Tactics and Substance in the 2004 Elections GoogleNews: Howard Dean

October 13, 2003

by J

Kinsley on Clark

Michael Kinsley is not very impressed with Clark.
Then there is retired Gen. Wesley Clark. Much of his support comes from people who think they haven't swooned themselves but believe that others will do so. But most of these people are in a swoon whether they realize it or not. They think that Clark has the best chance of defeating George Bush and that nothing else matters. Their assessment is based on what seems to me a simple-minded view that you can place all the candidates on a political spectrum, then pick the one who's as far toward the other side as your side can bear, and call it pragmatism.

How pragmatic is it, though, to snub the one candidate who seems to be able to get people's juices flowing -- that would be Howard Dean -- in favor of one with nothing interesting to say, on the theory that this, plus the uniform stashed in the back of his closet, will make him appealing to people you disagree with? When the odds are against you, as they are for the Democrats in 2004, caution and calculation can be the opposite of pragmatism.

[...] Unlike the incumbent, Wesley Clark is not unable or radically disinclined to master the details of policy. Anyway, a fully stocked larder of policies and positions on issues is a vapid measure of a political candidate. But anyone who wakes up to politics like Rip Van Winkle, and -- without troubling to develop any but the most abstract political sentiments -- immediately decides that the country needs him as president, clearly thinks highly of himself for reasons that may not be universally apparent.

Posted by J at October 13, 2003 06:47 AM

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