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Sunday, April 14, 2024
The Eagle

The challenge of Clark

Our nation's first president, George Washington, was a farmer and a former general. He was followed in that office by John Adams, a civilian. Adams was defeated in his bid for reelection in 1800 by his former vice president Thomas Jefferson. The election was so close that it had to be decided in the U.S. House of Representatives. Jefferson's victory was finally sealed on the 36th ballot. The great friendship between the two revolutionaries (which began when they first met in 1776) was nearly ruptured beyond repair. They did not speak to each other for 12 years.

Had Jefferson not won the presidency, there would most likely not have been a Louisiana Purchase, the bicentennial of which we commemorate this year, or a Lewis and Clark Expedition, whose bicentennial we will commemorate in 2004. Adams did not think of American and "manifest destiny" as one and the same. Jefferson did.

In 1824, the much-beloved son of John Adams, John Quincy Adams, was elected president two years before his famous father's famous death on July 4, 1826 (remarkably, Jefferson died on the same day), marking the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Thus the son was able to avenge his father's failure to secure a second term nearly a quarter century later.

In 1828, President Adams ran for the re-election and was decisively defeated by a popular, populist former general, Andrew Jack-son, who would become the president of the "common man." There has only been one other failure of a president - who had a son who also became president - to be defeated for re-election and that occurred in 1992 when the then- president George Bush was beaten by the then-governor of Arkansas, William J. Clinton.

Much like his idol, John F. Kennedy (whose murder occurred 40 years ago this coming November 22) Clinton composed and presented himself to the nation as the best candidate for being the leader of a "new" generation of Americans.

Like John Adams long before him, former President Bush's son is running for re-election in 2004 and until recently it appeared that he would not be seriously challenged by any of the nine democratic candidates that are aggressively seeking their party's nomination to depose him.

However, the addition of former General Wesley Clark to the list of aspirants for the highest elected office in the country has completely rearranged the political landscape and should be an issue of major concern for the Bush administration.

General Clark brings a host of stellar credentials to his candidacy. His military career, as both a warrior and as an administrator, and his proven diplomatic skills and foreign policy background and vision, far surpass the depth and scope of any of his nine competitors.

As one would expect, he has already received the much-coveted and enthusiastic endorsement of his fellow Arkansan (who could be the "king-maker"), Bill Clinton, who prudently resisted the temptation to ally himself with any of the other candidates. Being close in age, both Clinton and Clark are also former Rhodes Scholars and seem to relish in the enjoyment of each other's company, in a brotherly sort of way.

Nevertheless, in order for General Clark to advance his agenda, someone in the party hierarchy will have to be the message bearer to tell the other contenders that for the good of the country (code word for party), they must stand down and lay aside their ambitions and whole-heartedly support the assault of General Clark in his campaign to recapture the White House. And former President Clinton is the perfect person to serve that purpose. In my opinion, no one else in the Democratic Party wields his weight or can so easily transcend the petty jealousies and political bickering to assume the role of the "master broker" at such a critical juncture in time. Quite frankly, he could not have choreographed a better stage in which to elevate his emeritus status and showcase his consummate - leader to led -skills by uniting his divided party for the ultimate form of political combat. Indeed, it can be said that the man and the moment have met.

Furthermore, the stakes in the upcoming presidential election are exceedingly high because we are currently a nation at war and our next president is going to be a virtual full-time commander-in-chief, as it was with President Abraham Lincoln.

Today, we are fighting a foe the likes of which we have never fought before. Islamic terrorists harbor nothing but the most rabid and unrelenting hatred for us and there is no compromise in their commitment to utterly destroy our way of life.

Take for example just one of the enormous number of cultural differences that separate us. The recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in "Lawrence vs. Texas," which decriminalized same-sex sodomy (which many Americans see as a long-overdue extension of their constitutionally protected personal freedoms of choice), is absolutely abhorrent to the Muslim faith. For the vast majority of the Islamic faithful in the Arab world and beyond, homosexuality is considered to be bestiality at its worst. Sex is for procreation, not recreation. Clearly, to them we are truly the sons and daughters of Satan and therefore, killing Americans (and our equally hated allies), whether at home or around the world, is doing God's work, ridding the planet of a "decadent, evil empire."

Certainly our global network of murderous enemies saw, on worldwide television, segments, if not all of the National Football League's tawdry, sexually-satiated season kick-off celebration on The National Mall a few weeks ago. They must have wondered loudly among themselves, how could such a magnificently beautiful "holy" place (framed by the U.S. Capitol, memorials - or are they shrines? - to Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and a few Smithsonian museums and the nearby National Archives) be so wantonly desecrated for the purpose of commercial exploitation, and having it all happen with the full "blessing" of the Mall's principal "guardian" and "protector," the president of the United States.

We live in dark and deeply troubling times. I can think of only the era of our nation's impending Civil War (and the four years of continuous horror that followed after it began), ending in the spring of 1865 (after claiming the lives of nearly 680,000 Americans), where one can find a period in our history more fraught with doubt, danger, despair and a pervasive sense of imminent doom.

Section 202 host Gabrielle and friends go over some sports that aren’t in the sports media spotlight often, and review some sports based on their difficulty to play. 

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