A general for president?
by Seth Rogovoy
(GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass., September 13, 2003) – By the time you read this, General Wesley Clark may well have made official his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States. Were he to win, he’d be the first general to run for president as a Democrat since Winfield Scott Hancock in 1880.
The Atlantic Monthly
More likely, according to Joshua Green in “Force Multiplier” in the October issue of the Atlantic, Clark will wind up boosting the Democratic ticket as the ideal vice presidential candidate, instantly buying the party the military credibility it perennially lacks and just generally upping the macho quotient of which – save for the eight-year interregnum of overflowing testosterone they enjoyed in the 1990s in the person of Bill Clinton -- the Democrats have been woefully deficient going back at least as far as Jimmy Carter.
Green spent over half a year tailing Clark, and found him to be a credible candidate with clearly established positions on a variety of domestic issues. He’s not just a one-issue figurehead, an opposition candidate in military regalia out to topple the George W. Bush. He is an exciting, inspiring speaker who is well versed in the issues of the day, including taxes, education, health care and the environment.
Clark does, however, have a dangerous Achilles heel, and one that raises very serious questions about his suitability as a candidate for office – any office, much less the highest in the land. Clark’s skin is apparently so thin it’s practically transparent. He already has a huge chip on his shoulder the size of Mt. Rushmore over the manner in which Clinton’s Secretary of Defense, William Cohen, relieved him of his command. And apparently if anyone says “boo” to him, he takes it personally. If that’s the case, he won’t last long on the campaign trail.
The New Yorker
In the September 15 New Yorker, staff writer Ben McGrath catches up with Wesley Clark at an appearance in New York at a gathering of the Oxonian Society. Clark, like Clinton, was a Rhodes Scholar, and attended England’s Oxford University in 1966.
McGrath portrays Clark’s lighter side, recounting the general’s amusing imitation of Slobodan Milosevic, with whom he had lengthy dealings when he was our man in the Balkans. Clark lets slip that as a boy he wanted to be an astronaut, and in a gaffe that will surely come back to haunt him, he loses the Martian vote. “That was back when we had a real space program,” said Clark. “We all wanted to invade the red planet.”
McGrath also offers a laundry list of Clark’s policy positions: against the Patriot Act, in favor of an increase in the minimum wage, and a proponent of “a U.N.-inclusive foreign policy that would ‘take the United States off the blame line.’”
It used to be that when twentysomething children moved back in with their parents it caused whispering among the neighbors. “Boomeranging home was a mark of failure for both children and parents,” says historian William Strauss, quoted in “The PermaParent Trap” by Pamela Paul in the September/October issue of Psychology Today.
As everyone knows, over the last decade adult children have been moving back in with their parents – or never leaving their nest – in droves. A combination of socio-economic factors – including “high rents and an unstable job market, increased college attendance and delayed marriage and parenting” -- are often used to explain the relatively recent phenomenon, when people aren’t blaming the young adults themselves for their lack of independence.
Paul sees the phenomenon as the result of a cycle of co-dependency. “Over-identification with adult children means parents can lose perspective on what’s best for one or both parties,” she writes. “Adults who re-feather the nest past its prime postpone their own personal development. Or, as Paul quotes Stockbridge psychologist David Anderegg, saying, “Hyper-investment is hard to turn off.”
The biggest problem is that the post-parenting period is a crucial one in which adults “reconfigure their identities.” This is hard to do, needless to say, with “an adult child lurking around the house and feeding off the parental nest egg.”
In a cheekily-titled essay called “The Neoconservative Cabal” in the September issue of Commentary, Joshua Muravchik, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, defends his breed from charges that they are the secret hand steering the foreign policy of President Bush. By carefully dissecting the allegations – which include an almost paranoid belief in the lingering influence of long-dead thinkers Leon Trotsky and Leo Strauss on this group – Muravchik offers convincing evidence that the rhetoric of the anti-neo-conservative movement is really just thinly-disguised anti-Semitism.
Fresh on the heels of the success of such literary-based movies as “The Hours” and “The Possessed,” Hollywood is gearing up for a fall season of feature adaptations. The September/October issue of Book magazine highlights the flood of upcoming releases, including movies based on Philip Roth’s “The Human Stain” (filmed partly in Williamstown), Charles Frazier’s “Cold Mountain,” and Susanna Moore’s “In the Cut,” all three of which involve Nicole Kidman in acting or producing roles.
Other literary fare includes films adapting works by Tracy Chevalier , Andre Dubus III, Frances Mayes, Patrick O’Brian and Dr. Seuss. Also coming down the pike are films about Sylvia Plath, with Gwyneth Paltrow in the title role, and, of course, the third volume of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
[This column originally appeared in the Berkshire Eagle on September 13, 2003. Copyright Seth Rogovoy 2003. All rights reserved.]
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