Is General Wesley Clark Running For President?
Aired August 22, 2003 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE. On the left, James Carville and Paul Begala; on the right, Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson.
In the CROSSFIRE: Is the general running for president?
RET. GENERAL WESLEY CLARK, U.S. ARMY: You're dealing with a new language, new groups, new issues, new ways of thinking about how to do this.
ANNOUNCER: Find out if Wesley Clark will be the 10th Democrat or if he's even a Democrat in the first place.
We've enlisted actress and political activist Janeane Garofalo to join in the questioning -- today on CROSSFIRE.
ANNOUNCER: Live from the George Washington University, Janeane Garofalo and Tucker Carlson.
TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Welcome on CROSSFIRE.
Today, in honor of Janeane Garofalo's wrapping up a full week as our co-host on the left, retired General Wesley Clark will announce his presidential candidacy right here on CROSSFIRE. At least, that's what we're hoping. That's what the producers. We'll see.
While the suspense builds, we bring you the best political briefing in television, our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."
That rumbling sound you hear from California is not an earthquake. It is instead the ground sliding out from under the feet of California Governor Gray Davis.
CARLSON: Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante, the Democrats' lone alternative to Davis in the upcoming recall, has now picked up the endorsement of the educrats, California's unionized teachers, plus the 33 Democratic members of the state's congressional delegation. One of them, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, explains it this way -- quote -- "While we strongly stand and vocally oppose the recall, we urge a yes vote on Bustamante." In other words, we support Gray Davis so darned much, we think he ought to be replaced at the earliest possible opportunity.
CARLSON: Davis is doing his best to spin the betrayals as, yes, a political opportunity in disguise. All those people coming to the polls to vote against him, he said, might actually help him. Do you get it? Well, neither does Gray Davis. Nice try, though.
JANEANE GAROFALO, GUEST HOST: Well, I would say, in the face of this Republican scam, there has to be a plan B, which would be, ultimately, you should vote no against the recall, but failing that, Bustamante. But I think, if everybody wants to win as citizens, Arianna Huffington should be elected the governor of California.
CARLSON: Well, what about Gary Coleman?
GAROFALO: Arianna Huffington is a serious -- is a serious candidate.
CARLSON: Serious? I want you to explain what is unserious about Gary Coleman. Is it because he's an actor?
GAROFALO: ... serious about Gary Coleman?
CARLSON: You claim to be the party of diversity, and yet Gary Coleman, this little guy with a big heart, and you dismiss him.
GAROFALO: How is that not diverse? Why are you denying me my right to advocate Arianna Huffington?
GAROFALO: In another victory for industry, the Bush administration plans to allow older power plants, refineries and industry units to avoid installing anti-pollution devices. Industrial plants can emit hundreds of thousands of tons of pollutants while saving hundreds of thousands of tons of dollars.
Utah Governor Michael O. Leavitt may be confirmed as new EPA administrator. He's indeed a friend of big business. Otherwise, Bush wouldn't have picked hip and we wouldn't be discussing him now. Before Leavitt is bum rushed into office, interim administrator Marianne Horinko is expected to sign the scuzzy skies initiative, after which you can shut up and enjoy more photos of Bush standing in front of nature. (LAUGHTER)
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CARLSON: Do you know how I know, Janeane, for a fact that the left is not serious about greenhouse gases or fossil fuels?
GAROFALO: No, I don't, Tucker. Tell me.
CARLSON: Because, in the most reactionary way, there's against nuclear power, which has risks, but, fundamentally, it's the cleanest source of power yet devised, no greenhouse gases emitted. And yet the theologians on the left, the environmentalists, totally against it for no rational reason.
GAROFALO: Actually, there's so many reasons to be against nuclear power.
CARLSON: Wind and solar, baby.
GAROFALO: Wind and solar power is actually quite viable. But I think that nuclear power is so dangerous. And where do you put the waste?
CARLSON: How many people have died from nuclear power in this country?
GAROFALO: In Chernobyl? In Chernobyl?
CARLSON: No, in this -- in the United States in this century. Zero.
CARLSON: Nobody has died from nuclear power.
GAROFALO: Oh, it's a new century. It's only been like two years old, three years old.
CARLSON: That's a trick question.
GAROFALO: OK, so, John -- OK, that's you.
CARLSON: Yes, I'll take over.
GAROFALO: Go ahead.
CARLSON: John Kerry is running for president. He's also, as he never tires of telling you, a war hero. Next month, he'll officially kick off his campaign from the deck of the USS Yorktown, an aircraft carrier -- yes, an aircraft carrier.
You may remember that Kerry once bitterly criticized the president for daring to give a speech from the deck of an aircraft carrier. The reason? George W. Bush, unlike John Kerry, is not a war hero. As Kerry put it at the time: "I've worked with aircraft carriers for real," which is true enough. On the other hand, George W. Bush has commanded entire armies in two different wars. Kerry, despite the fact that he's a war hero, has not.
So who has more authority to give speeches from the decks of aircraft carriers? Think about it. Now do you see what a stupid debate this is? Yes, John Kerry is a war hero. And America is grateful for that. But maybe, from now on, he could be quiet about it.
GAROFALO: Oh, that is the most ridiculous spin on it.
CARLSON: It's not ridiculous at all.
GAROFALO: To talk about parading a war hero status around. Did you see Bush's doll? There's a George Bush doll in the Top Gun suit.
CARLSON: It's so unfair to say; You can't argue with me. I'm a war hero.
Let's argue about the ideas each candidate represents.
GAROFALO: First of all, George Bush does not lead two armies anywhere. He doesn't have really any -- he doesn't lead the armies. And he never -- he was AWOL. And he was a draft dodger.
CARLSON: Right. He's a bad guy and everything.
GAROFALO: He is.
GAROFALO: I don't understand why Clinton had to carry that albatross around his neck.
CARLSON: Why are we going back to Clinton?
GAROFALO: But Bush is a draft dodger and he went AWOL.
So here I am reading again. OK. Fox News is seeking to halt distribution of Al Franken's new book, "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right." Apparently, Fox News trademarked the words "fair and balanced" in 1995, after which the meaning was changed to: "Not particularly fair and/or balanced."
GAROFALO: "Actually, we skew to the right and we are thinking of purchasing Archie Bunker's chair from the Smithsonian, so that we may deliver the news from said chair."
GAROFALO: Other lawsuits are expected to be filed against Fox on behalf of the words "no" and "spin."
CARLSON: Now, Janeane, you're the conspiracist here, not me.
GAROFALO: I'm not a conspiracist.
CARLSON: Well, for once, I'm going to jump in.
GAROFALO: But I'm not a conspiracist.
CARLSON: I'm going to allege a conspiracy instead of you.
GAROFALO: But I'm not a conspiracist.
CARLSON: OK. Well, I am in this case.
CARLSON: I think that Fox is working with Al Franken. The day after they attacked him, his book goes to No. 1 on Amazon. People buy this book because they hate Fox, obviously. Fox attacks Al Franken, the book sells. Why would they do that?
GAROFALO: I have no idea. They wouldn't do it.
They just made a mistake in their vindictive rush to point out that they're not liars. So they're like totally protesting too much. They're so embarrassed about the words lying and liars and fair and balanced being put there with the Fox that they've forgotten logic and tried to sue him, which will make his book go to No. 1, just like
GAROFALO: ... scandal. And there's the bell in my ear.
CARLSON: Hey, clever, marketing tips from CROSSFIRE.
CARLSON: This is a perfect time to mention that Al Franken, who we've been talking about, will be co-hosting CROSSFIRE next Monday and Tuesday. Mark your calendars. He'll be co-hosting with me, by the way. And next: Is he running for president, angling for the No. 2 slot on a Howard Dean ticket, or perhaps -- this is our guess -- secretary of defense in the Dennis Kucinich administration?
CARLSON: General Wesley Clark steps into the CROSSFIRE. We'll ask him.
We'll be right back.
CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.
The Draft Clark 2004 for President Committee today announced that tomorrow will be national day of service in honor of the general's -- quote -- "lifelong commitment to public service." Draft Clark chapters in 15 cities will be doing community service projects.
Will the general himself use this occasion to declare his presidential candidacy and even his party affiliation?
We can ask him. General Clark joins us now from Little Rock, Arkansas.
CARLSON: General Clark, thanks for joining us.
CLARK: Good to be with you.
CARLSON: Will you use this opportunity to declare your candidacy for president of the United States?
CLARK: I have no plans to do that.
Well, barring that, can you tell us, what's wrong with the Democratic Party? You've had an opportunity to join the party, at least since you entered civilian life. Tens of millions of Americans have, yet you've chosen not to. What's so revolting about the Democratic Party that you won't join?
JANEANE GAROFALO, GUEST HOST: Isn't Tucker annoying?
(LAUGHTER) CARLSON: No, I'm serious.
CLARK: There's a lot, Tucker -- there's a lot of great people in both political parties.
And I think our country's been very well served by a two-party system as it has emerged, because I think you have to have a two-party system to articulate the issues, to promote leadership, and really to make democracy work. The idea of someone just suddenly arising and going to the polls, you'd have to be a movie actor to do that.
CLARK: Otherwise, you need a party system to promote leadership. And it has served us well.
So, I think that the two parties are different today. I think the Republican Party -- as I've traveled around, I've talked to a lot of Republicans. In fact, Republicans asked me to run for Congress. And as I looked at it, it's a party that's -- it's a much more cohesive core. It has much tighter party discipline. If you don't salute and toe the line, they'll take your money, but they won't take your ideas.
I think the Democratic Party is much more -- it's just bubbling with ideas. And...
CLARK: On the other hand...
GAROFALO: No, there's no other hand. Now it's my turn for a question.
CLARK: I have found the Democratic Party does a great job of representing ordinary men and women. But I don't think it's had the financial resources to develop the kind of institutional structures like Heritage Foundation and other things that have promoted the ideas of the Democratic Party.
As a result, I find, a lot of Democrats feel themselves more or less defined in Republican terms. And so I think there needs to be balance in the two-party system. I think the country's healthier that way.
GAROFALO: I actually -- I want to piggyback right on that. I think that that's very interesting. But I think, as a candidate, you have 34 years of military experience and you have a masters degree in philosophy, which I think...
CLARK: Politics and economics.
GAROFALO: And economics as well, but I was concentrating on the philosophy part of it, which, I think you'd be the ideal guy to reinvigorate Fiorello La Guardia's idea of the fusion party from back in the '30s, when he wanted to break the scandalous Tammany ring in New York and he wanted to rise above the labels of left and right and Republican and Democrat and just stop all that name-calling and think outside the box, in a way.
I think you would be great to do that, even if you joined forces with, like, Liddy Dole, or you and Howard Dean or you and John McCain, in some strange way. I know that might sound ridiculous, but I think you should be a fusion party guy.
CLARK: Well, I think this country works best when the ideas that drive it are centered.
The majority of this people in this country really aren't affiliated with parties. They're independent. They look at the candidates. They assess the issues at the time. And they don't want radical policies on either side. What they're looking for is a vision. And that's what this country needs as a way of getting forward. We lost our vision in the Cold War when the Cold War ended. We lost the idea of deterrence and the containment of the Soviet Union.
And we never managed to reconstruct it. Instead, foreign policy became a partisan playground during the 1990s. And then, with the war on terror, suddenly, we found ourselves engaged. America woke up. And the outside world mattered, but we didn't have a framework for relating to it. And now we're in Iraq, of course.
CLARK: And so we need a vision to pull us together. It should be a vision that's centered.
CARLSON: Well, tell us about your vision. You have just said the Democratic Party is -- quote -- "bubbling with ideas," but you won't tell us why you've refused to join it. Maybe you can tell us what's wrong with the other nine men and women running for president as Democrats. They're a very diverse group racially. Their ideas are different from one another. It's a very heterodox group.
Why aren't they good enough? Why do you think you need to jump in?
CLARK: Well, I think it's the American public that has to decide whether they're good enough or not. And I haven't made a decision to jump in.
Personally, I know most of them. Many of them were close friends during the time that I was in the military, along with a lot of people on the Republican side of the Senate and House. And so I think there's some great people out there. And they're working to put forth their ideas. But that's what you want. CARLSON: Well, wait. If you thought they were great, why would you consider jumping in? If you really believed they were great, that each -- any of these people could lead the country in a great way, then why would you even think about getting into the presidential race? You wouldn't need to. They're already great.
CLARK: I haven't done a lot of speculation publicly on these issues.
But I will share this with you, Tucker. I've gotten -- once the draft movement kicked off, I had to pay serious attention to this. Now, I've been very happy in the business community. I've had a high government job. I had a wonderful home in Belgium, south of Brussels. I had great responsibilities. I was able to deal with the heads of the militaries in Europe and ministers of defense and foreign affairs and occasionally even see heads of state.
I was extremely well-treated and well-respected. And it was -- it was a full life. And so I've really enjoyed being a civilian and working and carrying my own bag and running through airports and juggling cell phones and palm pilots and pagers. And it's been fun. And so, to me, when a group of people come together and ask you to present yourself for public service, you have to pay attention to that.
You -- I haven't committed to doing it, but I do feel, certainly, an obligation to take this seriously. I think this country's at a very dangerous juncture right now. We're very heavily engaged in Iraq.
GAROFALO: Mr. Clark, can I jump in for a second? I agree with you. I think that we're at a very, very dangerous juncture. I don't understand why more people on both sides of the aisle aren't discussing this.
This is ridiculous. I think the Bush administration has gotten us involved in Iraq, which has been an idea to go into Iraq since -- from the neocons from probably 1992, going in, pretending it's about liberty, pretending it's about 9/11. Why aren't more people having the courage inside Washington to discuss this, that we are really headed down a really negative road?
CLARK: I think there are a lot of people who are discussing it right now, Janeane. But I think they're doing it as part of their vacations.
The last two weeks of August, everything shuts up in Washington. The president's down at the ranch. I'm sure what we're going to see is the same thing we've seen after previous vacations at the ranch. There will be a load of initiatives. There will be some very strong rhetoric. And there will be an attempt to regain control of the legislative agenda and the public agenda in America. And it will be the 9/11 anniversary. There will be a trip to the United Nations and so forth. This really is up to the congressional representatives of the other party to establish their agenda, to get those issues out in front of the American public. Certainly, I'm going to do it, not because, at this point, that I'm partisan, but because I just think we're in a very difficult position.
Look, we went into Iraq under false pretenses. We've got the Army tied up there. We can't reinforce those forces very well because we don't have enough forces to really roll it over. We've got an emerging nuclear problem in North Korea that hasn't been dealt with. Al Qaeda is apparently seeping in and building its structures inside Iraq, the very thing we supposedly went to war to prevent. And we've never found the weapons of mass destruction.
There apparently was no imminent nuclear threat. And yet we're now going to have to use our credibility to muster support to go after Iran and prevent them Iran from developing nuclear weapons. So I think there's some enormous challenges in foreign affairs. And, of course, there's the job side. I've got two brothers-in-law and a nephew currently unemployed. That's never happened to our family before.
And I know millions of other Americans have the same feelings, because we're at 6.2 percent joblessness. We've lost 2.6 million jobs over the last 2 1/2 years.
CARLSON: General Clark, I'm sorry to cut you off. We're almost out of time. I just want to give you one more opportunity. Donna Brazile says she knows that you're running for president. Are you sure you don't want -- Al Gore's former campaign manager -- you don't want to announce on CROSSFIRE? I think it could help.
GAROFALO: I think you'd make a great candidate.
CLARK: Well, thank you very much. I'll certainly take that under advisement. And I've enjoyed being with you.
GAROFALO: I think you're great. Thank you.
CLARK: Thank you.
CARLSON: General, thank you. General Wesley Clark, we hope you'll return if you decide to run and announce here.
CLARK: Thank you very much.
CARLSON: We appreciate it.
CARLSON: It's time to commit democracy.
Those of you in the audience here in Washington, take out your voting devices and tell us, would you consider voting for Wesley Clark for president? Press one for, yes, even though you're a committed Al Sharpton supporter, you'd at least consider voting for General Clark. Or press no for, no way, no dice, no how, General Clark is not your man. And Carol Moseley Braun thanks you. We'll have the results in just a little bit.
Plus, there's breaking news on the fight between Fox and Al Franken. The court has made its decision. We'll tell what you it is when we return.
And then, in "Rapid Fire," I'll explain to Janeane Garofalo why none of the Democratic presidential candidates has a chance of watching -- not that we don't enjoy watching.
We'll be right back.
CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.
Before "Rapid Fire," we have to bring you some breaking news. We're all about news here on CROSSFIRE. A federal judge moments ago ruled against Fox News in its lawsuit that asserted that a new book by liberal satirist and activist Al Franken violates its trademarked slogan, "fair and balanced."
While ruling in Franken's favor, the judge said -- quote -- "This is an easy case."
CARLSON: His book sales continue to go up, up and up.
I'm just struck. Janeane, I think General Clark seems like a really nice guy and he is clearly a smart and accomplished guy. But what does it say about the Democratic field that he's being taken seriously as a candidate? There are nine of them. You, for instance, I thought you were a Dean person. But you really liked him.
GAROFALO: I am a Dean person.
I do like Wesley Clark. It doesn't say anything negative about the Democratic field. It says what he emphasized. It's a very diverse field. The Republicans have, like I said before, a doughnut hole. They've got George Bush. That's it.
GAROFALO: Now, John McCain is great. I think John McCain is fantastic. And everybody likes him.
CARLSON: But 10 guys can't run for president.
GAROFALO: So what do you think? So that's a negative that there's 10? That's diversity.
GAROFALO: The Democratic Party has a very strong field of candidates. It's just because people keep...
CARLSON: Oh, you don't believe that.
GAROFALO: I do indeed believe that.
CARLSON: No. No. No. No.
GAROFALO: I do indeed believe that. Just because you criticize it doesn't make it so.
CARLSON: I'm not even criticizing.
GAROFALO: Just because you're saying it's not good doesn't make it not good.
CARLSON: Janeane, if you go around the country and talk to people at Democratic organizations
CARLSON: No, I'm serious. Apart from Al Sharpton, this is a weak enough field that General Clark actually has an opening. That's sad.
GAROFALO: Right. You just made up a fake anecdotal thing, like you go around the country.
CARLSON: That's absolutely true.
GAROFALO: Yes, yes, yes. OK, sure.
CARLSON: Ask America. Al Sharpton.
In just a minute, we'll see how many members of our audience would consider voting for Wesley Clark for president. In "Fireback," one of our viewers sees through all of the conspiracy theories. And we'll wrap up our week with Janeane Garofalo. Don't miss it.
We'll be right back. (APPLAUSE)
CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Time for "Fireback."
But first, the results of our scientific audience poll, in which we asked, would you vote for General Wesley Clark? Yes, say 30 percent of Republicans; 88 percent of Democrats say they would and basically the reverse on the other side. That is interesting. He has support. All he has to do now is become a Democrat, and then he can run as a Democrat.
GAROFALO: I think a Dean-Wesley Clark ticket would be awesome.
OK, so, this one comes from Dennis Kaisar from Loveland, Ohio: "I don't know what the big deal is over what General Clark will run as, Democrat, Republican or independent. He would preside over a nation, not merely a political party. Now, that's a concept that would unite, rather than divide."
That's a good one.
GAROFALO: I agree. Yes.
CARLSON: You kind of need the party to run, though, it seems like.
Mike Paulus of Bow, Washington, writes: "I've been wondering why the legitimate political arguments of the left have been replaced by half-brained conspiracy theories. But then I realize the left doesn't have any real political arguments."
CARLSON: The saddest part to me about what the general said was that the Democratic Party is bubbling with ideas.
GAROFALO: That's absolutely ridiculous. The reason the liberals on the left recognize the conspiracies is because they care about social justice and they care about things like that. That's why they recognize it all the time on the right.
CARLSON: They were quick on the Kennedy assassination theories. Yes, ma'am?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, my name is Marion (ph). I'm from of Fayetteville, North Carolina.
And I'd like to know which part of each of the candidates you would pick to create the ideal Democratic nominee.
CARLSON: Sort of like Mr. Potato Head.
GAROFALO: Howard Dean's eyes.
No, I actually -- actually, I like the idea of a Wesley Clark- Howard Dean ticket. But I also like the idea of a Republican and Democrat moving together. I would like that, a moderate Republican and a moderate Democrat running together.
CARLSON: I would just like a Democratic bouillabaisse all mixed up.
CARLSON: Once again, we want to thank Janeane Garofalo for sitting in the left, ably, all this week.
And remember, Al Franken is our host on the left next Monday and Tuesday.
GAROFALO: From the left, I'm Janeane Garofalo. That's it for CROSSFIRE.
CARLSON: From the right, I'm Tucker Carlson.
Join us again next week for yet more CROSSFIRE.
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