The Democrats' new glamour-boy presidential candidate, Wesley Clark, is hopping mad at U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman for asserting that the retired general has taken "a journey of political convenience, not conviction." The Connecticut senator was referring to Clark's talk at a partisan GOP Lincoln Day dinner in Little Rock, Ark., just two years ago.
Clark, the military man who says he's not a military man, didn't just "journey" to new convictions. He did a 180-degree political flip-flop that few double-dealing politicians would dare try to pull off. He has virtually repudiated everything he said two years ago.
At that time Clark sounded more Republican than the party chairman. "I'm very glad we've got the great team in office," he said, "like Colin Powell, Don Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Paul O'Neill - people I know very well - our President George W. Bush." He went on to lavish praise on Bush's leadership, courage and vision.
When Lieberman called the former NATO commander to account, Clark's campaign snapped that Lieberman is a "desperate candidate" who's attacking other Democratic candidates. Yet, pointing out rivals' contradictions in policies and public statements isn't attacking - it's enlightening the electorate, which is what campaigns are supposed to do.
When asked about his praise for Republicans, Clark replied he didn't know at the time about Bush's "reckless tax cuts" or that Bush would "recklessly (take) us into Iraq."
A couple of points: If Clark didn't know about Bush's tax cuts in 2001, he certainly should have; they were all over the news. Either that, or he's lying. In either case, it doesn't speak well of Clark's leadership or character. Nor does it speak well for his ability to assess people when two years ago he saw Bush as a great, visionary leader and today he considers him to be thoughtlessly reckless.
It's not Lieberman's campaign that's looking desperate; it's Clark's. The former general simply isn't ready for prime time.