WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The nation's pundits are surmising in their wiz-kid way that retired Gen. Wesley Clark's candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination has been instigated by some mysterious stratagem devised by the Clintons.
I suppose the thing is possible. Yet a more plausible explanation for this glamorous candidacy is that the telegenic general has been inspired by the California gubernatorial campaign of Arianna Huffington. She is an inspiration to all such luminaries of the Kultursmog. Watch for the general to come down hard on SUVs, as Arianna has, and to sniff at "big money in politics," as Arianna has from her Hollywood redoubt.
When it was discovered a short while back that Arianna had only paid $771 in federal taxes over the past two years, despite having taken her former husband for millions in divorce court, I had expected her to plead that such was the plight of a single-parent mom under kapitalism -- and she did.
In his first week as Democratic candidate, Clark has shown himself to be a ham on the same sublime plain as his model, Arianna Huffington. Out there in California when Arnold Schwarzenegger announced his candidacy, Arianna, then already a candidate, wandered dreamily up to him and knocked his microphones over. My guess is that it is only a matter of time before Dr. Howard Dean is similarly accosted by the drop-dead beautiful Clark.
On cable news the other day, one of New York magazine's taste potentates confided that one of Clark's imperishable political assets is that in "small groups" he is "funny." It is an indication of the essential frivolousness of the Kultursmog that its intellectualoids recommend a general who is "funny" for the presidency. Did anyone ever say Gen. Grant was funny, or Ike -- who, by the way, was the rare general who proved to be a tolerably good politician.
The Kultursmog is the media culture that dominates American politics and tastes except when elections are held. It is polluted by liberal politics and values. It allows for such politically negligible figures as Clark to become persons of moment. Come to think of it, Arianna's eminence owes much to the Kultursmog.
My guess is that the air is going to go out of the general's candidacy rather soon. Perhaps it will be reported that the handsome general served briefly after his retirement from the Army as an underwear model Calvin Klein. Or he will bomb on the Bill Maher television show trying to match his exemplar Arianna's hairstyle.