Ed Ward, MD
IAVA, Wes Clark & Dims Bias
Fri Jan 19, 2007 03:13

Clark Flys Under National Media Radar For Dems In 06

As soon as John Kerry was denied the Presidency in November 2004, Wes Clark shifted his focus to the 2006 Congressional mid term elections. I had the honor to briefly be on a group phone call with Wes Clark early in the Summer of 2005, and he was already heavily stressing the importance of these elections back then. Here are some of the things Wes Clark has already done to help turn these 2006 elections into a major Democratic victory.

Wes Clark helped recruit strong Democratic challengers in States and districts that typically went Republican, candidates like Jim Webb and Eric Massa and many of those now known as "the Fighting Dems". Clark did this for several reasons. First and foremost he knew that Democrats could no longer afford to cede supposedly safe races to Republicans, we had to make Republicans defend districts that they normally took for granted. There are several reasons that Clark saw for that:

1) Clark overall believes in Dean's 50 State strategy, and the only way to ever implement that is to begin to implement it now.

2) Clark foresaw that Bush Administration policies in Iraq and elsewhere were likely to be exposed as disastrous prior to the mid term elections, therefor credible Democrats had to be "pre deployed" so to speak, to be in a position to take advantage of that when it happened.

3) Clark knew that, following their 2002 and 2004 playbooks, Republicans would try to win in 2006 by stoking fear in the public, stressing Bush's "War on Terror ", and calling Democrats weak on National Security and unwilling to protect America from our enemies.

To counter that Clark helped recruit strong Democratic veterans who held positions sharply counter to Bush's on Iraq and National Security in general; Men and women who, unlike Bush and Cheney, actually risked their own lives to protect our nation from our enemies.

Clark then provided crucial early support for those candidates, and others who sought his help. In some cases Clark shared staff resources with them, and sometimes he backed them in primary battles, as he did with James Webb. Those who have been active Clark supporters for awhile know of another way in which Clark helped these men and women, who were often first time Democratic candidates. He strongly urged his supporters to become active in their campaigns, and many honored that request and took it upon themselves to do some of the essential nuts and bolts work; to help set up candidate web sites, to do advance candidate support work on the ground for campaign events, to work at helping refine campaign talking points, to help stage local fund raisers, to write letters to local newspapers, and more. Like I said, below the radar.

Meanwhile Wes Clark made another related and strategic move on his political chess board. January 2006 saw the birth of a new Political Action Committee, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America Political Action Committee (IAVA) http://www.votevets.org/ with Wes Clark heading up the Advisory Board. The IAVA mission is exclusively dedicated to supporting veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who are running for Congress and who endorse the PAC's policy goals.

While IAVA is officially a non partisan organization, its policy goal criteria resulted in 7 exclusively Democratic Candidates applying for and receiving IAVA support. IAVA soon made a major media splash, by airing devastatingly effective TV ads against targeted Republican incumbents who IAVA says sent Americans off to war wearing outdated and ineffective flak jackets. Information on these Democratic Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran 2006 Congressional candidates is available at the IAVA web site.

Next Clark sought to personally energize the campaigns of all the Democrats he was supporting (a much larger list than IAVA endorsees) on the grounds where they literally are being fought. Rather than centralize campaign fund raising through his own political action committee (WesPAC), so he could then act as a king maker doling out funds to those who came looking to him for support, Clark asked his supporters to directly support those candidates, and he prominently maintained information about them and links to their campaign web sites on his own site -

Why take that route? In my opinion to encourage direct ties and loyalty between Clark's key supporters and those whom he endorsed, rather than dilute that connection by inserting himself in the middle. Clark then took it a step further. Rather than hold major fundraisers for WesPAC to fill WesPAC's coffers so that WesPAC could write checks to Clark endorsed candidates, Clark down played fund raising for WesPAC. Again, why? This is pretty straight forward, Clark instead committed to a grueling schedule of appearing in person in districts scattered across the nation, often far outside of the major media markets that attract national press pick up coverage.

Usually those appearances by Clark included guest speaking at or actually hosting a fund raiser for those candidates inside their own home districts. Doing it that way builds excitement at the local level, it creates local press coverage, the only type of coverage that most of these candidates are ever going to receive. Doing it that way brought major potential donors into direct contact with the candidates themselves, potential donors who may never have met those candidates personally had they not wanted the opportunity to attend a local event with General Clark present.

This is the slow detail oriented way to help little known candidates compete in seldom covered races. The highly centralized manner would have been less grueling on Clark personally. Hosting high profile big ticket fundraisers for his own PAC would have perhaps taken less time, and it would have been more visible to inside the beltway pundits and power brokers. A more centralized approach might have done more for Wes Clark's national profile, but it would have done less for the local profiles of the men and women Wes Clark pledged to support.

Finally, Wes Clark has always unwaveringly guarded the Democratic Party's back against Republican assault attacks that Democrats won't keep Americans safe, and in the process Clark is helping turn the National Security issue into a Republicans liability. President Bill Clinton deservedly received major press coverage this September when he defended his administration's efforts to stop Bin Ladin and accused the Bush Administration of dropping the ball during the 8 months that preceded 9/11. However it was General Clark who had this to say several months earlier, in his June keynote address to the Texas State Democratic Party Convention:

"Now I can understand wanting to come back to Texas on vacation - it's a pretty darn nice place down here and I can even understand wanting to chop cedar - I've got a little place in western Arkansas and I've been looking at all that stuff there and it makes me want to go out and chop every now and then too - but he shouldn't have done it. It's what I call `command negligence' because... I think any reasonable person who was Commander in Chief at the time who had gotten a warning like that would have called the members of the cabinet together and said `fellas, ladies, I don't know what this warning means but this is not happening on my watch - you put your heads together, you've got 2 weeks, you come up with an action plan - I want to know what you're doing in the Justice Department, what the FBI's doing, what DOD's doing, what CIA's doing' -and he would have been a leader and he might have saved a lot of lives.

Now why am I going back over ancient history? Because it's not ancient. Because we went to war in Iraq to cover up the command negligence that contributed to 9/11. And it was a war we didn't have to fight. Thank you. That's the truth and I hope every Democrat around this country sees you all on your feet acknowledging the reality of the world we're living in today thanks to the misleadership of this Republican administration. I've been in war. I don't believe in it and you don't do it unless there's absolutely, absolutely, absolutely - no alternative. "

A keynote speech to the Texas State Democratic Convention may not qualify as flying below the media radar, at least not in Texas or with Democrats, but Clark does much of his work defending Democrats as a commentator on FOX, not exactly what most Democratic pundits like to spend their evenings viewing. But ask the Democrats running for seats in previously safe Republican districts and States, candidates who Wes Clark is directly supporting, how they feel about Clark's appearances on FOX. The voters they have to reach in order to pry loose enough votes THAT WENT TO REPUBLICANS IN 2004 to put them over the top to victory, most of them watch FOX, and so they watch General Clark lay out a sharp line of attack against George Bush on national security, a line our candidates can then drive home to their local, frequently Republican leaning voters.

None of Clark's work on behalf of Democrats is literally invisible, you can see ample reports about all of this on Clark's own web site. It is of course right out there in public for anyone to see, if they look, but most beltway pundits have tunnel vision. If it's not being talked about by Chris Mathews and Tim Russet, if it's not being written about in the New York Times and the Washington Post, it almost doesn't exist. They probably weren't reading the local press in Alabama where Clark was campaigning for Democrats last week, but rest assured, the voters in those Alabama districts did.

Downsize DC, http://www.downsizedc.org/mission.shtml - Read The Bill Act, http://www.downsizedc.org/rtba_legislation.shtml. Many other quick and simple ways to email your voice on Constitutional rights and organizing for activism - https://secure.downsizedc.org/rtba/coalition/.


Dei Jurum Conventus

Ed Ward, MD; http://www.thepriceofliberty.org/arc_ward.htm
Independent writer/Media Liaison for The Price of Liberty; http://www.thepriceofliberty.org/

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