Just Above Sunset Archives
January 18, 2004: Presidential Hopefuls - The Winnowing Fan
Monday in Iowa (today as
some of you read this) they'll have those caucuses and the nomination for which of the eight Democrats gets to run against
Bush will be up for grabs. I wont count the ninth nominal Democrat with ambitions - Lyndon LaRouche - as I've
commented here on him. Not a player.
But Michael Moore of the "angry left" - from Bowling for Columbine to Stupid White Men - has endorsed Clark. What's with that?
Of all the other Democratic presidential contenders, only John Kerry has the military credentials
to challenge Bush. But being a wounded and decorated Vietnam vet is not the same
as being both that and a retired four-star general. Anyway, Kerry is easily caricatured
as a Massachusetts liberal.
Yes, there is something
to this, and it has to do with honor, and loyalty to your fellows.
In a way, Clark is this season's John McCain. ... His themes are similar, too, but where McCain ran to the left of Bush, Clark runs to the right of the Democratic field. That assessment has nothing to do with his actual positions, some of which are downright liberal - he has no problem with civil unions or marriage for gays, for instance - but rather with his military record and his Southern roots.
Ah yes, a new definition
of the political right. Here right means something about doing the right
Maybe. Maybe not.
But Clark has a way to go. When he talks about patriotism,
leadership, the military and his own remarkable life, he can be moving and persuasive.
But when he gets into domestic programs, you hear a "voice mail" recitation - no passion, little inflection and
often a comparison to some military program, as if the Army is just civilian life with worse food. He lacks the politician's ability to morph with his audience.
Yes, and he doesn't bad-mouth
his fellow Democrats. He's got better things to do. Fix things.
At the fundraiser here, Clark stood before a huge American flag like George C. Scott in "Patton." And when he talked about Bush and the war in Iraq, it was not as some Democrat
who could be caricatured as a peacenik, but as a warrior who felt that the president had fought the wrong war at the wrong
time - and then pranced all over a flight deck reserved for Clark's genuine heroes, "the men and women who serve."
Yep, this could get real
A reaction to this from Phillip Raines
Those on the left of left don't want a military man in charge period. Don't trust a soldier, they're all killers. Hmmm. I'm not so sure. The fact that he has been sequestered from the civilian world all his adult life is a serious point. He is also a bad dresser, or at least his taste in sweaters is questionable. I worry Dean's head is swimming from this assault of his peers. His feistiness could short-circuit and his handlers are not as cagey as Dubya's. It's funny Michael Moore endorsed Clark. Didn't see that coming, though the angle of the best bet to beat Bush has an allure.
To which I replied:
As I said, I'm not a good lefty. I have too much respect for honest military folks doing their best, and there are many. There are honorable men and women in uniform. Really. I've met them.
And of course I also have too much respect for honest police folks, doing their best, and there are many of those, even out here in Los Angeles, Rodney King land. I know a few of them too. One of the hardest jobs there is.
In an odd way, both groups are like good teachers - people who choose to work in public service because it's the right thing to do. It might make the world better.
But yes, there are bully teachers, and useless loser wimps too. And there are power-mad, stupid cops. And generals who seem to have stepped out of Doctor Strangeglove.
But then again, there are the good guys. Once shouldn't forget them. They hold things together for us. And the pay stinks.
This came to mind:
EPITAPH ON AN ARMY OF MERCENARIES
A.E. Housman (1860-1936)
These, in the day when heaven was falling,
The hour when earths foundations fled,
Followd their mercenary calling
And took their wages and are dead.
Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
They stood, and earths foundations stay;
What God abandond, these defended,
And saved the sum of things for pay.
And my friend Bonnie, who was always far more left than me, sent this from Boston:
I'm not surprised to learn you have encountered military folks whom you like and respect, whom you find to be decent people. Me too. A young friend who did six years in the Navy, for one. Along the same lines, I became professionally friendly with a cop (whoda thunk it!?!?), the juvenile officer of the city where I work with juvenile delinquents, so to speak. A tall, sandy haired Irish guy with a big moustache who wants the same thing for the kids I do. To stay out of trouble. A decent fellow, hard working and underpaid. The longer I live with eyes wide open, the more porous the boundaries in all those categories and causal connections I made as a youngster become.
So if the boundaries are now more porous should we on the left have The General speak for us? Michael Moore says so.
'Anon came the soul of Theban Teiresias, with a golden sceptre in his hand, and he knew me and
spake unto me: "Son of Laertes, of the seed of Zeus, Odysseus of many devices, what seekest thou NOW, wretched man, wherefore
hast thou left the sunlight and come hither to behold the dead and a land desolate of joy? Nay, hold off from the ditch and
draw back thy sharp sword, that I may drink of the blood and tell thee sooth."
As seers go, Teiresias can be a windbag. But winnowing fan is used to separate the wheat from the chaff.