Wesley Clark isn’t running against Bush. Not yet. He’s fighting for the Democratic Party’s nomination against the liberal left with the indiscrete support of Clinton and the Democratic Leadership Council. Clark, like Kerry and rest of the front-runners is campaigning against the very idea that we could actually be a different kind of country – a country not at war with the world, not run by militarists and corporations, groaning under a culture of fear. He promises nothing but more of the same. In fact, he brags about it.
If the enamel-flag-on-the-lapel didn’t clue you in, Clark’s campaign slogan is “Patriotism, Faith, Family and Inclusion.” In other words, Clark is running on Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” platform from the last election. It’s kind of like how Clinton was the final triumph of Reaganism.
Moore is still smart enough to know this country isn’t particularly democratic. To his credit, he’s done us all a favor, ignored the whole charade of the primaries and cut to the chase: The only way to elect a Democrat is to nominate a life-long Republican acceptable to Middle America, a.k.a. the White South, and, more to the point, all the Fortune 500 donors and intellectuals of justification who Moore likes to call the “swing voter.”
Moore is going with someone we’re not supposed to like, who is unacceptable at face value. Clark is supposed to be ‘electable’ exactly to the degree that he is despicable. Any egalitarian, non-militarist, secular vision for America must not just be put aside, but rejected even in possibility because it falls outside of what the current system can bear. Moore is mistaking the system’s necessities for ours. It’s his smile that makes it awful.
He’s saying that anyone to the left of Lieberman, even a war criminal like Clark, are the stark realm of possibility. We can only defeat Bush-the-man by embracing Bush-the-agenda. If elections are theater, Moore sure learned his lines and knows his audience.
Whether Clark ultimately gets to ride his white horse into the Boston convention remains to be seen. Whether it’s Kerry, Clark or Dean, the eventual nominee won’t speak to our hopes and won’t change the fundamental direction of this country. A vote for either of the ruling parties is a vote for everything sick about this country: flag, faith, ersatz democracy and war forever.
“The greatest benefit of a terrified public is that the corporate, political leadership can get away with anything.” That’s what Moore said at the end of Bowling For Columbine. Apparently, he took his own message to heart. Moore has made a choice. Instead of using his passion and skills to convince Southern whites that they should love themselves more than they hate everybody else, he has instead cast his charm at limiting the horizons of anyone who thinks we might actually do better than this.
Wesley Clark calls himself an “American Hero” on his election website replete with accompanying tales of his action-figure antics rappelling down the side of a Yugoslavian cliff to retrieve the wedding ring of a fallen comrade in order to return it to the dead man’s widow. He wants us to know that he’s a soldier who understands loss, sacrifice and what needs to be done. That anecdote is the only mention of death during his watch as commander of the first air war in Europe since the Luftwaffe was downed.
If he were ever brought before the kind of International Criminal Court that the ‘unilateralist’ Bush vetoed, Clark would surely be convicted of war crimes. At least, that’s what Amnesty International has said regarding his bombing of media outlets, civilian infrastructure and schools.
Before someone drudges up the Nuhremberg defense on Clark’s behalf, that he was just doing his soldier’s duty (as a 4-star general), they should check out his defense of the School of the Americas. According to training manuals released by the Pentagon in 1996, this Army school housed at Fort Benning, Georgia, is responsible for training Latin American military officers in counter-insurgency’s more delicate operations like torture, extortion and execution.
“This school is the best means available to ensure that the armed forces in Latin America and the armies in Latin America understand U.S. values and adopt those values as their own,” Clark told Congress while he was in charge of the school. Clark is currently touring the homeland on his “True Values Tour.”
Clark supports the occupation of Iraq and intends to work towards a more successful conquest of the Iraqi people. He also supports the occupation of Kuwait. Roughly a quarter of the country is now a U.S. military base. Even Saddam Hussein wasn’t that crazy.
Clark will maintain the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world. He advocates the use of “depleted uranium” weapons and has, in fact, used them. Then again, the only President to ever nuke anyone, twice, was a Democrat.
Clark is an ardent supporter of Israel and blames the Palestinian people for their own dispossession, expulsion, occupation and refusal to be conquered. He supports Israel’s walling of the West Bank, which effectively turns occupied Palestine into a concentration camp. The Democratic Party does not allow its members to criticize Israel. Two Southern congresspeople were thrown out in the last election to make this point. They were from the Black South, not The White South, so whatever.
Rhetorical anti-racism only extends to necessary Democratic Party constituencies. Clark has very little to say on the round-ups that continue to haunt all Muslims, especially here in New York and New Jersey. Clark kills Arabs, he doesn’t court their votes. He supports the illegal military camps at Guantanemo, themselves built in occupied eastern Cuba. No joke. But hey, FDR built concentration camps for Japanese-Americans. Maybe Clark is a liberal after all.
At a certain point, you have to ask what evil really is lesser, the one who spits you in the eye or the guy who stabs you in the back. Clark is like Bush. He likes Bush. He’s just not actually Bush.
Clark promises to eliminate federal income taxes for working people. He talks about “schools” and “jobs” and “healthcare” without really saying how he’ll do anything. If it all sounds good, that’s because it’s supposed to. It’s called “telling people what they want to hear.” Clark will deliver the goods right after Clinton gets around to universal health care.
Some people will sacrifice principles and reason to get Bush out of office. Go ahead and vote. It doesn’t matter anyway. At some point you just have to ask yourself why you’re bothering. The rich will stay rich. The poor will stay poor. And we can be sure of wars and more wars. Let’s face it. It’s not our government.
If this country can’t by its very nature allow for the possibility of a decent government, then let’s really cut to the chase. Thomas Jefferson said we should have a revolution every 20 years. It’s been over 200 and it shows. No matter how far-fetched, a popular revolt is way more likely than the Democrats doing anything for us, to say nothing of the rest of the world.