Barack Obama may announce his running mate this week, or he may just wait until we get closer to the Democratic National Convention in Denver. On the off chance this decision is not yet settled, I suggest that Wesley Clark might be the best choice to ensure Obama’s election.
Some may feel Obama must choose Hillary Clinton to ensure his election. They think this would be the dream ticket. The announcement that Hillary is speaking the second night of the convention, however, effectively tells the world that she is not the VP pick.
If Obama chooses a southern white male, as a core group of party leaders believes he must, would John Edwards survive the sexual scandal attacks, valid or not? Some want Al Gore, but I just can’t imagine him giving up his newfound happiness and authenticity to play second banana again.
When I look at the entire field of presidential hopefuls in the Democratic primaries, the process of elimination for “electability” leaves Clark as the one clear choice.
Yeah, I know, some believe Clark probably was taken off the short list because of his quip that being a prisoner of war in Vietnam does not in itself qualify John McCain to be president. Logically, Clark made an accurate statement. Emotionally, his comment raised some hackles. Let’s look past that faux pax to consider Clark’s qualifications.
Retired general Wesley Kanne Clark more than offsets any voter concerns about Obama’s lack of experience in foreign policy and national security.
Born in 1944, a generation before Obama was born in 1961, Clark was valedictorian of his class at West Point. He won a Rhodes Scholarship to the University of Oxford where he earned a degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. He then graduated from the U.S. Army’s Command and General Staff College with a master’s in military science.
Clark spent 34 years in the U.S. Army and Department of Defense, receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom for such assignments as commanding Operation Allied Force in the Kosovo War while serving as the Supreme Allied Commander for NATO from 1997 to 2000.
Clark ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 with the Clintons’ support, winning the Oklahoma primary before he withdrew to endorse the eventual Democratic nominee, Senator John Kerry. Four years later, Clark ran once again for president and withdrew in 2007 to endorse Senator Hillary Clinton. When Clinton dropped out in 2008, Clark endorsed the presumptive Democratic nominee, Barack Obama.
Let me offer ten reasons for Barack Obama to pick Wesley Clark as his vice president:
1. Officially, Obama says the main criteria for his vice presidential pick are that the person must have integrity, independence, vision, a useful “knowledge base,” and the ability to help him govern. Clark meets all of these criteria.
2. Unofficially, Obama knows that if he does not pick Hillary as his VP, he will need a “friend of Hillary” whom Hillary’s supporters can rally behind. Clark meets that criterion.
3. Obama knows that he’s weakest among middle-aged educated women, so he needs a VP candidate who can appeal to them. Clark meets that criterion.
4. Obama needs a white male who appeals to voters in the southeast and southwest, the voters that may resist electing a black man. Clark meets that criterion.
5. Obama needs somebody who appeals to independents, moderates and even crossover conservatives nationwide. Clark meets that criterion.
6. Obama needs somebody older than himself because his base of voters in their 20s and 30s is not enough for victory. Clark meets that criterion.
7. Obama needs somebody with military credentials that match or exceed the military credentials of John McCain. Clark meets that criterion.
8. Obama needs somebody with impressive experience in foreign policy and dangerous international conflicts. Clark meets that criterion.
9. Obama needs somebody trusted by intelligence agencies and yet who has openly opposed the use of torture in the war on terrorism. Clark meets both criteria.
10. Obama needs somebody whom voters see as capable of being the president and commander in chief (just in case). Clark meets that criterion.
Please appreciate that I am not Barack Obama’s biggest fan (especially since he voted in the U.S. Senate to extend warrantless wiretapping and later announced his support for offshore oil drilling). Further, I am wary of any military man having control over our atomic arsenal.
Yet I am a “practical idealist” in politics. Since I want a Democrat in the White House to make the next Supreme Court appointments, since no one has proposed a better option, I invite Senator Barack Obama to select Gen. Wesley Clark as his running mate.
Tags: al gore, barack obama, democratic national convention, election, experience, Hillary Clinton, iraq, john edwards, john-mccain, national-security, politics, torture, vice-president, war, wesley-clark