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Posts Tagged ‘The New York Times Magazine.’

VAL 2016 | Clinton vill gärna lyfta fram sina erfarenheter som bl.a. utrikesminister i valrörelsen för att visa på skillnaden mellan henne och Donald Trump.

The New York Times Magazine April 17 2016

Vad som är mindre känt är att hon ständig låg till höger om president Barack Obama i säkerhetspolitiska frågor när hon var hans Secretary of State.

Även om hon har gått åt vänster i år för att inte tappa väljare till Bernie Sanders kommer hon sannolikt lita mer på USA:s militära makt som president än vad Obama gjort.

Jack Sullivan, en av hennes kampanjrådgivare och tidigare medarbetare under hennes tid som utrikesminister, tror att hennes mer aggressiva framtoning i säkerhetspolitiska frågor ligger rätt i tiden.

Enligt Sullivan går hennes strategi i valrörelsen ut på att visa för väljarna att hon har en klar och tydlig plan för att konfrontera terrorismen från islamisterna samtidigt som hon tänker utmåla Trump som en person utan några kvalifikationer överhuvudtaget när det gäller att hantera USA:s nationella säkerhet.

Mark Landler kallar t.o.m. Clinton för hök när han skrev i The New York Times Magazine om Clintons instinkt på det utrikes- och säkerhetspolitiska området.

Det är en bild som säkert kommer att överraska många av Clintons många beundrare runt om i världen, inte minst i Sverige.

“Hillary is very much a member of the traditional American foreign-policy establishment,” says Vali Nasr, a foreign-policy strategist who advised her on Pakistan and Afghanistan at the State Department. “She believes, like presidents going back to the Reagan or Kennedy years, in the importance of the military — in solving terrorism, in asserting American influence. The shift with Obama is that he went from reliance on the military to the intelligence agencies. Their position was, ‘All you need to deal with terrorism is N.S.A. and C.I.A., drones and special ops.’ So the C.I.A. gave Obama an angle, if you will, to be simultaneously hawkish and shun using the military.”

[…]

Jack Keane is one of the intellectual architects of the Iraq surge; he is also perhaps the greatest single influence on the way Hillary Clinton thinks about military issues. A bear of a man with a jowly, careworn face and Brylcreem-slicked hair, Keane exudes the supreme self-confidence you would expect of a retired four-star general.

[…]

Though he is one of a parade of cable-TV generals, Keane is the resident hawk on Fox News, where he appears regularly to call for the United States to use greater military force in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. He doesn’t shrink from putting boots on the ground and has little use for civilian leaders, like Obama, who do.

Keane first got to know Clinton in the fall of 2001, when she was a freshman senator and he was the Army’s second in command, with a distinguished combat and command record in Vietnam, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia and Kosovo. He had expected her to be intelligent, hard-working and politically astute, but he was not prepared for the respect she showed for the Army as an institution, or her sympathy for the sacrifices made by soldiers and their families. Keane was confident he could smell a phony politician a mile away, and he didn’t get that whiff from her.

“I read people; that’s one of my strengths,” he told me. “It’s not that I can’t be fooled, but I’m not fooled often.”

[…]

He and Clinton continued to talk, even after Obama was elected and she became secretary of state. More often than not, they found themselves in sync. Keane, like Clinton, favored more robust intervention in Syria than Obama did. In April 2015, the week before she announced her candidacy, Clinton asked him for a briefing on military options for dealing with the fighters of the Islamic State. Bringing along three young female analysts from the Institute for the Study of War, Keane gave her a 2-hour-20-minute presentation. Among other steps, he advocated imposing a no-fly zone over parts of Syria that would neutralize the air power of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, with a goal of forcing him into a political settlement with opposition groups. Six months later, Clinton publicly adopted this position, further distancing herself from Obama.

“I’m convinced this president, no matter what the circumstances, will never put any boots on the ground to do anything, even when it’s compelling,” Keane told me.

[…]

“One of the problems the president has, which weakens his diplomatic efforts, is that leaders don’t believe he would use military power. That’s an issue that would separate the president from Hillary Clinton rather dramatically. She would look at military force as another realistic option, but only where there is no other option.”

Befriending Keane wasn’t just about cultivating a single adviser. It gave Clinton instant entree to his informal network of active-duty and retired generals.

[…]

Just as Clinton benefited from her alliance with the military commanders, she gave them political cover. “Here’s the dirty little secret,” says Tom Nides, her former deputy secretary of state for management and resources. “They all knew they wanted her on their side. They knew that if they walked into the Situation Room and they had her, it made a huge difference in the dynamics. When she opened her mouth, she could change the momentum in the room.”

David Axelrod recalls one meeting where Clinton “kicked the thing off and pretty much articulated their opinion; I’m sure that’s one that they remember. There’s no doubt that she wanted to give them every troop that McChrystal was asking for.” Still, Clinton didn’t prevail on every argument. After agreeing to send the troops, Obama added a condition of his own: that the soldiers be deployed as quickly as possible and pulled out again, starting in the summer of 2011 — a deadline that proved more fateful in the long run than a difference of 10,000 troops. Clinton opposed setting a public deadline for withdrawal, arguing that it would tip America’s hand to the Taliban and encourage them to wait out the United States — which, in fact, was exactly what happened.

[…]

To thwart the progressive insurgency of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Clinton carefully calibrated her message during the Democratic primaries to align herself closely with Barack Obama and his racially diverse coalition. But as she pivots to the general election, that balancing act with Obama will become trickier. “There’s going to be a huge amount of interest in the press to score-keep,” Sullivan says. “It just so easily can become a sport that distracts from her ability to make an affirmative case.”

In showing her stripes as a prospective commander in chief, Clinton will no doubt draw heavily upon her State Department experience — filtering the lessons she learned in Libya, Syria and Iraq into the sinewy worldview she has held since childhood. Last fall, in a series of policy speeches, Clinton began limning distinctions with the president on national security. She said the United States should consider sending more special-operations troops to Iraq than Obama had committed, to help the Iraqis and Kurds fight the Islamic State. She came out in favor of a partial no-fly zone over Syria. And she described the threat posed by ISIS to Americans in starker terms than he did. As is often the case with Clinton and Obama, the differences were less about direction than degree. She wasn’t calling for ground troops in the Middle East, any more than he was. Clinton insisted her plan was not a break with his, merely an “intensification and acceleration” of it.

It’s an open question how well Clinton’s hawkish instincts match the country’s mood. Americans are weary of war and remain suspicious of foreign entanglements. And yet, after the retrenchment of the Obama years, there is polling evidence that they are equally dissatisfied with a portrait of their country as a spent force, managing its decline amid a world of rising powers like China, resurgent empires like Vladimir Putin’s Russia and lethal new forces like the Islamic State. If Obama’s minimalist approach was a necessary reaction to the maximalist style of his predecessor, then perhaps what Americans yearn for is something in between — the kind of steel-belted pragmatism that Clinton has spent a lifetime honing.

Tidskriftsomslag: The New York Times Magazine den 24 april 2016.

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EKONOMI | Hur stort inflytande har en amerikansk president på den ekonomiska utvecklingen i en modern ekonomi?

The New York Times Magazine - 1 Maj 2016

Arbetslösheten i USA ligger på fem procent. Underskottet minskar och BNP ökar. Trots detta känner sig många amerikaner att utvecklingen går i fel riktning.

Frågan är om president Barack Obama borde klarat av att kommunicera en mer positiv bild av vad som uppnåtts under hans tid i Vita huset – detta trots att hans politiska motståndare inte har vikt en tum i sin nattsvarta beskrivning av den ekonomiska utvecklingen.

Andrew Ross Sorkin, finansiell kolumnist, skriver i The New York Times Magazine om det ekonomiska arv som Barack Obamas sannolikt lämnar efter sig.

Often in our conversations, the president expressed a surprising degree of identification with America’s business leaders. “If I hadn’t gone into politics and public service,” Obama told me, “the challenges of creating a business and growing a business and making it work would probably be the thing that was most interesting to me.” His showy embrace of capitalism was especially notable given his fractious relationship with Wall Street and the business community for much of his first term.

In December 2009, Obama was not reluctant to chastise bankers. “I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat-cat bankers on Wall Street,” he told Steve Kroft on “60 Minutes.” “The people on Wall Street still don’t get it. They don’t get it. They’re still puzzled, ‘Why is it that people are mad at the banks?’ ”

Given the national mood at the time, Obama’s words shouldn’t have come as a surprise to the business leaders. But the financial sector had buoyed Obama’s campaign, giving him $16 million in political support, nearly twice what McCain received from it, and some executives responded to his new populism in emotional terms. “It’s a war,” Stephen Schwarzman, a co-founder of Blackstone Group, the giant private-equity firm, said of Obama in 2010 and his effort to close a tax loophole that benefited the industry. “It’s like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.” (Schwarzman later apologized.) Others seemed more concerned with the language itself. In 2011, Leon Cooperman, a billionaire hedge-fund manager, wrote a public letter to Obama, saying: “The divisive, polarizing tone of your rhetoric is cleaving a widening gulf, at this point as much visceral as philosophical, between the downtrodden and those best positioned to help them. It is a gulf that is at once counterproductive and freighted with dangerous historical precedents.”

When I asked him about these reactions, Obama laughed. The criticism he leveled at Wall Street “was extraordinarily mild,” he said, but “it hurt their feelings. I would have some of them say to me, ‘You know, my son came home and asked me, ‘Am I a fat cat?’ ” He laughed again.

Obama’s rhetoric does seem mild, at least compared with the withering contempt of, say, Franklin Roosevelt, who, laying out the objectives for the second stage of the New Deal in 1936, said that reckless bankers and speculators are “unanimous in their hate for me — and I welcome their hatred.” Obama, to the contrary, seems to find their hatred irritating. “One of the constants that I’ve had to deal with over the last few years is folks on Wall Street complaining even as the stock market went from in the 6,000s to 16,000 or 17,000,” he said. “They’d be constantly complaining about our economic policies. That’s not rooted in anything they’re experiencing; it has to do with ideology and their aggravations about higher taxes.”

[…]

It has always been the case that voters credit or, more often, blame the president for the nation’s economic performance. But it is also the case that the president generally has considerably less sway to move the economy than even he might like to acknowledge. And as the economy continues to disperse, that sway may be diminishing further. A president has less power than ever, in either a hard- power (legal/regulatory) or soft-power (cultural) sense, over American chief executives, let alone over the chief executives of multinationals based in France or China or other places where many U.S. employers make their headquarters.

[…]

Obama considered the problem from a political perspective. “In some ways,” he said, “engaging in those hard changes that we need to make to create a more nimble, dynamic economy doesn’t yield immediate benefits and can seem like a distraction or an effort to undermine a bygone era that doesn’t exist. And that then feeds, both on the left and the right, a temptation to say, ‘If we could just go back to an era in which our borders were closed,’ or ‘If we could just go back to a time when everybody had a defined-benefit plan,’ or ‘We could just go back to a time when there wasn’t any immigrant that was taking my job, things would be O.K.’ ” He didn’t mention Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders by name, but the implications were obvious.

Tidskriftsomslag: The New York Times Magazine den 1 maj 2016.

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VAL 2016 | Mark Leibovich på The New York Times Magazine har kallat Donald Trump för en ”one-man chaos theory”.

The New York Times Magazine - 4 oktober 2015

Men hans kampanj är långt ifrån oprofessionell. Det han gör och säger är väl genomtänkt. Detta blev uppenbart för Leibovich när han följde Trump.

”He campaigns in poetry in much the same way a wild hog sips chardonnay”, skriver Leibovich.  Men osofistikerad är inte detsamma som oprofessionell.

‘I’ve had much more than 15 minutes of fame, that’s for sure,’’ he said. Trump can be hyper-­solicitous of the press. His orbit is largely free of handlers and is very much his own production, down to his tweets — which he types or dictates himself. I asked Trump if his campaign conducted focus groups. I knew what his answer would be but asked anyway. ‘‘I do focus groups,’’ he said, pressing both thumbs against his forehead, ‘‘right here.’’

Getting close to Trump is nothing like the teeth-­pulling exercise that it can be to get any meaningful exposure to a candidate like, say, Hillary Clinton. This is a seductive departure in general for political reporters accustomed to being ignored, patronized and offered sound bites to a point of lobotomy by typical politicians and the human straitjackets that surround them. In general, Trump understands and appreciates that reporters like to be given the time of day. It’s symbiotic in his case because he does in fact pay obsessive attention to what is said and written and tweeted about him. Trump is always saying that so-and-so TV pundit ‘‘spoke very nicely’’ about him on some morning show and that some other writer ‘‘who used to kill me’’ has now come around to ‘‘loving me.’’ There is a ‘‘Truman Show’’ aspect to this, except Trump is the director — continually selling, narrating and spinning his story while he lives it.

With me, Trump toggled often between on and off the record, one of which seemed only marginally more sensitive than the other, but with enough difference to indicate that he is capable of calculating from word to word and knowing where certain lines are.

[…]

I asked whether he had ever experienced self-doubt. The question seemed to catch Trump off guard, and he flashed a split second of, if not vulnerability, maybe non­swagger. ‘‘Yes, I think more than people would think,’’ he told me. When? ‘‘I don’t want to talk about it.’’ He shrug-­smirked. ‘‘Because, you know — probably more than people would think. I understand how life can go. Things can happen.’’ This was a rare moment when Trump’s voice trailed off, even slightly. He then handed me a sheet of new polling data that someone had put on his desk. ‘‘Beautiful numbers,’’ he said, inviting me to take them with me.

[…]

But while populism is often associated with grass-roots movements, Trump’s brand of it flows not from the ground up, as did Obama’s campaign in 2008 or even the Tea Party movement in subsequent years. Rather, Trump’s is pure media populism, a cult of personality whose following has been built over decades. The popularity of Trump’s NBC reality franchise, ‘‘The Apprentice,’’ for instance, made him a potent cultural persona; the power of that persona (the frowning, pitiless boss) might actually outweigh the customary strategic imperatives (message discipline, donor bases) that the political wiseguys like to get all aroused about. In large measure, the core of Trump’s phenomenon is his celebrity itself, which, in today’s America, is in fact as populist as it gets.

[…]

Trump makes no attempt to cloak his love of fame and, admirably, will not traffic in that tiresome politicians’ notion that his campaign is ‘‘not about me, it’s about you.’’ The ease with which Trump exhibits, and inhabits, his self-­regard is not only central to his ‘‘brand’’ but also highlights a kind of honesty about him. He can even seem hostile to any notion of himself as humble servant — that example of mod­esty that George Washington and Abraham Lincoln strove for.

The idea of a president as Everyman stands at odds with his glamorized vision for the nation. The president should be a man apart, exceptional and resplendent in every way. ‘‘Jimmy Carter used to get off Air Force One carrying his luggage,’’ Trump said. ‘‘I used to say, ‘I don’t want a president carrying his luggage.’ ’’ Carter was a nice man, Trump allowed. ‘‘But we want someone who is going to go out and kick ass and win.’’ Which apparently cannot be done by someone ‘‘who’s gonna come off carrying a large bag of underwear.’’

[…]

I observed to Trump that I had never encountered a candidate who talked so much to me about the latest polls. He knew precisely why that was. ‘‘That’s because they’re not leading,’’ he said. Trump signed off by saying that he hoped my article would be fair and added that there was no reason it shouldn’t be. ‘‘I’ve done nothing bad,’’ he told me. ‘‘What have I done bad?’’

How do you answer that question? Trump might be the single most self-­involved yet least introspective person I have ever met in my life, in or out of politics. I’m guessing he would say this is a good quality in a president. It spares him unglamorous dilemmas. But it’s unsettling to encounter a prospective leader whose persona is so conspicuous and well defined and yet whose core is so obtuse. The Obama political acolyte David Axelrod has likened campaigns to ‘‘an M.R.I. for the soul.’’ If that’s the case, maybe the most fascinating question for Trump is not where this all ends up, but what his expedition reveals about Donald Trump’s soul, if it reveals anything at all. ‘‘Some people think this will be good for my brand,’’ Trump concluded, as deep as he probes. ‘‘I think it’s irrelevant for my brand.’’

Tidskriftsomslag: The New York Times Magazine den 4 oktober 2015.

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USA | Känslan att Hillary Clinton inte entusiasmerar väljarna har tilltagit sedan utmanaren Bernie Sanders har börjat locka stora skaror.

The New York Times-July 19-2015

Lösningen, enligt hennes campaign manager Robby Mook, är att låta Clinton få den tid hon behöver ute på fältet för att väljarna skall se henne som en historisk chans att kunna välja USA:s första kvinnliga president.

Detta skall kombineras med att väljarna får se en Hillary som gärna framhäver sig själv som en riktig medelsvensson som delar den vanlige amerikanens erfarenheter och vardag.

Detta är just så motsägelsefullt som det låter. Men konstigare kampanjupplägg har varit framgångsrika i amerikanska presidentvalskampanjer.

Tillsammans med en välfylld kampanjkassan, kalla nerver och ett målinriktad kampanjupplägg skall fixa valsegern.

Mark Leibovich rapporterade från hennes kampanj för The New York Times Magazine:

Hillary Clinton is private and guarded by nature, and three decades of being inspected like an exotic species has made her even more so. But right now, in the early days of what will be a 19-month campaign for the White House, she is trying to share and expound on her experi­ences, to project some greater measure of herself, big and small.

[…]

These are things Hillary Clinton has been talking about as she has undertaken the messy practice of what political types refer to as ‘‘reintroducing’’ — or, in Clinton’s case, re-re-re-reintroducing.

Still, all those introductions and forays into hostile territories have left her with battle scars. She is wary to a point where the control-freak tendencies of her campaign, especially with regard to how she is portrayed in the press, have reinforced an established story line: that she is sealed off and inaccessible and not like the rest of us. ‘‘DO YOU HAVE A PERCEPTION PROBLEM?’’ a reporter shouted out at her during Clinton’s last visit to New Hampshire, not quite the icebreaker you’d wish for when making reintroductions. As a rule, the media is not Clinton’s preferred confidant.

[…]

From the outset of the campaign, any hope that Clinton might unveil a more freewheeling style in keeping with the more unplugged sensibilities of today’s political and media culture lasted for all of, well, never. Signs of apparent spontaneity and whimsy have been nonexistent — she has been largely steadfast in avoiding interviews, with a campaign team that can convey a heavy-handed preoccupation with control.

[…]

Clinton’s enterprise has a grind-it-out quality reminiscent of Obama’s re-election strategy of 2012: cover your base, attack often. Her team will emphasize data, targeting and field operations — all specialties Mook sharpened as a wunderkind state director for Clinton in 2008 and in subsequent statewide and congressional races. Ground troops will identify supporters and make sure they vote, without giving much thought to persuading swing voters. In nearly every campaign event, the candidate catalogs all the fights she has waged on their ‘‘everyday American’’ behalf. That’s as close as there comes to a big idea in this expedition. To fight is a skill, and it creates a spectacle, but it hardly constitutes a vision. Nor is it a particularly fresh theme for Democratic presidential candidates, who have been trumpeting their ‘‘I’ll fight for you’’ credentials for decades (the future lobbyist Richard Gephardt used to punctuate his labor-heavy rallies with an impassioned ‘‘It’s your fight too!’’).

Clinton often says at her events that her campaign is ‘‘not about me.’’ All politicians say that (even though, of course, it is about them). But she is right in that she stands for bigger things, not least among them the goal of electing a woman as president. Her sex gives the campaign a built-in point of connection, and compared with what she did in 2008, Clinton has not hesitated to emphasize the factor known euphemistically as ‘‘the historic nature of her candidacy.’’

[…]

Mook projects a confidence belying his age and the stresses of his job. As the campaign manager, he sits in the bull’s-eye within the many circles of insanity that ring Planet Clintonia. (Actually, Mook does not sit, as his office is equipped with a standing desk.) What impressed me was how he dispatched my question about reconciling the divide between the candidate’s cautious persona and the private ‘‘Hillary I know’’ that her disciples swear by. ‘‘What I worry about is us getting up in our heads too much and trying to manufacture one thing or another,’’ he told me. ‘‘My priority is letting her take her time to get out there, let the voters see who she is, rather than some Wizard of Oz.’’

Tidskriftsomslag: The New York Times Magazine, 19 juli 2015.

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USA | När Republican Party skall utse sin presidentkandidat brukar kandidaterna tävla om vem som kan låta mest höger. Allt för att tilltala partiets kärnväljare.

The New York Times Magazine - March 22 2015 - Ben Carson

Problemet för vinnande kandidat är att han eller hon sedan måste försöka vinna väljare som inte är lika konservativa som gräsrötterna.

Detta skapar lätt bilden av att republikanerna är både principlösa och opålitliga. De blir en utmärkt måltavla för den demokratiska motståndaren under presidentvalskampanjen.

Detta var vad som hände John McCain och Mitt Romney när de stod mot Barack Obama. För att undvika att detta upprepas har partiet antagit nya tuffare regler för att styra upp nomineringsprocessen.

Frågan är bar om det kommer att fungera. Om målet var att försöka avstyra att alltför nyliberala eller konservativa kandidater skulle tycka det var mödan värt att ställa upp har man redan misslyckats.

Jeb Bush – en av partietablissemangets favoriter – har därför redan meddelat att han inte tänker låta sig luras in i samma fälla som föregångarna.

Hans strategi går ut på att inte spela på den planhalva som bara kan öppna upp för attacker från Hillary Clinton och kompani om han skulle bli nominerad.

Bush är inriktad på att det blir en lång och tuff valkampanj innan partiet utsett sin presidentkandidat.

Jim Rutenberg, The New York Times Magazine, har skrivit om partiets dilemma inför presidentvalet.

The establishment candidate has usually been a current or former governor or senator, blandly Protestant, hailing from the moderate, big-business wing of the party (or at least friendly with it) and almost always a second-, third- or fourth-time national contender — someone who had waited “his turn.” These candidates would tack predictably to the right during the primaries to satisfy the evangelicals, deficit hawks, libertarian leaners and other inconvenient but vital constituents who made up the “base” of the party. In return, the base would, after a brief flirtation with some fantasy candidate like Steve Forbes or Pat Buchanan, “hold their noses” and deliver their votes come November. This bargain was always tenuous, of course, and when some of the furthest-right activists turned against George W. Bush, citing (among other apostasies) his expansion of Medicare’s prescription drug benefit, it began to fall apart. After Barack Obama defeated McCain in 2008, the party’s once dependable base started to reconsider the wisdom of holding their noses at all.

[…]

At the 2012 convention in Tampa, a group of longtime party hands, including Romney’s lawyer, Ben Ginsberg, gathered to discuss how to prevent a repeat of what had become known inside and outside the party as the “clown show.” Their aim was not just to protect the party but also to protect a potential President Romney from a primary challenge in 2016. They forced through new rules that would give future presumptive nominees more control over delegates in the event of a convention fight.

They did away with the mandatory proportional delegate awards that encouraged long-shot candidacies. And, in a noticeably targeted effort, they raised the threshold that candidates needed to meet to enter their names into nomination, just as Ron Paul’s supporters were working to reach it. When John A. Boehner gaveled the rules in on a voice vote — a vote that many listeners heard as a tie, if not an outright loss — the hall erupted and a line of Ron Paul supporters walked off the floor in protest, along with many Tea Party members.

At a party meeting last winter, Reince Priebus, who as party chairman is charged with maintaining the support of all his constituencies, did restore some proportional primary and caucus voting, but only in states that held voting within a shortened two-week window. And he also condensed the nominating schedule to four and a half months from six months, and, for the first time required candidates to participate in a shortened debate schedule, determined by the party, not by the whims of the networks. (The panel that recommended those changes included names closely identified with the establishment — the former Bush White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, the Mississippi committeeman Haley Barbour and, notably, Jeb Bush’s closest adviser, Sally Bradshaw.)

[…]

“We don’t need a six-month slice-and-dice festival,” Priebus said when we spoke in mid-March. “While I can’t always control everyone’s mouth, I can control how long we can kill each other.”

All the rules changes were built to sidestep the problems of 2012. But the 2016 field is shaping up to be vastly different and far larger. A new Republican hints that he or she is considering a run seemingly every week. There are moderates like Gov. John Kasich of Ohio and former Gov. George Pataki of New York; no-compromise conservatives like Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania; business-wingers like the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina; one-of-a-kinds like Donald Trump — some 20 in all, a dozen or so who seem fairly serious about it. That opens the possibility of multiple candidates vying for all the major Republican constituencies, some of them possibly goaded along by super-PAC-funding billionaires, all of them trading wins and collecting delegates well into spring.

Tidskriftsomslag: The New York Times Magazine den 22 mars 2015.

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USA | Oavsett vem som hamnar i Vita Huset efter presidentvalet kommer Roger Ailes och Fox News vinna på det.

The New York Times Magazine - January 25 2015

Ailes, som en gång i tiden var en av Richard Nixons rådgivare, har fortfarande en hel del att lära politikerna i Republican Party.

Jim Rutenberg skriver så här om honom i The New York Times Magazine:

Ailes has long argued that Americans alienated by the sensibilities of the “New York-Hollywood elitists” are a valuable demographic, and the past two decades have proved him right. He started Fox News in 1996, led it to first place in the cable-news ratings in 2002 and has widened his lead ever since. At the point it surpassed CNN, Fox News had an average prime-time audience of 1.2 million, while CNN’s was 900,000 and MSNBC’s was around 400,000. By the end of 2012 — a presidential-election year, with higher-than-typical news viewership — its prime-time audience of more than two million was the third-biggest in all of basic cable and larger than those of MSNBC (905,000) and CNN (677,000) combined. By last year, its share of that news pie had climbed to 61 percent, and it had moved to second place in the prime-time rankings for all of basic cable, behind ESPN.

This has given Ailes consistent bragging rights, no small matter for a man whose braggadocio is television legend. (When Paula Zahn departed Fox News for CNN in 2001, he said he could beat her ratings with “a dead raccoon.”) But it has also given him something more impressive: ever-increasing profits. During a 10-year span, Fox News’s profits grew sixfold to $1.2 billion in 2014, on total operating revenue of $2 billion, according to the financial analysis firm SNL Kagan. By contrast, those of CNN and MSNBC have leveled off over the past few years, with the occasional small dip or spike.

[…]

And yet, for a network that wants to grow in both viewers and dollars, Ailes’s favored demographic has begun to pose something of a constraint. In an online survey, the Pew Research Center has found that 84 percent of those whom it identified as “consistently conservative” already watched Fox News. Moreover, though Fox News regularly wins in the demographic that matters most to advertisers — those viewers between the ages of 25 and 54 — it has the oldest audience in cable news, a fact that its detractors are quick to point out. How many more of Ailes’s “average Americans” are there who are not already tuned into Fox News on a regular basis?

The Pew Research Center data, though, also suggests an area where expansion is still possible: 37 percent of the Fox News audience holds views that Pew calls ideologically “mixed.” (This means their survey responses on specific political questions cut across ideological lines: For example, they support same-sex marriage but oppose new restrictions on gun ownership.) Similarly, a survey by the Public Religion Research Institute found that about 38 percent of all Americans identify themselves as “independent,” and 34 percent of those independents identify themselves as conservative. A little more than half of that subgroup cite Fox as their “most trusted” news source. The rest are what Robert P. Jones, the chief executive of the Public Religion Research Institute, identified as “a growth margin” for the network; they could be what the poll identified as “Fox News Independents,” but they don’t know it yet. Unlike the more hard-core “Fox News Republicans,” these independents are less likely to call themselves members of the Tea Party, are more open to allowing the children of illegal immigrants to stay here legally and slightly more approving of the president’s job performance (15 percent for Fox News Independents, as opposed to 5 percent for Fox News Republicans).

How does Ailes maintain the aging conservative base that has allowed him to control the present while at the same time drawing in younger and independent viewers that will allow him to grow and control the future? Fox News, in this way, is confronted by the same problem the Republican Party faces, and Ailes appears to be solving his problem the way anyone hoping to build a winning national coalition must: by emphasizing personality.

When Ted Turner started CNN, he proclaimed that “the news is the star.” Ailes, on the other hand, has always been a vocal believer in the power of personality. He was the one who, as a young producer of “The Mike Douglas Show,” advised Richard Nixon to embrace the power of television, and who, as a professional political adviser, taught George H. W. Bush how to best Dan Rather in an interview. Ailes knows as well as any television professional alive that personality is the essence of the medium — he called his 1987 self-help book “You Are the Message,” a wink at Marshall McLuhan’s insight that the medium is the message, and subtitled it “Getting What You Want by Being Who You Are.” Ailes’s advice was just what you would expect: “If you can get the audience to pull for you, you’ll always win.”

[…]

Alone on the wall behind Roger Ailes’s desk in the Fox News headquarters is a rather grim oil painting, framed in gold, of a Revolutionary War-era warship tossed by an angry sea. Ailes bought it at an antique shop 30 years ago and has no idea who painted it. He saw it as “a ship headed into the wind alone, and I thought, That’s my life.” He seems to consider it part of his job to view things that way.

Tidskriftsomslag: The New York Times Magazine den 25 januari 2015.

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USA | Det har skrivits spaltmeter om den intellektuella utarmning som drabbat republikanska partiet. Kanske heter räddningen Yuval Levin och National Affairs.

The New York Times Magazine - July 6 2014

Sam Tanenhaus, The New York Times Magazine, skriver om Levin och andra konservativa som många nu hoppas skall blåsa nytt liv i den ideologiska debatten inom Republican Party.

Det skall bli intressant och se om partiets republikanska presidentkandidater kommer att kunna leverera något mer än det man redan vet entusiasmerar redan ideologiskt övertygade gräsrötter.

“When intellectuals can do nothing else, they start a magazine.” Or so goes the famous line by Irving Howe, the beau ideal of the politically engaged writer and a founder of the left-wing intellectual magazine Dissent. His heirs include Yuval Levin.

[…]

After Obama’s sweeping victory in 2008, Levin was one of many conservative intellectuals who, as he put it to me this past March, “were trying to figure out what the hell this new world looked like.” He had been writing for National Review and The Weekly Standard, but they are political journals, and Levin saw an urgent need on the right for serious policy ideas. Out of this came National Affairs, the quarterly he founded and continues to edit, with a small staff, out of his office at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a think tank “dedicated to applying the Judeo-Christian moral tradition to critical issues of public policy.” As Levin said: “The magazine tries to sit at the intersection of political ideas and public policy. That’s where a lot of the action has to happen. You have to persuade conservatives and voters in general. And you need to have a coherent vision underlying a policy agenda.”

[…]

Rather than blame the media agitators and congressional extremists for his party’s lack of substance, Levin said on a recent panel devoted to “the future of conservatism” that “the policy vacuum on the right itself has been the fault for a long time of people like us.”

[…]

He envisions not just a shrinking or scaling-back of government, but an entire reimagining of it. He accuses both parties of being filled with pork-hungry “appropriators” who still think of Washington, even in these gridlocked years, as the lavish dispenser of services. Debates today — about “runaway spending,” about big versus limited government — reduce, in most instances, to haggling over how much to dispense and who gets what. A true Burkean conservatism, Levin argues, would recast the federal government as the facilitator and supporter of local institutions who are a function of, and a contributor to, a “civil society.” “The agenda is not a moderate agenda,” Levin told me. “It’s a very conservative agenda, more so than a lot of what’s going on in our politics that’s argued at a different pitch and so might seem like it’s more radical.”

[…]

The next presidential election may not seem a long way off. This was also the case when the last true policy revolution happened on the right. In 1979, members of the upstart Heritage Foundation, then only six years old, recruited some 250 scholars, Beltway policy-thinkers and Capitol Hill staff members to draw up a blueprint, department by department, for the next conservative president. They formed small teams and met in the evenings and on weekends. Experts in every facet of government operations, from the size of the Navy to the intricacies of the tax code, were assigned to propose laws and programs in accordance with conservative doctrine. “These were ideas that had been around since Barry Goldwater, and some even predated him, went back to the 1950s,” Lee Edwards, who participated in the project, told me recently.

In 1980, further inspired by Ronald Reagan’s decision to seek the nomination, the teams started piecing together their proposals into a giant rethinking of government. “It took about 10 months to have it ready,” Edwards recalled. Completed just before Election Day, the 3,000-page manifesto was titled “Mandate for Leadership: Policy Management in a Conservative Administration.” Shortly after Reagan’s landslide victory, Heritage officials carried copies of the mandate to the Hay-Adams Hotel, where they had arranged a secret meeting with Edwin Meese III, the head of Reagan’s transition team. Soon after, the mandate was published as a book, with some 2,000 specific policy recommendations. It became a Beltway best seller as well as a scorecard for the Reagan years. “Later, we calculated something like two-thirds were adopted in whole or in part,” Edwards said. Some — like Reagan’s 1981 tax cut and his decision to greatly enlarge the Navy fleet, as well as his decision to fire striking air traffic controllers — entered presidential annals.

“Conservatives acting like radicals” is how Edwards described the creators of the mandate. “We were going for basic changes.”

Many in Washington policy circles are familiar with the legend of the “Mandate for Leadership.” Yuval Levin, typically, has actually studied it. “It’s very impressive,” he told me last month. “But at this point, I wouldn’t say we’ve got a specific project of that scale in mind — maybe we’ll just dump five years of National Affairs on the table.”

Tidskriftsomslag: The New York Times Magazine den 6 juli 2014.

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USA | Allt fler talar numera om senator Rand Paul som republikanernas blivande presidentkandidat. Detta säger en del om partiets problem.

The New York Times Magazine August 10 2014

Det har skrivits mycket om senatorn från Kentucky på senare tid. The New York Times Magazine och Time har haft honom på omslaget. The New Yorker har publicerat en längre essay. Time kallade honom t.o.m. för ”The most interesting man in american politics”.

Robert Drapers artikel i The New York Times Magazine fokuserar på de förändringar som republikanska partiet står inför om man vill kunna attrahera fler väljare.

After eight years out of the White House, Republicans would seem well positioned to cast themselves as the fresh alternative, though perhaps only if the party first reappraises stances that young voters, in particular, regard as outdated. Emily Ekins, a pollster for the Reason Foundation, says: “Unlike with previous generations, we’re seeing a newer dimension emerge where they agree with Democrats on social issues, and on economic issues lean more to the right. It’s possible that Democrats will have to shift to the right on economic issues. But the Republicans will definitely have to move to the left on social issues. They just don’t have the numbers otherwise.” A G.O.P. more flexible on social issues might also appeal to another traditionally Democratic group with a libertarian tilt: the high-tech communities in Silicon Valley and elsewhere, whose mounting disdain for taxes, regulations and unions has become increasingly dissonant with their voting habits.

Hence the excitement about Rand Paul. It’s hardly surprising that Paul, in Ekins’s recent survey of millennial voters, came out ahead of all other potential Republican presidential candidates; on issues including same-sex marriage, surveillance and military intervention, his positions more closely mirror those of young voters than those of the G.O.P. establishment. Paul’s famous 13-hour filibuster last year, while ultimately failing to thwart the confirmation of the C.I.A. director John Brennan, lit afire the Twittersphere and compelled Republican leaders, who previously dismissed Paul as a fringe character, to add their own #StandWithRand endorsements. Paul has also gone to considerable lengths to court non-Republican audiences, like Berkeley students and the National Urban League. In a presidential field that could include Cruz, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie and Paul Ryan, Paul — who has called himself “libertarian-ish” — is by far the candidate most associated with the movement.

Pauls önskan om att bli mer relevant i amerikansk politik har inneburit att han har varit tvungen att kompromissa och modifiera sitt politiska budskap för att kunna tilltala fler inom och utanför sitt parti.

Time Oct 27-2014

Det är talande är att Michael Scherers artikel i Time har rubriken ”The Reinventions Of Rand”.

It is a measure of his caution that his positions now take several sentences to explain. He will not say whether he supports bombing Iran if Tehran acquires a nuclear weapon, but also supports sanctions policies to try to prevent that from ever happening. He is against marijuana legalization even as he fights to end prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenses. He opposed limits on campaign donations but supports a plan to bar federal contractors from donating to politics. He opposes gay marriage but also opposes a constitutional amendment to define marriage, saying that states and Congress should pursue an extensive strategy of decoupling all government benefits from marriage so a ban might pass court scrutiny.

Paul uppfattas, både politiskt och ideologiskt, fortfarande stå i skuggan av sin fars politiska karriär. Kongressledamoten Ron Paul var under många år den tydligaste förespråkaren för de libertarianska idéerna inom det republikanska partiet.

Vid ett tillfälle bröt Ron Paul t.o.m. med partiet när han ansåg partiet hade blivit alltför konservativt. Inför valet 1988 nominerade Libertarian Party honom som sin presidentkandidat.

Ideologiskt har Rand Paul därför, precis som vicepresidentkandidat Paul Ryan under förra presidentvalet, försökt distansera sig från en lång rad nyliberala idéer.

Även om detta rent teoretiskt ökar sannolikheten för att han skall lyckas bli nominerad öppnar det samtidigt upp för attacker från politiska motståndare. Det är bara att fråga Mitt Romney.

När han nu försöker bättra på sin politiska image riskerar han slå knut på sig själv. Romneys motsägelsefulla försök att distansera sig från sin tid som guvernör i delstaten Massachusetts förföljde honom under hela presidentvalskampanjen.

Samma månad som Scherers artikel publicerades i Time publicerade The New Yorker Ryan Lizzas betydligt längre essay “The Revenge of Rand Paul”.

In some respects, Paul is to Republicans in 2014 what Barack Obama was to Democrats in 2006: the Party’s most prized fund-raiser and its most discussed senator, willing to express opinions unpopular within his party, and capable of energizing younger voters. The Republican National Committee, which in 2008 refused to allow his father, Ron Paul, to speak at its Convention, recently solicited donations by offering supporters a chance to have lunch with Rand Paul.

[…]

Yet, also like Obama at a similar stage in his career, Paul could be hobbled by past associations and statements, especially on race and foreign policy. He has questioned government attempts, including a core provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to address discrimination in the private sector. He has proposed dramatically slashing the Pentagon’s budget and cancelling all foreign aid. Ron Paul ran for President as the nominee of the Libertarian Party in 1988 and as an isolationist Republican in the Presidential primaries of 2008 and 2012. Rand has followed his lead in opposing most U.S. military interventions of the past few decades, aside from the war in Afghanistan.

Many members of the Republican establishment see him as a dorm-room ideologue whose politics are indistinguishable from his father’s. Earlier this year, Mark Salter, who helped run John McCain’s 2008 Presidential campaign, wrote that Rand’s “foreign policy views, steeped as they are in the crackpot theories that inform his father’s worldview, are so ill-conceived that were he to win the nomination, Republican voters seriously concerned with national security would have no responsible recourse other than to vote for Hillary Clinton.”

[…]

As with so many aspects of his personal history, Paul approaches the subject of his intellectual influences as though he were defusing a bomb. In his book, he wrote about several libertarian writers he had turned to since high school: Ayn Rand (“one of the most influential critics of government intervention and champions of individual free will”), Hayek (“ ‘The Road to Serfdom’ is a must-read for any serious conservative”), and the Mises disciple Murray Rothbard (“a great influence on my thinking”). In my conversation with him, he shrugged them off.

Ayn Rand was just “one of many authors I like,” he said. “And it’s, like, ‘Oh, because I believe in Ayn Rand I must be an atheist, I must believe in everybody needs to be selfish all the time, and I must believe that Howard Roark is great and Ellsworth Toohey is evil,’ but she’s one of many authors I’ve read. I like Barbara Kingsolver, too.”

Hayek? “I wouldn’t say I’m like some great Hayek scholar.”

Rothbard? “There are many people I’m sure who are more schooled.”

[…]

Rand Paul has spent the past few months often clumsily trying to convince voters that his foreign policy differs from his father’s. Rand is perhaps best known, thus far, for his nearly thirteen-hour filibuster last year to protest the Administration’s use of drones—a tactic that further convinced Republican hawks that he doesn’t share their assessment of the risks posed by terrorism. Over the summer, Paul was under constant attack from rivals, such as Governor Rick Perry, of Texas, who described him as “curiously blind” to the threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham. As with the criticisms of his past statements on civil rights, Paul felt that he was the victim of a smear campaign. “Unfair criticism from people who have partisan goals,” he told me.

Kritiken kommer knappast mildras framöver. Ju närmare valrörelsen vi kommer ju mer kommer hans idéer att granskas.

Och skulle han vinna partiets nominering väntar demokraternas attacker. Är det något man kan vara säker på så är det att demokraternas kampanjstrateger har en tjock dossier märkt ”Rand Paul – flip-flopper”.

Läs mer: Rand Paul: The Most Interesting Conspiracy Theorist in Washington” av David Corn i Mother Jones är ett bra exempel på vad demokraterna (och republikanska motståndare) kan komma att fokusera på.

Tidskriftsomslag: The New York Times Magazine, 10 augusti 2014 och Time, 27 oktober 2014.

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USA | Det var vicepresident Joe Biden som tvingade Barack Obama förklara sin syn på samkönade äktenskap.

The New York Times Magazine April 20 2014

Biden hade nämligen i en intervju förklarat sig vara för samkönade äktenskap innan presidenten officiellt tagit ställning.

”I think you may have just gotten in front of the president on gay marriage”, som Bidens communications direcctor uttryckte det efter intervjun.

När Obama väl bestämt sig ville Vita huset att presidenten skulle förklara sin syn i en intervju med den kvinnlige journalisten Robin Roberts på ”Good Morning America”. Man gillade nämligen hennes ”conversational style”.

Under intervjun fick Obama möjlighet att förklara att han förmodligen (“probably”) skulle säga ja till samkönade äktenskap innan valet. Biden hade bara ”got out a little bit over his skis”.

Det är berättelse om alla Vita husets strategiska överväganden som Jo Becker skriver om i en artikel i The New York Times Magazine.

Despite the president’s stated opposition, even his top advisers didn’t believe that he truly opposed allowing gay couples to marry. “He has never been comfortable with his position,” David Axelrod, then one of his closest aides, told me.

Indeed, long before Obama publicly stated that he was against same-sex marriage, he was on the record supporting it. As an Illinois State Senate candidate from Chicago’s liberal Hyde Park enclave, Obama signed a questionnaire in 1996 saying, “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.” But as his ambitions grew, and with them the need to appeal to a more politically diverse electorate, his position shifted.

In the course of an unsuccessful run for a House seat in 2000, he said he was “undecided” on the question. By the time he campaigned for the presidency, he had staked out an even safer political position: Citing his Christian faith, he said he believed marriage to be the sacred union of a man and a woman.

The assumption going into the 2012 campaign was that there was little to be gained politically from the president’s coming down firmly in favor of same-sex marriage. In particular, his political advisers were worried that his endorsement could splinter the coalition needed to win a second term, depressing turnout among socially conservative African-Americans, Latinos and white working-class Catholics in battleground states.

But by November 2011, it was becoming increasingly clear that continuing to sidestep the issue came with its own set of costs. The campaign’s internal polling revealed that the issue was a touchstone for likely Obama voters under 30. The campaign needed those voters to turn out in the record numbers they had four years earlier, and the biggest impediment was Obama’s refusal to say he favored allowing gay couples to wed.

“We understood that this would be galvanizing to some voters and be difficult with other voters,” said Jim Messina, the manager of Obama’s 2012 campaign.

Caught between countervailing political forces, Obama called his top aides together and said that if asked again for his position, he both wanted and needed to drop the pretense and tell people where he really stood.

“The politics of authenticity — not just the politics, but his own sense of authenticity — required that he finally step forward,” Axelrod said. “And the president understood that.”

But if he was really contemplating an endorsement of same-sex marriage, his advisers urged him to do it in a manner that caused minimal political damage. David Plouffe, a mastermind of the 2008 victory and a senior adviser to the president, reached out to Ken Mehlman for advice. The previous year, Mehlman, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee who engineered President George W. Bush’s re-election, came out as gay […] Mehlman had already met with Obama over lunch at the White House and told him that people voted for him in 2008 because they viewed him as an idealist who would put politics aside and do what was right. Endorsing same-sex marriage would remind voters that he was still that man. “The notion that politically this is going to kill you — I don’t buy it,” Mehlman recalled saying.

He told Plouffe that voters were far more likely to be supportive once they understood that gay couples wanted to marry for the same reason straight people did: It was a matter of love and commitment. Polling indicated that voters would best respond if the issue was framed around shared American values: the country’s fundamental promise of equality; voters’ antipathy toward government intrusion into their private lives; and the religious principle of treating others the way one would like to be treated.

Mehlman surveyed 5,000 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents and found that a majority supported some form of legal recognition of gay relationships. Generally, marriage was not a top priority for most Republicans, meaning that a presidential endorsement was unlikely to motivate the G.O.P. base or attract the kind of full-throated Republican criticism it might have in years past.

On Nov. 10, 2011, Mehlman sent Plouffe an email suggesting that the president announce his support for same-sex marriage in a TV interview with a female host. He also laid out specific language for Obama to use. Explain that this was a family decision and not a political one, he advised: “Michelle and I have been having a similar conversation in our family that lots of American families have been having on marriage equality.I fully understand that some will agree, while others will disagree, with where our family has come down on this.” Mehlman advised Obama to talk about his daughters — “as Michelle and I have been thinking through what we teach Sasha and Malia about America’s greatness” — and about religious liberty and fairness to all. “When you’re president, you’re president of all Americans. And all includes gays and lesbians — men and women who are serving across this country — firefighters, doctors, teachers, courageous soldiers who serve and protect the rest of us.”

Och så skulle Obama också komma att sälja in idén till den amerikanska allmänheten efter många överväganden.

Tidskriftsomslag: The New York Times Magazine, 20 april 2014.

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USA | Kommer hon eller kommer hon inte? Frågan ställs i nästan alla artiklar om Hillary Clinton.

The New York Times Magazine - January 26, 2014

Frågan gäller naturligtvis om hon kommer att ställa upp och försöka bli sitt partis presidentkandidat.

Att Clinton har en formidabel kampanjmaskin i ryggen om hon väljer att ställa upp i presidentvalet står utom allt tvivel.

Och till skillnad från många andra som går i samma tankar verkar Clinton ha fler allierade än vad hon rimligtvis kan behöva.

Amy Chozick i The New York Times Magazine kallar det för ”Planet Hillary”.

Unlike Barack Obama, who will leave the White House with more or less the same handful of friends he came in with, the Clintons occupy their own unique and formidable and often exhausting place in American politics. Over the decades, they’ve operated like an Arkansas tumbleweed, collecting friends and devotees from Bill Clinton’s kindergarten class to Yale Law School to Little Rock to the White House to the Senate and beyond.

[…]

This may represent Hillary Clinton’s biggest challenge for a hypothetical 2016 campaign. How can Clinton, who is 66, make American voters think about something other than her fraught personal and political past? How can she present herself as someone hungry to serve rather than as someone entitled to office? It starts, perhaps, by figuring out how to deal with many of those characters assembled along the way. “I love Barbra Streisand,” says Donna Brazile, the Democratic strategist who worked on both of Bill Clinton’s campaigns, “but Beyoncé is what’s happening now. I love Peter, Paul and Mary, but she needs to be Justin Timberlake. She can’t afford to kick people out, but she can afford to let new people come in. I realize that’s uncomfortable.” Put another way, the members of America’s most dysfunctional extended political family are about to meet a lot of young new operatives who don’t work in the same way. The Clintons may have come to power when an offensive election strategy meant digging up files of opposition research, but presidential politics are increasingly the province of number-crunching quants and code-breaking hackers. “The challenge is to create ways for people to help but also to figure out who the next generation is,” says Steve Elmendorf, deputy campaign manager on John Kerry’s 2004 presidential run. “Even David Plouffe is a generation removed. Who is the 32-year-old version of David?”

It’s an organizational conundrum that even members of Hillary Clinton’s innermost circle already concede.

[…]

For all the pieces now falling into place, the staff members new and old looking for a seat at the table, the super PACs looking to take credit and the speeches to Wall Street executives (at one session with a hedge fund in 2013, Clinton conceded that any hypothetical candidate would have to decide “toward the middle of next year”) — for all of the inevitable inevitability, perhaps the most important thing Hillary Clinton has to do is not appear like a big-footing Goliath who is finally getting her due. Six years ago, Iowans rejected Clinton, in part, because she seemed too entitled. I remember talking to caucus-goers who were turned off by the “I’m in to win” video that kicked off her candidacy and others who cringed at the loud landing of the Hill-a-Copter, which cost several thousand dollars a day in a state where voters prefer their candidates in Greyhounds.

When I asked David Axelrod what he thought Clinton had to do to win in 2016, he referred to the change she underwent during the last campaign. “She stumbled in 2007, when she was encased in a presumption of inevitability,” Axelrod said. “And she was a very good candidate in 2008 after she got knocked back. Instead of a battleship, she became a speedboat, and she got down on the ground and really, I thought, really connected to the middle-class voters and people who were struggling. People who were struggling connected with her when she looked like she was struggling.”

In her final months as secretary of state in the summer of 2012, when her approval ratings and press coverage were at all-time highs, I asked Bill Clinton what he thought of his wife’s transformed image. Over coffee at the Hilton in Nicosia, Cyprus, he told me the story of having just finished working on the McGovern campaign, his official, and intoxicating, introduction into presidential politics. He said he told Hillary he’d met some of the most prominent people of their generation, and she was by far the most gifted. “You should be in public life,” he told her back then. “She said: ‘Look at how hard-hitting I am. Nobody will ever vote for me for anything.’ ” The former president also gave some thought to her current image. “I think the country sees her the way those of us who know her see her.”

Clinton seemed to be implying that Hillary was gifted and driven and committed to public service and also was someone who genuinely liked to knock back beers in Cartagena and hit the dance floor in Pretoria. And it was sweet to hear the former president talk about his wife this way. But it also seemed like an exercise in magical thinking, as if the intervening decades of public life — with all the attendant drama and political missteps and immense power accrued and wielded — hadn’t complicated that vision of her. Hillary Clinton’s truest challenge, it would seem, is not to make the country glimpse who she was 40 years ago; it’s to recognize that for all the layers that have been added to the onion, there’s still something at the center that’s aching for the rest to be peeled away.

Läs mer: “How Our Hillary Clinton Cover Came About” av Arem Duplessis.

Tidskriftsomslag: The New York Times Magazine den 26 januari 2014.

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