Posts Tagged ‘Clinton’

Obama has picked his running mate – and it’s not Clinton

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

… but it is a woman – an eighty-two year old woman.

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The great birthing – the significance of the US presidential election

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Like me, you may have become fascinated – obsessed, even – with the presidential election in the United States.

Some might think that the levels of money being raised are obscene. To that perspective, I’d counter that people’s participation rather than corrupt secret deals is the cause. Others may think that no politician can be honourable. To this perspective, I’d counter that we’re all human but that some are better than others.

I believe this election is the most important the world will know for a very long time. The stakes are the highest they have been.

Can the growing sectarian conflict in the world, that’s embroiled with American foreign policy, be reversed? Can the rhetoric of intolerance, and the belief that might is right, be overcome? Can the political will be generated to address global warming, and other seemingly intractable issues like the rising food prices globally? America can shine a light and do something positive to address each of these questions.

In sum, this election may be the last time that any one nation state has the chance to prevent the erosion of human civilisation as we know it. It’s about sustainability in its deepest sense.

Now I don’t believe any one individual alone can solve these issues. However, the president of the United States, as of 2008, sure sets the tone and leads by example in how to go about addressing them.

If it’s about anything in particular, I’d suggest the election is about the ability to manage amidst complexity.

McCain, unfortunately for him and the Republican Party, has the wrong policies. Clinton has the wrong decision-making approach.

To my mind, the tortuous Democratic nomination campaign reflects the labour pains of a new kind of politics, one that Senator Barack Obama seems the better able to appreciate. Obama has, broadly speaking, both the right policies and the right decision-making approach. (For those who missed it the first time, read Andrew Sullivan’s article, The New Face of America, published in the Times.) That is, of course, from my point of view, but I believe he gives people confidence that he is able to handle, grapple with, and forge pathways through complexity.

Like many others of his supporters, I was disappointed that Clinton won the Pensylvania primary, but I wasn’t surprised. Not only was it predicted and she heavily favoured. If you think about it, anything big that tries to be born has long and drawn-out labour pains.

An important part of the new politics is the grass-roots organising going on, facilitated by the internet. The fundraising has been staggering. The ability to reflect and share ideas and perspectives on the campaign, online, is also formidable. Candidate’s supporters in a very real sense are guiding where the campaign goes. The feedback from a candidate’s speech to a supporter’s online donation can be immediate.

Innovatively, an American NGO, MoveOn.org, which has endorsed Obama, is currently hosting an online competition for the best ‘Obama in 30 Seconds‘ advert. I’ve watched a few now, engrossed in how keen people have been to express themselves in aid of a political campaign.

Something I have found heartening has been how people have been effected when they have met Obama in person, heard him speak at rallies, and have had a chance to size him up; like here.

Here are four of my overall favourites

And my vote would be for ‘My Name Is Barack Obama – Afraid’

The final nail in the Clinton coffin: ‘If she became president…’

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Today, April Fools’ Day, Hillary Clinton – running for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination – likened herself to ‘Rocky‘.

Rocky Balboa is a struggling boxer trying to make the big time. Working in a meat factory in Philadelphia for a pittance, he also earns extra cash as a debt collector. When heavyweight champion Apollo Creed visits Philadelphia, his managers want to set up an exhibition match between Creed and a struggling boxer, touting the fight as a chance for a “nobody” to become a “somebody”. The match is supposed to be easily won by Creed, but someone forgot to tell Rocky, who sees this as his only shot at the big time.

Unfortunately for her, the comparison may be a bad one. Hillary’s the ‘somebody’ whom everyone assumed would be the nominee; Obama is the ‘nobody from nowhere’.

For those who forget or not in the know, Rocky was played by Sylvester Stalone.

(The picture, by the way, is from a film other than Rocky. But you get the idea.)

Somehow I think this is going to backfire on her, no matter how apposite. Will anyone be able to watch that film again in all seriousness? I’m really not sure who will come out the better for it, Hillary or Sylvester. I predict this to be the end of the beginning of the end for brand Clinton… for the time being.

US media pundits are latching onto how Clinton’s whopper about Bosnia is seeping into popular culture, rearing its head on the talk shows in the guise of various jokes. Sometimes, though, it takes a professional comedian (i.e. Mark Steel writing for the Independent) to convey the truth.

If she became president it would be brilliant, as she stood on the White House lawn before the world’s press and said, “I would like to thank the King of Morocco for his thoughtful remarks, and would add that I used to play professional darts. I went to a party once that went on for three weeks without stopping, and there was so many people dancing that the floor collapsed and we all landed downstairs which turned out to be an off-licence so it went on for another month.”

Presumably she thought the sniper fire story would impress the audience of soldiers. So her campaign team should book her in to speak to other professions to see what she comes out with. If she addresses lumberjacks she’ll start, “Hey, that’s a tough job you folks do. And I should know because I once spent two days dangling from a cedar tree. Then my chainsaw slipped and sawed me down the middle, but luckily my right half put my left half in a nearby freezer that kept it fresh until the doctor arrived to sew me back together. But hey, let’s turn to the economy.”

Maybe it’s part of a pact. Her husband only seems reasonable now because the idiot that followed him is so much worse. So to even things up, as president she’ll talk such twaddle that in a couple of years people start pining for Bush.

Because someone who routinely lies like she does, then dismisses it as a consequence of the number of words she says has severe psychological problems. Perhaps her disorder is a result of the sort of politician she is. Like Blair, neither she nor Bill stand for anything – priding themselves in being tied to no “ideology”. So a normal politician might set out with a set of principles, then lie as they compromise and betray them. But a Blair or Clinton is a politician with no purpose but their own standing, like celebrities who are nothing but celebrities. So they say whatever they feel will make them look best to the audience they’re with, regardless of whether it’s true, until they probably don’t know themselves what’s real and what’s not.

And the daft thing with Hillary is her real life is ridiculous enough. So when she ends up in a home, muttering “I’ve got the biggest peanut in the world. I sang backing vocals on ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’. I went right along the Great Wall of China in a wheelbarrow,” the nurses will say “Poor old thing. This morning she was jibbering that her husband was president and had affairs in the back room and denied it but got caught cos he sploshed on an intern’s dress. She’s getting worse isn’t she, it’s such a shame.”

I’m sorry, for Clinton supporters, to say that the sniper fire story has got legs and I don’t think it’s going to go away. It encapsulates perfectly the reasons why Hillary has, in the jargon, such poor ‘negatives’.

Making the connection: emotions, voting and leadership

Thursday, February 28, 2008

This is interesting –

I suspect that the answer to the question –

What is it the Independent male voters are reacting to when they register ‘disagreement’ with Clinton?

– are the emotions she expresses, namely, frustration and complaint.

I suspect that these qualities are not ones a sizeable proportion of citizens would want in their leader. Rather, they would probably prefer a ‘can-do’ attitude and the implicit assurance that difficult situations, no matter how grizzly or seemingly unfair, can at the very least be addressed and possibly improved.

Then again, of course, they might relate to the sense of injustice and see in the other a mirror of their own complaining behaviour…

What’s at stake

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Michael Tomasky writing yesterday in the Guardian

[…] Americans look around themselves and see a middle class that is prosperous but deeply anxious; a healthcare system that works reasonably well, except when you really need it; a world that hasn’t reacted very positively to our attempts at bullying it; a planet that might indeed be suffering for our, pardon the pun, sins of emission.

Americans have given up on Bush. That much we know. What we don’t know is whether they’ve given up on his ideology. It may be they look at Bush’s failures and see an ideological failure, a failure of conservatism. But it may also be that they see only an execution failure, a failure of competence.

So these are the questions – and they’re very important and profound questions – this election will answer: will American voters say that they want a “change,” to go back to the key word, only from incompetence to competence, keeping basic conservatism intact (John McCain, arguably)? Will they say they want a shift away from conservatism, but the cautious and incremental shift that Clinton represents? Or will they want the broader change that Obama signifies – a change not dramatically to the left of Clinton in ideological terms, because he is not, but potentially a vast change in the political culture, toward something that does not accept our red v blue divide and culture wars as a given and would redeem America’s most solemn original sin of racism?

Liberals around Washington, indeed around the country, are upbeat because it feels like it might be one of those moments. It feels like enough Americans are tired of conservatism, not just of incompetence. It feels like enough of them see that conservatism doesn’t have good solutions to some of the new problems America confronts. Not that many Americans, still, are willing to call themselves liberal; just about one adult in five. And no one is hankering for a return to the 1970s or seized with a burning desire to pay higher taxes. But the current mood in the country seems to indicate that Americans are willing to give liberalism that second chance.

And if liberalism gets that chance and succeeds, the modern conservative movement will enter into a period of introspection and recrimination unlike any it’s ever experienced. What in this context does “succeed” mean? As little as two things. If a Democratic president and Congress – and everyone expects that Congress will stay in Democratic control – can 1) pass healthcare and 2) articulate and implement a strategic foreign policy vision that defends America and charts a new course in the world, then Americans will embrace this new liberalism. Movement conservatism will be forced to transform itself so utterly as to be unrecognisable as its erstwhile self; which is another way of saying that, short of its 60th birthday, it will in essence perish.

That’s all that’s at stake.

(Courtesy of Memex 1.1.)

The genius of America

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Reading that people have been queuing up in New Hampshire just to catch a glimpse of the Obama phenomenon, and coming away saying ‘there’s the next president of the United States’ (see the Washington Post here); and reading of a university graduate who has been tracking Obama since he gave a speech to the Democratic Convention in 2004 – I tracked down the 2004 speech.

Watching it now, it’s easy to imagine that, if Obama had been on the campaign trail for Kerry, instead of Kerry, there would have been no contest against Bush back then.

I pity Obama’s rivals on both sides of the political fence. Give up now I say. They’re in for a pounding… if, that is, the money and all the attack ads that will get increasingly aired over the coming weeks and months don’t choke the populus to death on the US political system’s own, contorted sickness.

I can’t see Hilary Clinton being able to have this effect. I got the sense the crowd didn’t quite know what had hit them.

Obama’s a fabulous communicator, and good storyteller, as all the best politicians and activists and those who’ve achieved change have been. He’ll need to clarify his hand gesturing a bit, but basically, he’s taking America and hopefully the world in a whole new direction.

For those interested in the art, craft and science of communication, I’d say his performance lays the predominant communication model of information transfer (see my theoretical thoughts on communication here) to rest. And for further proof as to why this model doesn’t work, watch this tongue-in-cheek video by the Washington Post on the effect, on people’s enthusiasm, of the information-transfer model employed by Hilary Clinton in her flagging New Hampshire campaign. Too bad.

Update

Here’s how Newsweek summed up Obama, looking at the pros and cons of both Republican and Democratic Candidates –

Bottom Line
A roll of the dice, but the only one with a decent chance for a landslide.