Man Without Qualities

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Opportunism Knocks V

Newsweek reports that Gen. Shelton was in fact pretty open and frank in his criticisms of Wesley Clark:

To say Clark was unpopular among his fellow officers in the military is an understatement. As he rapidly rose through the ranks, he was widely regarded as a champion brown-noser and know-it-all, a sort of Eddie Haskell in Army green. In conversation with friends, Colin Powell would privately put down General Clark as "Lieutenant Colonel Clark" i.e., a perpetual eager-beaver wanna-be. Some officers questioned his judgment. Talking to a high-ranking Clinton administration official, Gen. Hugh Shelton, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who engineered Clark's firing, bluntly referred to Clark as a "nut."

But the Clinton/Clark camp tells us that we're supposed to believe that kind of thing had no effect whatsoever on President Clinton's decision to remove Gen. Clark from his NATO command.

The above passage does not depict Gen. Shelton as one who trims his sails in speaking to high officials, or who gets his way with sneaky, easily discovered lies about other soldiers such as Wesley Clark. It's preposterous to argue that the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is so deficient in elementary strategic thinking that he didn't realize that telling a huge lie to the President to get Wesley Clark fired would result in violent Presidential anger at Gen. Shelton once the lie was discovered. We are supposed to believe that Gen. Shelton hated Wesley Clark so much that Gen. Shelton was willing to risk his entire career and reputation to "get" Clark. Each necessary piece of the Clinton/Clark picture of Gen. Shelton is more absurd than the previous one. But the Clinton/Clark camp insists that Gen. Shelton is that kind of man: evasive, sneaky, lying, strategically impaired and consumed by hate of another soldier to the point of mindless self-destruction.

Wesley Clark also has a way of ascribing motives to his fellow soldiers that must truly become irksome over time. For example, Newsweek also reports:

None of Clark's former comrades in arms showed up last week for his hastily scheduled announcement in Little Rock. Why not? Most soldiers are Republicans, said Clark, who rambled on about how the military profession shouldn't belong to one party, but the absence of old soldiers in the crowd said more about ties of friendship (or the lack of them) than party affiliation.

Does any serious person think that every single one of Wesley Clark's former comrades in arms failed to show up at his announcement that he would run for the presidency because they are members of the Republican Party? Does that sound like the way the people in the military think and act? (Soldier 1: "Hey, how about you and I go out for some drinks and some action in town?" Soldier 2: "I dunno, what's you political affiliation?" Does that sound right?) How many officers are that politically active, anyway? Gen Shelton wouldn't even reveal his political party in the same conference in which he challenged Wesley Clark's integrity and character. What about the independents? What about the minority of officers who are Democrats? They do exist, and not in trivial numbers. And what can one say about a man who seems to admit that he can't form a single friendship across party lines sufficiently strong to cause the friend to show up at such a news conference. But most importantly: What can you say about a man none of whose fellow soldiers showed for his scheduled announcement in Little Rock?

It is pretty darn obvious that none of Clark?’s former comrades in arms showed up last week for his hastily scheduled announcement in Little Rock because very few of those comrades in arms like Wesley Clark. That's quite a lot to show for over thirty years in the military.

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