COMPARE AND CONTRAST….Just for the hell of it, I was curious to see how the current Bush plan for Iraqi sovereignty compares to Wesley Clark’s, delivered a week ago in South Carolina. Clark, of course, favors internationalizing the mission much more than Bush, but aside from that here’s the relevant part of Clark’s speech:

Iraqis will be more likely to meet the security challenge if we give them a greater stake in our success. That means establishing a new sovereign government in Iraq right away. There has been a false debate between the French, who recommended turning all government functions over to Iraqis now – and the Bush Administration, which insists on waiting until a constitution is written and elections are held.

The French are wrong: we cannot transfer full authority to Iraqis before they are ready. But the administration is also wrong: we can give the Iraqis a much bigger sense of ownership over their country and move more quickly towards a government that answers to its people. Until Iraqis believe that they can control their future, they will huddle in fear and watch others attack – rather than stand with pride, expose the guerrillas and stop the violence.

We should help the Iraqis move immediately to establish their own government, a government to replace the existing council. Because that council was chosen by Americans, it is not seen as legitimate in the eyes of too many Iraqis. But right now, there are 50 city and regional councils in Iraq – elected by the Iraqi people. Just as the State Legislatures used to elect members to our Senate in our own country, these councils should select new members of an interim government drawing from the existing governing council.

This new government would represent Iraq internationally – and control oil revenues, funds, and any frozen assets through a transparent, internationally audited process. The transfer of government functions to this new government should be ongoing, week by week, as soon as it is ready.

This interim government would then launch a new process to write a Constitution. Such a constitution would be an Iraqi document — not written by Americans or people appointed by Americans – and would set the terms for free and fair elections.

Aside from the fact that Clark appears to be a stronger proponent of democracy, Bush now seems to be on pretty much the same page as him.

There have been a number of occasions when Bush has ended up doing something that Democrats have been suggesting for a while, but they rarely seem smart enough to take any credit for it. In this case, I assume that Clark approves of Bush’s change in plan and I hope that rather than instinctively attacking it he’s smart enough to say so ? while still sticking to his guns about other things he thinks Bush should do.

Clark is scheduled to be on Meet the Press on Sunday, so I guess we’ll find out soon.