I was one of the few lucky bloggers who got to ask Wesley Clark a question during the last Wireside Chat:
[17:20:50] Clark04.com: Aaron Benson asks: General Clark, after you defeat George Bush in November, you’ll likely be faced with a Republican-controlled House and Senate. How do you plan to implement your ambitious 20-year vision without having the bills blocked or perverted with special-interest pork by Congress?
As you can see, I slammed him with a hardball question. (Read the transcript here.) Here’s Clark’s response:
[17:23:53] Wes Clark: First, I’m not giving up on the idea of changing the make-up of Congress….if we succeed, it’ll be easier, but make no mistake, to change the direction of this country is going to be difficult. It starts with a strong mandate from the voters, with a clear vision, and finally with tough, innovative work to bring people together and gets things going in the right direction. It’s a matter of leadership and vision. I can do it, with your help.
Contrast that with Howard Dean’s responses on dealing with Congress. He once said they’d scurry “like cockroaches” if he were elected. And as far as judicial nominations goes, his knee-jerk response is combative: “You cannot accommodate right-wing zealots. There’s no accommodation to be had.”
Overall, Clark’s wireside chat was good, but only because it’s probably the closest I’ll ever get to talking to the candidate. The format needs work. I dialed in via Internet Relay Chat, but web readers had to contend with an ugly, hard-to-read log.
Some participants were underwhelmed and complained that the chat felt like little more than a press conference, but I don’t know what they expected instead.
Then there was the question filtering. Kevin K., who runs The Tooney Bin, asked “What’s your favorite salad dressing?” (For the record, Clark replied “I like balsamiac vinegarette…and creamy parmesan.”) That was one of the worst questions since the “Macs or PCs” question at the Rock The Vote presidential debate. Kevin, you’re a jive turkey.
But maybe I’m wrong. Someone remarked afterward that the salad dressing question was “the most human.” Well, yeah. But I’m not sure that, given a chance to query the potential next leader of the free world, his choice of salad dressing would be the burning question in the forefront of my mind.
Update: Maybe Kevin’s response is a bit on the hostile side because somebody else called him a “retard” for asking his salad question. However, my reference here (and terse e-mail to him) was meant to be a good-natured ribbing (hence the intentionally corny “jive turkey” reference) rather than a personal affront.
In any case, I specifically cited the question filtering as a drawback of the chat, which is pretty similar to Kevin’s own explanation. Lighten up, Kevin.