This, of course, is his first big test: does he have the temperament to run a campaign, to keep his notably irascible style of leadership in check through the monotony of the campaign trail? That’s what everybody will be focusing on for the next few weeks, but it’s my contention that the only thing that matters is whether or not Clark can raise a hell of a lot of money and very quickly.
In the year before the election, when only a small, politics-obsessed subset of the populace even realize that there’s a race for the future of the country afoot, the only truly meaningful thing that a candidate can do is raise the funds to be heard when more people decide to give over their attention. If nothing else, if Clark does nothing right for the next three months but raise US$20 Million, then he’ll be a contender.
Anyway, for me, I’m withholding judgment on Clark. I really hope he decides to join next week’s third Democratic debate, where the focus will be on the economy, a subject for which the former NATO supreme commander is not known for having a particularly notable expertise. I want to hear him speak, and I want to see him assemble the campaign machinery necessary to compete in a race in which he is starting way, way behind.
I’m still a Dean man, but you know what, if Clark gives me a good reason to, I’m willing to consider throwing my support behind him. I mean, the idea of voting for a retired U.S. Army General who is a registered Democrat is very, very alluring… even if he’s only recently been willing to come out of the closet as a liberal.