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Posts Tagged ‘Frank Rich’

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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FILM | Att försöka utläsa sina egna favoritbudskap i populära filmer är alltid lockande. Speciellt om man har en politisk agenda.

Steven Spielberg Lincoln - poster

I USA har mycket handlat om Steven Spielbergs film Lincoln. I Sverige är det Kristina Lindström och Maud Nycanders dokumentär om Palme som fått politiska redaktörer och kritiker att vässa pennorna.

De översvallande recensionerna för filmerna gör det intressant att se vilka godbitar skribenterna har plockat fram för att kunna användas i den dagaktuella debatten.

Karin Petersson i Aftonbladet citerade t.ex. Anna Lindh:

Olof Palme visade att politiken ska vägledas av idéer, moral och känsla. Att politik är så mycket mer än teknik och administration.

Peter Akinder i Östra Småland hade ett liknande nostalgiskt resonemang (även om han inte vill kännas vid att han är just nostalgisk):

[D]et skulle inte skada om svensk politik mera präglades av den attityd och ideologiska spänst som [Olof Palme] representerade, för att skapa engagemang kring politiken som demokratins kraft att förändra. 

Frank Rich, tidskriften New York, har tittat lite på hur det politiska etablissemanget i Washington valde att tolka budskapet i Lincoln. Och i bara farten placera sig själva bland änglarna.

The rousing reception that has greeted Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln in Establishment Washington—an enclave not generally known for its cinema connoisseurship—tells another story, about the state of play of domestic politics in the Obama years. Tony Kushner’s screenplay and Daniel Day-Lewis’s performance depict a president who, during the movie’s monthlong time frame of January 1865, is unyielding in his zeal to win ratification of the constitutional amendment outlawing slavery. Yet the Washington punditocracy’s praise distorts Lincoln, selling short the movie and its hero to draw another moral entirely: The only way good can happen in the nation’s capital is if you strike a bipartisan compromise. This supercilious veneration of bipartisanship is the Beltway Kool-Aid that Obama drank during his first term, much to his own grief, given that the Party of No was abstaining from it altogether. Those in Washington who are now repackaging it under the brand of Lincoln are the same claque that tirelessly preaches that the ­after-hours nightcaps shared by Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill, or commissions like Simpson-Bowles, are the paradigms for getting things done.

The Beltway cheerleading for Lincoln as a parable of bipartisanship makes much of the fact that Obama screened it at the White House for a small invited group of congressional leaders.

[…]

The film demonstrates “the nobility of politics” (in David Brooks’s phrase) by depicting a president who would strike any bargain he could, however ugly, to snare the votes he needed to free the slaves. Lincoln’s political dealmaking with a deadlocked, lame-duck House just after his reelection is, ipso facto, the Ur-text of Obama’s push to make a deal with Congress in the postelection “fiscal cliff” standoff of 2012.

Leaving aside the moral obtuseness of equating the imperative of abolishing slavery in the nineteenth century with reducing budget deficits in our own, there are other fallacies in this supposed historical parallel. If any of today’s apostles of bipartisan compromise had bothered to read the five pages of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals that are the springboard for Kushner’s screenplay, they would have learned that Lincoln not for one second compromised his stand on the abolition of slavery while rounding up congressional votes for the Thirteenth Amendment. (He doesn’t in the film either.) Lincoln’s compromises were not of principle but of process. He secured votes with the mercenary favors catalogued by Goodwin—“plum assignments, pardons, campaign contributions, and government jobs for relatives and friends of faithful members.” Few, if any, of these bargaining chips are available to Obama or any modern president who doesn’t want to risk impeachment.

[…]

The one significant ideological compromise in the movie is that made by the Radical Republican congressman Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones), who tables his insistence on full equality for African-Americans to hasten the slavery-ending amendment’s passage.

There are no figures like Stevens willing to cut deals in the radical GOP House caucus of today. The good news about the newly rebooted Obama, as seen both in his tough dealings with the lame-duck Congress and his second inaugural address, is that he recognizes this reality. He at last seems to have learned his lesson about the futility of trying to broker a serious compromise with his current Republican adversaries. He held to his stated principles in both the “fiscal cliff” and debt-ceiling fights, and both times the GOP backed down. Nor is he deluding himself that his congressional opponents might embrace flexibility and compromise if they saw ­Lincoln—not least because he couldn’t even corral them to see the movie in his presence. The president did invite Mitch ­McConnell and John Boehner to his White House screening, and both said no.

Läs mer: Abraham Lincolns betydelse för Barack Obama.

Bild: Den amerikanska affischen till filmen Lincoln.

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I ALLA presidentval jagar kombattanterna den grupp väljare som kallas independents.

Independents ser sig inte som demokrater eller republikaner.

Deras sympatier kan pendla mellan olika politiker och partier beroende på situation och omständigheter. De är USA:s motsvarighet till svenska mittenväljare.

I USA består väljarkåren av två nästan lika stora block väljare. Det ena blocket röstar nästan alltid på den demokratiska presidentkandidaten och det andra blocket röstar nästan alltid på republikanen.

Om detta stämmer är det inte så konstigt att rösterna från independents är så eftertraktade. Den kandidat som lyckas vinna över dem vinner också presidentvalet.

Den vedertagna uppfattningen är också att dessa independents söker en kompromisskandidat. De vill ha en kandidat som inte är för ”extrem” utan förenar det bästa av vad de två partierna kan erbjuda.

Men Frank Rich, vid tidskriften New York, har dragit en helt annan slutsats efter att ha studerat statistiken.

For the good deed of trying to defuse partisan tensions, [Barack Obama] has been punished with massive desertions by the very independents who are supposed to love his pacifism. In the last Wall Street Journal–NBC News poll, his support among them had fallen by half since he took office, from 52 percent to 26 percent. Perhaps that’s because these independents, who represent roughly 36 percent of voters, are not the monochromatic ideological eunuchs they’re purported to be. One polling organization that regularly examines them in depth, Pew, has found that nearly half of independents are in fact either faithful Democrats (21 percent) or Republicans (26 percent) who simply don’t want to call themselves Democrats and Republicans. (Can you blame them?) Another 20 percent are “doubting Democrats” and another 16 percent are “disaffected” voters, respectively anti-business and anti-government, angry and populist rather than mildly centrist. The remaining 17 percent are what Pew calls “disengaged”—young and uneducated Americans, four fifths of whom don’t vote anyway. There’s nothing about the makeup of any segment of these “all-important independent voters” that suggests bipartisan civility has anything whatsoever to do with winning their support.

To pursue this motley crew of the electorate as if it had a coherent political profile is nuts. Its various subsets are on so many different sides of so many questions no ideological hermaphrodite could please them all. Rather than win these voters over with bipartisan outreach, Obama may instead have driven them away. His steep decline among independents is paralleled by the decline in voters who credit him as a “strong leader.” A president who keeps trying and failing to defuse partisan tensions risks being perceived as a wuss by Democrats, Republicans, and, yes, independents alike.

[…]

And so, with no legislation possible and no economic miracles in store, Obama’s presidency has shrunk to the bully pulpit. His best hope is to use that pulpit, with all the muscle, talent, and energy at his command, to ferociously define and defend the American values under siege by the revolutionaries at the capital’s gates. That doesn’t mean more eloquent speeches from Washington. It means relentless barnstorming night and day. It means at long last embracing a big-picture narrative. It means going on the road […] It means—and this, thankfully, is another part of Obama’s DNA—playing to win.

[…]

The many who would have Obama surrender without a fight in 2012—whether Beltway wise men addicted to bipartisanship, vain and deluded third-party entrepreneurs, or White House strategists chasing phantom independents—are fiddling while America burns. If Obama succumbs to their siren call again, he will too.

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