General Wesley Clark was in Los Angeles today for a WesPAC fundraiser at a private residence in Cheviot Hills. The event was supposed to start at 7:00, but Michael Webber of SoCalGrassroots prevailed on the General to meet with some bloggers as a preamble. So there we were, in a private room at a roundtable with the general. The bloggers in question included myself, John Amato of Crooks and Liars, Mark Kleiman, MS_in_LA of Who's Counting, and Steve and Pam of SteveAudio. So essentially, seven bloggers, together with Wesley Clark and his wife Gert, all just having a conversation. Arianna Huffington was supposed to show up, but she had other obligations. Quite a forum, and a singular occurrence. I should be getting a picture soon from WesPAC--when I see it there I'll post it here.
We were only supposed to meet for 15 minutes, but the General gave us twice that amount of time, sharing stories about his encounters with Pat Robertson and talking about his ideas for foreign policy and his critiques of the administration, and what type of talk and mentality appeals to voters. One of the especially memorable exchanges on this topic was on the topic of torture. Mark pointed out that while we all know that torture isn't okay, there's a broad swath of America that doesn't think that. But I took that a step further and said to the General that we have to fight battles on the blogs every day with people who think that torturing prisoners actually makes us safer, and don't realize that it doesn't actually produce any more actionable intelligence--and we don't have any credible military personnel pointing that out.
I think that the General would have kept on talking to us for hours, but we finally had to break it off so he could address the rest of the donors at the fundraiser. And what a public speaker he is. He advocated that the Democrats change the public perception of their party to be the one that represents the common good, faith, values and service and patriotism. He also pleaded that each one of us needs to put the good of the nation ahead of our individual pet causes--a message that many people need to hear. If you haven't gotten a chance to hear the General speak, you're really missing a treat. He's warm and charismatic, but clear and powerful when he needs to be--a fantastic public speaker who can captivate and hold your attention.
As a side note, I got to meet a couple of other congressional candidates seeking election in 2006: Mary Pallant, who is seeking to unseat Elton Gallegly in CA-24, and Russ Warner, who is doing the unthinkable by challenging David Dreier in CA-26. Mary is a very fun and engaging lady--we had a little football rivalry going on, since she's USC and I'm UCLA. Russ is very friendly as well--he brought his son with him, who just got done serving a tour of duty in Baghdad. It was very intriguing to speak with him because it was the first time I had actually spoken face-to-face with someone who had served in Iraq. I asked him to describe his experience if he could, and he only had one word for me: "chaos."
When I get some pictures from the event I'll post them. This was a very fun day, and solidified my initial primary support for the General--presuming he runs in 2008. But first, we have 2006 to attend to.