Saturday, September 15, 2007

Thoughts on the Clark Endorsement

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 492

As I posted earlier today, retired Army general Wes Clark has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. The official campaign announcement can be found here.

The timing of this announcement couldn't have been better managed by Clinton's campaign. Coming as it does after a full week of focus on Iraq in Congress, at the White House, and in the media, the endorsement of a military officer of Clark's stature - he was the former NATO Allied Supreme Commander and commanded the Kosovo war - rides the crest of public attention on both the military and political aspects of U.S. policy. Clark's endorsement sends the message that people who can be relied upon to know what they're talking about view Hillary Clinton as a credible potential Commander in Chief. I can think of only two other retired generals to match Clark's public standing, namely Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf, and I think it's safe to say that neither of them will be coming out with an endorsement of a Democratic candidate for president, so Hillary has probably locked up the high profile military endorsement market with this announcement.

That said, it is never clear what actual electoral muscle these sorts of endorsements deliver. It's not as if legions of Wes Clark clones will suddenly materialize at phone banks and neighborhood canvasses here in Iowa or anywhere else, and Clinton hardly needs help raising money. And Clark's endorsement of John Kerry last time around didn't exactly put Kerry's election in the bag.

But this is a newsworthy development, all the same. As a woman running for president, Hillary Clinton battles a still-pervasive cultural subtext that Commander in Chief is a man's job, and having Wes Clark stand up and say he thinks that Hillary is not only capable, but the most capable candidate to fulfill that role certainly helps her. There's also a nice bit of symmetry to Clark's endorsement, given that Hillary Clinton was a co-chair of Wesley Clark's own presidential campaign in 2004.

Maybe the best thing that can be said about endorsements like today's from Clark is that one would certainly rather have them than not. Just ask any of the other Democratic candidates if they would have liked to have Wes Clark's endorsement, and see what they say.


Anonymous said...

Hillary Clinton was not a co-chair of Clark's 2004 campaign. She didn't even endorse him.

iPol said...

Have a look at this link:

Note the entry for Hillary Clinton. If this info turns out to be incorrect, I will gladly publish a correction.

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