# Wes Clark

Obama doesn't want Wes Clark in Denver

Ragbrai08 pointed me to this post by Steve Clemons, who reports that Wes Clark will not attend the Democratic National Convention in Denver:

Clark was informed by Barack Obama’s people that there was no reason to come.

General Clark has been given no role of any kind at the convention.

Rubbing salt in the wound even more, the “theme” of Wednesday’s Democratic convention agenda is “Securing America.”

Wesley Clark’s PAC also happens to be called SECURING AMERICA.

I have to agree with Paul Rosenberg, who once noted at Open Left that incompetence is not using your strongest surrogate, and idiocy is not using your strongest surrogate in your weakest suit.

Unfortunately, distancing the Obama campaign from Clark will not just reduce Clark’s influence. It will also embolden the right-wing noise machine. If they manage to get the punditocracy to throw a big, unjustified hissy fit, Obama will run scared. Expect further efforts to discredit strong Democratic voices during the general election campaign and next year if Obama beats McCain.

So, definitely cross Clark off the VP list. Senators Joe Biden and Evan Bayh will speak in Denver on Wednesday night of convention week, fueling speculation that one of them will be Obama’s running mate.

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Another VP speculation thread

Chicago Sun-Times reporter Lynn Sweet says Delaware Senator Joe Biden is moving up on Barack Obama’s short list:

While Obama’s heart may go towards Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine–his head takes him to a more experienced pick, a Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) or Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Although Biden voted for the bankruptcy bill and was a vocal supporter of Bush’s Iraq War for a long time, his lifetime Senate voting record is much more progressive than Bayh’s. It’s not even close.

Also, Biden is a better speaker and campaigner than Bayh and would be a great attack dog.

Also, we wouldn’t lose a Senate seat if Biden became vice president.

Wesley Clark would be my first choice for VP, but if Obama wants to go with a DC establishment figure, Biden would be an excellent choice. He would do no harm to the ticket and would help Obama with over-60 voters, in my opinion.

Steve Clemons says sources indicate Bayh has a better than 50/50 chance of being chosen by Obama.

Paul Rosenberg reports that a new “100,000 Strong Against Evan Bayh for VP” group on Facebook got more than 1,300 people to sign up on the first day. Early Thursday morning, they were almost at 2,000 members.

Choosing Kaine would be a big mistake, in my opinion. The Virginia community blog for Democrats, Raising Kaine, did a ton to help Kaine get elected, but the writers there are appalled by the way he has governed. Also, it would be too easy for the Republicans to peg an Obama/Kaine ticket as inexperienced.

Then again, Philip Martin of the Texas blog Burnt Orange Report watched a video of Kaine speaking in Texas and had this to say:

I started watching this video not liking Kaine. I already didn’t like him because he (and his staff) were surprisingly and unnecessarily pushy backstage at the TDP convention (where I was volunteering). After reading about his policies, I liked him even less. Suffice to say, I’m really, really unexcited about any prospects of him as Vice President.

But if the only measuring stick is, “how good of a stump candidate for Vice President” would Kaine be, I’d have to say excellent. He can speak in Spanish, delivers red-meat to the base without becoming too partisan or overshadowing Obama, and can honestly tell a real-life story of flipping conservative states red-to-blue.

He’s one of the worst choices for anyone who cares about policy, but is a damn good choice for anyone who only cares about politics.

Over at Raising Kaine, TheGreenMiles quotes Karl Rove to preview “the lines of attack the GOP would use if Kaine were the choice.” Hint: they’d say he was chosen for purely political reasons and lacks sufficient experience.

The New Republic’s Eve Fairbanks thinks Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius is “much more impressive” than Kaine.

Use this thread to discuss whom Obama should pick as a running mate and why.

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Weekend VP speculation thread

Either Barack Obama or John McCain may pick a running mate this week, before the Olympics start.

I haven’t heard much buzz lately about McCain’s choice. My money’s still on Mitt Romney, who has a relatively coherent message on economic policy (for a Republican) and can raise a lot of cash.

Word is that Hillary Clinton will address the Democratic National Convention in Denver on the Tuesday night. Since Obama’s running mate is expected to speak on Wednesday night, it seems that Hillary is not under serious consideration for VP.

Matt Stoller is still pushing for Wes Clark, and he and other bloggers have started a draft Clark for VP site, but I see no evidence that Clark is even being vetted by Obama’s team. They seem to want to avoid picking someone who will be seen as “balancing” any weakness in Obama’s resume.

Todd Beeton suspects the Obama team has decided the running mate should have some Washington experience, and he made a fascinating observation at MyDD:

My gut tells me a couple of things. First of all, Barack is not going to pick someone who needs to be introduced to the country. He has enough of an uphill climb introducing himself to the nation, is he really going to pick another unknown quantity for the ticket? So that leaves us with a different list, which, let’s say for argument, looks like this: Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Wesley Clark, Joe Biden, Bill Richardson, Chris Dodd, Sam Nunn.

Among these possible picks, some are known thanks to their extensive Washington, DC resumes (Clinton, Biden, Nunn, Dodd), some are not (Clark, Edwards, Richardson.) So, which list will Obama pick from? You’ll recall that in the primary, Barack ran against Washington experience and turned what Hillary thought would be her top selling point into an albatross around her neck with one very effective line: “are we just going to keep sending the same people to Washington and expect a different result?” In other words, if you’ve spent a lot of time in DC then how can you expect to change it? He could and should be using the same line against McCain, but he’s not. The other day I noticed him almost say it at one of his townhalls, but he caught himself. Why? My gut is that he’s leaning toward picking a Washington insider for his VP. My guess is it’s Biden.

Biden wouldn’t be my first choice for VP, but he would be a good fit for Obama in many ways. He’s a strong campaigner and could be an effective attack dog. Also, I think he would help Obama with the over-60 voters, where he is relatively weak.

Then again, First Read reports that the press team following Obama will spend 21 hours in South Bend, Indiana from Tuesday evening to Wednesday afternoon. They suspect that Obama might select Indiana Senator Evan Bayh as his running mate there.

Like Biden, Bayh is a Washington insider, but he’s also a former governor of a red state. He endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, so that might be a gesture toward uniting the party.

Then again, Obama may just be planning to hold a few campaign events in Indiana because that state could be competitive this year.

Bayh is way too conservative for my taste; for instance, he voted for Bush’s tax cuts in 2001. More worrying, we would likely lose his Senate seat if he became vice president, unless Jill Long Thompson pulls off an upset in the Indiana gubernatorial race this year. If Obama wants a Washington insider, I’d prefer Biden.

Many people still expect Obama to choose a different red state governor, either Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas or Tim Kaine of Virginia.

For whatever reason, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson doesn’t seem to be on Obama’s short list. That’s too bad, because I like him a lot more than Kaine, and I think he brings more to the table than Sebelius.

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Well, this is a first

I got noticed by Markos on the front page of Daily Kos!

Unfortunately, it was to attack and take out of context what I wrote in this post at MyDD yesterday.

Markos didn’t like my opinion that it would be a political mistake for Barack Obama to choose a woman running mate other than Hillary Clinton.

Actually, “didn’t like” is a bit of an understatement:

This is such a crock of shit. After all the talk of Clinton breaking glass barriers, are her supporters still so hung up on her loss that they’re willing to create a new glass ceiling for women candidates, one that excludes anyone not named Hillary Clinton?

Fact is, the party is united behind Obama. In the latest Research 2000 national poll shows that Obama wins Democrats 82-9 percent, which is little different than McCain’s 83-10. In 2004, Kerry won Democrats 89-11, and Obama will be up in that range when all’s said and done. There are no more “party unity” concerns.

Throw in the fact that Obama has locked down the Latino vote, is winning women handily, has shown surprising strength in the Mountain West, the midwest, and even parts of the South. He has locked down the Democratic strongholds. It’s clear that Obama doesn’t need Clinton on the ticket.

I never said Obama needed to choose Hillary or that he is having problems uniting the party.

And of course I was not a Clinton supporter at any time and have not been advocating for her selection as VP (though Obama could do a lot worse).

Markos goes on to say,

I’ve got several people on my list of veep possibilities that would certainly reinforce Obama’s core message of change, and several are women (mainly Sebelius and McCaskill). I don’t have any inkling where Obama is going with this thing, but I do know that being forced to take women off his shortlist lest he offend some Hillary supporters is asinine. I doubt Clinton fought to shatter one glass ceiling to replace it with another.

Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius makes sense in that she is a two-term governor. I also like that she stepped in to block coal-fired power plants from being built.

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill would be a terrible choice in my opinion. She has less relevant experience than Obama and is on the right wing of the Missouri Democratic Party. She has a much less progressive voting record than Hillary Clinton in the Senate.

My comment in this thread at Daily Kos:

for the record, here is what I said

and did not say.

I did not say Obama needs to pick a woman. In fact, at the end of that very post I said I’d offer it to Wesley Clark if I were Obama.

I did not say Obama has a problem with women voters.

I did not say Hillary is the only woman qualified to be on the ticket.

However, she is the only woman who was the preferred presidential candidate of 17 million plus voters.

I do think that in light of this year’s extraordinary primary battle, it would be a political mistake for Obama to choose a woman running mate other than Hillary.

If Hillary were the nominee, I would also advise her against choosing a black man for VP other than Obama (though many would be qualified, such as John Conyers or Charlie Rangel).

To do so would be viewed as a slap in the face to Obama.

Also, Hillary wasn’t my first, second or third, choice, so I appreciate not being referred to as one of her supporters.

This comment got buried under an avalanche of comments agreeing with Markos and misrepresenting what I believe, but I wanted to set the record straight here.

Use this as a thread for more idle speculation about whom Obama should and should not choose as a running mate.

Several commenters at MyDD made the case for Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, who was an early Obama supporter. I don’t think we have a very deep bench in Virginia. It’s not worth giving up a governor to put Kaine on the ticket.

I still think that if Obama does not want to choose Hillary (and it looks like he doesn’t), he should choose someone close to the Clintons–and not Florida Senator Bill Nelson or Indiana Senator Evan Bayh. Not only are they both too conservative for my liking, we would lose a Senate seat if either of them became vice president.

UPDATE: Yet another report indicates that Hillary Clinton is not on Obama’s short list for VP. As I’ve said, I don’t think he would choose her unless he felt he couldn’t win without her, and he probably can win without her.

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More VP speculation

There’s a lot of chatter about John McCain picking a running mate very soon to redirect the media’s attention from Barack Obama’s foreign trip.

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s star has fallen because of revelations that she used the levers of state power to try to punish a former brother-in-law. Why do elected officials think they can get away with stuff like this? I suppose the answer is that many do get away with it, but it’s still bizarre that she would abuse the power of her office with so much on the line for her.

If McCain wants to pick a woman, Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison seems like the most logical choice.

Earlier this year there was some buzz about former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina as a possible VP choice for McCain, but that must be out of the question now. It was Fiorina’s comment about insurance companies covering Viagra but not birth control pills that led to a embarrassing exchange between a reporter and McCain on the same subject. Planned Parenthood Action Fund is using part of that footage in a television ad aimed at women in six states and the Washington, DC area:

If McCain wants a governor, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana or Charlie Crist of Florida seem like the leading options. (UPDATE: Jindal took himself out of the running today.) For reasons I don’t understand, Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota doesn’t seem to be mentioned often anymore.

I find it interesting that I haven’t ever seen any suggestion that Mike Huckabee is being considered. He was in Des Moines ten days ago for the Iowa GOP state convention and acted like a team player, urging support for McCain in his speech to Republican delegates. It would seem wise for McCain to at least pretend that he is taking Huckabee seriously, although maybe that would just give Huck’s supporters false hopes.

Some pundits are betting on Mitt Romney because of the money his people can raise. Also, his own presidential run makes him more of a seasoned campaigner and known quantity than some of the governors being mentioned.

Not much news on Obama’s search for a running mate has emerged lately. It seems prudent for him to wait to see what McCain does and how the public and media react before making a decision.

Bill Richardson made some good comments about McCain’s “whining” about not getting an op-ed piece published in the New York Times.

I still find it weird that there’s no sign Wes Clark or Joe Biden were even asked to submit information to the committee that is vetting Obama’s options.

I would be shocked if Obama were seriously considering Hillary Clinton at this point. I still think she wouldn’t be a bad choice for him, but given his small lead over McCain in national tracking polls and some of the key states he lost to Hillary Clinton in the primaries, Obama probably believes he doesn’t need her on the ticket. It’s obvious he would prefer not to have to deal with the Clintons.

New VP speculation open thread

Virginia Senator Jim Webb withdrew his name from consideration as a vice-presidential candidate. That’s a relief from my perspective.

According to Marc Ambinder,

A Democrat close to Webb confirms that a request for documents preceded his declaration to the Obama campaign. The Democrat said that Webb did not want to relive the vigors of a campaign so soon after his election to the Senate.

Like I’ve been saying, Webb does not like campaigning enough to be a good running mate.

Meanwhile, John Edwards will debate “Bush’s brain” Karl Rove on September 26. Some people have interpreted the scheduling of that event as a sign Edwards knows he will not be Obama’s running mate.

I still think Wes Clark would be an excellent choice for Obama, despite the recent dustup over comments he made about John McCain.

Some smart people think he will pick Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, but I still think that it would be a mistake for Obama to choose a woman other than Hillary Clinton.

VP search teams for Obama and McCain have both begun vetting candidates. McCain is said to be considering Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

I tend to agree with Douglas Burns, who wrote that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin would be a good running mate for McCain.

If McCain is feeling pressure in Florida (a state he must win in order to get 270 electoral votes), he might consider selecting Florida Governor Charlie Crist. Rumors that Crist is gay could be a problem with that scenario. Crist was married to a woman in his early 20s and just got engaged to his current girlfriend.

Put your predictions or opinions about either candidate’s VP choice in the comment section.

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Don't feed the media's frenzy against Wes Clark

Barack Obama has figured out that he doesn’t need to go along with the media’s feeding frenzy on Wesley Clark.

The TPM Veracifier team put together a tremendous collection of clips on how pundits have distorted what Clark said on Face the Nation this Sunday:

Media Matters points out the obvious: the manufactured outrage over Clark’s so-called attack obscures the fact that Clark praised McCain’s military service, while noting that military service alone does not qualify him to be commander-in-chief.

The Columbia Journalism Review’s Zachary Roth has a must-read commentary about the media distortions as well.

Moveon.org to hold "Day of Action for an Oil-Free President"

Mark your calendar for July 9: Moveon.org is organizing events at gas stations around the country in a “National Day of Action for an Oil-Free President.” The main goal is to inform voters that

John McCain’s campaign is run by oil lobbyists,1 it’s funded by oil companies,2 his policies are straight out of Big Oil’s playbook,3 and he won’t solve our energy crisis.

After the jump you can read the full text of the e-mail I received from Moveon.org. It includes footnotes supporting the assertions in that quote.

Fortunately for Barack Obama, Moveon.org isn’t going to be less involved in this election just because Obama made a gratuitous swipe at the group on Monday.

I was happy to see that Moveon.org also defended Wes Clark, who has been getting slammed by the right-wing noise machine. By the way, the Obama campaign went out of its way to “reject” Clark’s reasonable statements about McCain’s qualifications to be president.

This post by Chris Bowers explains succinctly why disavowing Clark was dumb:

No one in the entire country is more important to Democratic credibility on foreign policy than Wesley Clark. No one. And this isn’t just my opinion, it is the opinion of Democratic congressional candidates who requested him.

There are those who think that Obama is being super secret strategic on this one, and playing both the McCain campaign and the media for a fiddle. However, if you really want to be strategic, you need to see the whole board. Going well beyond this media cycle, and even going beyond this presidential election, Republicans score a huge strategic victory if they are able to permanently damage the credibility of the leading Democratic spokesperson on national security.

Paul Rosenberg had a priceless comment in that thread:

Incompetent is you think tactically instead of strategically.

Idiotic is you think tactically instead of strategically about the strongest surrogate you have on your weakest suit in the game.

Getting back to the main point of this post, Moveon.org is right to hit McCain campaign over energy policy. He is worse than Obama on that issue, and the price of gas is at the forefront of voters’ minds this summer.

If you attend or help organize one of the July 9 events, please put up a diary here to let us know how it went.

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Gore and Clark raising money for Boswell

A envelope from the Boswell campaign arrived in the mail today. Inside was a letter from Al Gore asking me to donate $20.00 to Boswell’s campaign, symbolizing the 2000 election “when Leonard stood by my side”. The text was identical to a recent e-mail Gore sent out on Boswell’s behalf, which I reproduced at the end of this post.

Unlike Matt Stoller, who is mad that Gore is helping Boswell’s campaign, I can’t fault him for getting involved. It won’t change the minds of many Gore voters like myself, who favor Fallon, but it might activate other Gore supporters who are unreliable primary voters.

Frankly, I’m more annoyed at Gore for sitting out this presidential election. He would have been a much better candidate, and probably a much better president, than either Hillary or Obama.  

But what’s done is done.

Getting back to the third district primary, I received a copy of an e-mail sent out by Wesley Clark’s political action committee, WesPAC, which solicits donations for the Congressional campaigns of three veterans, including Boswell. Here are the relevant portions of that e-mail:

Dear [Recipient],

We need veterans like Ashwin Madia, Tim Walz, and Leonard Boswell in Congress to lead us out of Iraq  and to support our troops. Click  here to donate to their campaigns today!

It’s no surprise that a war veteran, Senator Jim Webb,  has led the fight in expanding the GI Bill to give our troops the  education benefits they were promised. Those who have worn the uniform know first-hand how much our troops have sacrificed and what it takes to  support members of the armed forces.

That’s why it was critical our community helped elect  Jim Webb in 2006, and it’s also the reason I’m backing three veterans who  are running for Congress this fall. Though 30,000 Americans have signed a  petition in support of Senator Webb’s GI Bill, our opponents are already  weakening the bill because it is too “generous” for our troops.  We need more veterans in Congress who will help bring our soldiers home  from Iraq and stand up for those who have defended our nation.

Join me and support veteran candidates Ashwin  Madia, Tim Walz, and Leonard Boswell by donating to their campaigns  today!


Leonard  Boswell

In 2006, WesPAC helped Leonard Boswell fight off a  “swiftboat” attempt on him in Iowa, and our efforts helped  re-elect Leonard. As a 20-year veteran of the Army, he too supports an  expanded GI Bill for our veterans and has pushed for increases in funding  for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

We can’t afford to lose a true American hero like  Leonard in Congress, and we can’t take it for granted that the right-wing  won’t smear him again this November. Help re-elect Congressman Boswell  by donating to his campaign now!


The insight of those who serve in the armed forces is  too often lost in our nation’s dialogue about foreign policy, health  care, education, and veterans issues. With your support, we’ll strengthen  the voices of those who have risked their lives for our country by sending 3 veterans to Congress in 2008.

Thank you for your support.


Wes Clark

I wish Boswell or one of his high-profile supporters would defend the Congressional votes that prompted Ed Fallon to run in this primary. But from the incumbent’s perspective, the less said about that, the better.

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