of the American government.

One lingering question about General Clark's résumé is why his NATO tour came to an abrupt end in 2000. He was not fired by the White House, as some accounts have suggested. Rather, former officials of the Clinton administration say, his tour was cut short by Defense Secretary William S. Cohen and Gen. H. Hugh Shelton, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who were still smarting over their differences with the NATO commander.

The White House was told that General Clark's tour was being shortened a bit to smooth the transition to a capable successor. When President Clinton saw it for the slight it was intended to be, he was furious, according to senior Clinton administration officials. But the president was not anxious for an open confrontation with the Pentagon and decided to leave bad enough alone.

"Our belief at the White House was that General Clark had effectively led NATO forces to victory in Kosovo," Samuel R. Berger, Mr. Clinton's national security adviser, told me this week. "What we understood we were approving, after the war, was a succession, not a termination."

The Kosovo campaign had its flaws. There was too much wishful thinking among allied officials at the outset that a few days of bombing would do the job.

The strategy of gradual escalation, which was used to build consensus within NATO, has been widely criticized by military experts for depriving the alliance of the striking power it needed to more quickly settle a war that lasted 11 weeks. General Clark takes note of all of these problems and more in his tome on the conflict, "Waging Modern War" (PublicAffairs, 2001).

But the record also indicates that the general had very difficult questions to contend with and that his judgment on some of the crucial issues was sound.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

October 3rd, 2003, 08:11 PM
So far, General Clark appears to embody a Democratic vision of what a military man should be — a cerebral West Point graduate who believes that building the United States' military might is just one of the nation's priorities; a multilateralist respectful of the United Nations; and pro-active on humanitarian intervention.

I don't like the sound of this at all. The U.S. should not adopt a holier than thou humanitarian crusade. I will not support American troops dying so Democrats can look good saving beleaguered Africans etc. Helping with AIDS is about as humanitarian as I want to get.

The strategy of gradual escalation, which was used to build consensus within NATO, has been widely criticized by military experts for depriving the alliance of the striking power it needed to more quickly settle a war that lasted 11 weeks. General Clark takes note of all of these problems and more in his tome on the conflict, "Waging Modern War" (PublicAffairs, 2001).

Does anyone know whether his position is one of consensus building, military strategy, or some 'modern notion of diplomatic alliance?'

My understanding of war is that; the goal determines the strategy. If the goal is limited by the strategy, the strategy is wrong. Neither multilateralism nor unilateralism can be judged as a strategy on it's face without a military goal for context.

I am fearful that strict adoption of diplomatic protocol based upon 'world opinion' before defending our national interests will weaken our sovereignty. Is there any wonder why the U.N. wants to foist this and their world court upon us?

October 5th, 2003, 12:00 PM
I don't know very much about Clark's political positions. Hopefully, they will be revealed by campaign scrutiny.

Strategy in war: That depends on the type of war. In a war in which national survival is in question, such as WWII, the military goal (defeating the enemy) drives the strategy.

The US does not face the prospect of such a war today. In the wars we have been involved in during the last decade, military goals are an extension of political goals. Gradual escalation should have been used in Iraq. There was never any doubt that we would easily defeat them militarily - but once strategy was handed over to the Dept of Defense, well, they do what they're supposed to do, win the war.

Clark may turn out to be similar to Eisenhower, who coined the phrase
military-industrial complex.

October 5th, 2003, 02:24 PM

Sounds like the makings of a facist machine.

October 5th, 2003, 04:02 PM
I'm sorry you've never heard of Eisenhower's warning against the rising power of the military-industrial complex. It was in his farewell address.

October 5th, 2003, 06:53 PM

If I thought you would misunderstand, I would have put it in context:

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
Eisenhower is a good study of the career militarist as president. There are parallels with Clark:
West Point
Commander of a multinational force in Europe
Post military popularity.

October 6th, 2003, 11:04 AM
I am familiar with the warning of Eisenhower. In a way I am trying to highlight this fear in a contemporary context.

Since wars are waged with primarily political motives (which more and more correlate with private capitalistic interests), what is to keep an administration from casting a motive in a disingenuous humanitarian light?

I am fearful that introducing humanitarian impact as the ultimate virtue in military intervention will create a climate where foreign policy will be presented as an emotional issue where a charismatic moralizer can lead us into conflicts of dubious national strategic value.

Bush is a step in this direction already, but he is not as good at moralistic finger wagging as his more liberal counterparts.

Are we about to usher in an era of 'crusading feel-good foreign policy' that will be the epitome of American arrogance?

October 6th, 2003, 12:17 PM
So you objected to the intervention in Serbia, Bosnia, Kosovo?
American arrogance is more caused by acting unilaterally.

My Eisenhower example was more to point out the need to carefully analyze a career soldier as presidential candidate. Although commander-in-chief, the success of the American presidency has been the separation (also in public perception) from the military. Washington probably never realized the tone he would set when asked what title as president he should be given.

I sometimes wonder how different the world would be if another major figure of WWII had become president instead of Eisenhower.
Douglas MacArthur

October 6th, 2003, 02:23 PM
So you objected to the intervention in Serbia, Bosnia, Kosovo?
I'm not sure if I am familiar enough with the longterm military goals of having a large U.S. base located there. At the time I wasn't really a sophisticated enough media consumer to have an informed opinion. I was mostly distracted by Clinton's personal scandals.

Maybe I'm too cynical, but I think humanitarianism is used as a justification rather than a motivation. I am concerned that public perception of the conflict sees it as a precedent to act militarily to further humanitarian goals.

Maybe we find the U.N. more favorable when an intervention is presented in a humanitarian light.

I believe that we act in our self interest and this sometimes means helping others. Helping others is not why, nor should it be why we act.

There is a certain amount of diplomatic Karma at stake as well, so none of this can be absolute.

I sometimes wonder how different the world would be if another major figure of WWII had become president instead of Eisenhower.
Douglas MacArthur
You think we have a cowboy in the oval office now?