Clark Versus "Beauty Contest"

clark-wilding-222.JPG

Here’s the distilled version of Wesley Clark’s presidential-test-drive talk at Taj Lounge last night at an event organized by DL21C:

He’s an experienced outsider, he knows from Iraq and, most importantly, he’s real leader, not a consultant-driven politician-as-usual.

“I’d like you to understand that one of the flaws of American politics is it’s mostly about money right now–and shouldn’t be,” he said. “But it’s also, also I think we need to look at actions, not words. The truth is that any candidate who’s running for national office, for the presidency, puts together a staff and pretty soon they all say about the same thing.”

He also bemoaned the “beauty contest” Democratic primary of 2004:

“We had a lawyer, a doctor, um, a general, we had an African-American man, we had an African-American woman, we had a governor. You know, we had everybody out there, and, it was like a beauty contest. And the amazing thing was that pretty soon, after about five or six debates, everybody started sounding just alike.”

Approximately 200 people attended, and a large portion were newcomers who were there just to see Clark, according to DL21C organizers.

More of his comments after the jump.

— Azi Paybarah

“You were very generous to give me applause for what I said about education and health care and the work force, but I think almost every other Democratic candidate would say exactly the same thing. I know. I said it the last time I ran. It hasn’t been done. It needs to be done.

“And we’d be making a big mistake if we made our decision between candidates on the basis of roman numeral three, sub-paragraph alpha… of their health care plan. You know, when you say you’ll give fifty dollars deductable for people with incomes less than, than fifty thousand dollars a year, but he says he can pay that and there’s no deductable, therefore I’ll vote for him — that’s not what makes a successful president. What you’ve got to do is look at people’s actions.

“I’m in the business community a lot. I’ll tell you what any businessman will tell you. When you’re going to put someone in a leadership position, look at the record of their actions. People repeat their actions in life again, and again, and again. Are they strong? Can they make decisions? Can they handle pressure? Do they have a track record of dealing with tough issues effectively? Now, that’s the basis on which you start when considering candidates in my view. That’s my experience. So, you know, when I found–to, my–I wasn’t surprised, I was a little disappointed. But when you put 10 people on stage and last time it was like a beauty contest, you know. We had a lawyer, a doctor, um, a general, we had an African-American man, we had an African-American woman, we had a governor. You know, we had everybody out there, and, it was like a beauty contest. And the amazing thing was that pretty soon, after about five or six debates, everybody started sounding just alike. And I’m finding it now.

“Three years ago, I was the only one saying we needed a new strategy [in Iraq]. Now everyone says ‘Oh, I got this great’ — okay. Okay. Fine. It’s not about what people say. It’s about who they are and what they’ve done, because that’s the best indication of what they can do.”

Clark Versus "Beauty Contest"