Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Fasten your seatbelts, as Bette Davis once said, it's going to be a bumpy ride. Wesley Clark is the new smear target for the media pundits after they helped cut Dean down to size. The new line of attack on Clark: he's an opportunistic flip-flopping Republican lobbyist masquerading as a Democrat. (The anti-Clark opposition is using an April, 2003 op-ed piece in the London Times by Clark to portray him as a supporter of the Bush approach to the war.) For now, the question is how will Wes Clark upstage Kerry as the un-Dean and the Democrats' best choice on national security? Or fight off John Edwards' surge and media boost from Iowa?

But so far, following Kerry's victory, Clark's point man, former Kerry staffer Chris Lehane, has just focused primarily on Kerry's foot-dragging on releasing his tax and other records. Clark's staff has created a "reading room" with an open documents policy. Unfortunately, those same documents are also providing nuggets of damaging information about Clark as an occasional lobbyist with Republican contacts. And Lehane's media soundbites on the documents topic don't make clear why Clark is a stronger candidate than Kerry, nor has he clarified just what he thinks the multi-millionaire Kerry is hiding. So instead of offering a positive message about Clark during this critical period before New Hampshire, he is offering a fuzzy negative message about Kerry that may turn off voters tired of negative sniping. Some perspective from Newsweek's analysts:
MSNBC - Grins and Grenades

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