Tactics and Substance in the 2004 Elections GoogleNews: Howard Dean

September 19, 2003

by V

Walter Shapiro smacks Clark

I wasn't particularly impressed by Clark's announcement speech, but my opinion is only about half as harsh as this article:

USAToday: Clark went generic where others defined campaigns
...Wednesday afternoon in Little Rock, retired general Wesley Clark ended a year of suspense about his political intentions by delivering a cliché-filled 11-minute oration that brought to mind the Peggy Lee ballad, Is That All There Is?

...The problem was not the lack of specific policy proposals in the Clark speech. Those can come later. Rather, what was lacking was a clearly expressed rationale for his unorthodox candidacy. ... It is impossible to escape the sense that during his year of will-I-or-won't-I mulling the former NATO commander never fully answered the pesky question of precisely what he would say if he were a candidate.

The obvious point of contrast is John Edwards' announcement speech Tuesday in his hometown of Robbins, N.C. ... Even if the Edwards rollout was not the transforming event that his supporters had hoped for, his speech still conveyed a clear-eyed sense of why he was running and how he was different from the other Democratic contenders.

...Clark, despite his four-star résumé that is prompting some Democrats to swoon, failed his first vision test. It was telling that as the general's cap-in-the-ring speech drew to a close he talked about "a future brightened by hope, courage and the determination that we can do better." That "we can do better" conceit is one of Dean's signature phrases. This borrowed fragment of rhetoric is a reminder that Clark has just four months before the Iowa caucuses to do better as a fledgling political candidate.
I had my own fussy criticisms of the rollout, but I wouldn't call it a failure...
  • First, the podium was too tall relative to Clark; he looked too small.
  • Second, the speech should have been longer and more fleshed out with actual positions on issues; it was vague, vague, vague on what Clark would actually do about anything other than 'ask questions'. You can ask questions without running for President, you know...

    [Alternatively, given the speech's shortness, couldn't he have memorized more of it? Having him flub subject-verb agreement (he mixed a lot of plural vs. singular language) because he's trying to read and yet not read just doesn't come across to me as professional or leaderly.]
...but none of the above is really important, unless it keeps happening throughout the campaign. Then again, even George W. Bush was able to squeak out a tied election, so who knows if anyone will even care.

Welcome to the race, General; I'm not sure you'll get very far, but then again you do help the Democratic party's security credibility by the very act of running, so I can't see it as a bad thing.
Posted by V at September 19, 2003 02:39 PM

Recommended Reading:

The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife's CIA Identity: A Diplomat's Memoir
The Politics of Truth... A Diplomat's Memoir

Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush
Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush

Against All Enemies by Richard Clarke
Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror

LIES by Al Franken
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right

The Great Unraveling
The Great Unraveling

The Great Big Book of Tomorrow
The Great Big Book of Tomorrow

Clinton Wars
The Clinton Wars

Blinded by the Right
Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative

Waging Modern War: Bosnia, Kosovo, and the Future of Combat

Subject to Debate: Sense and Dissents on Women, Politics, and Culture

Living History

The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton

John Adams

Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace

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