Wednesday, September 24, 2003
"What do you think of General Wesley Clark and would you support him as a presidential candidate," was the question put to [Retired General H. Hugh Shelton, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Clark's former boss] by moderator Dick Henning, assuming that all military men stood in support of each other. General Shelton took a drink of water and Henning said, "I noticed you took a drink on that one!"
"That question makes me wish it were vodka," said Shelton. "I've known Wes for a long time. I will tell you the reason he came out of Europe early had to do with integrity and character issues, things that are very near and dear to my heart. I'm not going to say whether I'm a Republican or a Democrat. I'll just say Wes won't get my vote."
The reference here is to Clark's behavior during the Kosovo conflict, where it is believed on several occasions he bypassed the chain of command and went over Shelton's (and Defense Secretary William Cohen's) head and called his old Arkansas and Oxford buddy Bill Clinton directly for advice. Significantly, neither Shelton nor Cohen attended Clark's (early, and presumably forced) retirement ceremony, a striking insult for a four-star general.
These Shelton quotes won't get a lot of play in the media, but they are important.