An officer and a comedian
By John Mercurio
CNN Political Unit
Clark's speeches today will contrast Bush's use of pre-emptive military force with what he's calling "preventative engagement."
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Wesley Clark will use both sides of his brain today in New York, speaking at 2:30 p.m. EST before the Council on Foreign Relations in New York before taping "Late Night with Dave Letterman" this evening. We hope his scripts don't get switched up in the cab.
First, the wonky part, which we view as the latest installment of a general-election strategy that targets President Bush's foreign policy while ignoring the eight '04 Dems who stand between Clark and that all-important nomination.
During a 30-minute speech today, Clark will cite Winston Churchill, who said 57 years ago that an "Iron Curtain" had "fallen across the heart of Europe," between the United States and its Cold War enemies. "Fortunately, in those fateful days, America listened to Winston Churchill. And we led the world to security and peace," Clark will say, according to an excerpt of the speech obtained by the Grind.
Today, Clark will say, the enemy is falling between America and its friends. He'll focus on the state of American alliances, highlight the damage the Bush administration has done -- an administration, he'll say, that "has been all bully and no pulpit," that "has alienated our friends, dismissed their concerns, rejected their advice, and left America an isolated nation."
Clark then will detail how he would restore U.S. alliances in Western Europe. "And I will strengthen them, so that we can solve problems together, so that the use of military force is our last resort, not our first, and if America must act with force we can call on the military, financial, and moral resources of others."
Clark also wants to contrast Bush's use of pre-emptive military force, which Clark says has defined the president's national security strategy, with what he's calling "preventative engagement" -- military, diplomatic, political and economic power.
He also will offer a "New Compact" with European allies. "Just as Franklin Roosevelt offered a New Deal with the American people, we need to offer a 'New Compact' with our European allies and the international community -- a new partnership that challenges us to cooperate more, while challenging them to do more," he will say.
Later this evening, Clark will head uptown for a taping with Dave. Clark aides were extremely tight-lipped on who was coaching the general for his appearance, other than to acknowledge that he was huddling with comedy writers this week.
Our advice: Let the general be the general. In our so-far limited encounters with him, he's proven to be quite a stitch. Indeed, the Grind will always cherish Clark's antics during a pre-debate elevator ride in the Omni Parker House in Boston earlier this month. Good stuff.
No word on whether Clark, like John Kerry on Jay Leno earlier this month, would be forced to follow an animal puppet on stage. For Clark's sake, we hope not.
In other Clark news, we hear that Cruz Bustamante's campaign spokesman, Luis Viscaino, a former DNCer, has joined Team Clark. Luis starts next week.
We also hear the general won't skip a December 9 debate in New Hampshire to raise money in New York after all.
A spokesman for Clark, who last week said he would skip the debate in order to raise $1.5 million in Manhattan, said Alan Patricoff, the co-chairman of their New York finance committee, successfully moved the fund-raiser, the largest money event Clark plans to hold all year, to December 10 so that Clark could attend the debate.
"We'll probably end up leaving a little money on the table because of this, but we're hopeful that we'll still come close to meeting our goal," Bennett told the Grind. "Clark is a lot happier now that we can do both."