January 05, 2004

Wesley Clark on Meat the Press

Tim Russert of NotBeSeen's Meat the Press is perhaps the most despicable (and shameless) of the propapunditgandists, on Sunday
morning, Wesley Clark (D-NATO) demonstrated courage
and strength in refusing to let Russert put him on the
defensive for leading in this national
emergency...Bravo, Gen. Clark...He will probably come
in second to Dean in New Hampshire, and then win some
Super Tuesday primaries and come in second in the
rest...then the race for the Democratic nomination
will be redefined...and be decided, perhaps, in
California between men who have stood up to the Bush
cabal and the propapunditgandists that shill for it...

Wesley Clark shines on Meat The Press: Well, when this administration came to office, Tim, they were told that the greatest threat to American security was Osama bin Laden. And yet, on 9/11, there was still no government plan, no plan sanctioned by the president of the United States, no plan directed to go after that threat of Osama bin Laden. The ship of state was on autopilot. People in agencies were doing what they had been told to do. But the top leaders in the government hadn't focused the resources of the United States of America to take action against the greatest threat facing America. And that's the job of the president of the United States, especially when it comes to national security. The buck stops on his desk.

Support Our Troops, Show Up for Democracy in 2004:
Defeat Bush (again!)


Transcript for Jan. 4th
Guests: Wesley Clark, Democratic presidential
candidate; David Broder of the Washington Post; David
Yepsen of the Des Moines Register; William Safire of
the New York Times and John Harwood of the Wall Street
NBC News
Updated: 1:46 p.m. ET Jan. 04, 2004Copyright© 2004,
National Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights



NBC News


Sunday, January 4, 2004

GUESTS: WESLEY CLARK, Democratic presidential
candidate; DAVID BRODER of the Washington Post; DAVID
YEPSENof the Des Moines Register; WILLIAM SAFIRE of
the New York Times and JOHN HARWOOD of the Wall Street


This is a rush transcript provided for the information
and convenience of the press. Accuracy is not
guaranteed. In case of doubt, please check with MEET
THE PRESS - NBC NEWS(202)885-4598 (Sundays:

Meet the Press (NBC News) - Sunday, January 4, 2004

MR. TIM RUSSERT: Our issues this Sunday: Just two
weeks from tomorrow, the presidential nomination
process begins in Iowa. Howard Dean leads the
Democratic field. Can this man overtake him? Our
guest, former NATO supreme allied commander, now
candidate for president, General Wesley Clark. And
this afternoon, The Des Moines Register Democratic
candidates presidential debate. What can we expect?
We're joined by one of questioners, David Yepsen of
The Register, as well as David Broder of The
Washington Post, John Harwood of The Wall Street
Journal, William Safire of The New York Times and
Karen Tumulty from Time magazine.

But first with us now from Manchester, New Hampshire,
is General Wesley Clark. General, good morning.

GEN. WESLEY CLARK: Good morning, Tim.

MR. RUSSERT: The campaign against George W. Bush, let
me show you and our viewers what you said about the
president. "Clark referred to Bush as `a reckless,
radical, heartless leader.'" Why such harsh words from
a general about a commander in chief?

GEN. CLARK: Well, Tim, that's the truth. We went into
Iraq. It was reckless. We didn't have our allies. We
didn't have the right number of troops. We didn't have
a plan for what happens next. And we can see the
results. Radical, because he's not taking care of the
American people. He's pursuing a radical rightwing
agenda of tax cuts for the wealthy. Just today there
is a story that they're going to try to reduce the
budget deficit by cutting veterans' benefits, going
after people who need job training, at a time when
we've got nine million people unemployed in this
country, going after housing for people with low
incomes. That's a radical agenda.

Heartless, because if he had any sympathy and
compassion for people at all, he wouldn't take those
kinds of leadership steps. This man is pursuing a
right-wing, radical agenda for America. It's not what
the American people want; it's not the way our country
should be led.

MR. RUSSERT: General, you also said something else.
And this is how the Baton Rouge Advocate captured it:
"Clark said the president `didn't do his duty' to
protect American from attack on September 11, 2001. `I
think the record's going to show he could have done a
lot more to have prevented 9/11 than he did.'" What
else could George Bush possibly have done, and why
didn't anyone else in Congress or in the military
suggest things that could have protected us on 9/11?

GEN. CLARK: Well, when this administration came to
office, Tim, they were told that the greatest threat
to American security was Osama bin Laden. And yet, on
9/11, there was still no government plan, no plan
sanctioned by the president of the United States, no
plan directed to go after that threat of Osama bin
Laden. The ship of state was on autopilot. People in
agencies were doing what they had been told to do. But
the top leaders in the government hadn't focused the
resources of the United States of America to take
action against the greatest threat facing America. And
that's the job of the president of the United States,
especially when it comes to national security. The
buck stops on his desk. He's the man, or woman, who's
supposed to pull things together and get the focus
right. He didn't do it.

MR. RUSSERT: When you were supreme NATO commander,
were you aware of Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, and did
you warn anyone about the threat?

GEN. CLARK: The information was coming out of the
Central Command's area. What my responsibility was,
was to take the measures in my area. In fact, we did
have threats by Osama bin Laden. We were under high
alert starting in late summer of '98, all the way
through. We were very concerned about this. We had
continuing discussions with this in our commanders
conferences with the secretary of defense.

MR. RUSSERT: Republicans will say that four months
after September 11, General, you were still praising
President Bush, saying things like, "I tremendously
admire, I think we all should, the great work done by
our commander and chief, our president, President
George Bush." And now that you're running for
president, you've changed your tune.

GEN. CLARK: Well, when I made that speech, I made that
speech talking about Afghanistan. And I support the
action in Afghanistan up to the point at which the
president didn't follow through and get Osama bin
Laden. We should have gone after the Taliban. We
should have stayed there. We should have worked
Afghanistan. We had Osama bin Laden in a box, and we
should have stayed there in the spring of 2002 and
finished the job against him. But four months
afterwards, we didn't. That was the point at which the
United States of America began to cut back its
resourcing and direct all of the internal intention to
going after Saddam Hussein. I remember being overseas
in late January of 2002 and I was already getting the
rumblings from inside the Pentagon and from my friends
there, saying, "Oh, well, you know, Afghanistan,
that's a holding action. You know, we've cut any
additional forces going there. We're going to let them
do the best they can, but we've got to get ready to go
after Iraq." And there was no reason to have gone
after Iraq at that point. Saddam Hussein wasn't
connected with 9/11. He didn't have an imminent threat
to use weapons of mass destruction or use them against
us. There just wasn't an imminent reason to divert
attention from terrorism to go after Iraq. There was
no reason to do that, but this administration chose to
do it. It was a mistake.

MR. RUSSERT: You have said, "I would have gotten Osama
bin Laden." How are you so sure you could have done

GEN. CLARK: He was there. He was in Tora Bora and he
was boxed in. And what I would have done before I
started the operation in Afghanistan is look for a
success strategy. After you've had experience with
military planning and the way political military
actions operate, you know that you have to start at
the back end and work forward. So it's: What are the
conditions you want to have achieved when the
operation's over? What I would have said is, "We want
to take the Taliban out of power and we want to bag
Osama bin Laden and the top leadership in al-Qaeda."
And then I would have directed the military to plan
for that result and work backwards to when do you
start the operation, how do you open the operation,
and so forth. I don't think that was done in this
case. I think in this case, they started at the wrong
end of the operation. The president reportedly said,
"Hey, I want bombs falling within 30 days." He wanted
to have a perception of action. He didn't have a
thoughtful, effective plan to deal with the threat of
terrorism. And this administration still doesn't, Tim.

MR. RUSSERT: In terms of Iraq, you said this the other
day. "When I am president, I will go over to Iraq and
it won't be to deliver turkeys in the middle of the
night." What does that mean?

GEN. CLARK: When I go over to Iraq, I'm going to talk
with the people that are on the ground. I'm going to
consult with the military leaders. I'm going to
consult with the Iraqi leaders. And we'll have a
political success strategy that turns this problem
back to the Iraqi people in a way that brings us out
of there with success, with honor and gets our forces
back and reconstituted to meet the real national
security challenges facing America.

MR. RUSSERT: Isn't that what the president did, met
with military leaders, met with Iraqi leaders?

GEN. CLARK: Well, he was on the ground for about two
hours, as I read the report. I don't think he had any
substantive discussions with either military leaders
or Iraqi leaders during that period. He only met, as
far as I could determine, with some of the very
pro-American Iraqi leaders like Chalabi. To my
knowledge, he did not meet with Sistani. There's been
no real discussion with the Shia leadership and
certainly not by high-level U.S. authorities.

MR. RUSSERT: Do you believe the situation is secure
enough to risk the life of the president of the United
States to do that?

GEN. CLARK: I think that arrangements could have been
made to hold those kinds of meetings had there been a
desire to do so. Yes, I do.

MR. RUSSERT: Let me talk about the Democratic
presidential race that you're now in. Last October 10,
you said you were the front-runner in the race. And
now in all the national polls, Governor Howard Dean is
outpolling you two-, three-to-one. He's ahead of you
considerably there in New Hampshire. What happened?

GEN. CLARK: Well, I think what happened is that as we
got into this race, we had to build the foundation in
the key primary states. When I first went into the
race, I got a lot of support from a lot of different
news media and my name was splashed across the United
States. But we've done the quiet, behind-the-scenes
work in states like New Hampshire, South Carolina,
Tennessee, Arizona and across Oklahoma and across the
country to put the foundation in place. So I think
we're doing very, very well. We've raised a tremendous
amount of money. We've got a very strong message.
We're drawing increasingly enthusiastic crowds. So we
feel like we're well on our way.

MR. RUSSERT: General, you had this to say. "Having
other people tell you what to do is no substitute for
having been there in the arena yourself. ... You need
a candidate who's got foreign policy expertise." Do
you believe that Howard Dean has the necessary foreign
policy expertise to be an effective president?

GEN. CLARK: Well, I'll say this to you, Tim. If George
W. Bush is qualified to be president of the United
States, then any of the Democratic candidates are more
qualified. I just don't believe that at this time in
American history the Democratic Party can field
candidates who can only represent the education,
health, job and compassionate sides of the party. We
have to be a full-spectrum party. We have to deal with
the challenges facing America at home and the
challenges facing America abroad. And that's why I'm

MR. RUSSERT: But Governor Dean, in your mind, is
lacking foreign policy expertise?

GEN. CLARK: That's right.

MR. RUSSERT: You had this to say as well. "I didn't
have as much practice skiing as the governor did.
[Dean] was out there skiing when I was recovering from
my wounds in Vietnam." That's pretty tough.

GEN. CLARK: Well, it was in--yes. But let's put it in
context, Tim. I was asked in a radio call-in show
about having a skiing contest with Governor Dean. And
sometimes, as you understand--I mean, politics is easy
but humor is tough. And that was an attempt at a
little bit of humor that some people didn't laugh at.

MR. RUSSERT: But is there some resentment the fact
that you went and served in Vietnam and...

GEN. CLARK: No, I don't feel any resentment of that,


GEN. CLARK: I mean, he made his decision. He'll take
responsibility for it.

MR. RUSSERT: Governor Dean also said this the other
day. "...the Democratic Leadership Council...the
Republican wing of the Democratic party." Do you
believe the DLC is the Republican wing of the
Democratic Party?

GEN. CLARK: No, I don't. But I do believe this, Tim,
that if you are in the Democratic Party, and you do
believe that elections should be about the issues and
about the candidates themselves, then you shouldn't be
trying to win Democratic primaries by the amount of
money that you spend in the states. And I think all of
the candidates in this race should abide by the state
spending caps that--just as though they had received
federal matching funds. I don't think they should be
attempting to win by outspending opponents. They
should be out politicking opponents.

MR. RUSSERT: As you know, the Democratic Leadership
Council was once headed by then-Governor Bill Clinton
of Arkansas. Is Governor Dean insulting former
President Clinton?

GEN. CLARK: Well, I think that's really up to the
president to decide. But I'll tell you this. I very
much admire what Bill Clinton did as president of the
United States. In foreign policy, he helped structure
us to face a very uncertain world. We had success in
the Balkans. We saved a million and a half Kosovar
Albanians from being killed, ethnically cleansed,
thanks to his leadership. And at home we created 22
million jobs. And for the first time in a generation,
we began to lift people out of poverty. He was a
terrific president. He accomplished some great things.
And I think Howard Dean or any other Democrat should
be very proud to follow in his footsteps.

MR. RUSSERT: He was also impeached, general.

GEN. CLARK: He was. But he wasn't convicted.

MR. RUSSERT: Do you believe he was appropriately

GEN. CLARK: No, I don't.

MR. RUSSERT: Are you concerned that people may suggest
that by embracing Bill Clinton you're embracing all
his values?

GEN. CLARK: No, I'm not concerned by that. I think you
have to look at the record of what he did as a
president. I think he did some great things as
president of the United States.

MR. RUSSERT: You are the first Democratic candidate to
use President Clinton in your commercials. That was
obviously very deliberate on your part.

GEN. CLARK: Well, actually, I'm very proud to have
received the presidential Medal of Freedom, Tim, and
it was a public ceremony. It was given to 14 people at
that time. And it was also given to another military
officer, Admiral Crowe. And I'm very proud of having
received that. So, yes, we did use that.

MR. RUSSERT: Is there any downside by trying to
associate yourself with Bill Clinton?

GEN. CLARK: Well, you know, I'm not associating myself
with Bill Clinton deliberately. All I'm doing is
advertising to the American people who I am and what I
did. But I'm not concerned about downsides with Bill
Clinton because I think he did a great job as

MR. RUSSERT: Has President Clinton suggested he may
endorse you?

GEN. CLARK: No, and I haven't asked him to do that.
President Clinton is a national figure. He's the
leader of the party. I'd be very honored to have Bill
Clinton's endorsement after I win the nomination.

MR. RUSSERT: Let me go through this whole exchange
with Governor Dean that you had about the vice
presidency. In December you said this. "...as a matter
of fact, [Howard Dean] did offer me the vice
presidency...it was sort of discussed and dangled
before I made the decision to run." "It was a meeting
that we had...This was in early September." Governor
Dean responded "...I can tell you flat out" that "I
did not ask [Gen. Clark] to be by running mate." Who's
telling the truth?

GEN. CLARK: Well, I don't think we need to play
semantic games with this. I stand by what I said. And
I also will tell you this, Tim. I'm not going to be
Howard Dean's vice president.

MR. RUSSERT: You said something else: "I'm not going
to be Howard Dean's Dick Cheney. We've already tried
that model of government and it doesn't work. That's
what misled America thus far."

GEN. CLARK: That's exactly right. We need people who
are experienced not only in the domestic issues but in
the foreign policy issues.

MR. RUSSERT: Another general who entered politics,
William Sherman, was asked whether or not he would
seek elective office. He said: "If nominated, I will
not accept. If elected, I will not serve." If General
Clark is nominated as vice president, will you accept?

GEN. CLARK: Well, I've said I'm not going to be the
vice president, and that's what I stand by. I'm
running to be president of the United States. This
country needs a higher standard of leadership, Tim,
and to get that higher standard, I'm going to have to
be the commander in chief and the president of the
United States. That's why I'm running.

MR. RUSSERT: But General Sherman had a very
understandable formula: "If nominated, I will not
accept." Is that your view?

GEN. CLARK: I'm saying that I'm not going to be the
vice president. I'm not going accept that nomination.
I can't make it any more clearer than that.

MR. RUSSERT: So if nominated, you will not accept the
vice presidency?

GEN. CLARK: I'm running to be president of the United
States. I am not running to be vice president, and I
do not intend to accept that nomination, and I will

MR. RUSSERT: Absolutely.

GEN. CLARK: That's absolutely the facts.

MR. RUSSERT: Let me show you what a Clark strategist
said about some television ads you are running. He
said that he "did not dispute that Clark is running on
his resume. He said the ads avoid policy specifics
because most voters are not following them." Do you
believe that there is a need for you to be specific
about policy, particularly on the economy and taxes?

GEN. CLARK: Of course, and I am very specific on the
economy. But, Tim, you and I both know that when
people are voting for president of the United States,
they're looking at character, they're looking at
value, they're looking at resume, they're looking at
the person. The policies are important and they're out
there. They're all over my Web site, clark04.com. I
talk about them in every speech. But in a 30-second or
a 60-second ad, what's really important for me to
convey to the Democratic Party in which I'm running is
what I did as a person, who I am, what my military
leadership meant for this country and for the
individuals who served with me. Because frankly, let's
be honest: It's been a long time since we had a
general who came out and ran in a Democratic primary.
And we're in the process of introducing me to the
Democratic electorate. That's what these commercials
are all about. There's plenty of policies out there,
too, and I'm proud of the policies we have. We've got
some very good ones. And I'll fight to get them

MR. RUSSERT: Tomorrow you will address the whole issue
of tax cuts. What will you say?

GEN. CLARK: Well, we're going to have a major policy
pronouncement tomorrow. We're going to be talking
about new tax code, a way of simplifying the tax code
to make it fairer, more progressive. It's going to be
major step forward in tax reform.

MR. RUSSERT: Will it be translated by Republicans as a
tax increase?

GEN. CLARK: It's going to be translated by Americans
as a fairer and simpler tax code. And that's the way
it's going to communicate, and it's going to help our
country meet the challenges ahead.

MR. RUSSERT: Will some people be paying more taxes?

GEN. CLARK: Some people will be receiving more
benefits and it'll be more fair and more progressive
than the current system.

MR. RUSSERT: General, as you know, there's a big
debate in Iowa this afternoon. You will not be
participating. Was it a mistake by you to bypass the
Iowa caucuses?

GEN. CLARK: Absolutely not.


GEN. CLARK: Because to participated in Iowa would have
taken 20 to 30 days and $4 million starting in
mid-October, and I just didn't have the time to do it.
I had a lot of support in Iowa, and I still have a lot
of support in Iowa. And when I'm the nominee, that'll
be the first place that I campaign. But, Tim, just to
be practical, I couldn't split my efforts or the
resources starting in mid-October between Iowa and New
Hampshire. It just wasn't practical.

MR. RUSSERT: If Howard Dean wins the Iowa caucuses and
then a week later wins the New Hampshire primary and
you run third in New Hampshire, is your race finished?

GEN. CLARK: No. I think it's just beginning. We're
going to be very strong across the South, the Midwest
and in the upper Midwest. We've got great
organizations. We've got great support. And I'm the
one candidate in this race who can carry the South for
the Democratic Party. Over the last few days, we did
our True Grits Tour and we swung through eight
Southern states, 10 cities. We picked up a lot of
support. We brought lots of local people in and I got
nothing but enthusiasm for my candidacy. We've got
five Senate seats in the South by opening up in the
fall of 2004. This is a crucial election not only for
the presidency but for the future of the United States
Congress and the future of the United States of
America. And our party needs a candidate who can carry
the South. I can do that.

MR. RUSSERT: Can Howard Dean carry the South?

GEN. CLARK: Well, I don't know. That remains to be
seen. But I know that I can.

MR. RUSSERT: General Clark, thank you for joining us.
Be safe on the campaign trail. And congratulations on
becoming a grandpa.

GEN. CLARK: Thank you very much, Tim. Good to be with

Liberation News Service mailing list
Website: http://www.mindspace.org/liberation-news-service/
Manage your subscription to this list:

Posted by richard at January 5, 2004 11:49 PM