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January 22, 2004

Welcome to the future. Okay, I’m old, but this was genuinely startling.

Not that a four-star general running for President would give an interview to a nationally-distributed newsstand magazine for gay people. But, rather, that he’d be comfortable doing that particular cover shoot.

Don’t worry, the linked image is entirely SFW, as they say. It’s just a stance and an expression that enacts a startling level of personal confidence, given who Clark is, who the Advocate’s readers are, and how some of our more deranged countrymen are likely to react when the magazine hits the stands. This is psychosexual politics of a very high order, and significantly raises my opinion of Clark.

(Via The Poor Man.) [12:42 PM]

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Comments on Welcome to the future.:

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 12:58 PM:

Raises my opinion of him too. Wow.

(I don't think it's a good look for him, though. Makes him look a little too Richard Dean Anderson.)

Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 02:25 PM:

Wow. Very impressive, and definitely gives me more respect for the gentleman.

bryan ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 02:44 PM:

well, I think it's cool but how is the pose risky, I was expecting him to be standing with his ass turned towards the viewer, index finger placed hotly on the four stars on his rear pocket. As far as I could tell it was a close-up of him wearing comfortable clothes and smiling, was there anything in particular that made this picture particularly homo-erotic and I didn't pick up on it.

Zed ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 02:48 PM:

It's not that it was homoerotic. It's that it didn't go to pains to avoid any possible accusation of homoeroticism, which, in the modern U.S. political climate, is a bold choice.

Dvd Avins ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 02:59 PM:

Does it mean he's comfortable, or does it mean he's completely numbed himself to run for President and doesn't (at the moment) have enough soul to feel anything other than ambition?

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 03:00 PM:

It basically says "I'm completely comfortable facing a bunch of gay men in my T-shirt, because I so totally rock. Oh, and by the way, if anyone out there wants to impute something nasty about it, well, bring ’em on."

Mind you, I've been pretty annoyed with Clark over several issues, but he sure does know how to play politics on this particular psychic channel. Which is a big part of his appeal to many liberals and Democrats; we're all frustrated with how poorly most of our best candidates do the mammal-politics thing. Clark is showing that you don't get to be a four-star general just by filling out the right forms; you also get it by being the sort of person who walks into a room and everyone instantly assumes you're in charge. Bill Clinton had that quality, too, to the befuddled startlement of most his enemies.

Mark ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 03:17 PM:

Which issues did you have in mind?

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 03:17 PM:

"Does it mean heís comfortable, or does it mean heís completely numbed himself to run for President and doesnít (at the moment) have enough soul to feel anything other than ambition?"

Gracious, I'm sure I don't know. I don't recall that the state of Wesley Clark's soul was under discussion in this conversation about political tactics.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 03:22 PM:

What issues am I annoyed with Clark about? Well, coming out in favor of the flag-burning amendment; there's one. His history of involvement with the odious School of the Americas (although I grant that he seems to have been at least partly a force for good there). His recent tendency to get rather sharp with citizens who annoy him during open-question sessions.

Andrew Northrup ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 03:47 PM:

I think you're right about this being a tactical move - it seems that a lot of his moves over the last month or so have been efforts to goad the Republicans into attacking him on ground where he can beat them, and this seems to fit into that pattern.

The flag-burning amendment is a very bad position, in my opinion, but I don't doubt that it is sincere. I don't doubt that the SOA has had some bad students, and helped them refine their awfulness, but this all seems to predate Clark, and, again, I don't doubt his sincerity on this. I haven't seen him get sharp with any non-media people, but I haven't seen a lot of things. he should not do that.

What really concerns me is his advocacy of the band Journey. I'm not sure if this is a tactical move to draw the Bushies into a discussion about late 70's/early 80's AOR bands, or a sincere opinion, or both, or what, but I really don't think America is ready to open those wounds. Not yet.

Daniel Mark Stockman ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 03:56 PM:

Journey?! Dear Leader, no!

*brain melts*

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 04:04 PM:

"I havenít seen him get sharp with any non-media people [...]"

Here are the couple of examples I was thinking of today. From the New York Times:

With less than a week to go before New Hampshire's primary, the general has shown occasional signs of strain from his first political campaign. At a town-hall-style meeting on Sunday night in Newport, N.H., one voter began to ask him a question about his work as a registered lobbyist in Washington, reading aloud his question, which was written out longhand on paper.
"Can I just ask you, Is that like a prepared question from maybe another campaign or something?" General Clark asked.
Told that it was not, General Clark went on with his admonishment.
"I'll be very happy to take it, but you've got to get your facts straight," he said.
When the questioner, David Brown, began to interrupt, General Clark cut him off, saying: "Sit down. I'm going to finish it. I'm going to answer it."
Mr. Brown, 44, later told a reporter he was leaning toward voting for Howard Dean and said he had been put off by General Clark's response.
Sometimes, as the general goes from town hall meeting to town hall meeting, he demonstrates remarkable patience, as he did on Tuesday night when followers of Lyndon LaRouche, the perennial presidential candidate, repeatedly interrupted him, one of them singing over General Clark's discussion with a voter.
But he was less patient with an elderly woman at Havenwood Heritage Heights, a retirement community in Concord, N.H., earlier this month when she asked about his support of the Pentagon's School of the Americas, at Fort Benning, Ga., some of whose foreign graduates have been implicated in atrocities in Latin America.
General Clark bristled and said, "Well, ma'am, have you ever been down to the School of the Americas, and have you ever looked at the teaching material?"
When she began to say that a friend had seen it, he cut her off, saying, "No, but have you ever seen it?"
Points to Clark for being forebearing with the LaRouchites, but military people campaigning for public office have got to go particularly out of their way to reassure people that they aren't in the habit of treating their fellow citizens as if they're in command over them. People will cut non-military candidates more slack about this. It's the vulnerable flip side of Clark's value proposition. (Is that the worse sentence I've written today, or what? I think I'll leave it as a reminder to read something other than political journalism.)

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 04:10 PM:

Clearly some people reading this thread missed yesterday's report on the pop music choices of the leading candidates. In addition to Clark's fondness for Journey, I believe John Kerry chose the Beatles; John Edwards likes Bruce Springsteen; Howard Dean is a Wyclef Jean fan; and Joe Lieberman never goes anywhere without his copy of Guy Lombardo Plays The Big Sounds of Burt Bacharach. Or maybe it was the DiVinyls. Joe Lieberman makes my brain hurt.

Paul ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 04:17 PM:

You magnificent bastard, I saw your Advocate cover!

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 06:04 PM:

Xopher: I would just like to note that many of us do not think looking like Richard Dean Anderson is necessarily a bad thing.

This is certainly interesting. I'll be fascinated to see how it plays out. As only Nixon could go to China perhaps only a genuine military family man presidential candidate could appear on the cover of The Advocate.

MKK

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 06:26 PM:

Heyyyy, far be it from me to knock RDA! I meant it wasn't good for Clark to dress like him. I wouldn't vote for Jack O'Neill, or even MacGyver for President, would you?

Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 07:01 PM:

I must say that cover is Photoshop bait, bigtime...

Paul ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 08:04 PM:

Makes him look a little too Richard Dean Anderson

He reminds me a little bit of Ian McKellen in that photo. Also not a bad thing. But I think I understand what you're saying and maybe you're right.

But this is the second ballsy move I've seen Clark make this week. On Monday I watched him stand on the steps of the SC state capitol in front of, oh a thousand or so people, and call for the removal of the Confederate flag from the state house grounds, a question he could have evaded. I've shared a lot of the misgivings about Clark, but wow, he certainly knows how to draw a line in the sand.

Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 10:22 PM:

SFW? Who he?

Lieberman liked Andrea Bocelli. Jeez.

Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2004, 12:44 AM:

Each of the Democratic candidates with any chance at all of winning the nomination has at least one position I find actively appalling, and more that make me sigh...but then I think that pretty much all of Bush's positions appall me, and even a fairly wretched Democrat would still be a big improvement.

Still, it's cool to see something like this that I can actively approve of.

Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2004, 07:53 AM:

Anyone who's served as career military has worked with and lived with numerous gay people. So Clark on the cover of THE ADVOCATE is a sign of being willing to deal with the real world. Good for Clark. (I'm still for Dean, but Clark is a strong #2.)


(Bush would probably agree to appearing on THE ADVOCATE as well, but only after someone told him that the Avocado Growers Council had given his campaign a hefty donation.)

language hat ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2004, 01:37 PM:

I'm impressed too, but not enough to change my overall opinion of him.

The flag-burning amendment is a very bad position, in my opinion, but I donít doubt that it is sincere.

Um, I don't think the point is that it's insincere, the point is that it's a terrible idea. Bush might (I'm stretching here) be sincere about every one of his positions; who cares? They're terrible positions.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2004, 02:14 PM:

It's very American to overvalue "sincerity," and even consider its presence a partial excuse for various sins.

Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2004, 03:27 PM:

To me, that picture is one which could carry a lot of messages, but I think there are two key ones. First, it's an ordinary, casual, look. You can expect to see guys like that all over the country, every weekend.

Second, he's confident about how he looks. He doesn't need to rely on fancy clothes.

In a way, it's like wearing uniform. Yes, as a general he has the rank insignia, but the uniform is the same for everyone.

Andrew Northrup ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2004, 05:05 PM:
Itís very American to overvalue ďsincerity,Ē and even consider its presence a partial excuse for various sins.

It's also very American to respect differences opinions, and not equate every diviation from doctrine with moral failing.

Andrew Northrup ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2004, 05:29 PM:

To be less of a smart-ass:

I think any kind of flag-burning ban is a horrible idea, on the grounds that we shouldn't restrict free speech except under yelling "fire" in a crowded theater-type circumstances. It's an opinion I have, which is informed by my beliefs and my life experience, or lack thereof, and I don't believe in any sense that I my opinion is "wrong".

Among the things my life experience does not include is service in Vietnam, being seriously wounded there, the loss of friends and compatriots in that war and other conflicts over 3 decades in the military, etc. Had I done these things, I can imagine that I might not look apon the matter with the same dispassion that I do now. It might, in this alternate history, seem to me that burning the flag was offensive enough to pass the crowded theater test. I can't say that this is an opinion I agree with at all, but the fact that it is sincere - even, I will say, in many ways more sincere than mine - makes it a lot easier to deal with than if he had this opinion as a way of getting votes, or attacking other people's patriotism, etc.

Andrew Northrup ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2004, 05:57 PM:

Put it this way - a President is not a list of policy positions. There is the dreaded "character issue." I would prefer that he agree with me 100%, but a close second is to have him agree with me 80%, and demonstrate the capacity to stand up for what you believe in, even when, as with the flag thing, it's not what I believe in.

"There's nothing more dangerous than a wounded horse."

-Andrew Northrup

Kevin J. Maroney ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2004, 09:12 PM:

According to All Things Considered yesterday, John Kerry rallies use recent U2 ("It's a Beautiful Day", "Elevation") and a lot of Bruce Springsteen to warm up the crowd.

CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2004, 11:19 PM:

Andrew Northrup: It might, in this alternate history, seem to me that burning the flag was offensive enough to pass the crowded theater test.

To me that's a double misreading:
- " 'Fire' in a crowded theater" was a judicial metaphor for an immediate, direct danger; not just something offensive, however severely.
- It was also a fundamentally wrong-headed conclusion, arguing for the suppression of free speech in what passed for wartime in the U.S. (which was never particularly endangered during WW I (when the metaphor appeared)) or in later wars.

That being said, I'm beginning to wonder whether a law is worth fighting over when it hands such an obvious get-out-the-troops issue to the other side....

Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2004, 03:48 PM:

Clark... I've talked about him before, in re what it takes to make it to Flag Rank, in the Army (and the Corps). So this Advocate cover doesn't really shock me; pleasantly surprise, but not shock.


On the flag issue (note to self, make certain to not miss typing the "l") I disagree with him.

It's one of those, odd touchstone issues, which polarize the military, more than it seems to polarize the civilians.

Those of us who are against it, are really against it... willing to beat up people who burn it.

Those of us who don't want it banned are usually against it too, but more we see the symbolism of it. Perhaps we grant our fellow citizens too much credit (because how we react to non-citizens trampling and burning it is something altogether different).

We (or at least I) believe that someone who doesn't have a sincere belief in the things the flag stands for won't conceive of burning it in protest. If they don't believe in those things, what point the public act?

Yes, I am sure there are those who do it just to offend, but they can't divorce the symbol from the things symbolised, and so the act of burning it also reaffirms the things for which it stands.

And I (purely my belief) don't want to see the, gloriously symbolic, flag reduced to the status of sterile icon.

Terry K

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2004, 06:45 PM:

I've been told by someone who was at some of the demonstrations in the 60s where flags were burned that "We should have washed it. That's what we meant."

Ken ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2004, 04:51 PM:

To give some Gay input, Gen. Clark looks hot on the cover. What more of a Daddy could you want than a General?

Also, Journey rocks.

Sorry - you will find no comments of substance here.

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2004, 05:57 PM:

Ken - to give some more gay input, Ewwwwww!

I knew someone once who said he would give $100 to anyone who could conclusively prove that Journey and Foreigner were two different bands. No one ever claimed the prize.

Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2004, 04:01 AM:

I knew someone once who said he would give $100 to anyone who could conclusively prove that Journey and Foreigner were two different bands. No one ever claimed the prize.

Oh, that's easy: Foreigner is the band that had the one guy who was in King Crimson, and Journey isn't. Unless it is. Err, no, wait. I mean, Journ--

Ah, hell. Never mind.