Howard Dean's minions aren't the only ones using meetup.com to organize.
But in the case of Wesley Clark fans, so far they're organizing around a non-candidate.
Clark, the retired general who once commanded allied forces in Europe, is still mum on whether he will be a Democratic contender for president, though draftclark2004.com claims "thousands" of volunteers already working for him to enter the race.
Tim Feinstein of Friendship, with the local Wesley Clark group, www.pgh4clark.com, says 35 came to a recent meeting. Can Clark rise above the pack of Dems?
"He has a lot of appeal outside the traditional blue states," Feinstein says, referring to the coastal commonwealths Al Gore won in 2000, as opposed to George W. Bush's heartland hegemony, traditionally shown in red on maps. "One thing Clark does - he really takes a lot of the thunder from the other candidates. [Massachusetts Sen. John] Kerry won't own the military [vote] anymore. [North Carolina Sen. John] Edwards won't claim the red state appeal. Most candidates... other than Edwards and [Connecticut Sen. Joe] Lieberman don't have the appeal to bring Congress to their party" as Clark does, Feinstein feels. Clark can even steal some of Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich's activist mantle, Feinstein believes.
How will he do it?
When you've directed "the largest military base on the planet," as Feinstein describes Clark's previous post, you can also take more liberal positions, like asking for U.N. cooperation in international ventures (before they occur, that is) and favoring affirmative action.
"I'm really encouraged with what's happening with our meetup numbers," Feinstein says; less than two weeks ago Pittsburgh ranked 26th nationally, with 111 Clark enthusiasts registered. "I'm certainly among the youngest in the group," he adds. "I'm finishing my Ph.D. Virtually everyone else is a parent or are in that age bracket. We have the demographic that votes."
Still, Feinstein admits his group has no more clue than anyone else whether Clark will actually run, since Draft Clark is an independent PAC. They were hoping Clark would announce around Labor Day, then on Sept. 8, then by the 18th. As of press time on Sept. 15, Clark supporters have heard nothing. They plan to have a party whenever Clark announces, whatever he announces.
"I understand he's not in the race, and that of course is a problem, but this group gives us a chance to change that," Feinstein concludes.