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USA | För lång tid framöver kommer man att studera Donald Trumps valkampanj. Var den unik eller kan strategin kopieras av andra?

strategy

En bra början är att studera varför de övriga republikanska presidentkandidaterna inte lyckades stoppa honom.

James Fallows, som en gång ingick i Jimmy Carters kampanjstab och numera är på tidskriften The Atlantic, pratade med några strateger om hur man försökte hantera Trump.

After the fact, representatives of all the fallen candidates told me that none of it was inevitable, and that Trump could have been stopped if any of the others had imagined that he would go as far as he did. “If you put any of us in a time capsule and told us a year ago that he might be the nominee, then each candidate would have tried to prevent it in their own way,” Alex Conant, the communications director for Rubio’s campaign, told me after Trump had locked things up. “We all thought that the summer of Trump would not last. So our early strategy was not just to ignore him but actually to try hard not to offend his supporters, so we could be the alternative to him when he inevitably went down. He largely got a free pass until it was too late.” Tim Miller, who worked for Bush, agreed that the other non-Trump candidates were more intent on finishing one another off than attacking him when he might have been vulnerable. “By the end, Marco was scoring points against him,” Miller said. Before his humiliating loss to Trump in his own state of Florida, which forced him out of the race, Rubio was attacking Trump for his ignorance about policy and mocking him on hand size and blowhard traits. “But Marco was already sinking by then, so it was from a position of weakness rather than strength.”

“The rest of them were convinced that Donald Trump didn’t need to be defeated,” Stuart Stevens, who was Mitt Romney’s campaign strategist in 2012, told me. “That was a convenience, because they didn’t have to take him or his supporters on. With Jeb and Rubio, it became like the Bosnian civil war—more into killing each other than winning.” Meanwhile, Trump cruised ahead.

No one can say whether an earlier attack might have finished off Trump. It’s clear that the free pass he received allowed him to dominate and diminish his opponents […] “Low-Energy Jeb.” “Little Marco.” “9Lyin’ Ted.” His impulsive approach also paralyzed the other campaigns. “When we did our debate prep, we wondered how you can prepare to debate against someone who doesn’t prepare at all himself,” Alex Conant said. “I don’t think Trump had any idea what he was going to say until he said it. All you could be certain of is that if he said something funny or outlandish, that would dominate the news, and you’d be even further behind.”

Trump didn’t “win” all the debates, nor was he always effective minute by minute. When questions got into details of policy, he would set himself on pause until an opportunity for a put-down occurred. “With eight or nine others onstage, he could pick a moment to position himself as the alpha,” Tim Miller said. “And eventually the media got conditioned not to say negative things about his debate performance, since whatever he did, he rose in the polls—while for Jeb or Marco or Ted Cruz, any mistake was seen as ‘devastating.’ ”

James Parker, även han på The Atlantic, konstaterar att Trumps sätt att kommunicera gör det svårt för en motståndare eftersom han inte hade ett politiskt budskap i traditionell bemärkelse.

Trump-space is not democratic. It depends for its energy on the tyrannical emanations of the man at its center, on the wattage of his big marmalade face and that dainty mobster thing he does with the thumb and forefinger of his right hand. But it is artistic. Within its precincts, the most vicious and nihilistic utterances retain a kind of innocent levity: They sound half-funny, theatrical, or merely petulant. The scapegoating and bullying are somehow childlike. This is why, so far, no political strategy has succeeded against him. It rolls on, his power grab, his wild Trumpian trundling toward the White House, because he’s not doing politics at all. He’s doing bad art. Terrible art. He can’t go off message, because his message is “Look at me! I’m off message!”

Det blir svårt att tänka sig att någon kommer att kunna kopiera Trumps stil i kommande valkampanjer. Trump framstår som genuint unik i sin still.

I USA kommer det kanske räcka med en variant av Lloyd Bentsens put-down i vicepresidentkandidaternas valdebatt 1988. Bentsen fick Dan Quayle att krympa rejält i tv-rutan med klassikern ”You’re no Jack Kennedy!” Kanske kommer det att räcka med ett ”You’re no Donald Trump!” för att stoppa nästa Trump-wannabe.

Annonser

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USA | Barack Obamas utrikespolitik har uppfattats av många som både motsägelsefull och otydlig. Någon röd tråd har varit svår att se.

The Atlantic April 2016

Jeffrey Goldberg, nationell korrespondent för The Atlantic, har träffat presidenten vid ett flertal sedan det första intervjutillfället 2006 när han träffade den dåvarande senatorn från Illinois.

Under Goldbergs senaste möte med presidenten i Vita huset redogjorde Obama bl.a. för hur han ser på USA:s roll i världen och vilken utrikes- och säkerhetspolitisk skola han anser sig ligga närmast.

Något förvånande är att Obama är en stor anhängare till den doktrin som i akademiska kretsar brukar kallas den realistiska skolan. Det är en inriktning som präglade president Richard Nixon och Henry Kissinger under deras tid i Vita huset.

I Obamas fall lär det dock mest vara Brent Scowcroft, nationell säkerhetsrådgivare till president George H. W. Bush, som stått för inspirationen.

I den nitton sidor långa essän i The Atlantic skrev Goldberg bl.a. följande:

Obama, unlike liberal interventionists, is an admirer of the foreign-policy realism of President George H. W. Bush and, in particular, of Bush’s national-security adviser, Brent Scowcroft (“I love that guy,” Obama once told me). Bush and Scowcroft removed Saddam Hussein’s army from Kuwait in 1991, and they deftly managed the disintegration of the Soviet Union; Scowcroft also, on Bush’s behalf, toasted the leaders of China shortly after the slaughter in Tiananmen Square. As Obama was writing his campaign manifesto, The Audacity of Hope, in 2006, Susan Rice, then an informal adviser, felt it necessary to remind him to include at least one line of praise for the foreign policy of President Bill Clinton, to partially balance the praise he showered on Bush and Scowcroft.

[…]

One day, over lunch in the Oval Office dining room, I asked the president how he thought his foreign policy might be understood by historians. He started by describing for me a four-box grid representing the main schools of American foreign-policy thought. One box he called isolationism, which he dismissed out of hand. “The world is ever-shrinking,” he said. “Withdrawal is untenable.” The other boxes he labeled realism, liberal interventionism, and internationalism. “I suppose you could call me a realist in believing we can’t, at any given moment, relieve all the world’s misery,” he said. “We have to choose where we can make a real impact.” He also noted that he was quite obviously an internationalist, devoted as he is to strengthening multilateral organizations and international norms.

I told him my impression was that the various traumas of the past seven years have, if anything, intensified his commitment to realist-driven restraint. Had nearly two full terms in the White House soured him on interventionism?

“For all of our warts, the United States has clearly been a force for good in the world,” he said. “If you compare us to previous superpowers, we act less on the basis of naked self-interest, and have been interested in establishing norms that benefit everyone. If it is possible to do good at a bearable cost, to save lives, we will do it.”

If a crisis, or a humanitarian catastrophe, does not meet his stringent standard for what constitutes a direct national-security threat, Obama said, he doesn’t believe that he should be forced into silence. He is not so much the realist, he suggested, that he won’t pass judgment on other leaders. Though he has so far ruled out the use of direct American power to depose Assad, he was not wrong, he argued, to call on Assad to go. “Oftentimes when you get critics of our Syria policy, one of the things that they’ll point out is ‘You called for Assad to go, but you didn’t force him to go. You did not invade.’ And the notion is that if you weren’t going to overthrow the regime, you shouldn’t have said anything. That’s a weird argument to me, the notion that if we use our moral authority to say ‘This is a brutal regime, and this is not how a leader should treat his people,’ once you do that, you are obliged to invade the country and install a government you prefer.”

“I am very much the internationalist,” Obama said in a later conversation. “And I am also an idealist insofar as I believe that we should be promoting values, like democracy and human rights and norms and values, because not only do they serve our interests the more people adopt values that we share—in the same way that, economically, if people adopt rule of law and property rights and so forth, that is to our advantage—but because it makes the world a better place. And I’m willing to say that in a very corny way, and in a way that probably Brent Scowcroft would not say.

“Having said that,” he continued, “I also believe that the world is a tough, complicated, messy, mean place, and full of hardship and tragedy. And in order to advance both our security interests and those ideals and values that we care about, we’ve got to be hardheaded at the same time as we’re bighearted, and pick and choose our spots, and recognize that there are going to be times where the best that we can do is to shine a spotlight on something that’s terrible, but not believe that we can automatically solve it. There are going to be times where our security interests conflict with our concerns about human rights. There are going to be times where we can do something about innocent people being killed, but there are going to be times where we can’t.”

Tidskriftsomslag: The Atlantic, april 2016.

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Denna reklamfilm har fått många att göra en jämförelse mellan Donald Trumps oförmåga att ta tydligt avstånd ifrån Ku Klux Klan och klanens stöd till Barry Goldwatrer i valet 1964.

Yoni Appelbaum, senior editor på The Atlantic skrev så här:

In 2000, Trump was unambiguous about condemning the intolerance of the Reform Party, because it “now includes a Klansman, Mr. Duke, a neo-Nazi, Mr. Buchanan, and a communist, Ms. Fulani,” he said. “This is not company I wish to keep.” On Friday, Trump was asked about Duke’s support, and replied, “I disavow him, OK?” But somehow, by Sunday, he’d forgotten both who Duke was, and how repellent his ideology is.

Om man inte klarar av att ta avstånd ifrån KKK har man uppenbara problem. I ett val där den viktiga väljargruppen kommer att vara svarta amerikaner, och där dessa till övervägande delen röstar på demokraterna, har ingen kandidat råd att göra sådant misstag.

För det kan väl inte vara så att stödet från t.ex. David Duke, f.d. ”Grand Wizard” i klanen, anses vara så pass viktigt för Trump att han inte anser sig ha råd att avstå ifrån det?

I så fall är det ett säkert tecken på att Trump misstänker att han går mot en storförlust mot Hillary Clinton.

Läs mer: ”If You Can’t Understand the Trump Problem, Watch This Vintage Campaign Ad” av Jack Holmes.

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Val 2016 | USA:s väljare har vänt sig alltmer åt vänster enligt Peter Beinart som är contributing editor på tidskriften The Atlantic.

The Atlantic January-February 2016

Enligt hans tes kommer nästa president – oavsett om det blir en demokrat eller republikan – att fortsätta förvalta det liberala arvet efter Barack Obama.

Om det blir t.ex. Hillary Clinton kommer hon att bygga vidare på de liberala strömningar som redan finns i landet.

Och vinner Donald Trump kommer han inte att kunna ta landet tillbaka till konservatismen under George W. Bush oavsett hans retorik idag. Obama har helt enkelt förändrat USA för mycket. De viktigaste målgrupperna har alla gått i mer liberal riktning.

Beinart skriver:

I came of age in the ’80s and ’90s, when the backlash against ’60s liberalism still struck terror into Democratic hearts. I watched as Ronald Reagan moved the country hard to the right, and as Bill Clinton made his peace with this new political reality by assuring white America that his party would fight crime mercilessly. Seeing this year’s Democratic candidates crumple before Black Lives Matter and shed Clinton’s ideological caution as they stampeded to the left, I imagined the country must be preparing for a vast conservative reaction.

But I was wrong. The more I examined the evidence, the more I realized that the current moment looks like a mirror image of the late ’60s and early ’70s. The resemblances are clear, but their political significance has been turned upside down. There is a backlash against the liberalism of the Obama era. But it is louder than it is strong. Instead of turning right, the country as a whole is still moving to the left.

[…]

That doesn’t mean the Republicans won’t retain strength in the nation’s statehouses and in Congress. It doesn’t mean a Republican won’t sooner or later claim the White House. It means that on domestic policy—foreign policy is following a different trajectory, as it often does—the terms of the national debate will continue tilting to the left. The next Democratic president will be more liberal than Barack Obama. The next Republican president will be more liberal than George W. Bush.

In the late ’60s and ’70s, amid left-wing militancy and racial strife, a liberal era ended. Today, amid left-wing militancy and racial strife, a liberal era is only just beginning.

[…]

It means the next Republican president won’t be able to return the nation to the pre-Obama era.

That’s what happened when Dwight Eisenhower followed Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman. Ike moderated the growth in government expansion that had begun in the 1930s, but he didn’t return American politics to the 1920s, when the GOP opposed any federal welfare state at all. He in essence ratified the New Deal. It’s also what happened when Bill Clinton followed Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. By passing punitive anticrime laws, repealing restrictions on banks, signing NAFTA, cutting government spending to balance the budget, reforming welfare, and declaring that the “era of big government is over,” Clinton acknowledged that even a Democratic president could not revive the full-throated liberalism of the 1960s and ’70s. He ratified Reaganism.

Barack Obama sought the presidency hoping to be the Democrats’ Reagan: a president who changed America’s ideological trajectory. And he has changed it. He has pushed the political agenda as dramatically to the left as Reagan pushed it to the right, and, as under Reagan, the public has acquiesced more than it has rebelled. Reagan’s final victory came when Democrats adapted to the new political world he had made, and there is reason to believe that the next Republican president will find it necessary to make similar concessions to political reality.

This political cycle, too, will ultimately run its course. A sustained rise in crime could breed fissures between African American activists and young whites or even Latinos. Slower economic growth and a rising budget deficit could turn the public against government in a way that Obama’s policies have not—and force Democrats to again emphasize the creation of wealth more than its distribution. How this era of liberal dominance will end is anyone’s guess. But it will likely endure for some time to come.

Tidskriftsomslag: The Atlantic, januari/februari 2016.

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STRATEGI | Det finns få negativa saker inom politiken som inte kan vändas till en fördel. Det gäller bara att lyfta fram styrkorna på bekostnad av svagheterna.

Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to the reporters at United Nations headquarters, Tuesday, March 10, 2015.  Clinton conceded that she should have used a government email to conduct business as secretary of state, saying her decision was simply a matter of "convenience." (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Hillary Clinton har fått mycket kritik för de första stapplande stegen i sin valkampanj och sättet hon har försökt krishantera.

Peter Beinart i The Atlantic har dock en lite annorlunda vinkling på temat. Hans poäng är att Clinton har gjort precis det hon är bäst på.

Hennes styrka har aldrig varit de stora visionerna. Däremot älskar hon att tala om sakfrågor. Hon är, precis som sin man, en riktig politisk geek.

Visioner är annars standardingrediensen i amerikanska politikers arsenal. Visioner är ett bra sätt att slippa bli alltför konkret i sin politik. Samtidigt låter det visionära som om man tänkt både länge och väl kring de stora utmaningar landet står inför.

Visioner har också den fördelen att man inte behöver vara speciellt konkret. På så sätt unviker man att öppna upp sig för motståndarnas attacker.

Beinart konstaterar att Clinton gjort precis tvärt emot vad många andra politiker gör när de drar igång sin presidentvalskampanj.

Soaring rhetoric and grand themes have never been Hillary’s strengths. That’s one reason so many liberals found her so much less inspirational than Barack Obama in 2008. And it’s a problem with deep roots. In his biography, A Woman in Charge, Carl Bernstein describes Hillary, then in law school, struggling to articulate her generation’s perspective in an address to the League of Women Voters. “If she was speaking about a clearly defined subject,” Bernstein writes, “her thoughts would be well organized, finely articulated, and delivered in almost perfect outline form. But before the League audience, she again and again lapsed into sweeping abstractions.”

Team Clinton appears to understand this. And so it has done something shrewd. Instead of talking vision, Hillary is talking policy, which she does really well.

[…]

Hillary’s handlers have played to this strength. On April 29, she devoted the first major speech of her campaign not to her vision for America, but to something more specific: race and crime.

[…]

The speech was not merely substantive. It was authentic. It showcased the real Hillary Clinton: A woman who, whatever her faults, hates injustice and knows what she’s talking about when it comes to government.

[…]

She’s at her best talking about America not abstractly, but concretely. She’s most inspiring when talking not about what she believes, but about what she wants to do. And she most effectively humanizes herself by being true to who she is: knowledgeable, passionate, and vaguely obsessive about making government work. Against Rubio, or any other likely Republican challenger, that identity should provide an excellent contrast.

Bild: Seth Wenig/AP Photo. Hillary Clinton talar med reportrar vid FN:s högkvarter den 10 mars 2015.

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Howard Wolfson

When the house is on fire, it’s better to have a psychotic fireman than no fireman at all. 

                                                                      – Howard Wolfson

Wolfson var Communications Director i Hillary Clintons kaotiska kampanjteam 2008. Citatet från Joshua Greens ”The Front-Runner’s Fall”, The Atlantic.                                

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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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