To the Editor:

Jonathan Menitove’s Wednesday column (“Wesley Clark: A liberal who can beat Bush,” 9/24) hailed Wesley Clark as the best hope for the Democrats in 2004. However, he ignored some important points regarding the general’s candidacy. Clark may not have supported the war in Iraq, but his equivocation on the issue this week revealed at the very least a blatant lack of campaign experience. After all, unlike Howard Dean, who has never lost an election, Clark has never held a political office.

Menitove lauded Clark’s supposed liberalism while criticizing Dean for shying away from the liberal label. He gives the Vermont Supreme Court, rather than Governor Dean, most of the credit for the civil unions bill and public school reform, yet he fails to state Clark’s own stance on these issues. Menitove also calls the fiscally moderate Dean a “deficit hawk,” but makes no mention of Clark’s economic policy. The reasons for this are obvious. Unlike the other candidates, Clark has no political record and therefore has never had a reason to take a firm position on education, civil rights, or the economy. He may profess liberal ideas, but he has not made his opinions public on many of the issues central to the presidential campaign.

At this point, Clark looks to be a credible candidate that is worth consideration, but it is far too early to call him the savior of the Democratic Party. In fact, until Sept. 3, he was not even a Democrat. His intelligence and military experience are promising, but how valuable would they prove without the political background to back them up? Democrats should wait for the general to articulate his positions on all the issues before jumping onto the Clark bandwagon.

Erica Larsen ’07

september 24, 2003

The writer is a member of Yalies for Dean.