Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Wednesday | September 03, 2003

It's already too late for Clark

I have been a long-time fan of Gen. Wes Clark, having launched DraftClark.com earlier in the year, and there's no doubt in my mind that he could decimate Bush mano a mano.

However, his window is closing.

1. Money
First and foremost, it's expensive to run a presidential race, and the boys with the biggest warchest have the advantage.

There is a notion amongst Clark supporters that he can ride the free press express to great effect. There's no doubt the political press will be showering all manner of love on the good general if he enters. However, this same press hass been gaga over Dean the past six months.

Yet nearly 2/3rds of Democrats still cannot name a single Democrat in the race.

Hence Dean has (and will continue) to air ads in Democratic bastions like Seattle, Austin, Madison, and others. Magazine covers, as helpful as they may be, are still nowhere as influential as those silly 30-second spots.

The sheer force of Clark's presence may push out some of the weakening candidates such as Kerry and Edwards. But to reach the next level, he'll have to do what Dean is doing -- spend lots of money on paid media.

And Dean will raise at least $12 million this quarter, even more according to the optimists.

A September 19th announcement is politically unwise. Clark would have to report his Q3 numbers (all 12 days of it), and they would obviously pale in comparison to Dean's. Heck, everyone else's numbers will pale in comparison to Dean's, but Clark's will look downright anemic.

2. Organization
All the top consultants are committed. Now, there's no doubt many of those consultants will abandon their candidates for Clark should the general enter the race.

But if these consultants were so good, wouldn't their candidates be doing better vis a vis Dean.

The draft movement has provided the skeleton for an organization, so Clark wouldn't be starting from ground zero, but they would just be a start. And the other guys have spent over a year building organization. Clark would have to rush his efforts.

3. Drive
Running for president is not something you are backed into. It's something you have to want more than anything in the world. The campaign trail is grueling. Dialing for dollars is exhausting.

It's clear that Clark is concerned about the direction of this country. It's clear that he wants to beat Bush and the Republicans back to the caves from which they emerged. I think his entrance into the race would be a good thing for the party.

But delaying the decision until the end of the quarter shows that he's conflicted. Every conflicted potential candidate this cycle has stayed out -- Daschle, Hart, and Biden. Who wants the hassle of running for prez if the fire isn't there?

I can sense that Clark wants to help restore this nation after Bush's mishandling of, well, everything. I just don't sense that fire in his belly.

Posted September 03, 2003 07:09 AM | Comments (236)


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