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Along With Dean, Clark Is On The Ticket
by Tommy Ates
December 3, 2003

Dean dogged the draft.

At least, you could say he was honest about it.

The revelation that, at the age of 21, Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean in the late '60s, purposely received a medical deferment for his back in 1970, should surprise few voters who shared the same sympathies a growing of Americans had about avoiding the conflict in Vietnam. The fact that Dean, possibly the Democratic frontrunner, would leave himself vulnerable for not serving is a given. That's why the running-mate would have to be a candidate of impeccable military experience, enough to negate war-president motif already being developed for President Bush by RNC operatives. Two candidates currently fit the description, Senator John Kerry and General Wesley Clark. Given that John Kerry has run a lackluster campaign thus far, there is only one man is left on the shortlist.


Whether you like it or not (as President or Vice President), Clark is on the ticket.

In this bizarre Democratic nomination derby with nine candidates, General Wesley Clark has played the "dark horse" candidate in the race. Symbolically a man to reckon with, he has no political experience to speak of. No one really knows what he will say or how he will say it. In terms of foreign policy, the General is an astute expect of tactical knowledge and analysis (in keeping with his military record). On economic policy, Clark is undoubtedly a political novice (and Dean's strength).

But, in terms of having his positions change from a liberal to a more centrist tone after the nomination process, General Clark is the practical choice because of his lack of political experience. A record can become a double-edged sword against an incumbent with dissimilar views.

With Democratic strategists, Wesley Clark's greatest asset to the Democratic ticket will be that he is the Southern 'ace in the hole' against further Republican gains in the South. A native Arkansan, Clark knows how to speak the language of the southern states, where the saying "all politics is local" still holds true. With large numbers of veterans and military personnel living in Southern states, the General could have a ready-made coalition between traditional dems, military families, and the return of white men (lost to the Republicans in the South as minority political participation increased after Jim Crow).

After all, who can argue with the patriotism of a "four-star general," and "Rhodes Scholar," no less? Certainly, neither President Bush nor Vice President Dick Cheney, whose own military history (or lack thereof) is not unlike Bill Clinton or Howard Dean in its adversity to combat.

Indeed, this presidential election will be decided upon the appeal of moderate voters on issues such as jump-starting the weak economy and how to mount the continuing war on terror. The contrast between a Dean-Clark candidacy and Bush-Cheney would be stark on foreign policy, a clear difference to the moderate voter; only if the issue becomes the centerpiece of the voter concern (particularly if there was another domestic terror incident). On the other hand, if the economy turns upward, having defining issues for the Democrats may prove more difficult.

Between the straight talk of Dean and the feel good analysis of Clark, the Democrats would have a good shot of capturing the "border states" of the 2000 Bush vs. Gore election. Like the moderate voter, whoever possesses Kentucky, West Virginia, and Missouri in 2004 will hold the key to Florida, an electorate still divided since 2000.

Whatever mode the election takes after Iowa and New Hampshire, primary voters will elect candidates based on their sense of trustworthiness and sense of vision. But most of all during these uncertain times, whoever has best chance at beating Bush.

Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean can lead the charge, but it's up the General Clark to polish the platform give grit and fortitude against a barrage of false images, innuendo, and philosophical malignment that's headed they're way.

Presidential Advisor Karl Rove was right when he predicted that President Bush's poll numbers would lower significantly into 2004. Regardless of party, it has become obvious the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan have wasted valuable intelligence-gathering time as well as military resources. As the Muslim holy month of Ramadan closes, U.S. intelligence is again on the lookout for terror acts in the Middle East and among interests at home. We have made little improve to national security since 9/ 11. In deciding our next president, Americans can only hope that the election will be decided on real unbiased choices, rather than in disgust over lost opportunities and more destruction by terror at home.

Presidential candidates shouldn't want to win over ruins. Simply, the truth. And among Democrats, the names Dean and Clark are indispensable.

Copyright 2003 Tommy Ates. All Rights Reserved.

Tommy Ates loves the left because the left is always right! Tommy Ates has appeared in several publications, such as The Houston Chronicle, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, The Wichita Eagle, The Macon Telegraph, and Global Black News, among others. Please consult contact information on column release dates and/ or pricing.

Posted: December 5, 2003


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