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Archive for juli, 2012

KAMPANJ | Newsweek slår ett slag för Barack Obama i senaste numret genom att definiera Mitt Romney som en “mes” på omslaget.

1987 publicerade Newsweek en artikel som kom att förfölja George H. W. Bush långt efter att blivit president. Titeln var ”Fighting the ’Wimp Factor’”.

Nu gör man det igen med Mitt Romney.

Michael Tomasky skriver:

In 1987, this magazine created a famous hubbub by labeling George H.W. Bush a “wimp” on its cover. “The Wimp Factor.” Huge stir. And not entirely fair—the guy had been an aviator in the war, the big war, the good war, and he was even shot down out over the Pacific, cockpit drenched in smoke and fumes, at an age (20) when in most states he couldn’t even legally drink a beer. In hindsight, Poppy looks like Dirty Harry Callahan compared with Romney, who spent his war (Vietnam) in—ready?—Paris. Where he learned … French.

[…]

Harvey Mansfield, the Harvard political philosopher, is a godhead to conservatives. He wrote a book while Bush was president called Manliness. It was a self-parodic volume, but conservatives loved it. In 2006 an interviewer asked Mansfield his definition of manliness, and he said: “confidence in a situation of risk.”

By this definition, the conservative definition, Romney is a total bust. He’s the most risk-averse major politician to come along in ages.

[…]

The catalog of Romney flip-flops is lengthy and by now famous: abortion rights; support for Planned Parenthood, to which he and his wife once wrote checks, now in his gun sights; Grover Norquist’s “no tax increases” pledge, which he admirably refused to sign as a gubernatorial candidate but since 2007 has taken up with gusto; on immigration, where he once supported a path to citizenship; on guns (he supported the Brady Bill in the 1990s); on “don’t ask, don’t tell”; and, most famously of all, on health care.

[…]

All politicians undergo a tuck here and a trim there. Comparatively few turn outright somersaults on big issues, let alone half a dozen or more of them. What gives? Most pols in Romney’s position would think: OK, I’ve got to change some stances, but I’d better keep one or two, just to show I stand for something, and accept the consequences. But not Romney.

Politicians change positions for three main reasons: financial ambition, political ruthlessness, and political cowardice. Romney already has the big money, so that’s out. Ruthless? Not really—a ruthless change of position is one designed to please one group of people but equally to piss off another group. Romney’s flip-flops are solely about making a group of highly suspicious voters like him. That, folks, is door No. 3.

Att detta är rena rama julafton för Obamakampanjen är uppenbart. Trots detta lyckades Romney låta ganska avslappnad när han skulle kommentera omslaget i en intervju i programmet Face the Nation.

Att det inte lät likadant bakom kulisserna kan man förstå när man läser hur George W. Bush reagerade när han fick beskedet att Newsweek hade stämplat hans far som ”mes”.

Barbara Bush placed a furious call to her son, future president George W., who had vetted journalist Margaret Garrard Warner. “Have you seen Newsweek?” Barbara Bush growled, according to her son’s recent memoir, Decision Points. “I quickly tracked down a copy and was greeted by the screaming headline: ‘Fighting the Wimp Factor,’ ” Bush 43 wrote. “I was red hot. I got Margaret on the phone. I. . . told her I thought it was part of a political ambush. She muttered something about her editors being responsible for the cover. I did not mutter. I railed about editors and hung up. From then on, I was suspicious of political journalists and their unseen editors.”

Läs mer: Michael Tomasky on Wimpy Mitt Romney’s Missing Backbone” samt ”Answering Tomaskyav David Frum. (Bild: Tidskriftomslagen är från den 6 augusti 2012 respektive den 19 oktober 1987.)

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IMAGE | Vår förmåga (och önskan) att låta oss luras av bilder tycks vara oändlig. Det är inte bara en tom kliché att en bild kan säger mer än tusen ord.

Oavsett alla avslöjanden om president John F. Kennedys föga imponerande politiska liv – för att inte tala om hans privatliv – tycks vi ändå alltid välja att bli mer imponerade av bilden av honom än av vad vi verkligen vet.

Caitlin Flanagan, The Atlantic, har reflekterat över hur dessa bilder än idag har en förmåga att forma hur vi ser på Kennedy och hans familj.

You know the pictures. They’re the ones we’re still looking at, still marveling over, the ones that fuse some powerful ideas together and that make us fall in love all over again with a family we’ve never met and specifically with the man at the center of that family, who was apparently willing—eager—to contain the most vital and alluring of his protean energies within it. These photographs have had an outsized effect on our assessment of JFK’s presidency, and our collective feelings about them have served as his magic fishbone, getting him out of one scrape or another as the years pass by and the revelations and reassessments pile up.

[…]

Those pictures make me realize anew what a patsy I’ve been. How could they be anything more than a shrewd campaign, one that plays on the very sentiment—an essentially bourgeois regard for what is nowadays called “the sanctity of marriage”—for which JFK himself had such obvious contempt?

[…]

As for John Kennedy—what did he do for us? He started the Peace Corps and the Vietnam War. He promised to put a man on the moon, and he presided over an administration whose love affair with assassination was held in check only by its blessed incompetence at pulling off more of them. […] He fought for a tax break the particulars of which look like the product of a Rush Limbaugh fever dream, he almost got us all killed during his “second Cuba” […] and he brought organized crime into contact with the highest echelons of American power. More than anyone else in American history, perhaps, he had a clear vision of what his country could do for him.

But most of all, he made us feel good about ourselves; he inspired us. Toward what? Mostly toward him. […] The typical progressive woman thinks she is drawn to him because of his groovy, feel-good work on behalf of civil rights, but that’s an assertion that doesn’t bear 15 minutes’ exploration. John Kennedy voted against Eisenhower’s 1957 Civil Rights Act; he made lofty campaign promises that assured him the black vote but then sat on his hands for all of 1961; his nickname for James Baldwin was “Martin Luther Queen.” The reason so many women love him really has nothing to do with his actual accomplishments and everything to do with his being the kind of man whose every inclination runs counter to their best interests.

[…]

JFK was a man whose sexual life remained a central fact of his existence, who did not allow it to be diminished by anything—not his political ambitions, not issues of national security, not his Catholicism, not loyalty to his friends and his male relatives, not physical limitation or pain, not the risk of infecting any of his partners with the venereal disease that regularly plagued him, not fear of impregnating someone, not the potential for personal embarrassment, and certainly, certainly, not his marriage.

[…]

He was a winner, and we like winners. He’ll get out of every scrape history can serve up. All the aging hookers and cast-aside girlfriends with book contracts better take notice: We don’t care about you. JFK is more important to us than you can ever be, so you might as well keep quiet. The cause endures, sweetheart. The hope still lives. And the dream will never die.

Bild: Ett foto taget av Cecil Stoughton som var Vita husets första officiella fotograf. Under bilden har Kennedy skrivit: “For Captain Stoughton — who captured beautifully a happy moment at the White House / John Kennedy.”

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USA | Karl Rove har kallats George W. Bushs hjärna. Han är också hjärnan bakom Crossroads som är en av valets viktigaste organisationer.

De organisationer som av skattemässiga skäl i USA har beteckningen ”527” (s.k. super-PAC:s) eller ”501(c)(4)” kommer att inta en framträdande plats när man snart skriver historien om valrörelsen 2012.

Organisationerna får lagligen inte samordna sina aktiviteter med presidentkandidaternas egna kampanjorganisationer.

Men alla utgår i realiteten ifrån att det finns tysta strategiska överrenskommelser kring vilka politiska budskap organisationerna skall driva för att det skall gagna den egna favoriten i valet.

Dessutom kan dessa organisationer attackera motståndaren på ett sätt som knappast någon av kandidaterna skulle våga för att inte riskera att stötta bort väljare.

Och i år är det de organisationer som attackerar Barack Obama – och därmed indirekt gynnar Mitt Romney – som drar in mest pengar.

Men vad som ofta glöms bort när det rapporteras om organisationerna i media (inte minst i Sverige) är att det var liberala grupper, sympatiskt inställda till demokraterna, som drog igång vad som idag har blivit en gigantisk penningslukande verksamhet.

Paul M. Barrett, Bloomberg Businessweek, skriver:

In the strange realm of campaign finance, the Internal Revenue Service classifies Crossroads GPS as a nonprofit, nonpolitical “social welfare” organization—a 501(c)(4) in tax code parlance—that does not have to identify its backers. Crossroads GPS channels money into “issue” advertisements, which implicitly, but not very subtly, attack Obama and other Democrats.

[…]

To maintain its supporters’ anonymity, a social welfare group like GPS must not have a “primary purpose” of a political nature, and it cannot coordinate strategy with candidates. In an election season, however, only a very naïve or obtuse viewer would miss the point of the organization’s prolific ads.

For conservative donors willing to reveal themselves, Rove designed a sister group, a “super PAC” called American Crossroads, which operates from the same offices as GPS, with some of the same executives, employees, copywriters, and consultants. It, too, is technically independent from the Romney campaign. Known as a 527, it does report its donors to the Federal Election Commission, and it can indulge less coyly in pushing Romney and other Republicans.

[…]

Back in the 2000s, Rove says in an e-mail interview, it was Democratic-leaning labor unions and liberal plutocrats such as hedge fund financier George Soros and insurance tycoon Peter Lewis who provoked the unlimited-outside-money boom. Whoever started the gonzo fundraising wars—and in 2010, the Supreme Court played an important, if misunderstood enabling role with Citizens United v. FEC—the Crossroads operation is way out in front this election cycle. Along with the billionaire Koch brothers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and other conservative allies, the Crossroads-led offensive is collectively poised to spend more than $1 billion on the 2012 elections, according to Republican operatives. That’s roughly twice—repeat: twice—what Democrats expect to spend by means of their super PACs and social welfare groups.

[…]

It irritates Rove that Obama has succeeded in crafting the conventional wisdom on Citizens United. According to Obama’s account, a 5-4 conservative judicial pronouncement liberated a cabal of zillionaires and corporations to launch a hostile takeover of American politics.

[…]

“The left,” Rove notes, “pioneered the use of 527s and 501(c)(4)s years ago, spending millions of dollars to influence public opinion and the policy landscape, on issues spanning the environment to the Iraq War. Drawing on their example, Crossroads was being planned before Citizens United, and would exist with or without Citizens United.”

[…]

In 2004 a 527 called America Coming Together led a $200 million initiative, partly financed by Soros and Lewis, to unseat George W. Bush. One reason many forget this liberal financial surge is that it failed; Kerry, a diffident campaigner, lost by 34 electoral votes. Republicans, for their part, didn’t fully appreciate the advent of outside groups because they were lulled by Bush’s talent for gathering direct-contribution checks with the assistance of “bundlers,” the dedicated supporters and lobbyists who aggregate individual donations.

Rove and his consultant friend Ed Gillespie—now a paid senior adviser to the Romney campaign—had warned from the inception of McCain-Feingold that it would lead to problems for Republicans. Borrowing from the chorus of the classic Sonny Curtis song, Gillespie joked that as RNC chair for the 2004 election cycle, he “fought the law, but the law won.” In 2009, Rove and Gillespie decided it was time for Republicans to stop whining and turn the tables.

[…]

“It’s ironic,” he says, “that many of those who are squealing the loudest now [about Crossroads] are the same people who were mute when groups on the left were pioneering the use of 527s and 501(c)(4)s. … Liberals cheered then but are now quick to try and stop conservatives from using the techniques they used in the past.”

He and his acolytes are clearly enjoying themselves. This is something that Rove’s many psychoanalysts in the media and among Democrats seem to forget: He really loves the fight.

Bild: Tidskriftsomslaget är Bloomberg Businessweek den 30 juli-5 agusti 2012.

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Bild: Fler teckningar av Walt Handelsman på GoComics.

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USA | Hon lyckades inte bli republikanernas presidentkandidat men kan trösta sig med att ha hamnat på listan över de femtio vackraste på Capitol Hill.

Tidningen The Hill – som bevakar vad som händer i kongressen – har tagit fram sin nionde årliga lista över ”Capitol Hill’s best-looking lawmakers, staffers, and lobbyists.…”.

De tre första på ”The Hill’s 50 Most Beautiful People” är republikaner. Bland de tio översta finns sex stycken republikaner, två demokrater, en ”independent” och en ”libertarian”. Bachmann hamnade på plats nr 10.

Hey, hey, good lookin’,

Whatcha got cookin’?

How’s about cookin’ somethin’ up with me?

                                  – Hank Williams

Övrigt: Hela listan finns på tidningens hemsida eller som pdf.

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KAMPANJ | Årets val handlar inte om ”change” och ”hope”. Istället vill Obama få väljarna att frukta konsekvenserna av Mitt Romneys politik.

John Heilemann skriver i tidskriften New York om Obamakampanjens strategi:

The contours of that contest are now plain to see—indeed, they have been for some time. Back in November, Ruy Teixeira and John Halpin, two fellows at the Center for American Progress, identified the prevailing dynamics: The presidential race would boil down to “demographics versus economics.” That the latter favor Mitt Romney is incontestable. From high unemployment and stagnant incomes to tepid GDP growth and a still-pervasive sense of anxiety bordering on pessimism in the body politic, every salient variable undermines the prospects of the incumbent.

[…]

In 2008, the junior senator from Illinois won in a landslide by fashioning a potent “coalition of the ascendant,” as Teixeira and Halpin call it, in which the components were minorities (especially Latinos), socially liberal college-educated whites (especially women), and young voters. This time around, Obama will seek to do the same thing again, only more so. The growth of those segments of the electorate and the president’s strength with them have his team brimming with confidence that ­demographics will trump economics in November—and in the process create a template for Democratic dominance at the presidential level for years to come.

But if the Obama 2012 strategy in this regard is all about the amplification of 2008, in terms of message it will represent a striking deviation. Though the Obamans certainly hit John McCain hard four years ago—running more negative ads than any campaign in history—what they intend to do to Romney is more savage. They will pummel him for being a vulture-vampire capitalist at Bain Capital. They will pound him for being a miserable failure as the governor of Massachusetts. They will mash him for being a water-carrier for Paul Ryan’s Social Darwinist fiscal program. They will maul him for being a combination of Jerry Falwell, Joe Arpaio, and John Galt on a range of issues that strike deep chords with the Obama coalition. “We’re gonna say, ‘Let’s be clear what he would do as president,’ ” Plouffe explains. “Potentially abortion will be criminalized. Women will be denied contraceptive services. He’s far right on immigration. He supports efforts to amend the Constitution to ban gay marriage.”

The Obama effort at disqualifying Romney will go beyond painting him as excessively conservative, however. It will aim to cast him as an avatar of revanchism. “He’s the fifties, he is retro, he is backward, and we are forward—that’s the basic construct,” says a top Obama strategist. “If you’re a woman, you’re Hispanic, you’re young, or you’ve gotten left out, you look at Romney and say, ‘This fucking guy is gonna take us back to the way it always was, and guess what? I’ve never been part of that.’ ”

Thus, to a very real degree, 2008’s candidate of hope stands poised to become 2012’s candidate of fear. For many Democrats, this is just fine and dandy, for they believe that in the Romney-Republican agenda there is plenty to be scared of. For others in the party in both politics and business, however, the new Obama posture is cause for concern. From the gay-­marriage decision to the onslaught on Bain, they see the president and his team as coming across as too divisive, too conventional, and too nakedly political, putting at risk Obama’s greatest asset—his likability—with the voters in the middle of the electorate who will ultimately decide his fate.

[…]

In the campaign prior, Team Obama boldly bid to expand the map; this time, it is playing defense. In the campaign prior, the candidate himself sought support from the widest possible universe of voters; this time, instead of trying to broaden his coalition, he is laboring to deepen it. Indeed, 2012 is shaping up to be an election that looks more like 2004 than 2008: a race propelled by the mobilization of party fundamentalists rather than the courtship of the center.

Bild: Tidskriftsomslaget är New York den 4 juni 2012.

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IDENTITET | Om Mitt Romney förlorar i november kommer republikanska partiet med all sannolikhet kastas in i en identitetskris.

Vad som slår en när man läser om partiet är hur genuint förvånade många skribenter är över partiets politiska utveckling under senare år.

Även ledande politiker inom partiet är oroade över utvecklingen.

Governör Jeb Bush, George W. Bushs bror, har t.ex. ifrågasatt om hans far George H. W. Bush eller ens Ronald Reagan skulle haft en chans att bli nominerade som partiets presidentkandidat idag.

Här är tre läsvärda artiklar om GOP – the Grand Old Party.

Monika Bauerlein och Clara Jeffery: “WTF, GOP?” (Mother Jones, juni 2012)

Ryan Lizza: “Life of the Party” (The New Yorker, 12 mars 2012)

John Heilemann: “The Lost Party” (New York, 5 mars 2012)

Läs även: David Frums ”When Did the GOP Lose Touch With Reality?” och ”George and Mitt Romney & the Death of Moderate GOP”.

Övrigt: Om tecknaren Bob Staakes tidskriftsomslag ”State by State” och storyn bakom (och en twist på den).

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