Monday, June 30, 2008

Zinni for VP? (Please, not Wes Clark)

DemConWatch's Veepstakes currently list their final four contestants (after two elimination rounds): Governors Kathleen Sibelius & Bill Richardson, General Wesley Clark, and Senator Jim Webb. As of writing (0030 MDT, June 30), General Clark and Governor Sibelius are neck-and-neck at 29%; thankfully, (sexist-at least-in-the-past) Senator Webb is in fourth place with under 20%.
I wonder if support for Clark has increased as a result of his appearance on Face the Nation earlier today (I suppose technically yesterday), where he said that Senator McCain's military service does not make him qualified to be President. I don't think that is a good line of attack against a war hero, what ever its merits.
But there are other issues that I have with Wes Clark as well - I don't think he did well in the 2004 Democratic Presidential nomination race, which was the only election he has participated in (AFAIK). I am also not sure he has come out with great policy ideas, and I am not sure about his position on the Iraq War. Here's a WaPo column he penned in 2005, and a Democracy Now! interview with the UK Independent's Robert Fisk. I wonder if support for him as Obama's VP is based more on his support for Clinton (as a "unity" ticket) and perhaps to make up for Obama's apparent lack of war/national security experience.
Now, IMO if the VP is not Hillary Clinton, I'd prefer that spot to be filled by AZ Governor Janet Napolitano, or Governor Sibelius. If people still want someone with military experience - then instead of Wes Clark, what about General Anthony Zinni? He's had a distinguished career, and has written well-received books. He apparently didn't believe in or support the Iraq War - here's a Zinni speech in 2002; and a Meet the Press interview in 2007, which mentions his pre-war quote that "these guys [Dick Cheney et al.] don't understand what they're getting into." The same Meet the Press interview has this great Zinni rebuttal to McCain's Surge:

"What has disappointed me is there hasn’t been this debate on the strategy, on the policy, a regional strategy and policy, let alone an Iraq policy. We’re, we’re debating the tactics. The surge is a tactic. In what context is the surge? You can make an argument for a surge if you were going to withdraw, to cover the withdrawal, for example, or to contain, to reposition forces or to re-engage in a different way and a stronger way. And why we got caught up in the tactical debate, in my mind, is an indication that we don’t understand what we want to do. What should our Middle East policy be? What should our policy be in terms of Iraq and, and the war against the extremists out there or the conflict against extremists? We seem to be strategically adrift, in my view."

Though Zinni said in that MTP interview that he would not accept a VP offer, I think it'd be worth making. After all, he apparently also thinks about other issues like climate change, at least in terms of how it would affect US national security.

So - if not Hillary Clinton, I'd prefer Janet Napolitano; if not Napolitano, maybe Kathleen Sibelius; if not, then Anthony Zinni. But please, not Wes Clark, or Jim Webb.

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