Showing posts from January, 2016

Have we been here before? Clinton versus an insurgent

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She was meant to have had a lock on the Democratic Party nomination, in a year that looked good for a Democratic presidential candidate.  Hillary Clinton had the sort of star power few could hope to emulate, and she was one half of a couple who virtually embodied the term "power couple" in a party that was firmly in hoc to their machine.  And then came Iowa, and an insurgency that proved to be her undoing.  Barack Obama's soaring rhetoric and hope for change undid Hillary's hopes of breaking the glass ceiling for women in 2008.

And here she is again.  Her machine is intact, her supporters well motivated, she's captured the endorsement of one of the country's leading liberal newspapers, the New York Times; yet once again this once impregnable candidate faces a grassroots insurgency that could de-rail her second attempt at the presidency.

Of course it's not quite the same as 2008.  Hillary is a wiser person and a better candidate.  H…

Tory Feuds with Osborne in firing line

Political reputations rise and fall with the ease and frequency of hot and cold winters.  George Osborne has been riding high for months now - ever since the last election really.  Forgotten were his earlier strategic errors, such as the "omni-shambles" budget with its tax on hot pasties.  In vogue were his Commons socials and the near universal expectation that he would succeed David Cameron.
Well George kindly reminded everyone that his political antenna is not always as well attuned as it should be, when he ill-advisedly tweeted about his distinctly less than overwhelming tax deal with Google at the beginning of this week.

Now the knives are back out, as this Sun piece suggests today.  They've managed to get two ministers to provide them with some juicy quotes about Osborne - he's a social cripple, "just like Gordon Brown"; he's weird "like Milliband".  Osborne must be reeling this morning.  The last two Labour leaders aren't people tha…

Trump, Palin and not understanding America

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We didn't understand America back in 1776 and we're not very good at it now.  If gun laws are clear evidence of that, the popularity of Sarah Palin is even better evidence.

The woman who did more than anyone else, apart from Barack Obama, to ruin John McCain's chances of the presidency in 2008 is back as a political cheerleader-cum-would-be-office-holder.  And for Donald Trump, possibly the nearest male equivalent to her own brand of populist, anti-establishment, celebrity-seeking, not always sense-making political showmanship.

Trump's campaign is still largely focussed on outmanouevring his closest and most sinister rival for the Republican nomination, Ted Cruz, a man hated equally by everyone who he works with, whether left or right.  And he's done it again.  Trump's original anti-Muslim comment was designed to outflank Cruz, and receiving the endorsement of Palin is another humdinger that must be rankling with the Texas senator.  (In …

MPs forget how uninterested America is in Britain

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Bless them.  MPs gathered in numbers not usually seen for debates to discuss the pressing issue of whether Donald Trump, who hasn't got any immediate plans to visit Britain, should be banned just in case he ever does.  As they earnestly debated the ins and outs of an essentially trivial petition, you almost felt that they believed America was watching and listening.  The full range of faux outrage was on display, with one MP dramatically declaring that Donald Trump had insulted her personally.

Oh dear.  Never mind the fact that this debate effectively took Trump at his own valuation.  Never mind that MPs were debating something they themselves couldn't actually affect (the power to ban is the Home Secretary's).  Never mind that there must have been 101 other ways for MPs to spend their time that might actually have had an impact on their constituents.  The key thing about this debate was the continued suffering British politicians have that somehow,…

Hillary's Debating Win

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Attention in the US presidential primaries is focusing more on the Republican race than the Democratic one, not least because there actually is a Republican race, whereas whatever the enthusiasm of Bernie Sanders' supporters, no-one is yet thinking in terms of Hillary not winning the Democratic nomination.

Republican debates are offering some great moments as they fight lack rats in a sack, but it is worth turning to look at Hillary in the more measured Democrat debates too.  Sanders has at least offered some useful challenge to Clinton, absorbing the zeitgeist of the liberal left in her party and forcing her to recognise and deal with it.  And, the debates are a measure of what Hillary might be able to offer in the main presidential run-off after summer.

The evidence from the latest Democratic debate - at least according to Slate - is that she is one classy and effective debater; a better debater than campaigner says Isaac Chotiner.  And that means whoeve…

Republican bitching

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It says a lot about the Republican party that it looks as if it will spend the next few months deciding whether Donald Trump or Ted Cruz should be the standard bearer for all of its hopes and aspirations in November's presidential elections.

Of course much can change - and probably will - by then, but in the meantime we have weeks' worth of hard-right posturing on the part of those two lead candidates to get through.  And it's taken some doing, but Ted Cruz is managing to make Trump look like a decent, compassionate, upstanding and moderate man of great political wisdom.  Cruz is an unprincipled flip-flopper (see this detailed take-down of his various immigration positions) whose pronouncements and rallies carry the deep whiff of sulphur, but the recent Republican debate exchange at least showed him being verbally out-manouevred by the Donald.

Cruz took a swipe - as he has done previously - at what he calls "New York values".  Now "Ne…

Writers' Woes

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The world of print is over and will be overtaken and then replaced by its digital oppressor.  This has been declared for so long - a bit like Nostradamus' many and varied predictions for the end of the world - that we have probably ceased listening to it.  But the world of print is suffering, and in particular there exists a small but growing debate about the rewarding of writers.

One thing that the online world has done is to allow vast numbers of amateur writers to publish themselves and their meandering thoughts.  This blog, and this writer, is one example.  Such openness, so the argument runs, has led to a serious under-rewarding of professional writers.  With so much free stuff available, why pay?  The Huffington Post, a big online news affair, generates loads of its stuff by getting desperate people to write for it for free, and it is not alone.

I'm not sure I wholly agree that this should lead to the undermining of proper, good writers however.  …

Emoting about the EU

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Tory MP Nick Herbert is leading the EU "Stay" campaign - or one of them at any rate - and not before time if a poll in the Mail is to be believed.  According to the Survation poll the "Leave" option now leads by 6%, given impetus it would seem, by concerns over terrorist attacks and a migrant influx that would clearly not exist if we weren't in the EU.

The Telegraph describes this as a "war", although quite why the preparation to debate an important referendum issue should be a "war" is puzzling in itself.  The Telegraph lost a lot of its news credibility some time ago when its cozy relationship with HSBC was revealed, but still.  A war?

Nick Herbert is effectively leading what will be the minority view within the Tory party about Europe.  Sceptics in the Tory party - up to and including the cabinet - are so plentiful that David Cameron has almost seemed besieged by his desire to secure a deal which could persuade peo…