WASHINGTON -- Wesley Clark, the retired four-star general who is running for president, got himself in hot water with his Pentagon bosses more than once in his 34-year military career.
Clark matter-of-factly recounts when the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff grumbled that Clark had "one foot on a banana peel and one foot in the grave." Less than a year later, Clark was yanked out of his job as NATO's supreme allied commander.
Plenty of generals in the US military have been chewed out, of course. And plenty of Clark's former colleagues speak highly of him. But it is notable that a number of fellow retired officers now speak frankly about what they see as the Democratic candidate's shortcomings as a leader.
Last month, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Hugh Shelton, gave a barbed answer when asked what he thought about Clark as a presidential candidate. "I will tell you the reason he came out of Europe early had to do with integrity and character issues," Shelton said. "I'll just say Wes won't get my vote."
The retired general has since declined to elaborate. Clark said he and Shelton had had "professional disagreements and for him they became personal."
Dennis Reimer, a retired general and former Army chief of staff, describes Clark as an intelligent, "hardworking, ambitious individual . . . [but] some of us were concerned about the fact that he was focused too much upward and not down on the soldiers."