Columns » Bob McCord

Clark's the one


Thirteen long-time friends of mine - all Arkansas people about my age - got together New Year's Eve and wrote down the name of the man they thought would get the Democrat nomination for president and indicated whether they thought he could beat George Bush. Seven said that Dr. Howard Dean would be the Democratic candidate, but four of them said he couldn't beat the Republican president. Six said that Wesley Clark would get the nomination, and every one of them thought that he would beat Bush. The poll made me realize why the men who write the editorial pages for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette criticize Clark so much but say very little about other Democratic candidates. Like my New Year's pals, those editorial writers must think that Clark is the only one of the nine candidates who could defeat George Bush, and they don't want their readers to be a party to that. Because it's so conservative, you would think the paper would be more critical of Dr. Dean, the Democrat ahead in the polls who is more liberal than Clark. So are Sen. John Kerry and Rep. Richard Gephardt, but the Democrat-Gazette's editorials say very little about them. The lowest Clark attack was in the Sunday Democrat-Gazette Dec. 7. In its Perspective section, it reprinted a 3,900-word story from The Nation, the magazine of the far left. The story was written by Matt Taibbi, a young radical and an apologist for the Serbs who tried to run Albanians out of Albania and were opposed by NATO soldiers led by Clark, then the NATO commander. Tiabbi is more activist than journalist. When he went to some of Clark's rallies, Tiabbi used an assumed name, thinking, I guess, that someone would know his background. He made fun of the general's speeches, and wrote that his eyes were "blank, like a turtle resting on a rock." Showing his hate of America in the Vietnam War, he wrote, "35 years ago hundreds of thousands of people took angrily to the streets because of people like Wesley Clark." Of course, Clark was fighting in Vietnam, where he was wounded and decorated with a Silver Star. Tiabbi tried to make Rhodes Scholar Clark look stupid, writing, "No candidate on the campaign trail is better at saying two opposing things at once, and no candidate's true intentions are harder to discern." You wouldn't expect the editorial writers of the state's largest newspaper to support Clark for President, but why would they choose to reprint this worthless assault out of a left-wing magazine? After all, Clark grew up in Arkansas and makes his home here. I don't know yet whom I am going to vote for in the primary, but I do know it won't be George Bush. I don't like the deficit he's plunged us into, the favors he does for huge corporations, the millions who have lost their jobs, the three tax cuts in a row for the rich and the war he has led us into. I am also disappointed at the senators and representatives who voted for the war, four of whom are presidential candidates - Edwards, Gephardt, Kerry and Lieberman. President Bush and his aides are practicing unilateralism by adopting a foreign policy without any regard to the views of our allies. Bush says we had to invade Iraq to get rid of a murderous dictator like Saddam Hussein. If so, then we also need to invade Burma, North Korea, Iran, etc. Bush and his colleagues said that Hussein had biological, chemical and nuclear weapons of mass destruction and hinted that he was involved in the 9/11 disaster, none of which was true. But they exaggerated the stories so much that 53 percent of Americans still believe them. So, as Derrick Jackson of the Boston Globe put it: "It was the most expensive, massive and irresponsible police raid in modern times. We broke in without a search warrant." Because there was no planning of what to do after the invasion, American soldiers are still being killed every week in Iraq, eight months after Bush said the fighting was over. In 1898, Cubans were fighting to become independent from Spain, and the U.S. sent the battleship Maine to the country to protect the Americans who were in Cuba working on sugar plantations owned by American companies. The Maine blew up, killing 266 American sailors. Inspectors said it had hit a Spanish mine, but the truth was that the ship's powder magazine exploded spontaneously. Americans were furious, and their anger was fanned by a conservative Cuban named Tomas Estrada Palma, a naturalized American citizen. On National Public Radio's Morning Edition last month, Louis Perez, a historian, compared Palma to Ahmed Chalabi, an Iraqi exile who lobbied Washington to invade Iraq. President McKinley sent 17,000 soldiers and the American fleet to help Cubans fight the Spaniards, who gave up about as quickly as the Iraqi army did. American soldiers occupied Cuba for four years. Comparing the Cuban with the Iraqi occupation last month, sociologist Irving Louis Horowitz had this to say in the National Interest Journal: "It demonstrates the simple fact that real liberation, much less democracy, cannot be given, certainly not by the armed forces of an occupying power." Think of Cuba's history. Uprisings occurred for years, and the U.S. sent troops to protect American-owned sugar mills and plantations. Fulgencio Batista took over the country and became its dictator for nearly 20 years with the support of every American president. He was ousted in 1956 by Fidel Castro, a young radical lawyer, who became a communist dictator and took over the American-owned businesses and property. Washington now won't even allow Americans to go to Cuba. You might think about this when you read the newspaper.

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