So much for the Democrats' hope that retired General Wesley Clark was going to be their Colin Powell. "He's more Benedict Arnold than anything else, if you believe the mail we've been getting here," says the Democratic National Committee staffer who, only a month ago was touting Clark as his party's answer to the military star power aligned with Republicans.
"Any cachet he might have had he's pretty much pissed away on TV," says the staffer.
Since the outbreak of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Clark has been on CNN, bemoaning the Pentagon and Gen. Tommy Franks's strategy in the opening days of taking down Saddam. And while several other senior retired military men have made critical comments about the ongoing fighting -- Ret. Gen. Barry McCaffrey, another former Clinton-era official, has been quick to criticize during his stints on MSNBC -- Clark has by far been the most vocal.
"It just looks really bad that he's knocking the troops and the way we're executing this war," says the DNC staffer. "He's taking hits everywhere, on TV, in the newspapers, on talk radio. People are furious at him. We can't fundraise off performances like this. The only presidential candidate that would probably want to be seen with him is Howard Dean."
Prior to Clark's "tanking" on CNN, the DNC had Clark pegged for political stardom. He'd visited New Hampshire, and had hinted that he was interested in perhaps running for president as a Democrat. Now, the DNC isn't sure what they can do with the man who directed Bill Clinton's military machinations in Kosovo.
The University of Iowa invited former President Bill Clinton to speak on Wednesday night, and even though tickets were free to students, turnout was comparatively low.
"It wasn't the sellout they thought it would be," says a Hawkeye undergrad. "There were lots of girls who went to take a look at him, though."
There were no estimates on the crowd, though more than 1,000 tickets went unused. For once, the terms Clinton and sellout weren't synonymous.
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