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Aktuellt nr 5 1962 John F. Kennedy

JOHN KENNEDY

USA:s PRESIDENT

En hjälte föddes

i Stilla Havet

En fantastisk artikelserie börjar

Tidskriftsomslag: Aktuellt ur Levande Livet, nr 5, 1962 (pris 95 öre, oms inräknad)

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HISTORIA | Dagens politiker låter sig gärna intervjuas av journalister. Intervjuer har blivit ett medvetet sätt för partierna att få ut sitt budskap till allmänheten.

Winston Churchill, 1941 by Yousuf Karsh

Winston Churchill, 1941 by Yousuf Karsh

Därför medietränas politiker hårt för att klara en intervju och undvika journalisternas fällor. Samtidigt ingår intervjuteknik i journalistutbildningen.

Så har det inte alltid varit.

Förr intervjuades inte politiker speciellt ofta. Och eftersom de möttes med större respekt än idag behövde de inte heller förbereda sig lika minutiöst som idag. Skjutjärnsjouranistik är ett förhållandevis nytt fenomen.

Men en fördel med den gamla stilen var att politikern ofta hade möjlighet att formulera sina tankar kring komplexa problem.

Men trots detta är det inte från intervjuer vi fått vår bild av politikern Winston Churchill. När vi tänker på politisk kommunikation i förhållande till Churchill handlar det oftare om hans tal och retoriska förmåga.

Dessutom är det mer bilden av talaren än själva innehållet vi känner igen. (Hur många vet t.ex. att han talade om ”blood, toil, tears and sweat” och inte ”blood, sweat and tears”?)

Även ikonen Churchill – t.ex. hans bulldogsliknande framtoning – är tydligare för eftervärlden än hans politiska åsikter. Än idag står han som den stora symbolen för motståndet mot Adolf Hitler under andra världskriget.

Det är därför inte direkt den nyanserade politikern vi minns. Men läser man Kingsley Martins intervju med Churchill i New Statesman, åtta månader innan världskrigets utbrott, är det just den bild som framträder.

Han är både principfast och klartänkt. Han är en övertygad demokrat och långt ifrån den reaktionära konservativa politiker nidbild som så många revisionister har velat framhålla efter hans död.

Han talar initierat om de demokratiska och fascistiska staternas väsen. Och han är väl medveten om att de demokratiska rättigheterna riskerar urholkas om Storbritannien överreagerar för att skydda samhället mot i kampen mot ett totalitärt hot.

När han svarar på intervjufrågorna handlar det inte om några utslätade politiska ”talking-points” eller klyschor.

Kingsley Martin The country has learnt to associate you with the view that we must all get together as quickly as possible to rearm in defence of democracy. In view of the strength and character of the totalitarian states, is it possible to combine the reality of democratic freedom with efficient military organisation?

Mr Winston Churchill The essential aspects of democracy are the freedom of the individual, within the framework of laws passed by Parliament, to order his life as he pleases, and the uniform enforcement of tribunals independent of the executive. The laws are based on Magna Carta, Habeas Corpus, the Petition of Right and others. Without this foundation there can be no freedom or civilisation, anyone being at the mercy of officials and liable to be spied upon and betrayed even in his own home. As long as these rights are defended, the foundations of freedom are secure.

KM One point people are especially afraid of is that free criticism in Parliament and in the press may be sacrificed. The totalitarian states, it is said, are regimented, organised and unhampered, as the Prime Minister suggested the other day, by critics of the Government “who foul their own nest”.

WC Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body; it calls attention to the development of an unhealthy state of things. If it is heeded in time, danger may be averted; if it is suppressed, a fatal distemper may develop.

KM Do you attribute the slowness in preparation of which you complain to any inherent defect in democratic institutions?

WC I am convinced that with adequate leadership, democracy can be a more efficient form of government than Fascism. In this country at any rate the people can readily be convinced that it is necessary to make sacrifices, and they will willingly undertake them if the situation is put clearly and fairly before them . . . It may be that greater efficiency in secret military preparations can be achieved in a country with autocratic institutions than by the democratic system. But this advantage is not necessarily great, and it is far outweighed by the strength of a democratic country in a long war. In an autocracy, when the pinch comes, the blame is thrown upon the leader and the system breaks up. In a democratic country the people feel that they are respon­sible, and if they believe in their cause will hold out much longer than the population of Dictator States . . .

[…]

KM People who are not necessarily pacifist are horrified at the idea that we may go into another war with the same kind of generals who were responsible for Passchendaele and other horrors in the last war. They say that they might be prepared to fight for democracy if they were democratically led; but that they are damned if they will be sacrificed again for the Camberley clique that was so horribly inefficient and wasteful in the last war. Do you think it is possible to democratise the army?

WC It is quite true, I know, that many people consider that the cadre of officers is selected from too narrow a class. I have always taken the view that merit should be rewarded by promotion in the army as in any other profession. I support this not only from the point of view of democratising the army, but mainly because I think it leads to efficiency such as no other system can achieve.

KM May I ask one more question of a more general character? Most of us feel that if there is a war it will be so destructive that the very substance of our civilisation, let alone our democracy, is likely to be destroyed. Clearly the great object is to prevent war. Is it possible in your view still to regard these military preparations, not as the acceptance of inevitable war, but merely as a necessary complement of a policy which may keep the peace?

WC I fear that failure to rearm Britain is bound to lead to war. Had we strengthened our defences earlier, the arms race need never have arisen. We should have come to a settlement with Germany while she was still disarmed. I think it is still possible, with a strong Britain and France, to preserve the peace of Europe.

KM Is it not true historically that an armaments race leads to war?

WC To say that an arms race always leads to war seems to me to be putting the cart before the horse. A government resolved to attain ends detrimental to its neighbours, which does not shrink from the possibility of war, makes preparations for war, its neighbours take defensive action, and you say an arms race is beginning. But this is the symptom of the intention of one government to challenge or destroy its neighbours, not the cause of the conflict. The pace is set by the potential aggressor, and, failing collective action by the rest of the world to resist him, the alternatives are an arms race or surrender. War is very terrible, but stirs a proud people. There have been periods in our history when we have given way for a long time, but a new and formidable mood arises . . .

Läs mer: En intervju med Churchill i The New York Herald den 2 februari 1915 när han var First Lord of the Admirality.

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ATEN | Grekernas egen Donald Trump hette Kleon. Han var en populär folkledare (d.v.s. demagog) kring tiden för Perikles bortgång 429 f.Kr.

Författaren Peter Jones, som skriver krönikor där han  drar lärdomar från antikens Aten och Rom för den modern läsaren, har tittat på likheterna mellan dessa två demagoger.

Why does the Republican party loathe Donald Trump? Because Trump is the ultimate loose cannon, beholden to no one. And even worse, he is popular. What trumpery! Ancient Athenians would have loved him. Themistocles

With no known political or military experience behind him, Cleon surged into the gap left by the death of Pericles in 429 BC, when Athens was locked in a difficult war against Sparta. The son of a rich tanner — certainly not ‘one of us’ — he presented himself as the warmongering, go-get-’em alternative to the cautious Pericles. Full of extravagant promises (including state handouts), he increased the tribute from Athens’ imperial possessions and worked up a strong following by his heated speeches in the rough and tumble of the democratic Assembly. It was this ‘brutal and insolent’ speaker, said the historian Plutarch, who introduced shouting and abuse and excessive gesturing, encouraging other speakers to behave equally irresponsibly. A contemporary of Cleon’s, the historian Thucydides, called him ‘violent’ but ‘very persuasive’.

Och hur gick det för Kleon? Han blev en framgångsrik general. Vilket naturligtvis retade många atenare ännu mer.

Bild: Themistokles, politiker och general i det antika Grekland.

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USAElizabeth Warren är presidentkandidaten som demokraterna aldrig fick. Om hon kandiderat hade hon utgjort ett rejält hot mot Hillary Clinton.

Bloomberg Markets June 2015.

Till skillnad från Barack Obama har hon lyckats samarbeta med republikaner. Detta trots att hon uppfattas ligga på sitt partis vänsterkant.

Om inte attityden hos republikanerna förändras kommer alla demokrater, inklusive Hillary Clinton, att få en svår tid i Vita huset.

Och om Bernie Sanders mot förmodan skulle vinna kommer han att få det än svårare med en republikansk majoritet i kongressen.

Warren har blivit den mest kända politikern när det gäller att kritisera banker som är så stora och inflytelserika att ingen vågar låta dem gå omkull.

Hon har till och med , enligt Katrina Brooker i Bloomberg Markets, hänvisat till Teddy Roosevelt, “her favorite trust-busting president, who took on the big corporations of his day”.

När man läser Brookers artikel om Warren i Bloomberg Markets från förra året så förstår man varför hon inte är populär på Wall Street.

Barney Frank, the former congressman from Massachusetts and co-author of the Dodd-Frank legislation, says Warren has protected the act. “She can raise hell and make clear to people they will pay a political price if they try to attack it,” says Frank. In particular, he says, Warren has helped make modifying Dodd-Frank politically untenable for Democrats, without some of whom Republicans can’t hope to roll back the law. “I think it is safe until 2016,” Frank says.

“A Republican Senate would not take up Wall Street deregulation now,” says Dennis Kelleher, president and CEO of Better Markets, a watchdog organization that monitors Wall Street’s influence in Washington. “Nobody wants to be seen as siding with the big Wall Street banks.”

[…]

For Warren, the fight is definitely not over. In April, in a speech titled “The Unfinished Business of Financial Reform,” she laid out how she hopes to move her agenda forward. Among other things, she called for the breakup of the big banks; they are still too big to fail, she said, and bailing them out of the next crisis would cost billions. And she wants jail time for managers who violate the law. “It’s time to stop recidivism in financial crimes and to end the ‘slap on the wrist’ culture that exists at the Justice Department and the SEC,” Warren said.

An important part of her legislative agenda is the 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act, which she and three co-sponsors introduced in 2013. The bill is a modern version of the 1933 law that split commercial and investment banks. (The original Glass-Steagall was effectively repealed in 1999.) So far, 21st Century Glass-Steagall hasn’t gained traction on Capitol Hill, but for Wall Street, this will be one to watch.

“There are only two things I’m looking for from the biggest financial institutions in this country,” Warren says one cool spring night in New York. She’s standing before a packed crowd on the fourth floor of a Barnes & Noble bookstore on 17th Street. She’s come here, while the Senate is in recess, to promote the paperback version of her autobiography, A Fighting Chance.

[…]

Those two things she wants from the banks: “No. 1, I don’t think they ought to be able to cheat people,” Warren says. “Second thing, I don’t think they ought to be able to risk destroying this economy. Too big to fail has got to end.” The room erupts.

[…]

Warren isn’t the only politician tapping into the public’s frustration and anger at the financial system. Other lawmakers have been vocal supporters of tighter regulation. David Vitter, a Republican senator from Louisiana, sided with Warren and other Democrats in December in their fight against Citi. “I know it surprised a lot of people,” he says, explaining that he also fears the risks posed by large institutions. “Too big to fail is alive and well.” In late April, Bloomberg reported that Vitter and Warren were working together on another piece of legislation, this one designed to curb the authority of the Fed to bail out banks in a crisis. John McCain, the senator from Arizona and former Republican presidential candidate, is a co-sponsor of the 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act, along with Democrat Maria Cantwell and independent Angus King.

Last fall, Clinton tried to mimic Warren’s populism, declaring in a speech, “Don’t let anybody tell you that it’s corporations and businesses that create jobs.” This was way off the mark Warren hit when she famously argued during her Senate campaign in 2011 that businesses owe some part of their success to citizens and to the government. (Obama echoed Warren’s rhetoric in his 2012 “you didn’t build that” speech.)

The Warren version is worth examining. It gives, in plain language, her view of American capitalism: “You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did.”

Tidskriftsomslag: Bloomberg Markets, juni 2015.

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POLITIK | Har vänsterns försök att vinna val på klasskamp misslyckats? Det ser åtminstone så ut i Storbritannien.

Francis Urquhart, played to icy perfection by the late Ian Richardson.

Idag ser inte Labour ut att kunna komma ur den grop man grävt åt sig själv genom att välja Jeremy Corbyn till partiledare.

I tv-världen är Ian Richardsons tolkning av karaktären Francis Urquhart, från den engelska serien House of Cards, den typiske maktpolitikern inom det konservativa partiet.

Men även om premiärminister David Cameron har just en sådan privilegierad bakgrund som lätt kan framstå som den klassiska nidbilden av en konservativ politiker så är det Torypartiet som väljarna har förtroende för.

Toby Young, associate editor på tidskriften The Spectator, tror att det mest är den politiska klassen och media som tror att politiker från “överklassen” är till nackdel för ett parti. Väljarna däremot bry sig inte.

Following Labour’s triumph at the 1945 general election, the aristocracy became convinced that the nation had been seized by revolutionary fervour and embarked on a frantic public relations offensive. Stately homes were demolished, accents were played down and ostentatious displays of wealth became taboo. As Nancy Mitford put it in her famous essay on the subject in 1956: ‘The English lord has been nurtured on the land and is conversant with the cunning ways of the animal kingdom. He has often seen the grouse settle into the heather to rise and be shot at no more.’

Whether as a result of this strategy or not, no serious attempt to redistribute wealth has taken place since the Attlee administration. One of the most striking facts about post-war politics is that if you discount the three victories won by Tony Blair — who was about as left-wing as David Steel — Labour hasn’t won a general election since October 1974 and that barely counted. Without Blair, Labour hasn’t won a convincing majority since 1966, almost 50 years ago. The politics of envy has failed.

To be fair, even the Tory party, which prides itself on understanding how to win and retain power, took a while to wake up to this. After Alec Douglas-Home failed to win in 1964, it concluded that the party should never again be led by a toff and the next three leaders seemed to vindicate that decision with varying degrees of success. But after three consecutive losses in 1997, 2001 and 2005, it was forced to re-evaluate this policy and put another Old Etonian in charge. Exactly 10 years later, David Cameron has proved to be one of the most successful leaders in the party’s history.

Some might argue that Cameron has only triumphed by toning down his privileged status — resigning from Whites in 2008, for instance – but such efforts have always been half-hearted.

[…]

Inside the Westminster bubble, the Prime Minister’s promotion of his friends to his inner circle is regarded as a political mistake, since it adds to the impression that he’s in politics to help out his rich chums. In fact, there’s no reason to think it has harmed his party’s electoral prospects. The British public isn’t nearly as obsessed by class as political journalists. In their eyes, I suspect, all politicians seem to be from another planet, with little attention paid to whether they went to Eton or Haverstock Comp.

Bild: EMPICS, via Landov. Ian Richardson som Francis Urquhart i den engelska tv-serien House of Cards.

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VAL 2016 | Donald Trump ser allt mer ut att kunna bli republikanernas presidentkandidat.

“He’s got the mo, he’s got the masses”, säger den politiska strategen Rick Hohlt. ”He’s attracting a new class of voters.”

Försöken att stoppa Trump har så här långt misslyckats. Inte minst för att han blivit smartare ju mer han har varit ute och kampanjat. “He knows when to push and when to back off.”

Men hans motståndare måste försöka göra något för att stoppa honom om man skall ha en rejäl chans att bli nominerad.

Enligt David Von Drehle på tidskriften Time har Ted Cruz plockat fram en gammal strategi som användes av Barry Goldwater redan 1964.

Men om denna strategi lyckas kan det mycket väl innebära att Cruz splittras och sänka möjligheterna för Cruz att bli president om han skulle lyckas bli nominerad.

The man is moving people, and politics does not get more basic than that. Trump is a bonfire in a field of damp kindling—an overcrowded field of governors and former governors and junior Senators still trying to strike a spark. His nearest rival, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, has traction in Iowa among the evangelical bloc and—in contrast to Trump—is a tried-and-true Suite 3505 by F. Clifton Whieconservative. But with little more than half the support Trump boasts in the RealClearPolitics average of national polls, Cruz has a long way to go to show that he can move masses.

Cruz staffers, tellingly, have been studying a 1967 tome titled Suite 3505 as a playbook for their campaign. This F. Clifton White memoir, long out of print, tells the story of the 1964
Barry Goldwater campaign. That was the last successful populist rebellion inside the Republican Party, propelling a rock-ribbed conservative past the Establishment insiders–just as Cruz hopes to do. But this triumph of intramural knife fighting proved a disaster at general-election time. Goldwater suffered one of the worst defeats in American political history. It’s no wonder that GOP leaders are every bit as wary of Cruz as they are of Trump.

In short, the GOP has awakened less than a month from the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary to find itself in bed between a bombshell and a kamikaze. It’s a sobering dawn for a political party that seemed, not long ago, just a tweak or two away from glory.

Bild: Omslaget till boken Suite 3505 av F. Clifton White.

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PROFIL | Få väljare har någon tydlig bild av premiärminister David Cameron som person och politiker.

Standpoint November 2015

Trots att Cameron nu är inne på sin andra mandatperiod framstår t.o.m. hans ideologiska övertygelser som aningen otydliga.

Och trots sina valsegrar – som bl.a. gett det konservativa partiet egen majoritet i parlamentet för första gången sedan 1992 och räddat kvar Skottland i det förenande kungariket – kommer historien antagligen bedöma honom resultatet av kommande folkomröstning om Storbritanniens medlemskap i EU.

Stephen Glover, krönikör i Daily Mail och tidigare redaktör för Independent on Sunday har försökt ge en bild av vem han är som person och politiker.

Glover skriver så här om Cameron i tidskriften Standpoint:

What kind of man is David Cameron? It is strange to be asking this question of someone who has been leader of the Tory party for 10 years, Prime Minister for more than five, and about whom there exists a colossal amount of information.

[…]

It is true he is almost unthinkingly ambitious (at 14 he declared without having shown much interest in politics that he was going to be Prime Minister), and capable of ruthlessness. We saw how at Prime Minister’s Questions he loved to play Flashman to poor, heavy-footed Ed Miliband. But if he knows how to be shitty, he is not a shit. On the contrary, his nature is sunny and well-meaning. I even found myself reinterpreting some words of congratulation he had uttered after I had delivered a eulogy at a friend’s memorial service in 2007 at which he was present. He twice complimented me, which seemed excessive. I assumed then that he was trying to oil up to a journalist, but now I wonder whether he wasn’t going out of his way to be kind to a stranger, offering words of reassurance to someone plainly exhausted by making a testing speech that was probably not particularly good.

Of course, we should never be starry-eyed about the people who rule us, but I submit the proposition that, his sense of entitlement and flashes of ruthlessness notwithstanding, Cameron is unusually decent for a leading politician, as well not unpardonably (in view of his considerable gifts) confident.

With the elegance and self-assurance of one of those natural cricketers at school capable of scoring a hundred without breaking sweat, he has eased his way forward through life apparently effortlessly. There were sadnesses, of course: his father’s disability, and later, and much more tragic, the serious illness and death of his first child, Ivan. But the early misfortune was mitigated by his father’s good cheer and lack of self-pity; and the latter, when it came, could be dealt with because he was such a well-balanced and grounded person.

[…]

Most of us grow tougher as we get older, and doubtless David Cameron has done so, but I don’t think this unguarded benevolence has left him. If he were a dog he would be an enthusiastic Labrador, bounding up to strangers with automatic good will and lack of suspicion, his tongue lolling out ready to bestow a lick, and reluctant to bare his teeth even when provoked. (He does, however, bear unLabrador-like grudges. Two prominent Tory MPs have told me that he has not spoken to them since being, in his view, crossed by them.) There is also an innate languor that can make it difficult for him to work up his energy levels.

[…]

As I write, David Cameron is basking in the sun. He has won the first Tory majority since 1992. The Labour party has turned in on itself. His only plausable rival, Boris Johnson, is marginalised and diminished. So confident is the Prime Minister that he made a centre-ground, even left-leaning, speech at the Tory party conference that might have tumbled from the lips of Tony Blair. In it he reached out rhetorically to the poor and dispossessed. (There was, however, one surprisingly tough-sounding passage about Islamic extremism in Britain that was largely ignored.) Things have never looked so good for our suave, sleek, soft Prime Minister who has filled out a bit, and looks ever more authentically Tory — master of all he surveys.

But there are once-in-a-generation issues in politics that cannot be dodged or massaged away by efficient despatchers of business and consensus-seekers. Europe is one of them. It looms like an iceberg in front of David Cameron and his administration. I am not at all sure he has any idea of what is coming his way.

Tidskriftsomslag: Standpoint, November 2015.

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VAL 2016 | Donald Trump påstår att han inte bryr sig om vad andra tycker och tänker om honom. Men det är inte riktigt sant.

Forbes - Special Edition - 19 October 2015

En sak verkar han vara direkt fixerad vid. Så fort någon, enligt Trump, undervärderar hans personliga förmögenhet eller värdet på hans affärsverksamhet går han i taket.

Randall Lane, redaktör för tidskriften Forbes, träffade Trump för att bl.a. diskutera storleken på hans förmögenhet.

Samtidigt verkar Lane löst gåtan hur det kan vara att Trump verkar tro på allt han själv säger. Detta även när han uppenbart motsäger sig själv.

The most in-demand person on the planet has gone into hold-all-my-calls mode for nearly two hours to sit down with FORBES and tackle, piece by piece, a subject that he cares about to the depths of his soul: how much FORBES says he’s worth. Since The Forbes 400 list of richest Americans debuted in 1982, the dynamism of the U.S. economy and the hand of the grim reaper have resulted in exactly 1,538 people making the cut at one time or another. Of those 1,538 tycoons, not one has been more fixated with his or her net worth estimate on a year-in, year-out basis than Donald J. Trump.

Trump’s valuation this year holds extra importance, of course, due to his audacious second act: his highly unlikely–but no longer inconceivable–path to the presidency.

[…]

“I’m running for President,” says Trump. “I’m worth much more than you have me down [for]. I don’t look good, to be honest. I mean, I look better if I’m worth $10 billion than if I’m worth $4 billion.”

To The Forbes 400 crowd, perhaps. But when pushed, even Trump concedes that, for voters, the difference between $4 billion and $10 billion is as abstractly irrelevant as a star that’s either 4 billion or 10 billion light-years away. Ultimately, Trump’s beef with our numbers is driven by Trump: how his peers view him and, more acutely, how he views himself. It always has been. The paradoxical Trump that now transfixes American political culture is the same one that The Forbes 400 has been dancing with for 33 years. And the history of his net worth fixation opens windows into Trump the entrepreneur, the candidate and the person.

[…]

Colleagues of Steve Jobs famously described his “reality-distortion field”–his ability to see what he wanted to see and then will the delusion into truth. Way before that another master capitalist, Andrew Carnegie, declared that “all riches, and all material things that anyone acquires through self-effort, begin in the form of a clear, concise mental picture of the thing one seeks.”

Trump has a healthy dose of this gene. […] “Even my own feelings affect my value to myself,” he said. When asked to specify, he described it as “my general attitude at the time that the question may be asked.” And if that general attitude is negative? “You wouldn’t tell a reporter you’re doing poorly.”

[…]

This just-do-it business worldview provides a feasible explanation to what’s perhaps the greatest riddle surrounding candidate Trump: How can someone who’s quite clever and smart (as he’ll quickly remind you) also promote know-nothing, sometimes dangerous bunk, whether a disproven link between vaccinations and autism or the Obama-might-have-been-born-in-Kenya lie?

And by keeping his message simple and repeating it with conviction over and over, Trump has the ability to shape facts.

Tidskriftsomslag: Forbes (Special Edition), 19 oktober 2015.

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VAL 2016 | När en populistisk presidentkandidat på högerkanten får beröm i New York kan man vara säker på att (eller hon) gör något rätt.

New York - Donald Trump

Inte för att artikeln av liberalen Frank Rich är okritisk. Tvärt om. Men i det stora hela får Trump beröm för att han vågar ifrågasätta den politiska kulturen i allmänhet och republikanernas i synnerhet.

En innovation som gjort Trumpskampanj så framgångsrik är att Trump valt att hålla kampanjstrategerna på armslängds avstånd. Trump brukar säga att han får all information som han behöver från dagens nyheter. Han behöver inga rådgivare.

Och inte har han behövt att köpa någon tv-reklam heller. Han får tillräckligt med gratisreklam ändå.

Om Trumps kampanjstab är smarta ser man till att sprida innehållet till både höger och vänster. Om inte annat för att artikeln är än mer kritisk mot de övriga republikanska presidentkandidaterna (och mot Hillary Clinton).

In the short time since Trump declared his candidacy, he has performed a public service by exposing, however crudely and at times inadvertently, the posturings of both the Republicans and the Democrats and the foolishness and obsolescence of much of the political culture they share. He is, as many say, making a mockery of the entire political process with his bull-in-a-china-shop antics. But the mockery in this case may be overdue, highly warranted, and ultimately a spur to reform rather than the crime against civic order that has scandalized those who see him, in the words of the former George W. Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson, as “dangerous to democracy.”

Trump may be injecting American democracy with steroids. No one, after all, is arguing that the debates among the GOP presidential contenders would be drawing remotely their Game of Thrones-scale audiences if the marquee stars were Jeb Bush and Scott Walker.

[…]

What’s exhilarating, even joyous, about Trump has nothing to do with his alternately rancid and nonsensical positions on policy. It’s that he’s exposing the phoniness of our politicians and the corruption of our political process by defying the protocols of the whole game. He skips small-scale meet-and-greets in primary-state living rooms and diners. He turned down an invitation to appear at the influential freshman senator Joni Ernst’s hog roast in Iowa. He routinely denigrates sacred GOP cows like Karl Rove and the Club for Growth. He has blown off the most powerful newspapers in the crucial early states of Iowa (the Des Moines Register) and New Hampshire (the Union-Leader) and paid no political price for it. Yet he is overall far more accessible to the press than most candidates — most conspicuously Clinton — which in turn saves him from having to buy television ad time.

[…]

He also makes a sport of humiliating high-end campaign gurus. When Sam Clovis, a powerful Evangelical conservative activist in Iowa, jumped from the cratering Perry to Trump in August, it seemed weird. Despite saying things like “I’m strongly into the Bible,” Trump barely pretends to practice any religion. The Des Moines Register soon published excerpts from emails written just five weeks earlier (supplied by Perry allies) in which Clovis had questioned Trump’s “moral center” and lack of “foundation in Christ” and praised Perry for calling Trump “a cancer on conservatism.” But, like Guy Grand in The Magic Christian, Trump figured correctly that money spoke louder than Christ to Clovis. He was no less shrewd in bringing the focus-group entrepreneur Frank Luntz to heel. After Luntz convened a negative post-debate panel on Fox News that, in Luntz’s view, signaled “the destruction” of Trump’s campaign, Trump showered him with ridicule. Luntz soon did a Priebus-style about-face and convened a new panel that amounted to a Trump lovefest. One participant praised Trump for not mouthing “that crap” that’s been “pushed to us for the past 40 years.” It’s unclear if Luntz was aware of the irony of his having been a major (and highly compensated) pusher of “that crap,” starting with his role in contriving the poll-shaped pablum of Newt Gingrich’s bogus “Contract With America.”

A perfect paradigm of how lame old-school, top-heavy campaigns can be was crystallized by a single story on the front page of the Times the day after Labor Day. Its headline said it all: “Clinton Aides Set New Focus for Campaign — A More Personal Tone of Humor and Heart.” By announcing this “new focus” to the Times, which included “new efforts to bring spontaneity” to a candidacy that “sometimes seems wooden,” these strategists were at once boasting of their own (supposed) political smarts and denigrating their candidate, who implicitly was presented as incapable of being human without their direction and scripts. Hilariously enough, the article straight-facedly cited as expert opinion the former Romney strategist Eric Fehrnstrom — whose stewardship of the most wooden candidate in modern memory has apparently vanished into a memory hole — to hammer home the moral that “what matters is you appear genuine.”

We also learned from this piece that Clinton would soon offer “a more contrite tone” when discussing her email woes, because a focus group “revealed that voters wanted to hear directly from Mrs. Clinton” about it. The aides, who gave the Times “extensive interviews,” clearly thought that this story was a plus for their candidate, and maybe the candidate did, too, since she didn’t fire them on the spot. They all seemed unaware of the downside of portraying Clinton as someone who delegated her “heart” to political operatives and her calibration of contrition to a focus group. By offering a stark contrast to such artifice, the spontaneous, unscripted Trump is challenging the validity and value of the high-priced campaign strategists, consultants, and pollsters who dominate our politics, shape journalistic coverage, and persuade even substantial candidates to outsource their souls to focus groups and image doctors. That brand of politics has had a winning run ever since the young television producer Roger Ailes used his media wiles to create a “new Nixon” in 1968. But in the wake of Trump’s “unprofessional” candidacy, many of the late-20th-century accoutrements of presidential campaigns, often tone-deaf and counter­productive in a new era where social media breeds insurgencies like Obama’s, Trump’s and Sanders’s, could be swept away — particularly if Clinton’s campaign collapses.

Tidskriftsomslag: New York, 21 september – 4 oktober 2015.

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KRIS | Det är svårt att inte komma till slutsatsen att Åsa Romson varit lite av en belastning för Miljöpartiet.

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Men internt verkan man vara ganska nöjda. Frågan är bara varför och för hur länge.

I en lång artikel av Karin Eriksson i DN:s veckomagasin Dagens Nyheter Lördag har man tagit pulsen på Romson.

Man kom in på hennes (o)förmåga att kommunicera och partiets tafatthet i regeringsställning. Men Romsons egna erkännanden av brister verkar mest ske under galgen.

– Det fanns en uppfattning bland miljöpartisterna att de var de enda som såg och ville lösa de avgörande frågorna för världen. Men för att få genomslag måste man söka sig till makten. Då krävs en viss professionalitet. Därför ville de bli mer välpolerade, säger statsvetaren Katarina Barrling, som djupstuderade den gröna riksdagsgruppen strax efter millennieskiftet.

[…]

– Det finns en längtan i Miljöpartiet tillbaka till gräsrotsrörelsen. Åsa Romson representerar tydligt den här mer idealistiska ådran i partiet, säger Katarina Barrling.

Men det är en sak att vara idealist i opposition och en annan att representera gräsrotsrörelsen när man är chef för ett departement och uppbär titeln vice statsminister. Att vara ledare i Miljöpartiet är både lätt och svårt, säger Katarina Barrling:

– Medlemmarna stör sig inte på taffligheter som i andra partier. Men när man möter en hård yttervärld är man inte riktigt tränad för att vara den typ av ledare som omvärlden kräver. Det är svårt att företräda en stor förvaltning och samtidigt hålla den där idealistiska glöden vid liv.

Åsa Romsons titel vice statsminister har också ifrågasatts. Dels formellt, efter DN:s avslöjande om att hon inte får vara ställföreträdare för statsministern. Dels informellt, av politiska motståndare som aldrig förlåtit hennes attack på medelålders vita män i Almedalen förra året.

Hur ska budskapet hålla ihop?

[…]

Irritationen internt är begränsad när det kommer till enskilda klavertramp om bottenfärg och koncentrationsläger. Däremot finns en uppriktig oro över hur partiet hanterar miljöfrågorna. Och även om en del har invändningar mot transportpolitiken, så är det mer kommunikationen än leveransen som bekymrar.

Lorentz Tovatt är språkrör för Grön ungdom.

– Jag är väldigt, väldigt nöjd med regeringens miljöpolitik, om jag ser på vad man åstadkommit. Det är gigantiska skillnader mot alliansen. Men det har inte kommit ut, säger han.

Han tycker att Åsa Romson är otroligt skicklig i sakpolitiken.

– Hon tillhör dem som kan mest. Men man måste också kommunicera. Nu kommer en omställning, och vi måste prata om den med glädje. Det är regeringens utmaning. Och det är Åsa Romsons utmaning, säger han.

[…]

Att ställa frågor om förtroende till en politiker som underpresterar kan vara en tuff historia, det händer att man som reporter ser resultatet i fysiska reaktioner. En svettas ymnigt. En annan får rödflammig hals.

En tredje, Åsa Romson, behåller lugnet. Men lite av färgen försvinner från kinderna och hon skrattar inte mer.

Hon talar om det parlamentariska läget och att det är en tuff period i svensk politik. Hon säger att folk har höga förväntningar på just Miljöpartiet. Och att medierna helst beskriver ett regeringssamarbete som ett nollsummespel, där någon vinner och någon förlorar.

– Det är lätt att ha de stora politiska visionerna men sedan måste man ändå transformera det in i den politiska verkligheten, säger hon.

Hur påverkar det dig att veta att du har lågt förtroende?

– Det påverkar ju på det sättet att jag inte kan vila i att ”ja! Nu tuffar allt som tåget och allt går superbra”. Förtroendet är en mätare på om vi når ut och berättar om det som vi tycker går bra.

[…]

Om man pratar med människor internt, så finns det en del som säger att ”Åsa slår ifrån sig kritiken, hon har inte haft nog krisinsikt”. Vad svarar du på det?

– Vi är vana att ha ett ganska öppet debattklimat i Miljöpartiet. Ibland har det kunnat spelas på från oppositionen. Men jag har ju inte stuckit under stol med att jag måste jobba vidare med flera saker i min roll som både språkrör och minister.

Vad är det du behöver jobba med?

– Jag har ju alltid varit väldigt sakinriktad som person. Kändisskapet är något som comes with the job. Men jag vill ha ett miljövänligare samhälle, jag vill att våra barn växer upp i en bättre värld. Jag var ju forskare innan jag gick in i politiken nu senast, då är det klart att man är van vid ett mer sakinriktat arbetsläge. Det tar tid att ställa om och jobba fullt ut med hela den palett av verktyg som man måste jobba med som politiker.

Vad är det för verktyg?

– Framför allt kommunikativa verktyg. Den här olyckliga jämförelsen med Auschwitz i en tv-debatt, det handlar ju om en kommunikativ förmåga där man… Det handlar om att lära sig att tänka snabbt men inte för snabbt i en debattsituation.

[…]

Hur lång tid har du på dig att vända förtroendesiffrorna?

– Det får andra utvärdera. Jag vill ju att de ska gå upp. Jag vill ju förändra verkligheten i en grönare riktning och det gör vi ju bara om vi också får ett starkare förtroende för den politiken.

Tidskriftsomslag: Dagens Nyheter Lördag, 24 oktober 2015 (#69).

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