Retired Gen. Wesley Clark presents himself
as the only candidate who can triumph over President Bush and his
planned $200 million campaign war chest in the upcoming general
election. Certainly, Clark’s military history, a laudable
saga filled with high decorations and extraordinary
responsibilities, makes Clark an exceptionally electable potential
nominee. Yet, nagging questions remain: Does Clark have what it
takes to pilot the world’s most powerful nation through a
polarized and turmoil-ridden world environment? Is he capable of
securing the country while healing rifts with powerful allies? And,
perhaps the most formidable question of all — will his lack
of domestic experience leave him unsuited to address the challenges
of the presidency?

Kate Green

Any profile of Clark would be incomplete if it did not highlight
his leadership skills and expansive knowledge of foreign policy.
After 34 years in the Army, Clark, a four-star general, was named
Supreme Allied Commander of NATO. Clark’s leadership and
diplomatic skills became strikingly apparent when he served as an
instrumental player in conducting a military campaign to thwart
ethnic cleansing and bring stability to the Balkans. During the
1999 operation in Kosovo, Clark was responsible for holding
together a coalition of 19 nations, all of which had to
collectively concur on every issue relevant to the campaign, from
target designation to the allocation of reconstruction subsidies.
In Kosovo, Clark spearheaded a multilateral campaign to foil
genocide, oust a malevolent tyrant and bring security to a volatile
region — a program other candidates can only claim to have
voted for.

Yet while the Clark campaign uses the general’s military
career to inspire veneration, Clark’s critics use it to
bolster their charge: the general has little domestic policy
experience. Clark’s opponents allege that his lack of
exposure to domestic policy has left him with an impassive and
inarticulate domestic agenda. Additionally, his political past has
left a bitter taste in the mouth of many Democrats; not only did
Clark vote for former Presidents Reagan and Nixon, he attended
Republican fundraisers and publicly praised President Bush during
the first two years of his term.

However, since he began his campaign, Clark has articulated a
series of fairly liberal proposals. Clark has condemned Bush for
failing to effectively aid students in paying for college tuition,
contending that the federal government should take a larger role in
helping students attain higher education. Clark has also outlined a
fairly progressive tax proposal, declaring that families of four
making $50,000 or less would pay no federal income tax. In an issue
directly relevant to the University, Clark has also aligned himself
with the pro-affirmative action camp, citing its empirical success
in the military.

Clark presents an interesting opportunity for the Democratic
Party. In an election that might be decided on issues of foreign
policy and national security, his military and diplomatic
credentials are unmatched. But Clark’s political history has
many Democratic loyalists correctly concerned. Nonetheless, with
his formidable fundraising network and veteran campaign staff
inherited from President Clinton, Clark is not lightweight.

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