I only caught part of it, but during the roundtable discussion of the Fox News show with Brit Hume and crew, they showed a clip of Gen. Clark unloading on some reporter for ‘twisting his words.’
I don’t know if the reporter was twisting his words or not, but I have to tell you, my respect for Clark just went up a couple notches. I am absolutely sick to death of people taking politician’s words and deciding they know best what the guy/gal really meant. Whether it is the NY Times employing reporters who just make shit up, Maureen Dowd simply making her own quotes up, or other politicians (and more recently bloggers attacking other bloggers), nothing is solved in the political arena when real arguments are thrown aside in favor of the gotcha games. Sure, maybe short term political gains may be realized, talking points and attack ads can be formulated, but no good policy comes from dishonest debate.
We see entirely too much of this anymore- the way the entire left wing of the blogosphere immediately pounces on anything the Instapundit writes and determines what ‘he really meant’ is a simple example of this. Why don’t we try this on for size- when you read something a politician says, or hear something they have stated in public, why not try to interpret it in the manner they meant for you- and not instead twist it, distort it, or manufacture innuendos, all the while ignoring the speaker’s intent. Might be helpful.
I hope all the Democrat candidates start doing what Clark did tonight, and perhaps the press will behave like adults. The same goes for Bush, who has let jackholes like Tim Noah and others of his ilk have a free pass with everything he has said in the past four years.
Just my two cents. Way to go, Clark.
*** Update ***
One more thing- if another Democrat claims someone is questioning Clark’s or Kerry’s patriotism, I am going to have an aneurysm. That is what was so damned stupid about all the people sniping at the Instapundit, claiming he and Sullivan were questioning Clark’s patriotism. NO ONE, and I repeat, NO ONE is questioning his patriotism- the man gave 35 years of his life to the military and this country, and everyone should be damned proud of him. That is why I laugh at those who claim ‘right-wingers’ are questioning Clark’s patriotism- we know a bona fide American hero when we see one. Clark is one. Kerry is one. That doesn’t mean we want them to be President, but you are an idiot if you think we are questioning their patriotism.
*** Update #2 ***
Apparently I was but the first of many to have seen and commented on the exchange, Kevin Drum comments here and has a link to the trancript.
I oppose Clark, but not because I question his patriotism. Nor do I question his patriotism because I oppose him. Question his judgement? Yes, absolutely. I don’t think the man should be out without a keeper. But one can question a man’s judgement without questioning his patriotism. Clark is patriotic. He is also idiotic, Those two “ics” are independent functions.
I wrote up the full transcript.
Note: The cross talk was very hard to transcribe. I’m not certain of the order of the statements made here, or the content during the parts where the interviewer kept interrupting and Clark kept trying to speak. This should not be taken as authoritative. This is a rush job by someone who has never done this before.
Interviewer David [Something-or-other]: Well it’s not easy to call a four star general with a heroic battlefied record weak on defense. That’s one of the reasons that democrats were so pleased to see him make a run for the whitehouse. And we’re very pleased now that he could take time out to be with us. Democractic Presidential Candidate, retired general, Wesley Clark. General thanks alot for coming in. Appreciate it.
Clark: Good to be with you.
I: Who talked you into this?
C: Oh it was a long process and essentially I looked at the direction the country was headed and I just wasn’t pleased. I saw us going into a war we didn’t need to be in. I saw tremendous problems at home. I saw tax cuts that didn’t really make economic sense. I saw business problems, ethics problems in business, and I began to speak out about them and people came to me, and many people asked me to run.
I: Was… Did Bill Clinton, eeehhh, have the deciding vote in you running?
C: No he didn’t. But I did talk to Bill Clinton. And I talked to Hilary. And I talked to a lot of leaders in the democractic party at various times over the last couple of years because like me they’re very concerned about where things were. And where they’re headed.
I: Now one thing you must be sick of by now, but I gotta play the game too is ehh bringing up statements that you made in the past. You’re not a pope-politician at heart. Therefore you’ve made some more mistakes than other people have, so people throw them back at you. One of them was just yesterday. Maybe it wasn’t a mistake but it caught our attention. On the Meet the Press you said something about Iraq. You said “President Bush has said (the war in Iraq) is the centerpiece for the war on terror. It isn’t. It’s a sideshow. It’s simply their easiest means of access to attack American soldiers. That’s all it is.” You really think that Iraq is only a sideshow?
C: For the war on terror it’s a terrible distraction and we should have gone directly after Osama Bin Laden. Let’s be clear about what happened. This administration decided to go to war against Saddam Hussein, or at least to set all the plans in motion, while we were still bombing Afghanistan and when Tommy Franks should have been challenged to come up with the plans to finish the job against Osama Bin Laden. He was apparently preparing plans to preparing plans to brief the president and secretary of defense on Iraq. We let Osama bin Laden get away. He’s there in the mountains of Western Pakistan. Newsweek magazine can find him. I don’t know why we can’t. And I propose we have a joint US-Saudi force to go after Osama bin Laden. Let’s finish this job on terrorism.
I: Well let me just ask you, Do you… Do you know that newsweek knows where Osama bin Laden is and isn’t telling the world?
C: Well I’ve seen the articles in Newsweek. I’m sure you have. And so I think we should start by talking to Newsweek. I think our US Government should start. And I think we should be putting a full court effort on Osama Bin Laden. As for Iraq: We’re in a mess. It was a war we didn’t have to fight. We’re there. Now we’ve got to have a success strategy. This administration hasn’t had one. It called Jerry Bremer back from Baghdad in an effort to cobble one together. It still doesn’t go far enough. We need a success strategy for our foreign policy. We need a success strategy in Iraq. But don’t ever make the mistake of believing that what we did in Iraq was related to the war on terrorism. It was related only tangentially and it distracted us from what we needed to be doing…
I: [interrupting] But to call it while our…
C: [continuing] Unfortunately now we have to finish it.
I: [interrupting] But General, while our men…
C: [continuing] Now just wait a minute.
I: [interrupting] while our men… ..yeah…
C: [continuing] You just wait a minute.
I: [interrupting] Scuse me just one minute… I just want to add onto that. While our men and women are dying in Iraq is it proper to call it a sideshow?
C: Our men and women in Iraq are doing a fabulous job. They’re doing a great job. I love them. I respect them and I honor them and. My problem is with the president of the united states. He’s the one responsible for this. As he told us. He was going to make the decision when to go to war. He did. Our men and women are doing everything their country has asked them to do. But for the war on terror it’s not the right thing that we should ask them to do. Don’t you dare twist words into disrespect for the men and women in uniform. I love those men and women. I gave 34 years of my life to them. You better take my words the right way…
I: [interrupting] General I’m just repeating your own words to you.
C: [continuing]… This is about the president of the united states and [unintelligble] Leadership.
I: [interrupting] Didn’t you say that Iraq was a Sideshow?
C: No sir, you are not. You are playing politics.
I: [interrupting] [unintelligible]
C: [continuing] No, sir. No, sir. You are plaing politics with the men and women in uniform. You are sir.
I: [interrupting] I just read back your own statement. General…
C: [continuing] Take it straight. You take it straight.
I: [interrupting] Didn’t you say it was a sideshow?
C: [continuing] Straight…
I: [interrupting] General, I just read back your own statements… your own words.
C: [continuing] No sir, you are playing politics with the men and women
I: One thing our military advisors have assured us is that there is nothing but respect that one should have for your military career and for your respect for those who are now in the military. As a father of a marine, we both share that respect for men and women in the military. So don’t get me wrong on that. I just wanted to make clear what you mean by that statement which you made. I just quoted your own statement.
C: I think you’re trying to distort my meaning. I want to make it very clear, and I think you’ve said I made it clear. The sideshow is not the men and women in uniform. It is the leadership of the president of the united states who would get us into this. And I think we need to be very straight in covering this. I’m not afraid to say what’s right and wrong in this country. And I’m speaking out, David. And I’m telling you this. That war in Iraq is a war that did not have to be fought.
I: Alright, General, Again. We uh… We were just reading back your statements. I’m sorry you got so upset at.. at our having done that. But that’s all we did. We didn’t have any implication beyond that.
C: You did have an implication. [unintelligble] I find it very unfair.
I: No, general. We were just trying to figure out what it was that you meant.
C: Well you got it now.
I: [unintelligble]…And I don’t want to go through that territory once again. But we do appreciate you coming on.
C: Thank you and thank you for clearing that up on the part of Fox or it’s viewers. I love the men and women of the armed forces but I think this administration has asked them to do the wrong thing in Iraq. We’re in a mess, and I know how to get us out of it, and I will.
I: Well General Wesley Clark, we do hope you come back and tell us more about how to get us out of the mess … that you say we’re in.
Clark’s “sideshow” comment is more an affront to the people of Iraq who have been saved from tyranny than the soldiers, but Asman’s question was hardly totally out of line.
Clark’s “sideshow” comment is more an affront to the people of Iraq who have been saved from tyranny than the soldiers, but Asman’s question was hardly out of line.
HH, if President Clark invades, say, Fiji to replace the undemocratic government, would that be a sideshow to the war on terror? Burma? Mars?
Up until reading this transcript (which is also at Calpundit), I’d been very, very disappointed in the Clark campaign. I hope he can bring this to the total operation, and not a flash-in-the-pan interview.
Francis W. Porretto
Samuel Johnson told us that this sort of thing would advance “the general degradation of human testimony.”
See also this.