The General and the Senator


Every time Wesley Clark goes weird on us—like when the general said, “I would have been a Republican if Karl Rove had returned my phone calls”—the campaign to nominate Hillary gathers momentum. The most recent Quinnipiac University national poll shows her ahead of all other Democrats. If Clinton decides to run, she gets 43 percent, followed by 10 percent for Clark, 8 percent each for Lieberman and Gephardt, and 7 percent each for Kerry and Dean. Meanwhile, her money keeps on rolling in.

Hillary’s fortunes rise as Bush weakens. The president’s performance ratings are declining. The pressure on Hillary grows as Bush appears more and more vulnerable to attack. During the slow death of GIs day after day, Donald Rumsfeld, celebrated on the right as the nation’s most manly man, sounds off regularly. Sunday on ABC, he declared that the U.S. is just “not organized, trained, or equipped” to win hearts and minds overseas, and then mused, “What has to change in our country, organizationally, overt, covert, either one, so that we can have a higher confidence that we’re reducing the number of people who [become terrorists]?” Vice President Cheney’s corporate buds want more and more. Bush and his brother Jeb are into some sick scene, playing doctor to the living dead. Bush’s neocon advisers, not satisfied with total war in the Mideast, want to fight China—from space. And there is now renewed talk of using small nuclear weapons.

Bush celebrated last week’s economic figures as a victory on the home front. But already the figures have been torn to pieces. As one analyst put it, “This economic recovery is the most expensive on record and has yet to produce material results for corporate investment, or employment.” The analyst, Richard Benson, president of Specialty Finance Group in Palm Beach, Florida, added, “So far, the recovery has cost 13 interest rate cuts, three tax cuts, and a war!” Benson noted that the “recovery” has caused a “re-flation” of the stock market bubble and that “average citizens” have been led to take “unprecedented personal risks when investing.”

The political right, which has cheerily used the specter of Hillary as a campaign tool to galvanize its base, is now hyperventilating. “She’s getting vitriolic against President Bush,” shrieked the folks at “She’s going postal. She’s going ballistic. . . . Hillary doesn’t know the truth. It is as much a stranger to the junior senator from New York as sunlight is to a vampire.”

Additional reporting: Sheelah Kolhatkar and Ashley Glacel