Man Without Qualities

Friday, September 19, 2003

Opportunism Knocks

The Katharine Q. Seelye article in the New York Times discussing the Clintons' new-found support for Wesley Clark's Presidential ambitions is a true flash-back to the Clintonian era, when the Times' coverage of the President willingly failed to ask the obvious questions and chose its words carefully to obscure Clintonian purpose.

Consider this pearl:

[When the lives of Mr. Clinton and General Clark] finally intersected while Mr. Clinton was president and General Clark commanded the allied troops in Europe, it was a complex and tortured time for both.

To General Clark's humiliation, President Clinton's Pentagon relieved him of his command. And President Clinton had signed off on the plan, according to several published accounts, apparently unaware that he was being deceived by Clark detractors.

Now the 58-year-old career Army officer wants to be president. And the 57-year-old former president seems eager to promote his candidacy.

"Apparently unaware that he was being deceived by Clark detractors?" Why is the "apparently" there? Who created this "appearance" for Ms. Seelye? Is this something one of the Clinton's told her? Did she attempt to contact the Clintons about this?

Just who were the unnamed "Clark detractors" who did all this "deceiving" of their President? And what were the supposed "deceptions?" For that matter, what were the grounds of the removal?

Ms. Seelye writes that General Clark was removed from his command by someone in the Pentagon - and that President Clinton only "signed off on the plan." That phrasing seems designed to suggest that President Clinton and the White House didn't get directly involved in the removal decision. But that's not the way high-ranking generals are normally removed - the White House and the Commander-In-Chief normally take a direct interest in such actions. And for a military person to "deceive" the President about another officer is a serious transgression.

Could it be that Mr. Clinton was not "deceived" at all, and that he was directly involved? Could it be that the military and others provided full and frank information and advice about General Clark to the President, who then removed General Clark because the President didn't like something the General had done, or had some other person to fill the position?

Could it be that all of that now has to be denied with another Clintonian whopper that libels the Pentagon officials and others involved (even though their names are not in this article, you can be sure the people who count in Washington and Europe know who they are)?

A digression:

The Clintons don't want a Democrat to win in 2004 unless it's Hillary - since that would terminate the likelihood of her 2008 run. And Wesley Clark is a nice placeholder for the Clintons, whether or not Hillary decides to run in 2004.

Hillary will not run unless Mr. Bush shows some clear vulnerability. Such clear vulnerability has not yet appeared, but the matter is far from settled. The economy is improving, but jobs and public anxiety relief lag. It is unclear which way foreign policy will cut. Wesley Clark is dependent on the Clintons, and will probably make way for Hillary Clinton if she wants to run. He enters as her proxy and placeholder, and if she decides she wants it, his campaign machine can become her campaign machine. If she doesn't want it, he gets to run for President on the machine she builds for him. That's not a bad deal, is it?

But there is a downside for General Clark. If Hillary doesn't run, the best case for the Clintons is a nominee who is dependent on them, will not dismantle their existing apparatus within the Democratic National Committee and elsewhere (as Howard Dean probably would do thoroughly and the others would do to a lesser extent), will allow the Clintons to extend their influence in the Democratic Party even further than it already spreads and to update it - and then fail to be elected after making a reasonable show in the election. If the Clintons can't actually produce a puppet who can obtain the nomination, then the next best thing is a contender dependent on the Clintons who provides the Clintons with leverage to preserve their influence and apparatus when the deal is cut that removes that contender from the race. Much of that is not nice for the General. But he wouldn't have a prayer without the Clintons, and he may be intellectually dishonest enough to deny their incentive in ultimately defeating his election. If he does understand their motives, a military man is supposed to be able to accept sacrifice. And, who knows, he might accidentally win despite them.

Yes, Wesley Clark fills the bill across the board. It's a good deal for him and for the Clintons.

Except that one does have to explain why Mr. Clinton fired General Clark. But that's nothing a classic Clintonian whopper won't fix. And the New York Times and Katharine Q. Seelye seem happy to assume their old roles and carry the Clintonian water and lies - few questions asked.

UPDATE: John Ellis says Hillary Clinton wants to run as General Clark's vice president.

I think that is highly unlikely. If Senator Clinton runs, she will run for the top office.

But General Clark may well run as Hillary Clinton's vice president.

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