If General Clark cannot confront people like Michael Moore how can we expect him as president to stand up to anyone? Michael Moore, a fat, unkept slob of a film maker, called President Bush a deserter in public in General Clark's presence. General Clark, a military veteran with over 30 years service, should known the definition of a deserter well enough to politely tell Michael Moore that his comment was way out of line. But he didn't, then in the New Hampshire debate last night when Peter Jennings asked him why he didn't. General Clark nervously waffled and embarassingly muttered something about free speech and not knowing the facts. Then he says this: " -- he's not the only person who's said that." virtually endorsing Michael Moore's statement. Incredible. The man is obviously afraid of Michael Moore. No wonder he (was) retired from the army.
Here is the exchange from the debate last night:
"HUME: Peter, you're next.
JENNINGS: I get General Clark and Senator Edwards this time.
General Clark, a lot of people say they don't you well, so this is really a simple question about knowing a man by his friends. The other day you had a rally here, and one of the men who stood up to endorse you is the controversial filmmaker Michael Moore. You said you were delighted with him.
At one point, Mr. Moore said, in front of you, that President Bush -- he's saying he'd like to see you, the general, and President Bush, who he called a "deserter."
Now, that's a reckless charge not supported by the facts. And I was curious to know why you didn't contradict him, and whether or not you think it would've been a better example of ethical behavior to have done so.
CLARK: Well, I think Michael Moore has the right to say whatever he feels about this.
CLARK: I don't know whether this is supported by the facts or not. I've never looked at it. I've seen this charge bandied about a lot.
But to me it wasn't material. This election is going to be about the future, Peter. And what we have to do is pull this country together. And I am delighted to have the support of a man like Michael Moore, of a great American leader like Senator George McGovern, and of people from Texas like Charlie Stenholm and former Secretary of the Navy John Dalton.
We've got support from across the breadth of the Democratic Party, because I believe this party is united in wanting to change the leadership in Washington. We're going to run an election campaign that's about the future. We're going to hold the president accountable for what he did in office and failed to do, and we're going to compare who's got the best vision for America.
JENNINGS: Let me ask you something you mentioned, then, because since this question and answer in which you and Mr. Moore was involved in, you've had a chance to look at the facts.
Do you still feel comfortable with the fact that someone should be standing up in your presence and calling the president of the United States a deserter?
CLARK: To be honest with you, I did not look at the facts, Peter. You know, that's Michael Moore's opinion. He's entitled to say that. I've seen -- he's not the only person who's said that. I've not followed up on those facts. And frankly, it's not relevant to me and why I'm in this campaign.
JENNINGS: OK, thank you, sir. "
I would have liked to see a shot of Jenning's face at that moment. And I bet Senator George McGovern, Charlie Stenholm and former Secretary of the Navy John Dalton just loved being included in the same sentence as Michael Moore.
Update: Discussion of President Bush's military service here on FactCheck.