Wesley Clark's campaign web site posts a question-and-answer interview with me on why I'm supporting Clark for president.
Read on if you want to read the text of the interview here, copied and pasted from the above link.
eBay Founder Bids on Clark
Pierre Omidyar is the founder of eBay, the world's online marketplace. He's also a Clark supporter. He agreed to be interviewed about his views on Clark and the election by the Clark campaign website.
Q: What about Wes Clark initially impressed you?
A: I met General Clark at a conference in 2000 and was immediately impressed with his presence. He was intelligent, thoughtful, and articulate on a wide range of key issues. At the same time, he was warm, open, and very approachable -- not what I expected from a four-star general. His staff officers joining him at the conference seemed to have enormous and genuine respect for him. They made a point of telling me he was unique among generals.
Q: How did you get involved with the campaign?
A: From what I saw, the current Administration's policies in fighting the war on terror seemed to unnecessarily compromise values that are core to our country's foundation. Transparency, respect for the individual, separation of powers, and even due process under the law, were being put aside in the interest of national security. More significantly, I became concerned that there was little public debate about these compromises.
With the lack of public debate, and steady popularity of the President, I felt we wouldn't have a chance to change administrations in 2004. But when General Clark announced his candidacy, for the first time, I felt we had a chance to pose a serious challenge to President Bush. I was energized.
In one of his first speeches as a candidate, Clark talked about the need for real patriotism: putting our country first, and demanding more of our leaders; taking personal responsibility for the kind of country we want to be; holding our leaders accountable as stewards of our core values: transparency, respect for the individual, liberty, and service to our country.
Q: In your recent efforts, you've highlighted public service as a key component of civil society. Why do you believe that public service is so important?
A: We all have a responsibility as citizens to participate in our society. Most of us already do some form of public service, without even knowing it: Americans are known throughout the world as open, friendly, and caring people. We all feel a responsibility to help our neighbors in need, or our community in need. That's public service at its core. When Clark talks about public service, he talks about us asking more of each other. After September 11th, Americans were ready to help in whatever way we could -- many wanted to help, but just didn't know how. It's the same after natural disasters. Clark's National Service plan would make it easier to let each other and our country know that we stand ready to serve when our community or our country needs us.
I think the plan is great in more subtle ways, too. Just the mere fact of registering, even if we're never called, gives us the feeling that we're part of something bigger -- that we're ready to meet our responsibility as a citizen; that we're an active member of our society.
Q: In founding eBay, your focus seemed to be giving people the tools they need to do things for themselves. Do you think that's a good model for government?
A: Absolutely. That's what government should be about: laying a foundation for the growth and development of its citizens and economy. Government should focus on creating the right kind of environment for us to make good things happen for ourselves. The most important part of that environment is access to the tools we need to reach our potential -- tools like health, education, a robust economy, security, and liberty. And to varying degrees, some of us need more help from government on different dimensions in order to reach our own individual potential. But I don't think the government should give people the outcomes they're looking for. Instead, it should give everyone equal access to the tools they need to reach their own potential.
Q: In introducing Clark at a fundraiser, you mentioned his 100-year vision as evidence that he was the kind of leader we need. What about his vision impressed you?
A: First, he was courageous enough to post it. In a time when most people focus on 100-day plans, it's refreshing to see a candidate take a really long view. It shows he's aware that today we are creating the world that our children and grandchildren will inhabit -- and it's important that we do a good job. Laying the foundation for a 100-year vision requires us doing the right things today. Doing the right things today benefits us immediately, and benefits our future generations as well.
His vision is characterized by balance: long-term good versus short-term need; the will of the majority versus the rights of the minority. Our current president says you're either with us or against us. In contrast, Clark recognizes that things are never black and white, but rather a balance of opposing views. This is a very important lesson for us. We need leadership that understands that a balanced -- not extreme -- approach to the issues of our day is critical.
Q: You also mentioned that diversity and respecting the individual are of the utmost importance to you. Why are those concepts so important to you, and why do you think Wes Clark can achieve the stated goals of diversity and inclusion.
A: Our diversity -- especially of ideas -- is the source of our strength as a nation. Respect for the individual is a foundation of our society. Both concepts are important not just because they sound nice, but because they are in fact beneficial. Look at eBay: an incredibly diverse group of people, some 95 million people around the world, coming together to do business with one another around common interests. Respect for one another, and an honest and open environment that welcomes people no matter how different they are is a good formula for success. The same is true in our society.
I believe we're at a turning point in history: as Americans, we're part of a grand experiment to create a pluralistic, democratic society based on the core values our country was founded on. We've shown the world that a diverse population can come together and create the strongest economy and society on the planet. We have our share of problems and challenges, of course. But it's hard to deny we have the best, most sustainable model of government and civil society in the world today.
Respect for the individual, for other points of view, for diversity as an asset; the rule of law; open and transparent debate. These are values that have made this country great. These are values I think we all believe in, and values that can benefit all societies. Around the world, people are beginning to question if America really believes in those values, and whether or not a nation can be successful by staying true to those values. Instead of leading the world by example, we are showing that we can't stay true to our values when faced with a new threat. That gives leaders elsewhere all the excuse they need to jealously guard their own power, to the detriment of their populations.
I'm afraid that people around the world will lose hope in the values this country stands for as a result. They will take the well-meaning but unbalanced policies of today, see America as a bully throwing its weight around, and overlook the importance of holding these core values dear.
When I had the chance to sit down with General Clark in the middle of October, a month into the campaign, I asked if he understood the responsibility we have as Americans when we say we are "leaders of the free world." He does. He understands how important this election is, not just for America today, but for the world tomorrow.
Q: Do you think military leadership can translate into government leadership?
A: I think some of the most important attributes for a successful leader to have are intelligence, curiosity, respect for opposing views, experience leading, and a solid foundation of values. General Clark's military experience makes him the only candidate qualified to challenge President Bush on national security: he can say, "There's a different way to fight this war," and be credible when he says it. Only two candidates for President in 2004 have experience waging war: President Bush and General Clark.
His experience leading large organizations is clearly relevant. Sometimes people think the military is about officers giving orders to enlisted men and women. Obviously it's much more than that. Leading an all-volunteer force required the development of unique skills of persuasion. The international leadership post he held at NATO required more persuasion, diplomacy, and probably good old-fashioned politics. I can't imagine a better training ground for our next president.