Points By Drew Pritt

The Case for an Obama-Clark ’08 Ticket
May 22, 2008, 11:40 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Word comes today that Barack Obama is beginning the search for a running mate :


In the last four years we have seen two extraordinary men, with storybook biographies, both be the beneficiaries of true, grassroots efforts by the people the land them in the White House. The first effort was in 2004 for retired General Wesley K. Clark which landed short, but still was an overall positive experience politically. The other is this year’s astronomical climb of U.S. Senator Barack Obama from in little less than a decade from the steps of the Illinois State Capitol in the State Senate to the very steps of the 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, S.W., the White House itself.

As the primaries draw to a close, even I, who have supported Senator Hillary Clinton through thick and then recognize the end is near. It’s time for us as a party to come together. In that vein we need a running mate for Obama that will heal our party’s rifts, will be truly experienced and ready to assume the Presidency if need be without on the job training, and someone who can politically parlay the strengths of John McCain as the Presidential nominee for the other side.

McCain will capitalize on his heroism and his experience as a Vietnam War P.O.W. I am sure Republican Strategists will parlay that into a 9/11 Age of Uncertainty Message that shows strength and character. If Senator Obama taps Clark, then you have a man who was wounded in battle in Vietnam, and taught himself how to walk again. Also, as Supreme Allied Commander, Clark has the unique note of being the only U.S. Commander to go into a major theatre of operation (war) and emerge without a single fatality (death) for one of our soldiers. Clark was valedictorian of his class at West Point, was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to the University of Oxford where he obtained a degree in PPE (Philosophy, Politics & Economics), and later graduated from the Command and General Staff College with a master’s degree in military science. He spent 34 years in the Army and the Department of Defense, receiving many military decorations, several honorary knighthoods, and a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Clark was assigned a position in the 1st Infantry Division and flew to Vietnam on May 21, 1969 during the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. He worked as a staff officer, collecting data and helping in operations planning, and was awarded the Bronze Star for his work with the staff. Clark was then given command of A Company, 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry of the 1st Infantry Division in January 1970. In February, only one month into his command, he was shot four times by a Viet Cong soldier with an AK-47. The wounded Clark shouted orders to his men, who counterattacked and defeated the Viet Cong force. Clark had injuries to his right shoulder, right hand, right hip, and right leg, and was sent to Valley Forge Army Hospital in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania to recuperate. He was awarded the Silver Star for his actions during the encounter.

Politically speaking, consider this about his 2004 bid for President. A “Draft Clark” campaign began to grow with the launch of DraftWesleyClark.com on April 10, 2003. DraftWesleyClark signed up tens of thousands of volunteers, made 150 media appearances discussing Clark, and raised $1.5 million in pledges for his campaign. DraftClark2004.com, another website in support of drafting Clark, was the first organization to register as a political action committee in June 2003 to persuade Clark to run. They had earlier presented him with 10,000 emails in May 2003 from throughout the country asking Clark to run. Clark announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential primary elections from Little Rock on September 17, 2003, months after the other candidates. The campaign raised $3.5 million in the first two weeks.

After the campaign, Clark remained very loyal to building up the Democratic Party. The internet campaign would also establish the Clark Community Network of blogs,which is still used today and made heavy use of Meetup.com, where DraftWesleyClark.com had established the second-largest community of Meetups. pro-choice and pro-affirmative action. He called for a repeal of recent Bush tax cuts for people earning more than $200,000 and suggested providing healthcare for the uninsured by altering the current system rather than transferring to a completely new universal health care system. He backed environmental causes such as promising to reverse “scaled down rules” the Bush administration had applied to the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts and dealing with global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Clark also proposed a global effort to strengthen American relations with other nations, reviewing the PATRIOT Act, and investing $100 billion in homeland security. Finally, he put out a budget plan that claimed to save $2.35 trillion over ten years through a repeal of the Bush tax cuts, sharing the cost of the Iraq War with other nations, and cutting government waste.

Clark had testified before the House Committee on Armed Services on September 26, 2002 that while he supported the Iraq Resolution he believed the country should try other options before the more immediate war President Bush had been calling for at the time, and this testimony was later used during his presidential campaign to portray Clark as pro-war although FactCheck called this a “classic case of ripping quotes out of their full context in order to create a false picture.”

Clark campaigned heavily throughout the 2006 midterm election campaign, supporting numerous Democrats in a variety of federal, statewide, and state legislature campaigns. Ultimately his PAC aided 42 Democratic candidates who won their elections, including 25 who won seats formerly held by Republicans and 6 newly elected veteran members of the House and Senate. Clark was the most-requested surrogate of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee throughout the 2006 campaign, and sometimes appeared with the leadership of the Democratic Party when they commented on security issues.

Clark is the running mate we need who can energize the Clinton base as well as put Southern states and more importantly, the working families and blue collar worker states, in play for a Democratic ticket.

I say ObamaClark ’08!


1 Comment so far
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I think Wesley Clark would be a great vice presidential nominee, I agree with your analysis of his strengths against McCain and with his putting the South and the working-class vote more in play for Obama. I would vote for an Obama-Clark ticket. But ONLY if Hillary doesn’t want to be VP. Obama MUST offer Hillary the vice presidential slot first.

Comment by Jim Fung

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