Thursday, October 30, 2003

It's that Bubba guy again

Bubba's General Retreat:
WESLEY CLARK'S fizzle from superstar wannabe to self-proclaimed "underdog" is raising new questions in the Democratic Party about former President Bill Clinton's star - and political smarts.
Clinton helped launch Clark in a wave of media buzz by talking up the retired general as one of the Democrats' top two stars - along with wife Hillary - and prodding allies like Mickey Kantor to back him.

But political novice Clark is sinking in most polls, down to also-ran status in Iowa and New Hampshire, and had a few deer-in-the-headlights moments at last Sunday's debate.

Officially, Clinton now insists he wasn't promoting the retired general, but other Democratics don't buy it. "Yeah, and he never had sex with that woman, Miss Lewinsky," sniffed a rival strategist.
"Clinton is the nudge-in-chief - he can't resist the action. He's dying to be a player, to undermine the other candidates and make sure that the Democrats don't win in 2004," says a New York Democratic activist.

"He's keeping the party unbalanced . . . He will continue to pick and choose his moments to throw other people off their game," adds this activist, convinced Clinton's real agenda is keeping any Dem from a 2004 win so Hillary has a clear field in 2008.

But there's also broad belief among Democrats that despite his public claims of neutrality, Clinton is desperate to stop Howard Dean for fear that he'll yank the Democratic Party too far to the left, damaging it for decades and hurting Hillary's chances in 2008.

The problem for Clinton, many say, is that it's too risky for him to openly take on Dean and put his prestige (and Hillary's future) on the line - that's why he nudged Clark from the shadows.

"Clinton sees himself as having a legacy for the Democratic Party of moving to the center, to electability, and I think in his mind he sees that legacy being challenged from the left by Dean," says a 2004 Democratic strategist.
And the boy loves the spotlight.