Consolation Prize

Article excerpt


Consolation prize

"So does retired Gen. Wesley Clark really want to be president or not?" Roger Simon asks in U.S. News & World Report.

"We thought he did. We went all the way to Little Rock, Ark., not long ago to hear him say so," Mr. Simon said in his "Notes From the Campaign Trail."

"But in New York last week, at a big Democratic fund-raiser following his first debate, Clark said he would prefer a different job. 'I didn't go willingly from the armed services,' Clark said, referring to his being booted out as NATO commander in 1999. 'If I had my druthers, I'd still be in uniform.'

"But if he were still in uniform, he wouldn't be running for president. In fact, he made it clear that using the military to pursue political goals was repugnant to him. 'It is deeply offensive to men and women in uniform that a political leader comes out and a political party comes out and uses them as props for political activity,' he told the Democratic bigwigs. (We don't want to be one of those negative thinkers, but we suspect he was referring to President Bush's landing on that aircraft carrier.)

"In any case, most people who run seriously for president want the job really badly. Wes Clark, apparently, considers the Oval Office a consolation prize for not getting a chance to become chairman of the Joint Chiefs."

Colorado courtship

The top Democratic leaders who were trying to woo former presidential candidate Gary Hart into the race against Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Colorado Republican, have now trained their sights on Rep. Mark Udall, the Denver Post reports.

Mr. Udall met last week with Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, Assistant Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman John Corzine, said Udall spokesman Lawrence Pacheco.

The three urged Mr. Udall to run, and he is taking their request seriously, Mr. Pacheco said.

The changing political climate in the nation and in Colorado may be boosting Democratic chances next year, and Mr. Udall said in an interview before the meeting he plans to take a final "hard look at the race."

"I'm taking a look over the next several weeks," Mr. Udall said. "Stay tuned."

Meanwhile, Mr. Hart, a former Democratic senator from Colorado, is declining all requests for comment about the Senate race, said a spokeswoman in Mr. Hart's Denver law office.

A Republican survey in mid-September showed Mr. Campbell beating either Mr. Udall or Mr. Hart by 55 percent to 36 percent, said Daniel Allen, communications director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

A 'dangerous turn'

"Howard Dean recently told The Washington Post that former Democratic Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin had advised him he couldn't 'sell' Dr. Dean to Wall Street if he didn't become more of a free-trader. Dr. Dean declared this almost as a badge of honor, which illustrates a dangerous economic turn in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination," the Wall Street Journal says.

"We had our differences with Bill Clinton, but there's no doubt one of his achievements was leading his party away from protectionism. Open trade was a pillar of his New Democrat philosophy. He and Al Gore routed the AFL-CIO and Ross Perot to pass NAFTA in 1993, followed by bills to create the World Trade Organization and allow most-favored-nation trading status for China. A decade later all three have contributed to American prosperity," the newspaper said in an editorial.

"But without a Democrat looking out for the national interest from the Oval Office, the party is now slipping back toward trade parochialism. …