PEGGY NOONAN ASKS “Democrats, for the good of the country: Stop Wesley Clark!”
Gen. Clark gives off the vibrations of a man who has no real beliefs save one: Wes Clark should be president. The rest–the actual meaning of his candidacy–he seems to be making up as he goes along. It seems a candidacy void of purpose beyond meeting the candidate’s hunger. He is passionately for the war until he announces for the Democratic nomination facing an antiwar base, at which point he becomes passionately antiwar. He thanks God that George Bush and his aides are in the White House, then he says they’re the worst leaders ever. Anyone can change his mind; but this is not a change, it’s a swerve, and without a convincing rationale. Last week, Brit Hume asked Gen. Clark when it was that he’d “first noticed” that he–Gen. Clark–was a Democrat. There was laughter, but that was a nice big juicy softball. Gen. Clark flailed and fumbled. Later he blamed Mr. Hume for being a Republican agent.
When you are making it up along the way you make mistakes that might, politely, be called tonal. It is not terrible that he was introduced the other day in New Hampshire by a bilious activist, Michael Moore, who called the president a “deserter.” Gen. Clark didn’t address the charge when he took the stage. He could have been distracted, and it certainly would have been ungracious to say, “Thanks for that introduction, which I must disavow because it suggests a grassy knoll extremism with which I cannot associate myself.” But in the days afterward Gen. Clark was repeatedly questioned about Mr. Moore’s charge. He dug the hole deeper by leaving open the possibility that it was true.
Maybe the Democrats are listening to Noonan. Monday’s USA Today reported, “Clark’s Democratic presidential bid could be in serious trouble.”