Anyone for Wes?

Wesley Clark may be reemerging as the Anyone-but-Dean candidate.

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


It makes sense that Wesley Clark, having decided to skip the Iowa caucuses, was a no-show at Sunday’s Iowa debate. And since the Democratic debates seem to have devolved into raucous shout-fests, Clark may have calculated, probably correctly, that staying above the fray could only work to his advantage. Clark’s absence certainly won him some attention, which in turn fed the growing sense, bolstered by his recent money-raising success, that the former general may be emerging as the Anyone-but-Dean candidate.

The Chicago Tribune makes the case for a
Clark victory
in the debate:

“The Democratic presidential candidate who benefited most from the debate Sunday afternoon might well have been retired Gen. Wesley Clark. He wasn’t there.
Instead, he spent his time doing an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” with a much larger viewing audience, serving pancakes and holding small forums with potential voters in New Hampshire, a place where he hopes to have a surprisingly strong finish. It was perhaps time better spent.”

Many politicos cite Clark, with his strong national security credentials, as the candidate best positioned to unseat Bush. He started out strong in September, of course, then blundered his way into the middle of the pack. A new CNN-Time poll shows Dean doing better than Clark (46 percent to 32 percent) and Dean doing the best of all nine candidates in match-ups with President Bush (though still trailing: Bush 51 percent to Dean 46 percent).

Still, Clark may be making a comeback. He’s pulled in more cash, $10.5 million, than any candidate but Dean over the past three months, and he’s using some of it to outbuy his rivals in television advertisements in many states.

In a statement issued last Thursday, Clark lays out what many Democrats already feel: he’s the only candidate that could stand up to President Bush:

“It’s now clear that I’m one of only two candidates in a position to win the nomination”. “And I’m the only candidate positioned to actually win the election because I am the candidate best able to stand up to George W. Bush and win the debate about who will best be able to make our country secure over the next four years.”

Well, he would say that. But Clark’s argument is serious for the Democrats, who fear a reprise, in Dean’s candidacy, of George McGovern’s disastrous run against Richard Nixon. The Arkansas News Bureau explains that Clark’s appeal as a centrist Democrat, his association with Clinton politics (a recent ad shows Clinton with Clark), and his appeal to the south—might just make him the “anti-Dean” candidate the party is hoping for:

“It now appears [Clark]’s regained a bit of body mass for what should become a one-on-one bout with Howard Dean, a noted and rather stout former wrestler.

Clark made another tactical move last week. He unveiled a television commercial showing Bill Clinton putting a medal around his neck. It was designed to send a message that even if Clinton doesn’t formally endorse him, the former president certainly exhibits no aversion to him – and vice versa.

Dick Gephardt, John Kerry, John Edwards, Joe Lieberman – they’re spinning their wheels. There will be traction only for one anti-Dean, and the general was getting it last week.”

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up to $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate