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November 15, 2003



So, your source for the evidence that Clark is Ross-Perot-crazy is Peter Boyer?

And, you left the italics tag open.


Are you arguing that Boyer misquoted the General when he has him saying ' "hopscotching around the Middle East and knocking off states," as he put it. He has acknowledged, "I'm not sure that I can prove this yet." ?

Timmy the Wonder Dog

Wesley has been all over the map on Iraq. I'm not sure what it is indicative of, other than Wesley apparently has trouble making up his mind.


And this thread is indicative of right-wingers trying to frame the terms of the debate, a la Boyer. "Is Clark crazy, or just insane?"

Do you guys really find this stuff fun? *Yawn*

Paul Zrimsek

The answer to "Are you arguing that Boyer misquoted the General...?", then, is "No, I'm changing the subject."

Mark Kleiman

So you endorse the Boyer/Sullivan/Reynolds thesis that Clark is crazy. The basis for this is his belief that some people in, or influential in, the Bush Administration would like (or would have liked before things went badly in Iraq) to execute "regime change" in several places. This is, as you point out, demonstrable from the speeches and writings of several of them. Moreover, Clark reports (and Boyer gives no reason for doubting his report) that an active-service general told him as much, naming seven countries. The phrase "secret plan" is Boyer's rather than Clark's; take out the "secret plan," and you have a perfectly reasonable assertion. So where's the craziness? In Sullivan's view, the evidence of craziness is that Clark asserted that invading Iraq took resources away from al-Qaeda, which Sullivan asserts is contrary to fact. But, as usual, Sullivan is wrong.

So what evidence is left that Clark is crazy?

I take it we agree that Clark is not unpatriotic. If Reynolds wants to assert that you can say that someone automatically opposes anyting that's in the national interest without calling that person unpatriotic, I suppose there's no point in quibbling. There are some people -- Noam Chomsky comes to mind -- who feel that way, and I do call them unpatriotic.

But you, Reynolds, Sullivan, and Krauthammer provide precisely no evidence that Clark has that view. There's good reason for that: he doesn't. He opposed the war in Iraq because he thought, for reasons he has given, that it would be contrary to U.S. national interests.

Whether you or Reynolds or Sullivan want to use the word "unpatriotic" or not, asserting that opposition to American action to serve American interests is at the center of Clark's foreign policy views is a baseless slander.

The people around Bush fear Clark politically precisely because of his unabashed patriotism. The best description I've seen of his political stance is that he's re-inventing what might be called "national-greatness liberalism," last seen dominating the Democratic Party in the Kennedy Administration.

Those of us who are Democrats and unabashed patriots are of course delighted. Recapturing the Democratic party as for the flag, and vice versa, would be good for our country and our party at once.

But those who are Republicans, if they are any kind of patriots at all, ought to welcome this development -- which would surely be good for the country, even if bad for their party -- rather than trying to destroy the man who promises to bring it about.

If you have any evidence whatever that Wesley Clark is crazy, or that he opposes on principle action in the American national interest, let me know what it is, and I'll retract the above. If not, I think it's you who owe a retraction, and not in chess scores.


Two brief points.

Clark's military service earns him the certainty of gratitude and respect, and his experience and rank earn him the presumption of competence on military and strategic affairs -- subject to performance.

But his performance hasn't been very impressive. Actually I'm giving him a pass on virtually everything he's said for the past year or so, figuring it must be scored as political maneuvering. I really think he knows better -- or at least realizes his critiques and now his ideas for joint commando teams and such are mostly just fodder for a political campaign. Fair enough. Disappointing, as you'd want someone of his background to bring more to the arena -- but as I said, I think he's understandably trying to run a campaign, not a staff meeting.

But the stuff about being called by the White House on 9/11 and urged to link Iraq to the attacks, and about the White House trying to get him fired from his CNN gig, and now about MidEast war plans, and another one from earlier I always forget -- but of a piece with the first two -- in style at least, this is reminiscent of nothing so much as the zany nonsense about the Secret Service and Ross Perot's daughter's wedding.

So in that sense, I think the Ross Perot tag is justified, and even natural. I am loathe to even use "weird" about Ross Perot, a smart guy with many accomplishments, but how else does one describe the wedding thing? And with Clark, also a smart guy with an impressive career, it's sort of the same.

It's Clark's intelligence, and visible focus and intensity, that make these comments so incongruous. And then he backs away and re-states his case several times, in most of these instances -- it's just hard to ignore.

I wouldn't call him insane or crazy, but I do think these episodes are striking, and odd.

Jeffrey Kramer

"From Rep. Smith's viewpoint, the real problem with the Slavery Reparations proposal is that it's (1) supported by liberals and (2) obviously in the interest of black people. To people like Smith, those characteristics are enough to brand it evil."

Is there any doubt in anybody's mind that I've just called Rep. Smith a racist?


Here is some background on Ross Perot, to give a flavor of what "Ross Perot crazy" might mean. Since it is clearly not synonomous with "insane", this part of the discussion loolks like a dead end - I hardly expect Clark's supporters to admit that their guy is hearing voices, and I am not going to stop believing that these secret conspiracies he can't quite prove are a bit odd.

Here is more on "The White House tried to get me fired.

And IceCold may have forgotten the infamous "I would have been a Republican if Karl Rove had returned my phone calls" quote from Newsweek. The Weekly Standard had a stupid response, which was to check the phone logs. I debunked them with unexpected flair, but, following the links, we see that the ubiquitous Andrew Sullivan noted this incident as evidence of Clark's unreliability.


A serious answer to Mr. Kramer is, there is tremendous doubt in my mind as to whether that statement brands Rep. Smith as racist. In fact, I am closer to the opposite conclusion - that it would be hard to argue convincingly that such a statement, in and of itself, is racist.

Now, it could be motivated by racism, and it might be something a racist would be comfortable saying, but that is quite different, and knowing nothing about the hypothetical ((I assume) Rep. Smith, I am not inclined to default to that conclusion.

"(a) supported by liberals" as a reason for opposition might just mean, I oppose the same fuzzy thinkers that gave us the disaster of the Great Society. That reopens the whole question of whether the call for welfare reform was motivated by racism or something else, and I think the majority view favors "something else".

"(b) obviously in the interest of black people" might just mean, not in the interests of society as a whole and consequently unlikely to be embraced, or ultimately effective in reducing racial tension. A cram-down reparations plan that antagonizes whites and other immigrants might be a terrible idea, for non-racist reasons.

So, yes, I have my doubts. That said, reasoning by example is fraught with peril.

Paul Zrimsek

If we're going to assume that Boyer reported inaccurately about what Clark said about the "secret plan", we'd be far from perfectly reasonable to assume, at the same time, that he reported accurately what we assume Clark reported accurately about what we assume the unnamed active-service general reported accurately about what the administration wants to do.

Given that patriotism comes in at least two strengths, "abashed" and "unabashed", is it possible that Reynolds was accusing Clark only of having the abashed variety-- in common with, apparently, all the other Democratic contenders?


On the "he attacked Clark's patriotism", I consider this to be a reprise of the Dem theme that criticism of a Democrat must be recast as an attack on the target's patriotism. My favorite example was provided by Johm Kerry, as documented by Josh Marshall.

As alluded to above, this "defense by labelling tactic" is common. Critics of affirmative action are racist; critics of Israel are anti-Semitic; critics of Clark's position on Iraq are impugning his patriotism; yeah, yeah, yeah.

I didn't read the original post as specifically directed at Clark, and Glenn's follow-up comment is this:

But, just for the record, I had no thought of impugning Clark's patriotism when I made that post. Just his judgment and his fitness to be President. As has been widely discussed in the blogosphere, some Democratic foreign-policy types seem to regard military action that doesn't have any direct benefit to the United States as morally preferable to military action that does. I don't think that such a view is unpatriotic -- just unserious, and unsuitable for anyone who might be President.

So, that clarification is as much of an apology or a retraction as Clark's supporters are likely to get. Glenn's original comment may not have been well phrased, but it seems to be well within the bounds of public discourse.

And what might those bounds be? Here is an interesting example, titled "THE HOUSE OF BUSH CONTINUES TO SERVE THE HOUSE OF SAUD".

Let's see what might be implied by the title: Papa Bush, decorated Navy veteran and distinguished public servant, is either corrupt, or operating with dual allegiance to the Saudis? The "House of Bush" has somehow imposed itself by violence on the American public, as the House of Saud did? With no effort at all, someone who is easily outraged could wonder why this sort of attack on the honor and patriotism of our former President should be tolerated. Retractions! Apologies! In fact, Humble Apologies!

We are not holding our breath. Instead, we tune this out as classic left wing noise, or, as we say, a Democratic Cocktail Party quip.

However, there exists guidance about glass houses, and motes in your neighbor's eye, that seem relevant.

Cecil Turner

Well Tom, I think you have the right tone on both the definition of “Ross Perot Crazy” and the pot-kettle issue.

For the record, Reynolds said nothing about Clark’s craziness, except to quote Andrew’s pithy parallel. The worst thing Glenn said about him initially was that he argued “rather incoherently” about the relative merits of Kosovo and Iraq. (Although he subsequently questioned Clark’s judgment, fitness to be president, and seriousness.)

I took the “real problem with the Iraq war” quote to be both a swipe at liberal defense strategy and an accusation that Clark was trying to curry favor with the far left rather than making a serious argument. There are other interpretations, but that one meshes rather better with the previous and subsequent comments.

Clark had a service reputation for telling people what they wanted to hear, and was relieved as SACEUR for “integrity and character issues.” Lately he has been so busy trying to be on both sides of every issue that his internal consistency suffers. As a retired military officer myself, I started as a very sympathetic audience. But Clark’s views as a military strategist are completely incoherent. If he actually believes that stuff, he’s got issues. But I think the real problem is that he’s more interested in promoting his candidacy than making a rational argument—to the detriment of both.

Jeffrey Kramer

"...(b) obviously in the interest of black people" might just mean, not in the interests of society as a whole and consequently unlikely to be embraced, or ultimately effective in reducing racial tension."

If Rep. Smith (R-Hypothetical) had said "I oppose this bill because it's obviously in the interest of black people" he might convince people that what he meant to say was "I oppose this bill because it's obviously in the interest of black people ONLY, at the expense of the rest of the population." (Though of course he can't honestly claim to be shocked or "confused" that anybody could have considered that statement racist.)

If *I* say "one reason Rep. Smith opposes this bill is because it's obviously in the interest of black people," what I'm saying is that "being in the interest of black people" is, in and of itself, something that motivates Rep. Smith towards opposition. This, to my mind, is not even really a "deduction" about what I've just said, a deduction reasonable people could readily dispute; it's basically just a simple paraphrase. If I said "one reason Rep. Smith opposes this bill is because it obviously would increase the budget deficit," nobody would even consider denying that I was characterizing Rep. Smith as a man who was hostile to budget deficits. Anybody who denied it would be either be considered lacking in basic understanding of how sentences operated, or would be dismissed as a troll.

I don't see how the basic rules for understanding how sentences operate changes from these hypothetical examples to Reynolds' actual example. If I oppose something because (among other reasons) it would increase the budget deficit, then I am motivated by (among other things) hostility to a budget deficit. If I oppose something because (among other reasons) it would be in the interest of Communism, then I am motivated by (among other things) hostility to Communism. If I oppose something because (among other reasons) it would be in the national interests of the United States, I am motivated by (among other things) hostility to the national interests of the United States. People who are motivated by hostility to a budget deficit are called deficit hawks. People who are motivated by hostility to Communism are called anti-Communist. And people who are motivated by hostility to the national interests of the United States are called anti-American or (if they are themselves American) unpatriotic.

Perhaps Reynolds can plausibly say that he didn't *mean* to say that Clark was unpatriotic. He can't plausibly say he is "confused" that anybody would reach such a bizarre conclusion, based on what he said. Because that is what he said.


Oh, please, enough with the "I've found someone who said so-and-so anti-war person was unpatriotic!" blather, folks. If someone says it, point it out. Stop making it up.

As for reading between the lines to find it, Kleinman lost all credibility in discerning things when he gave the Vulcan mind-meld to the voters of Alabama & asserted that they voted against a tax hike because they were racist.

I don't like throwing around labels, but "party-line hack" applies. Nothing more. (And I don't state this as some Reynolds-clone, as I don't even have him on my blogroll-----this is simply ludicrous & I became weary of false 'unpatriotic' claims months ago).

Jeffrey Kramer

1) Saying "Clark opposes this because it's obviously in the U.S. national interest" implies that he is hostile to the U.S. national interest.
2) Americans who are hostile to the U.S. national interest are rightly called "unpatriotic."
3) Therefore, saying "Clark opposes this because it's obviously in the U.S. national interest" amounts to calling Clark unpatriotic.

Oh, please
stop making it up.
lost all credibility
Vulcan mind-meld
party-line hack
Nothing more
simply ludicrous
I became weary

Cecil Turner

Clark’s position isn’t sensible. Whatever you think of the two conflicts, legally they are indistinguishable: both are clear violations of international law. (Specifically, Chapter VII of the UN charter—ratified by nearly every nation—gives the UN Security Council sole jurisdiction “to maintain or restore international peace and security.” NATO has no such authority, and is not a suitable substitute.)

Many on the left are apparently of the opinion that military force should only be used when American interests aren’t at stake, and the US can be an impartial arbiter to restore international peace and security. There’s nothing inherently unpatriotic about that view, it’s just confused. (Or perhaps “unserious, and unsuitable for anyone who might be President.”)


Jeffrey, you're obviously under the impression that I read more than the first sentence of your comment. Sorry to disappoint, my comment was directed at Mr. Kleinman.

Nice hatchet job of my comment, though!


Yes, Mr. Kramer has a flair for free verse.

The problem is, the InstaComment referred to "some people", not necessarily Gen. Clark; and, in my opinion, which I hope I expressed clearly, the comment was very poorly phrased.

Consequently, I am not inclined to take much from it, and arguments about what it might mean, or ought to mean, strike me as interesting but irrelevant.

As to speculation about what confuses Glenn R., and whether he had legitimate grounds for confusion in this case, well, my psychoanalytical powers were exhausted by my journey into the dark crevasses of the General's mind.


Unless the laws of the universe change & folks can actually think for others, I generally go with the idiom that someone who makes a statement knows the true intentions, not the person who disagrees.

If Klienman thinks Reynolds is lying when he denies that he's questioning WC's patriotism, fine. Why he'd want a retraction from a liar (why believe him?) is a question I leave for others to discern.

It may have been fodder to address, for purposes of clarification, but once Reynolds said "no", that should end the discussion, IMO.


Er, "axiom". Dammit. :)

Alex Parker

Oh c'mon,

Regardless of the poor phrasing, why else would Prof. Reynolds bring up these "people" if not to imply that they had something to do with Clark?


Cecil, I think you need to check out the next thread over. We settled that question good!


Alex, he implies, you infer. If he's gone back and addressed the issue so as to clear up any questions as to the IMPLICATIONS and you still INFER differently, the problem isn't with the presenter.

Since I'm not a professional writer & screw up all the time, I have to explain some of the things I write and I often get the "no, you really meant _______" retort from folks who don't like it when they've been told that they were wrong. IOW, they're telling me that I'm a liar or that they know what I mean more than me.

If you think he's a liar, then there's no need even discussing it, right?

Jeffrey Kramer

"The problem is, the InstaComment referred to "some people", not necessarily Gen. Clark."

Reynolds made it quite clear, in his response to Kleiman, that of course the comment was meant to refer to Gen. Clark:

"I had no thought of impugning CLARK'S patriotism when I made that post. Just HIS judgment and his fitness to be President."
[my emphasis]

If Reynolds thought his comments impugned Clark's judgment, then his comments did refer to Clark. And just to be doubly unmistakable, Reynolds went on to say that this rejection of the national interest showed the kind of bad judgment which was particularly damning in a presidential candidate. So were his comments only referring to the eight other candidates, all of them except for the man whose name he had been using all along?

This kind of point ordinarily would be pretty close to self-evident and wouldn't need 'explaining', but some (otherwise obviously intelligent) people develop strange cases of blindness to the obvious under the pressure to support a cause or win an argument.

(For example, didn't everybody who just read the last paragraph understand immediately that by "some... people" I meant, among others, TM?)

Alex Parker


Peter Gibbons: Initech is wrong! Initech is an evil corporation! Chochkies is wrong! Doesn't it bother you that you have to get up in the morning and you have to put on a bunch of pieces of flair?

Joanna: Yeah, but I'm not about to go in and start taking money from the register!

Peter Gibbons: Well, maybe you should! You know, the Nazis had pieces of flair that they made the Jews wear.

OK, that line is funny, because it is funny that someone would see a parallel between a stupid diner and the Nazis. It would not be funny if you could logically assume that the Nazis comment had nothing to do with their conversation before.

My point is that it is a fair charge to say that Instapundit attacked Clark's patriotism. As Kramer pointed out above, Instapundit didn't even deny that he was talking about Clark with that comment.

So then, the only defense that Instapundit could make (and the one he did make) is something like, well, I didn't say he was unpatriotic, simply that he will be against any defense of America if it comes from a Republican.

If the above statement is coherent to you, then maybe you can believe that he was just attacking Clark's "judgement." To me, though, it makes no sense. The logical inferment of his argument is that Clark puts partisanship above the U.S.'s protection, which is by definition unpatriotic.


Didn't you get the memo on the TPS report?

Alex Parker

I believe everything you need to know about politics and life can be found either in "Office Space" or "The Big Lebowski."


And I, too, wholeheartedly endorse the ass kicking of any person who says that I've got a 'bad case of the mondays'. Man. :)

Kay Thomas

H Ross Perot was a great man. I voted for him, simply because I wanted to see him get up every morning and try to stomp on Congresses in-eptitudes a dangling.

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