Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Old News: General Clark has withdrawn from the presidential arena

Yeh, it's old news by now. What's sad for me isn't so much that the General has withdrawn from the race, but that he's withdrawn from the race.

"Huh?" you say. Well, on the one hand, it's just all politics. And, for that, I don't really care.

But, somehow General Clark was different. I heard him speak at Virginia Wesleyan the other day; he struck me as being completely straightforward. I believe he actually believed what he was saying. He clearly wasn't truly a politician either. He was a little rough around the edges, not as polished as the professional politicians. He's a guy who got called to serve; he saw his run as an obligation. Afterall, folks in the Draft Clark campaign came to him (see here, here, and here). He's a guy who dedicated his entire professional life to unsung service, and then was called to continue on.

And the worst of it, for me, is that he got a whole slew of people excited: some Democrats, some Republicans, some Independents. Mostly, people who exercise their civic obligation, but don't generally get involved in politics, you know the dirty part like canvassing and calling people and sending out literature and actually working to get somebody elected. No, the people who he excited were the left leaning moderates who believe in a strong national security and a solid domestic plan. We saw someone in the General who had ideas and a plan to take those ideas to action. No politician, he actually had stuff he wanted to do and a plan to actually get the stuff done.

A friend of mine recently suggested that President Bush and Senator Kerry are just two sides to the same coin: one with a D emblazoned on his chest and the other with an R. In terms of fundamental differences, it's mostly rhetoric.

So where does this leave us? I think it leaves some of us heading back to our apolitical lives, willing to grumble a bit, but not seeing a candidate who excites us, who gets us thinking, who gives us a believable vision of greatness for ourselves and our country.

Like John Anderson who was a presidential candidate in 1980 or Ross Perot, or even Jesse Ventura, General Clark touched a slew of folks who don't generally get excited. These four men don't really share a political viewpoint; what they do share is straight-talk backed up by action. Too bad the mainstream candidates of the last thirty years don't engender the same excitement.

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