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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

The Clark Debate Continues

Noam Scheiber of The New Republic has an interesting post today in his ongoing debate with Frank Foer over the viability of a Wesley Clark candidacy. He argues that Clark cannot get the nomination because: (a) unlike Dean, he needs the party establishment to fall into line behind his candidacy, but they’re unlikely to do so because of all their other commitments to candidates still in the race; and (b) unlike Dean, he has no strategy designed to generate liberal support which is so central to the Democratic party nominating process. So he can’t replace Dean as the liberal candidate, but he’s poorly positioned to be the anti-Dean
And maybe that’s not so bad, says Scheiber, since who knows how good a campaigner he’d be anyway. More important, it’s Dean, not Clark (or any of the other candidates), who seems to have a handle on the real challenge of the Democratic primary process: generating liberal enthusiasm and support in the primaries to get the nomination, but doing it in such a way (through tone, rhetoric, etc.) that it’s possible to tack toward moderate positions later to win the general. (Note to Dean campaign: this appears to be some sort of Dean endorsement, though perhaps not exactly the kind you were looking for).
For more on Clark, see the excellent profile of him by Josh Green in the latest issue of The Atlantic Monthly. Better than anything else DR has read, it gives one a sense of how Clark might come off in a campaign–both good and bad.