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VAL 2016 | Mycket har skrivits om Donald Trump. En hel del har varit direkt hysteriskt och verklighetsfrämmande.

Newsweek 25 mars 2016

Det har gjorts få balanserade försök att ge en realistisk bild av vad Trum skulle kunna åstadkomma om han verkligen valdes till president.

Istället har vi matats med fåniga försök att jämföra Trump med Adolf Hitler. Och precis som alla republikanska politiker försöker Trumps anhängare jämföra kandidaten med Ronald Reagan. Båda har lika fel.

Det amerikanska politiska systemet ger inte presidenten fria händer att göra som han eller hon vill. Presidentens makt är inte oinskränkt. Inte ens när det gäller inom försvars- och utrikespolitiken.

Detta borde vara uppenbart för alla som exempelvis studerat Barack Obamas bataljer med kongressen under de senaste två mandatperioderna.

Alla som är intresserade av amerikansk politik borde därför läsa Matthew Coppers analys i Newsweek. Han ger en realistisk bild av Trumps möjligheter att få igenom den politik som han baserar sin kampanj på.

Om Trumps potential skall jämföras med någon historisk föregångare så är det inte, enligt Copper, någon auktoritär diktator utan snarare de tidigare presidenterna Dwight D. Eisenhower och Jimmy Carter.

Demokraten Carter anses allmänt vara en av de mer mediokra presidenterna i modern tid.

Och man får gå tillbaka till republikanen Eisenhower för att hitta någon som helt saknade politisk erfarenhet innan de blev valda.

Även Trump saknar politisk erfarenhet. Detta är en anledning till hans popularitet men det kommer också påverka hans administrations effektivitet om han blir vald. Precis som det påverkade Eisenhowers och Obama idag.

Copper skriver:

The comedian Louis C.K. wrote to his fans that “Trump is Hitler,” another “funny and refreshing dude with a weird comb-over.” On the left, The Washington Post and Slate columnists have likened Trump to a fascist. In a case of rare agreement across party lines, conservatives have used a similar description. Conservative author Matt Lewis has called Trump an avatar of white-identity politics. And the haters have a lot of fodder. The mogul began his campaign saying Mexico was sending the U.S. “rapists,” then proposed a loopy and bigoted ban on Muslim immigration “until we figure out what the hell is going on” (whatever that means). Trump continues to lambaste the media at his rallies, referring to them as “the worst.” At least two journalists say they’ve been roughed up at Trump events without provocation—one of them is a woman who writes for a conservative publication and claims it was Trump’s campaign manager who left her bruised, a charge Trump’s people vigorously deny. This isn’t the Beer Hall Putsch, but it is ugly.

[…]

Trump isn’t Hitler. He isn’t a fascist either—although he has, despite a career of deal-making, the my-way-or-the-highway proclivities of a Latin American strongman, which would be worrisome if America were Bolivia and not an enduring democracy. […] He’s also not a savior. Due to his solipsistic personality and vague, unworkable policies, he could never be what he promises to be if elected. But that doesn’t make him the sum of all fears.

The unspectacular truth is that a Trump presidency would probably be marked by the quotidian work of so many other presidents—trying to sell Congress and the public on proposals while fighting off not only a culture of protest but also the usual swarm of lobbyists who kill any interesting idea with ads and donations. […] Trump is no match for the American political system, with its three branches of government. The president, as famed political scientist Richard Neustadt once said, has to take an inherently weak position and use the powers of persuasion to get others to do what he wants.

Could Trump blow up those legendary checks and balances and make America a fascist state? Oh, please. …] Trump’s more likely to end up like Jimmy Carter—a poor craftsman of legislation and a crushing disappointment to his supporters. Since World War II, only Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton have left office with high approval numbers. Presidents generally end their tenure not with a bullet in a bunker but with a whimper.

[…]

But to actually accomplish even modest legislative goals, let alone become a 21st-century führer, is beyond the mogul’s ken. Philosopher Leo Strauss coined the term reductio ad Hitlerum, the common tendency to reduce all arguments to Hitler, or to always see an action leading to Nazism. In its more extreme forms, you get statements like “You-know-who was also a vegetarian.” Trump’s displays of bigotry during the primary, most notably his call for a “total and complete shutdown” on Muslims entering the U.S., are abhorrent, but they don’t put the America on a fast track toward the Third Reich—not unless you believe Congress, business, the armed forces, the judiciary and so on are all willing to start setting up internment camps. The U.S., with its unemployment rate of less than 5 percent and minuscule inflation, is a country where retirees try to get better yield, not the hyperinflation Weimar Republic that gave birth to Hitler. Fascism, with its totalitarian control of society and the economy—“Nazi” was short for National Socialists—doesn’t describe Trump’s views, even if former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and Michael Gerson, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush, throw around the term fascist when bad-mouthing the billionaire.

[…]

But one thing we know is that Trump is used to having his way. Eisenhower, the last president who had never held elective office before entering the White House, might be the closest thing we have to a useful comparison. Many worried that the supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe would flounder in a system where his commands were not instantly met with a salute. ”He’ll sit there all day saying, ‘Do this, do that,’ and nothing will happen,” lamented Harry Truman as he readied to turn over the presidency to the five-star general. “Poor Ike—it won’t be a bit like the military. He’ll find it very frustrating.”

It’s extremely unlikely anyone will ever utter the phrase “poor Donald.” And we should allow for the possibility that, like Eisenhower, he would be a successful president. His business has its eye-rolling qualities (mmm, Trump Steaks), but he does cut deals and, in case you hadn’t heard, even wrote a book about it. Trump has positive qualities that detractors should recognize: ideological flexibility, an ability to negotiate, great communication skills. However, they seem easily overwhelmed by his obvious flaws: bigoted policies that target religions and utterances that slander Mexicans, a brash and imperious style, a tendency to hold grudges long beyond their sell-by date. Ultimately, Eisenhower’s weak grip on Washington was a contributing factor to the rise of anti-Communist crusader Senator Joseph McCarthy.

[…]

It’s more than likely Trump would wind up being just another president on the alphabetical roll call, nestled between the memorable Truman and the utterly forgettable John Tyler, distinguished more by his hue, his bullying and his encouragement of other bullies than by any lasting damage done to a republic that has endured far worse.

Tidskriftsomslag: Newsweek, 25 mars 2016.

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INTERVJU | Engelska Total Politics har intervjuat USA:s trettionionde president. Han är inte speciellt imponerad av politiken i Washington D.C.

Total Politics issue 66 feb 2014

Simon Burns, parlamentsledamot, intervjuade Jimmie Carter:

As we three sit down, I ask Carter if he ever misses the White House. Without a flicker of hesitation he shoots back, “Not these days. The White House is totally different from what it was when I was there. I had a very harmonious relationship with the Congress, with the Democrats and the Republicans. There was a spirit of camaraderie there and there was co-operation. It seemed everyone was trying to work for the better of the country. Those days are gone now, and it’s not the pleasant environment, personally and politically, it was. In these modern days, I don’t miss it.”

Tidskriftsomslag: Total Politics, nr 66, februari 2014.

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MYTER | John F. Kennedys popularitet har aldrig riktigt stått i proportion till vad han lyckades åstadkomma inom politiken.

The Atlantic - John F Kennedy commemorative issue 2013

Speciellt märkligt är att han är så omhuldad i liberala politiska kretsar.

Studerar man hans politik på det inrikespolitiska och utrikespolitiska området framstår hans politik som mer konservativ än progressiv.

När det gäller medborgarrättsrörelsen hamnade han på fel sida om historien. Han kan knappast påstås ha varit drivande när det gäller de svartas rättigheter.

Man kan snarare se honom som en bromskloss. Eller en som var rädd att frågorna skulle stjäla tid och fokus från viktigare uppgifter. Inte minst på det utrikespolitiska området.

Tittar man på hans politik när det gäller Kuba, Vietnamn och Sovjetunionen var han mer hök än duva.

Hans övertro på att CIA kunde lösa alla problem som inte diplomatin rådde bot på gör att han idag mer ser ut som en föregångare till Ronald Reagan än, låt säga, Jimmy Carter.

Redan i valrörelsen kritiserade han sin huvudmotståndare, vicepresident Richard Nixon, från höger. Han påstod att Sovjetunionen hade ett farligt övertag när det gällde kärnvapenmissiler som hotade USA:s säkerhet.

Detta är knappas ståndpunkter som idag borde göra honom populär bland liberaler, vare sig i USA eller i Europa.

Så varför denna popularitet? Det är svårt att se det som något annat än en förälskelse i själva ”varumärket” Kennedy.

Steven Stark är inne på samma tankegångar i artikelen “The Cultural Meaning of the Kennedys”.

Artikel skrevs 1994 och förklarar fenomenet som konsekvenserna av amerikansk kändiskultur. I kändisvärlden är det nämligen alltid bättre att vara en Elvis än en FDR.

Oavsett hur många skandaler som avslöjas om Kennedys privata och politiska liv – och de är bra många vid det här laget – kommer JFK alltid att framstå i positiv dager.

Om en Britney Spears eller Charlie Sheen kan överleva mediala härdsmältor så varför inte en Kennedy?

När man väl gått från att vara en vanlig dödlig till att bli ”kändis” överlever man allt. Och är det något familjen Kennedy alltid har varit skickliga på så är det just att vårda sina egna myter.

Steven Stark skriver:

Because of the current cultural obsession with inner life, biography now tends to stray into the personal more than it once did. Still, the Kennedy family isn’t written about the way that Harry Truman, or Ronald Reagan, or Martin Luther King Jr. is. The Kennedys are different from you and me and them, and not simply because they have more money.

To be sure, the Kennedys have had—and continue to have—a political impact on the nation. To many, they have embodied an ideal of public service. But politics hasn’t been this family’s calling card in the mass culture for some time. Even in the aggregate the Kennedys have never had the political impact of Martin Luther King Jr., FDR, or even Reagan. If President Kennedy is still revered today, it’s more because of his glamorous style and because he died young than for any specific accomplishments.

[…]

As a kind of entertainment family the Kennedys were a prime force in blurring the distinctions between Hollywood and Washington—that blur being a condition characteristic of the age. As the critic Richard Schickel has observed in his book Intimate Strangers, they were certainly not the first to court the film industry or to recognize the consequences of the media era.

[…]

But the Kennedys helped complete the revolution. As the biographers tell it, Father Joe ”mingled” with Gloria Swanson and other stars, and his real business interest was in movie production, because he thought that was where the aristocracy of the next generation would be created. Judging from the biographies, much of the next Kennedy generation’s childhood appears to have been one long photo op, culminating in John Kennedy’s marriage to, of all things, an aristocratic photographer. If, in the media planning devised largely by Father Joe, JFK’s 1960 race for the presidency was the first to resemble the packaging of a Hollywood blockbuster—the buildup, the bio, the promos, the publicity shots, the early buzz among influential critics, the reviews, the breakthrough performance (in debates), and, finally, the crowd reaction—that may have been no accident. ”John F. Kennedy treated southern Ohio yesterday as Don Giovanni used to treat Seville,” Murray Kempton wrote one day in a campaign dispatch striking both for its honesty and for the new political phenomenon it was describing. After all this, and an Administration that made the elevation of style over substance into both a zeitgeist and an ideology, not only the hanging out with Sinatra and Marilyn was inevitable; so was the eventual arrival of someone like Ronald Reagan.

Läs mer: Ovanstående artikel finns i förkortad version även i ovanstående tidskriftsnummer. Artiklarna är samlade här. Tidskriftsomslag: The Atlantic: Special Commemorative Issue, 2013.

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USA | Någon som minns den mandarintalande, motorcykelåkande, (relativt) liberala presidentkandidaten Jon Huntsman?

Henry Payne 17 januari 2012

Vem vet om han funderar över att göra ett nytt försök att bli republikanernas presidentkandidat. Svaret han ger när Andrew Goldman intervjuade honom för The New York Times är alltför vagt för att indikerat någonting överhuvudtaget.

So if you’re running for president in 2016, you probably have to start laying the groundwork now, right?

Can you imagine we’re even talking about this? It’s mind-numbing that within 24 hours, people want to start talking about 2016.

[…]

All along, it was speculated that you would have been a formidable opponent for Obama, but you didn’t have a prayer in the primaries. Do you think the Republican primary system is broken?

People aren’t turning out for primaries because they work for a living, and those who do turn out are professional activists. Today, if you have somebody who ultimately gets through the obstacle course, they’re going to lack the one ingredient in such need today: authenticity.

[…]

Obviously you’ve thought a lot about it. What went wrong?

When the decision was made to refuse any pandering — because my wife would have left me if I had done any of that — you pretty much disarm yourself. On top of that you have people like Michael Moore, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter coming out and giving you kudos as a sane Republican. That doesn’t play so well in the primary phase of Iowa or South Carolina.

The New York Times referred to you during the campaign as “an early favorite of the pundit classes.” Did you read that and think, I’m toast?

That’s the first dagger to the heart.

You also cooperated with a big Vogue profile with photographs by Annie Leibovitz. Didn’t you anticipate that might smack too much of the cultural elite?

But who’s going to turn down Annie Leibovitz? When she comes knocking, of course you’re going to invite her in, and we did pay a price for that.

Läs mer: Jacob Weisbergs omtalade ”Jon Huntsman: The Outsider i Vogue (med foton av Annie Leibovitz).

Bild: En “editorial cartoon” av Henry Payne (17 januari 2012). Fler på GoComics.com.

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RETRO | TV-serien ”Mad Men” går in på femte säsongen. Med anledning av detta har Newsweek gjort ett nummer som kopierar hur tidskriften såg ut på 60-talet.

Eleanor Clift skriver om likheterna mellan den fiktiva reklambyrån Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce och Newsweek på 60-talet när hon började jobba på tidskriften.

Women weren’t supposed to be openly ambitious in the ’60s. When I started at Newsweek as a secretary, I was thrilled to be where what I typed was interesting.

[…]

“Mad Men” gets the gender stratification of the time right, along with the prevalence of smoking, the heavy drinking culture, and a fair amount of sleeping around. That was certainly the case at Newsweek In the ’60s among the married writers and editors and the young single women hired to become researchers, then considered “a really good job for a woman.” Newsweek’s training program recruited women from the finest colleges for a stint first on the mail desk, then the clip desk (cutting articles from newspapers), and finally a coveted spot as a researcher. […] These smart, talented, and ambitious women were primarily fact checkers, but they also did reporting and were expected to provide emotional support when the men were doing their writing, everything from sharpening their pencils to picking up their dry cleaning.

[…]

The reality for most single working women was, of course, much more prosaic. A former Newsweek researcher recalls two of her colleagues being dispatched to a nearby bar to order martinis for the male writers and bring them back in paper cups stashed in their purses. The drink of choice was the martini, which former Newsweek writer Peter Goldman recalls being served in “glasses the size of birdbaths.” The three-martini lunch was real, not just an expression. How could anyone write after consuming so much alcohol? Another former Newsweek writer would say, “The great thing about this job is you can do it drunk.” Goldman recalls returning from the magazine’s traditional Friday-night dinners “lightly buzzed—it was relaxing, like a Valium.”

Don Draper would have felt right at home at Newsweek. While I don’t recall any of the top editors having a bar in his office, a couple of the writers had bottles secreted in their bottom desk drawer. The abundance of young single women would also have been easy prey for Draper, whose prowess with women provides endless plot twists to examine how people lie to each other and themselves.

[…]

Newsweek had been focused on civil rights and the growing antiwar movement, and by the time the male editors got around to the women’s movement, discontent within the magazine had taken hold and legal redress was essential. An affirmative-action plan opened up opportunities that I could never have imagined, and after an internship I was assigned to cover Jimmy Carter’s bid for the White House, which brought me to Washington, where I have been ever since. It’s my Cinderella story, and it’s an era that ”Mad Men” captures in all its dimensions. A lot of positive social change took place, the result of struggles waged by many people whose names don’t make it into the history books. To be part of it in even a small way sure was fun.

Övrigt: Artikeln och tidskriftsomslaget är från dubbelnumret av Newsweek (26 mars och 2 april 2012). Läs Tina Browns ”The Mad Men Issue”. I amerikanska upplagan har även reklamen fått en retrokänsla. Titta också på omslag och än mer reklam från 60-talet.

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ALLA VALKAMPANJER har sin beskärda del av professionella politiska konsulter. Men dessa rådgivare har inte alltid haft den stjärnstatus som de har idag.

Craig Shirley beskriver bl.a. i sin bok Rendezvous With Destiny hur det hela tog sin början, men också hur vardagen ser ut för de allra flesta i en presidentvalskampanj.

Political-operatives-as-celebrities were a new phenomenon in politics. It had taken off in 1976, starting with the media’s love affair with [Jimmy] Carter’s aides and certified characters Hamilton Jordan and Jody Powell. The two made the cover of Rolling Stone. Behind the scenes were hundreds more, however, who toiled in anonymity for their candidates, including the personal assistants. (s. 174-175)

[…]

Staffers were expected to work 24/7, and most ailments to be handled by taking two aspirin. Going to emergency room or staying home sick were options of last resort. You had better know, as pro athletes did, the difference between pain and injury. What couldn’t be fixed with something out of the campaign’s medicine cabinet – or coffee, alcohol, or tobacco – would have to wait until after the election.

Arriving at the campaign office late, say after 7 A.M., or leaving early, say before 10 P.M., was not only frowned upon, it could get you fired. There were people who would give their eyeteeth to work on a presidential campaign for little money. Both campaigns had filing cabinets bulging with résumés of eager, passionate, young supplicants willing to be treated like dirt as long as they got a start in politics.

If you were on the road, tardiness meant the plane or motorcade would simply leave you behind. You’d have to catch up on your own, then sheepishly explain how you had screwed up. Toward the end of the campaign, clean underwear became an option for young men. Some simply and repeatedly turned theirs inside out. It was all splendidly ludicrous. (s. 455)

Övrigt: Tidskriftsomslaget ovan är Rolling Stone den 19 maj 1977. På deras hemsida kan man se trettioåtta av tidskriftens omslag med politiska teman. 

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MITT ROMNEY har ett problem. Han har en tendens att stöta bort väljarna ju mer de lär känna honom.

Romney är den bland de republikanska presidentkandidaterna som har störst chans att besegra president Barack Obama.

Men innan han kan ta sig an Obama måste han först besegra – inte bara övriga republikanska utmanare – utan också delar av sin egen personlighet.

Andrew Romano, Newsweek, skriver om hur olika personlighetsdrag kan påverka både valrörelser och valresultat:

What is Mitt Romney? It is very hard to tell. Put him on a debate stage, and he can outshine the klieg lights.

[…]

And yet, away from the stage, and the lights, and the shrink-wrapped soundbites, where real human beings aren’t kept at a respectful distance, and résumés and factoids matter less, Romney isn’t quite as luminous.

[…]

If Romney loses the Republican nomination, the reasons won’t be mysterious: “Romneycare,” Mormonism, and the rise of a rival, Rick Perry, who is better at connecting with voters. (Perry’s Positive Intensity Score among Republicans is a league-leading 24, according to Gallup; Romney’s has fallen as low as 11.) By the same token, if Romney becomes president, it won’t be a surprise to see him succeed; his conscientiousness has already helped him oversee a successful state, a successful business, and a successful Olympics.

The only mystery now, the only surprise left, is Romney vs. Obama. Supporters say that Romney would be “more himself” in a general-election setting, where he’d no longer have to pander to the Republican fringe. But it’s possible, too, that being himself would be the problem. In America, voters tend to replace sitting presidents with polar-opposite personalities: Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama. But as Aubrey Immelman [an expert on the electoral effects of personality] points out, the rational, technocratic Obama “is one of the few presidential candidates since 1996 who can be labeled conscientious,” just like Romney. Faced with a choice between the conscientious devil they know and the conscientious devil they don’t, voters may not be as motivated to switch sides—especially when the incumbent scores higher on empathy, confidence, and comfort in his own skin.

Övrigt: Tidskriftsomslaget är från den amerikanska editionen.

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