Thursday, October 23, 2003

All you need is love?

The following Wesley Clark quote (from the Washington Post) is making the rounds this morning:

"How do you think I could have succeeded in the military if everybody didn't like me? It's impossible," he said. "Do you realize I was the first person promoted to full colonel in my entire year group of 2,000 officers? I was the only one selected. Do you realize that? . . . Do you realize I was the only one of my West Point class picked to command a brigade when I was picked? . . . I was the first person picked for brigadier general. You have to balance this out. . . . A lot of people love me."

This comment was made in the context of a discussion about the negative view that some of his military peers have of him. TNR's Adam Kushner sees this as an indication that Clark's critics might be right about his hot-headedness. MWO thinks Kushner is full of it for taking such a tenuous thread and using it to justify the criticism. Howard Kurtz quotes it as well.

I don't think it is as bad as Kushner makes it out to be, but I don't think it is as unimportant as MWO would have it either. The comment as quoted looks like a frustrated outburst coming after several weeks of repeated criticism. Now, regardless of whether the criticism is fair, Clark is going to have to learn to live with it because it will be SOP for the remainder of his life in the public sphere. Clark may, as his supporters assert, be a master of the insider politics that goes on in the Pentagon and Washington. But the public politics of a national campaign are an entirely different test of character that Clark has yet to pass. If his response to these kind of attacks is to cry out "but people love me" then he is setting up his own failure.


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