Posts Tagged ‘Peter J. Boyer’

ALLIERADE | Det var ingen tillfällighet att Bill Clinton var en av huvudtalarna vid demokraternas partikonvent i Charlotte.

Clinton är den främste företrädaren för vad som kallas New Democrats – en mitten-höger falang inom partiet som ser mer positivt på näringslivet och personligt ansvarstagande än vad den genomsnitlige Obama-anhängaren gör.

Clinton var på sin tid populär bland mittenväljare, liberala republikaner och Independents. Exakt samma väljare som i mångt och mycket har vänt Barack Obama ryggen under hans snart fyra år i Vita huset.

Med dagens dåliga ekonomi och en president som många väljare uppfattar befinna sig på vänsterkanten har Obama inte längre råd att tacka nej till draghjälp från Clinton.

Peter J. Boyer skriver i Newsweek:

The left’s complaint about Clintonism was that it made the party less distinct from the GOP—which, in effect, it did. When Clinton, Gore, and other Democratic centrists joined the Democratic Leadership Council in the 1980s, their purpose was to find a way to sell a liberal program to a nation that consistently rejected it, by moderating the program. The DLC emphasized private-sector growth and government efficiency, personal responsibility, and an affirmation of mainstream values. The chief prize was the Reagan Democrat—that white, working-class voter who was increasingly going Republican in places like Clinton’s Arkansas.

Clinton called those voters “the forgotten middle class,” and he appealed to them not only with his New Democrat policy program, but by relating to them personally, and grounding his own political identity in their experiences. The main thrust of that ’92 convention, and of much of the campaign thereafter, was to introduce Clinton to America as “the man from Hope,” who never knew his father, and whose mother left him with her parents while she attended nursing school. “He devoted his candidacy to that forgotten middle class, it was a conscious strategy,” says Paul Begala, a key Clinton strategist, who now advises the super PAC supporting Obama (and who is a contributor to The Daily Beast).

Although anti-Clintonism wasn’t the overt theme of Obama’s 2008 candidacy (it is surprising, in retrospect, the degree to which “Hope and Change” seemed agenda enough in that referendum election), Obama’s presidency has seemed, in key regards, a repudiation of the New Democrat idea. Clinton Democrats embraced business; Obama attacked private equity. A New Democrat would have championed the Keystone XL Pipeline; Obama, yielding to environmentalists, has resisted it. Although Obama campaigned in coal country in 2008 as a friend of the industry (and of all those blue-collar jobs associated with it), his Environmental Protection Agency has established regulations so severe that one administration official admitted, “if you want to build a coal plant you got a big problem.” Many of the workers affected by such policies are swing-state voters, who are also keenly sensitive to values issues. Obama’s health-care mandates on contraception may help him with single women and urban voters, but it might hurt him among Catholics in places like Pennsylvania and Ohio. Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act; Obama stopped enforcing it, and then declared himself a supporter of gay marriage—the day after North Carolinians voted a traditional definition of marriage into the state’s constitution.


With a terrible economy as his greatest vulnerability, Obama has lately taken to claiming Clinton’s economic approach as his own (“we’ve tried our plan, and it worked”)—a reach that galls some Clintonites. “What David Axelrod and Obama have done is they have substituted class warfare for Clintonism,” says Doug Schoen, a Democratic political analyst and pollster (including for Newsweek and The Daily Beast) who has advised both Clintons. “At every juncture, they have substituted class-based politics—resentment of the rich, taxing the rich—for fiscal discipline, and prudence.”


Obama, whose father was absent, and who was raised by a single mother and who, for a time, relied on food stamps, has downplayed his own very Clintonian tale. “It’s very much available to him, I can’t say why he doesn’t do it,” Begala says. “It’s so interesting to me that the guy who has written the most literate presidential autobiography since I don’t know who, has somehow lost the narrative thread of his character, the character in his play.”

Bild: Tidskriftsomslaget är den amerikanska utgåvan av Newsweek den 10 september 2012.

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VÄLJARE | Varför gillar inte de konservativa gräsrötterna Mitt Romney? Antagligen för att man fortfarande letar efter Ronald Reagans arvtagare.

Men enligt Peter J. Boyer i Newsweek behöver ”the pichfork crowd” inte oroa sig allt för mycket.

Romney har redan anammat många av deras ståndpunkter. Han har därför inte speciellt mycket svängrum att backa om han nu väl tar sig till Vita huset.

Och skulle han backa kommer de republikanska väljarna straffa honom när det blir dags för omval. Det var vad som hände när president George H. W. Bush, trots löften om motsatsen, höjde skatten.

Men redan nu finns det likheter mellan Bush och Romney som skulle kunna förklarar den avvaktande hållningen från kärnväljare. Boyer skriver:

His problem is the same as the problem that George Herbert Walker Bush had,” says John Sununu, a Romney supporter who served as the elder Bush’s White House chief of staff. “They come from a genteel segment of society that doesn’t instinctively have the capacity of putting sharp edges on the words they use. Conservatives like sharp rhetoric and prefer to support someone with sharper elbows.”

Romney’s campaign has no particular strategy for winning over the pitchfork crowd (“Just win,” says a senior strategist. “When you win, they all love you”), beyond his positions on issues, which are at least as conservative as those of his remaining competitors. The restive base is still not sold, but that very fact may contain the seeds of Romney’s ultimate vindication on the right.


What he has to sell to the right is the idea that he is a conservative by disposition, by sensibility. Before he had any discernible politics, he devoted himself to a faith that extols family values, and the line of work he chose, for all its failings, was a full-immersion experience in free enterprise. When he took up politics, he accommodated himself enough to the realities of Massachusetts to win election (see Scott Brown’s current campaign). But he makes a plausible case that he governed as conservatively as is possible in the Bay State. He tried, vainly, to finesse the abortion issue, declaring himself a defender of Roe v. Wade, but he also recanted his pro-choice stance convincingly enough (vetoing an -embryonic-stem-cell bill) to earn the commendation of the leader of Massachusetts Citizens for Life. Sununu makes the argument that Romney governed as conservatively in liberal Massachusetts as Reagan did in liberal California (where Reagan signed a law liberalizing abortion restrictions and presided over the doubling of the state budget). “In an almost paradoxical way, Reagan, pre-governor, was more conservative than when he was a governor, and Mitt Romney as a governor was more conservative than he campaigned,” Sununu says.

Övrigt: Tidskriftsomslaget (amerikanska upplagan) och Peter J. Boyers artikel ”Mitt Romney’s struggle to convince conservatives” är från Newsweek den 6 februari 2012.

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UTHÅLLIGHET | Den 9 juni lämnade de professionella politiska strategerna Newt Gingrichs kampanj. Idag är han republikanernas toppkandidat.

Peter J. Boyer skriver i Newsweek:

This time, Gingrich says, he is proceeding with greater caution, requiring each major hire to undergo a training session to facilitate acculturation in the Gingrich way. “I realized that if you don’t methodically go through acculturation, this is not going to work,” he says, during meetings with Newsweek in South Carolina and his subdued Washington, D.C., offices. “Because this is too different—it’s too intellectual, it’s too fast, it’s too delegated.” Gingrich knows he has much to overcome, including a significant organizational and funding disadvantage, and the challenge of withstanding the assaults to come (including a confrontation with his own long and sometimes erratic record), while keeping his own impulses in check. Which puts Gingrich in mind of one last trait shared with Clinton. “People forget,” he says, “that we are both very tough.”


Four days after his staff walked out last June, Gingrich took to the stage at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire for the first major Republican debate. Some suggested that Gingrich’s only chance of survival was to hit a home run. He disagreed. “You can’t do that, because you will look like you’re trying to hit a home run,” he argued. “What you have to do is go in and look very stable, so you look competent. And you have to be very patient.”

Gingrich’s debate strategy became, of necessity, his campaign strategy. He would not attack his fellow Republican candidates, directing his criticism instead at President Obama and the press. It proved a remarkably effective political gambit. The debate crowds were far more raucously partisan than in the past, a fact that Gingrich immediately sensed, and exploited. “You’ve got these media guys, and behind them are 2,000 right–wingers who are waiting to beat them up.”


Two months and four debates later, Gingrich’s poll numbers had doubled. The other candidates, meanwhile, were busy harming themselves. Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann went at each other in what Gingrich calls “a destructive exchange,” followed in subsequent debates by Rick Perry and Mitt Romney “acting like seventh graders.”


But the conservative base is plainly thrilled by Gingrich’s forceful oratory. In Gingrich, conservative voters see a guy who’s as alarmed as they are about the state of the nation (alarm is Gingrich’s natural state), and who has already delivered a historic victory—one that produced a balanced budget and reformed welfare. His command on the debate stage has had a dwarfing effect on the other contenders.

Övrigt: Tidskriftsomslaget (19 december 2011) är från den amerikanska utgåvan.

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SARAH PALIN fortsätter att retas med både media – eller ”lamestream media” som hon brukar kalla dem – och sina anhängare. Ännu har hon inte sagt att hon kandiderar till presidentposten. Men hon tror att hon kan besegra Barack Obama.

Peter J. Boyer i Newsweek skriver:

“I believe that I can win a national election,” Sarah Palin declared one recent evening, sitting in the private dining room of a hotel in rural Iowa. The occasion for her visit to quintessential small-town America was a gathering of the faithful that would have instantaneously erupted into a fervent campaign rally had she but given the word. Instead, it had been another day on the non–campaign trail, this one capped by a sweet victory: she had just attended the premiere of a glowingly positive documentary about her titled The Undefeated.

“The people of America are desperate for positive change, and deserving of positive change, to get us off of this wrong track,” she told me during a conversation that lasted late into the night and, inevitably, kept returning to the subject that has titillated the media and spooked Republican presidential contenders for months: her political intentions. “I’m not so egotistical as to believe that it has to be me, or it can only be me, to turn things around,” she said. “But I do believe that I can win.”


Turning to the political landscape, Palin said that President Obama is beatable in 2012, and that there are “many, many qualified and able candidates out there” to take him on.

Asked what was to be made of the fact that so many Republicans were looking beyond the field of declared candidates to people like herself, and Govs. Rick Perry and Chris Christie, Palin said, “It suggests that the field is not set. Thank goodness the field is not yet set. I think that there does need to be more vigorous debate. There needs to be a larger field. And there’s still time. There’s still months ahead, where more folks can jump in and start articulating their positions.”

Övrigt: Tidskriftsomslaget ovan är från den 18 juli 2011. Fotografen är Emily Shur. Fler bilder från fotograferingen av omslaget till Newsweek finns på deras hemsida.

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