Clark quietly courts Tech 

Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark clearly knows how to ratchet up the anticipation level.

It's still an open question whether he knows how to capitalize on it. The retired Army general kept an overflow gathering estimated at nearly 300 at Georgia Tech's Clary Theatre waiting almost an hour before popping on stage for a brief appearance last Friday.

But Clark was surprisingly subdued in front of the college crowd. He'd been at a fundraiser earlier that morning and made a radio appearance, so maybe he was trying to save his voice. Laryngitis has plagued Clark in recent weeks.

One could sense the energy and anticipation in the audience, and while the former NATO commander clearly proved his erudition, he didn't ignite the crowd. A number of times, members of the audience tried to start standing ovations, only to look around and awkwardly take their seats.

Clark spoke at length and authoritatively about his multi-tiered plan for Iraq and the war on terrorism. He also sharply criticized policies the International Monetary Fund imposed on developing countries during the 1990s.

"Fiscal austerity is not the sole solution to prosperity," Clark said to applause.

Clark took two questions from the audience, and that's when he made the most startling pronouncement of his whirlwind appearance. Referencing President Bush's testing-heavy No Child Left Behind plan, Clark told the audience that he didn't feel competition was the best standard by which to measure educational excellence. That's a huge departure from Democratic and Republican orthodoxy, which continues to compare education to business models that favor testing accountability above all else.

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