FauxPolitik

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

The Spoiler Scenario: What's the Wes Clark effect? Who the hell knows? But more to the point, what the hell is in it for the party? A political nobody like Clark, even if he does have four stars, doesn't hop into the Democratic rodeo without kissing the ring of Terry McAuliffe -- and, by extension, of the Clintons -- because that's where the money and the on-the-ground support will come from. Do the Clintons want Clark to take away Dean's spark? There are two possibilities here: First, Hillary could be beginning to take seriously the prospect of a Dean nomination, which -- even if he loses to Bush -- makes him a big dog in the party establishment, with his big donor lists and his purportedly huge following, both of which he has made clear he will not automatically share with the party. Second, and this is really speculative, Hillary has every reason to wish for a deeply divided party at the convention. She is truly in a bind. If she wants to run in '08, the Dems need to lose in '04. If she wants to run in '04, she has to take the big gamble on beating an incumbent Republican.

There is speculation that Clark is a placeholder for Hillary, but that's nonsense, I think. He doesn't seem like the type to hold her coat, even if he did get the VP slot out of it. And Hillary wouldn't take the VP slot if Clark offered it. Been there; done that. (If you try to tell me that Gore was Clinton's real VP, remember: Gore got to go to funerals; Hillary got to design the health care proposal.

If nothing else, an interesting few months await us.

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