Conway Daily Sun

Friday, January 23, 2004

Wesley Clark on Tuesday

Democrats owe much gratitude to Howard Dean.

As this primary's poster-child, populist candidate he has energized the party faithful, blazed a new trail in politicking by Internet and forced his fellow presidential aspirants to sharpen their messages.

More importantly, his collapse in Iowa and post-loss ranting, which will find a place in the annals of electioneering debacles, right alongside of Michael Dukakis' infamous tank ride and Ed Muskie's meltdown in front of the Union Leader building, opens the door for candidates to seriously challenge President Bush in November.

Bush was most looking forward to facing Dean, a candidate with no experience on the world stage, with the unlikely winning strategy of raising everyone's taxes.  A less-than-excellent finish Tuesday for Dean will finish him.

That leaves Sens. John Edwards and John Kerry and former Gen. Wesley Clark.  Edwards is picking up momentum and is predicting a win in South Carolina, but, from our view, which, admittedly, is New England-centric, he does not have the depth in organization or credentials to carry the nation.

Kerry, the media's golden boy of the week, has the stature, experience and integrity to take him all the way, but is vulnerable on the single issue that can defeat Bush -- the war in Iraq.

And it is Bush's Achilles heel.  If the killing of GIs is stopped, a new government is in place and the international community rallies behind the United States, the election is over.  No Democrat will beat a powerful incumbent with a successful record for fighting terrorism against a backdrop of an improving economy.

If Iraq deteriorates and if the Shiites, who are the majority in that country, continue to grab political power, the door to the White House will open.  Clark is the best candidate to seize that opportunity.

Having successfully prosecuted the war in Kosovo, Clark is a proven leader of world-class stature and he has been consistent in his message that invading Iraq was a needless diversion to the real war of terrorism.  If the casualties mount and Americans begin to question our role in what may increasingly look like a civil war, his message will resonate with independent voters in the so-called swing states.

Because he has voted for Republican presidents to support national security, Clark been criticized for not being a real Democrat.  But to act on one's beliefs and not politics we see as a strength.

The independent-minded people of New Hampshire have a built-in mistrust of powerful special interests and politics.  Of all the Democrats, Clark most reflects those values and is best qualified to fix a mess in Iraq.

Copyright © 2004 Country News Club, Inc.  Reprinted by permission.

Mark Guerringue (03/02/04):
"Adam and I generally support conservative candidates although our staff tends to be liberal.

"There's ongoing discussion about the candidates with the reporters, and they no doubt influence us, but basically it comes down to Adam and I coming to a consensus and in local elections with many candidates we've been known to horse trade.

"Since I am supporting the Democratic nominee this cycle, Adam had little interest in our Primary and I chose Clark.  How and whether we endorse a candidate in the general election is a bridge we have not yet crossed."