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Posts Tagged ‘New York’

John F. Kennedy campaigning 1960

John F. Kennedy i september 1960 under en valturné i New York.

Bild: Paul Schutzer/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image

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USA | Hur bra är egentligen Hillary Clinton i en valrörelse? Det är en av frågorna som Jason Zengerle ställer sig i tidskriften New York.

New York April 6-19 2015

Ett av hennes stora problem är relationerna till presskåren. Hon har svårt för intervjuer, presskonferenser och andra offentliga framträdanden som kräver ett visst mått av spontanitet (äkta eller inövad).

Risken är att ju mer hon försöker distansera sig från journalister desto större är risken att de kommer att fokusera på småsaker som kan ge just den negativ bild av henne som hennes rådgivare försöker undvika.

Hennes rådgivare är väl medvetna om problemet. Frågan är om Clinton också är det. Och om hon orkar vara tillmötesgående under en lång och tuff valrörelse.

Zengerle skriver:

The danger to the Clinton campaign, at this early stage, is not that she might slip in a debate or never quite muster an adequate explanation for deleting emails as secretary of State. It’s that she might not have the ability to break through the cynicism and noise of our political circus and deliver a striking, clear message.

[…]

It’s almost impossible to overstate just how much Clinton hates the press. She doesn’t trust it, avoids it at all costs, assumes the worst intentions, and generally wishes it would just go away. Her contempt for the people who cover her was on full display in her press conference last month — as was their contempt for her. It’s a poisonous relationship with multiple levels of dysfunction on both sides. Unfortunately for Clinton, she’s the one who bears the brunt of the fallout.

Some Clinton allies are encouraged by the relationship she forged with the State Department press corps during her four years in the Cabinet. The paranoia and outright hostility that permeated her interactions with reporters during the 2008 campaign were replaced by collegiality and openness as she traveled the world. Then again, that experience isn’t exactly good practice for tooling around the Midwest with campaign reporters in tow. “When she’s on a plane with Mark Landler and Reuters and a bunch of nerds asking her about Burma and policy issues, she knows those issues inside out and she knows the trip wires and how to navigate issues that in reality are really dicey. She’s in her element,” says Tommy Vietor. “But out on the campaign trail, she’s going to be getting open-ended questions about her feelings and God knows what else, stuff that’s comparatively unimportant but where there’s no good or necessarily right answers, and that’s just hard.”

Not that Clinton isn’t trying. She’s recently hired a slew of press aides who — unlike many of those on whom she’s relied in the past — don’t loathe, and maybe even like, the reporters who cover her. She’s also taken her own halting steps toward turning on the charm with campaign reporters. Two weeks ago, she gave the keynote address at a political-journalism-awards dinner in Washington. The speech was well received. (She announced that she wanted a “new beginning” with reporters, which they were welcome to as soon as they signed the nondisclosure agreement tucked under their seats.) But it was what happened after her speech that struck many people as new and different: Clinton stuck around and schmoozed. “That’s something Hillary 2008 didn’t do,” says a Democratic strategist close to Clinton’s team. “Back then, she’d give the speech and peace out, especially in a roomful of journalists.” A Clinton adviser adds, “We want to create more forums like that. It’s important to connect with real people, but it’s important to connect with the press, too.”

[…]

The Republican strategist Stuart Stevens likens political skill to figure skating: “It’s an endeavor entirely judged by a jury with no empirical metrics.” Alienating the jury is a dangerous thing. “I am in the Bill Clinton camp on this,” Stevens says. “For multiple reasons, Obama has been judged differently by the jury than Hillary.”

In small ways, Clinton could repair the relationship. Most important, the same charm offensive she waged on the Obama White House could work on the press pack, too. But it’ll need to be an effort sustained not only in Washington but also in the dog days of Virginia and Colorado, Ohio and Florida.

If she can’t, that will only encourage reporters to cover her critically — maybe even, as Clinton and her allies suspect, more critically than they do other politicians — which in turn could be enough to tip the race in favor of her opponent. “To the extent that the news media wants to dissect her, that could affect perceptions of her if that kind of criticism is a sustained feature of news coverage,” says [George Washington University political scientist John] Sides. He points to Al Gore’s experience in 2000, when the press’s repeated hyping of a series of small misstatements and minor exaggerations by Gore increasingly led voters, even Democrats, to conclude that he was untrustworthy. “Can we say that had Gore been perceived as honest in October, as he was in July, that that would have given him the race?” asks Sides. “Not necessarily. But it could have.”

The question confronting Clinton now is not so much whether she can withstand the scrutiny but the degree of the scrutiny itself. Are we so fixated on diagnosing and dissecting her weaknesses, on scouting all the ways in which she isn’t a particularly gifted political athlete, that the effort becomes, in a sense, self-fulfilling? “The dissections can be more influential than the actual objective features and qualities of the candidate herself,” says Sides. In the end, the strength Clinton will need most, and on which the fate of her campaign may rest, will be her ability to make us stop dwelling on her weaknesses.

Läs mer: Hillary Clinton’s Surprisingly Effective Campaign” av Peter Beinart i The Atlantic och What Hillary Clinton’s tough take on secretary of state could mean for her presidency” av Nina Burleigh i Newsweek, samt The Platonic Ideal of Horse Race Journalism” av Hamilton Nolan på Gawker.

Tidskriftsomslag: New York, 6-19 april 2015.

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USA | Hur historien kommer att bedöma Barack Obama är skrivit i stjärnorna. Det hindrar dock inte att spekulationerna är i full gång.

New York January 12-25 2015

Precis som konkurrerande valkampanjer ägnar mycket tid åt att definiera både sig själv och motståndaren utspelas en ständig historisk värdering av makthavare.

Den stora skillnaden ligger i att historien har en tendens att komma med ständiga revideringar av makthavarna medan vad vi minns från en valkampanj mest hänger samman med valresultatet.

Tidskriften New York bad nyligen femtio historiker att komma med en första utvärdering av Obamas administration. New York sammanfattade deras svar så här:

Almost every respondent wrote that the fact of his being the first black president will loom large in the historical narrative — though they disagreed in interesting ways. Many predict that what will last is the symbolism of a nonwhite First Family; others, the antagonism Obama’s blackness provoked; still others, the way his racial self-consciousness constrained him. A few suggested that we will care a great deal less about his race generations from now — just as John F. Kennedy’s Catholicism hardly matters to current students of history. Across the board, Obamacare was recognized as a historic triumph (though one historian predicted that, with its market exchanges, it may in retrospect be seen as illiberal and mark the beginning of the privatization of public health care). A surprising number of respondents argued that his rescue of the economy will be judged more significant than is presently acknowledged, however lackluster the recovery has felt. There was more attention paid to China than ISIS (Obama’s foreign policy received the most divergent assessments), and considerable credit was given to the absence of a major war or terrorist attack, along with a more negative assessment of its price — the expansion of the security state, drones and all. The contributors tilted liberal — that’s academia, no surprise — but we made an effort to create at least a little balance with conservative historians. Their responses often echoed those from the far left: that a president elected on a promise to unite the country instead extended the power of his office in alarming, unprecedented ways.

Tidskriftsomslag: New York den 12-25 januari 2015.

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STRATEGI | Mitt Romney såg sin chans att vinna presidentvalet efter att ha besegrat Barack Obama i den första tv-sända val debatten 2012.

New York 11 nov 2013

Teamet som ansvarade för att förbereda president Barack Obama inför de tre inplanerade debatterna började känna oro. Det var en oro de inte var ensamma om.

Även den i vanliga fall så självsäkre Obama började tveka om han klarade av den här typen av framträdanden.

“I just don’t know if I can do this”, var Obamas överraskande kommentar vid ett tillfälle. Det avslöjas i den nyutkomna boken Double Down: Game Change 2012 av John Heilemann och Mark Halperin.

Obama hade haft en konstant ledning i opinionsmättningarna under hela valrörelsen. Men det var också en högst marginell ledning.

Det fanns därför ingen garanti att för att Romney inte skulle ta ledningen och vända valrörelsen till sin egen fördel om presidenten misslyckades även i nästkommande duell.

Även presidenten insåg att något måste göras.

 “These are not debates,” Obama observed to Plouffe. “These are gladiatorial enterprises.”

The first lady worried about her Maximus and his return to the Colosseum. In truth, she had fretted over the debates even before Denver. In July, around the time her husband’s prep started, she met with Plouffe and expressed firm opinions. That Barack had to speak from the gut, in language that regular folks could understand. Had to avoid treating the debates like policy seminars. Had to keep his head out of the clouds.

[…]

The president was presented with a piece of overarching advice and a memo, both of which would have been inconceivable before Denver. The advice was […] “the Six A’s”:

Advocate (don’t explain)
Audience
Animated
Attacks
Answers with principles and values
Allow yourself to take advantage of openings

[…]

Klain turned Obama’s prep regime upside down: new strategy, new tactics, new structure. In Williamsburg, there would be an intense concentration on performance, including speeding up Obama’s ponderous delivery. There would be less policy Q&A and more rehearsal of set pieces and lines that popped. Less emphasis on programmatic peas and spinach, more on anecdote and empathy. Contrary to Clinton’s advice, there would be plenty of punching to go along with the counterpunching.

[…]

“We’re here, Mr. President,” Klain began, “because we need to have a serious conversation about why this isn’t working and the fundamental transformation we need to achieve today to avoid a very bad result tomorrow night.” We’re not going to get there by continuing to grind away and marginally improve, Klain went on. This is not about changing the words in your debate book, because the difference between the answers that work and the answers that don’t work is just 15 or 20 percent. This is about style, engagement, speed, presentation, attitude. Candidly, we need to figure out why you’re not rising to and meeting the challenge—why you’re not really doing this, why you’re doing … something else.

Obama didn’t flinch. “Guys, I’m struggling,” he said somberly. “Last night wasn’t good, and I know that. Here’s why I think I’m having trouble. I’m having a hard time squaring up what I know I need to do, what you guys are telling me I need to do, with where my mind takes me, which is: I’m a lawyer, and I want to argue things out. I want to peel back layers.”

[…]

“When I get a question,” he said, “I go right to the logical.” You ask me a question about health care. There’s a problem, and there’s a response. Here’s what my opponent might say about it, so I’m going to counteract that. Okay, we’re gonna talk about immigration. Here’s what I’d like to say—but I can’t say that. Think about what that means. I know what I want to say, I know where my mind takes me, but I have to tell myself, No, no, don’t do that—do this other thing. It’s against my instincts just to perform. It’s easy for me to slip back into what I know, which is basically to dissect arguments. I think when I talk. It can be halting. I start slow. It’s hard for me to just go into my answer. I’m having to teach my brain to function differently. I’m left-handed; this is like you’re asking me to start writing right-handed.

Throughout the campaign, Obama had been criticized for the thin gruel of his second-term agenda. Now he acknowledged that it bothered him, too, and posed a challenge for the debates.

You keep telling me I can’t spend too much time defending my record, and that I should talk about my plans, he said. But my plans aren’t anything like the plans I ran on in 2008. I had a universal-health-care plan then. Now I’ve got … what? A manufacturing plan? What am I gonna do on education? What am I gonna do on energy? There’s not much there.

“I can’t tell you that ‘Okay, I woke up today, I knew I needed to do better, and I’ll do better,’ ” Obama said. “I am wired in a different way than this event requires.”

Obama paused.

“I just don’t know if I can do this,” he said.

Obama’s advisers sat silently at first, absorbing the extraordinary moment playing out in front of them. In October of an election year, on the eve of a pivotal debate, the president wasn’t talking about tactics or strategy, about this line or that zinger. He was talking about personal contradictions and ambivalences, about his discomfort with the campaign he was running, about his unease with the requirements of politics writ large, about matters that were fundamental, even existential. We are in uncharted territory here, thought Klain.

[…]

The full team reconvened in Obama’s hold room. Klain ran through his memo of the previous night and explained to the president the new  new format for his prep: For the rest of the day until his final mock, they were going to drill him incessantly on the ten or so topics they expected to come up in the debate, compelling him to repeat his bullet points over and over again. Klain also presented Obama with his debate-on-a-page:

MUST REMEMBER

1. (Your) Speed Kills (Romney)

2. Upbeat and Positive in Tone

3. Passion for People and Plans

4. OTR [Off the Record] Mind-set—Have Fun

5. Strong Sentences to Start and End

6. Engage the Audience

7. Don’t Chase Rabbits

Resten är vad man säger historia. Obama vann de två nästkommande valdebatterna och behöll därmed ledningen valrörelsen igenom.

Heilemanns och Halperins nya bok Double Down: Game Change 2012 ger en intressant bild av presidenten och alla turerna under valkampanjen.

Här får man följa bl.a. Obamas kampanjteam som bestod av David Axelrod, huvudansvarig för att upprätthålla budskapsdisciplin; David Plouffe, valstrateg och rådgivare i Vita huset; Anita Dunn, tidigare Vita husets communications director; Joel Benenson, tidigare medarbetare hos Mario Cuomo; Jon Favreau, Obamas talskrive samt Ron Klain, ansvarig för Obamas debatträning.

Läs mer: Ovanstående bearbetning är från ett utdrag från boken som publicerats i tidskriften New York.

Tidskriftsomslag: New York, 11 november 2012.

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FILM | Cory Booker vann senatorsvalet i New Jersey tidigare i år efter att ha besegrat republikanen Frank Lautenberg.

När Booker vann var han Newarks borgmästare. Denna post blev hans efter valet 2006. Men redan tidigare hade han gjort ett försök men misslyckats.

I filmen Street Fight får vi följa Cory Bookers misslyckade valkampanj 2002.

Mer: Läs Carl Swansons ”Cory Booker Has 280,000 Constituents. And 1.4 Million Followers”, en artikel i tidskriften New York om Bookers valkampanj 2013.

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USA | Allt fler har börjat tala om guvernör Chris Christie som republikanernas självklara presidentkandidat. Om man vill ha en chans att vinna vill säga.

Han har i alla fall en klar fördel framför övriga namn som det talas om (t.ex. Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Rick Santorum, Marco Rubio) och det är att han inte är rädd att ta strid med Tea Party-anhängarnas favoriter.

Detta är om inte annat en nödvändighet om en republikansk kandidat skall ha en chans att locka väljare bortom de egna gräsrötterna.

Här nedan är utdrag från två reportage där man följt guvernören och tagit pulsen på hans möjligheter att bli republikanernas frontfigur.

Time 18 nov 2013 US edition

Michael Scherer, Time, skriver:

The Christie for America 2016 calculation goes like this: All Republican nomination contests usually go the same way. Primary voters claim to be big-C Conservatives, but they vote with a small c. After months of carping and griping, after rubber-chicken dinners, purity tests and endless debates, the party always settles on the most viable center-right option who has earned his place in line—Bob Dole, George W. Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney. As Christie might say it, the party decides it wants to win.

Christie’s strategy is clear enough, to execute a political coup de main: to try to clear the field (or his side of the field) by coming on very strong at the outset to take up the Establishment real estate. With four or five others (Cruz, Rand Paul, Rick Santorum and others) battling to become the purist on the right, Christie’s initial goal is simply to be the Electable One. Yes, he may command only 15% of the total GOP electorate at the outset, but in a fractured field, that’s fine with him. If he is lucky, he might win Iowa by a little, New Hampshire by a lot. If he can squeeze by, the big states will love the big guy.

To aid in the effort, Christie will have some significant financial—and logistical—advantages. Sitting governors are much better fundraisers than any other kind of politician. And in a few weeks, Christie is going to supercharge that claim when he takes over command of the Republican Governors Association, which is looking to protect 22 governors who are up for re-election in 2014, including, conveniently enough, the leaders of South Carolina, Florida and Iowa. He will soon be traveling the country, collecting cards and chits and IOUs, all at someone else’s expense. “In the big cities where the GOP money will be raised,” says Wayne Berman, a leading Republican fundraiser and consultant, “Christie is already the default choice.”

From that perch, Christie can raise perhaps $50 million next year and borrow the fundraising networks of every other GOP governor. They will owe him. And together, those networks are worth $250 million. That is Hillary scale, something none of his current challengers can access as easily. And then there is the outside money. In 2012 several billionaires were involved in the draft-Christie movement.

New York augusti 2012

Benjamin Wallace-Wells i tidskriften New York:

We have never had a president as outwardly angry as Christie, but then this country has rarely been as angry as it is now. In the tea-party era, conservative anger has often been channeled by figures such as Michele Bachmann and Ted Cruz into a hysteria over very abstract and inflated threats: health-care death panels, the national debt, the specter of a country overrun by illegal immigrants. Christie’s use of anger is very different: It is much more targeted, and therefore potentially much more useful.

The contrast was on display last week in the fight he picked with Rand Paul. The senator from Kentucky, having watched Christie denounce libertarianism, called him the “King of Bacon,” presumably referring both to his pleas for immediate federal help after Hurricane Sandy and to his weight. Christie had pointed out that New Jersey is a “donor state,” taking only 61 cents for every dollar it sends to Washington, while Kentucky takes back $1.51. (No acknowledgment from Christie that this is owed not to New Jersey’s superior character but to its good fortune of existing next to the great economic buoy of Wall Street, while Kentucky is near no economic buoy at all.) “So if Senator Paul wants to start looking at where he is going to cut spending to afford defense,” Christie had said, “maybe he should start looking at cutting the pork-barrel spending he brings home to ­Kentucky.” For Christie, the villain is always specific: not government, not socialism, not impersonal historical forces, but one moron in particular—the teachers union, or Steve Sweeney, or in this case Rand Paul, the libertarian ophthalmologist, high-mindedly denouncing government while his state is on its dole. “He’s not the first politician to try to use me to get attention,” Christie said later, dismissing Paul’s slight. “And I’m sure he won’t be the last.”

What Christie is doing when he starts arguments with other Republicans—and it is telling that what looks very much like a presidential run has begun with a sequence of fights—is offering his party the chance to preserve its anger, while trading in its revolutionaries for a furious institutionalist.

Läs mer: Blogginlägget ”Vem kan utmana demokraterna?”

Tidskriftsomslag: Time (amerikanska utgåvan), 18 november 2013 och New York, 12 augusti 2012.

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VALRÖRELSE | Det är svårt att se att någon skulle kunna hindra Hillary Clinton om hon bestämde sig för att bli demokraternas presidentkandidat.

New York 30 september 2013

Clinton är en av de mest erfarna och respekterade politikerna inom sitt eget parti. Hon är en av de mest igenkända personerna i USA idag. Till och med respekterad bland republikaner.

Vad som bl.a. talar för henne är att hon redan har en erfaren kampanjstab som följt henne lojalt under många år. Hennes nätverk är imponerande.

Lägg sedan till att hennes man – Bill Clinton – är en av de skickligaste strategerna en presidentkandidat kan önska sig.

Det är också svårt att se att demokraterna ännu en gång skulle säja nej till möjligheten att placera en kvinna i Vita huset. Partiet har möjlighet att ännu en gå bli historiska.

Barack Obama var unik på mer än ett sätt. Men idag är det Clinton som står för det unika.

Det skulle säkert krävas minst en svart kvinnlig demokrat eller spansktalande för att demokrater skulle börja fundera på att lägga sin röst på någon annan än Clinton.

Och även om en sådan kvinna skulle dyka upp kommer hon aldrig att ha samma erfarenhet eller goodwill bland partiets gräsrötter eller väljarna för att kunna hota Clintons kandidatur.

Och då återstår bara frågan vad Clinton själv vill? Det är upp till henne själv om hon vill bli historisk eller inte. Om hon vill och orkar.

Joe Hagan skriver i tidskriften New York:

Political campaigns are built of personal narratives—and it works much better if the stories are true. The current arc of Hillary’s story is one of transformation. Being secretary of State was more than a job. Her closest aides describe the experience as a kind of cleansing event, drawing a sharp line between the present and her multiple pasts—as First Lady, later as the Democratic front-runner in 2008, derailed by the transformative campaign of Barack Obama but also by a dysfunctional staff, the campaign-trail intrusions of her husband, and the inherent weaknesses of the fractious, bickering American institution that has become known as Clintonworld.

At State, she was the head of a smoothly running 70,000-person institution, and fully her own woman, whose marriage to a former president was, when it was mentioned, purely an asset. And now that she’s left State, Clintonworld is being refashioned along new lines, rationalized and harmonized. [M]ost of those close to the Clintons acknowledge that to succeed in the coming years, Hillary will have to absorb the lessons of 2008. Currently, it’s a topline talking point among her closest aides.

“She doesn’t repeat her mistakes,” says Melanne Verveer, an aide to the First Lady who then served in the State Department as Hillary’s ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues. “She really learns from her mistakes. It’s like, you want to grow a best practice and then always operate on that. She analyzes, ‘What went wrong here?’ ”

Of course, if Hillary’s future were to be an author, or a pundit, or a retiree, learning from mistakes wouldn’t be an issue. But other outcomes, where executive talents are prized, seem more likely. I ask Clinton the question that trails her like a thought bubble: Does she wrestle with running for president?

“I do,” she says, “but I’m both pragmatic and realistic. I think I have a pretty good idea of the political and governmental challenges that are facing our leaders, and I’ll do whatever I can from whatever position I find myself in to advocate for the values and the policies I think are right for the country. I will just continue to weigh what the factors are that would influence me making a decision one way or the other.”

Clintonworld, however, speaks with many voices­—albeit many of them not for attribution. Some of her close confidants, including many people with whom her own staff put me in touch, are far less circumspect than she is. “She’s running, but she doesn’t know it yet,” one such person put it to me. “It’s just like a force of history. It’s inexorable, it’s gravitational. I think she actually believes she has more say in it than she actually does.”

And a longtime friend concurs. “She’s doing a very Clintonian thing. In her mind, she’s running for it, and she’s also convinced herself she hasn’t made up her mind. She’s going to run for president. It’s a foregone conclusion.”

Tidskriftsomslag: New York, 30 september 2013

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