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Posts Tagged ‘The New York Times Magazine.’

USA | Ännu har John McCain inte lagt av. Trots sin svidande förlust mot Barack Obama i presidentvalet har senatorn från Arizona fullt upp.

The New York Times Magazine 22 december 2013

McCain, 77 år och senatens nionde äldste medlem, ägnar numera mesta av sin arbetstid åt att kritisera presidenten för hans hantering av utrikespolitiken samt att försöka hindra att det egna partiet helt tas över av Tea Party-rörelsen.

Dessutom har McCain meddelat att han funderar på att ställa upp till återval 2016. (”I am very much considering it.”)

McCain är onekligen en av USA:s intressantaste politiker.

Han är dessutom en av få politiker som fortfarande vågar vara spontan och säga vad han tänker. (“They are lovely, gentle people [the Fijians] even though they used to eat each other.”)

Mark Leibovich, ”national correspondent” för The New York Times Magazine, har följt senatorn en tid för tidskriftens räkning:

John McCain is a cliché.

It is not his fault, or not entirely. Many of us become walking self-caricatures at a certain point, and politicians can be particularly vulnerable, especially those who have maneuvered their very public lives as conspicuously as McCain. They tell and retell the same stories; things get musty. They engage in a lot of self-mythologizing, and no one in Washington has been the subject and the perpetrator of more mythmaking than McCain: the maverick, the former maverick, the curmudgeon, the bridge builder, the war hero bent on transcending the call of self-interest to serve a cause greater than himself, the sore loser, old bull, last lion, loose cannon, happy warrior, elder statesman, lion in winter . . . you lose track of which McCain cliché is operational at a given moment. He does, too. “I think I was the brave maverick when I was taking on Bush,” McCain told me, “and then I was the bitter old man when I was criticizing Obamacare.”

Critics will take their shots, he says, it comes with being “in the arena.” That cliché isn’t McCain’s exclusively — it’s the self-consoling Teddy Roosevelt line that politicians are always trotting out. “It’s not the critic who counts” but “the man who really was in the arena.”

McCain has another favorite Teddy Roosevelt phrase, “the crowded hour,” which I have heard him invoke several times over the years. It comes from a poem by the English writer Thomas Mordaunt, and T. R. used it to famously describe his charge on San Juan Hill. In McCain’s philosophy, “the crowded hour” refers to a moment of character testing. “The ‘crowded hour’ is as appropriate for me right now as any in a long time,” McCain told me as we walked through the Capitol. In some respects, this is just a function of public figures’ tendency to overdramatize the current moment and their role in it. But five years after losing to Barack Obama, after enduring the recriminations between his splintered campaign staff and rogue running mate, Sarah Palin, and after returning to the Senate and falling into a prolonged funk, McCain finds himself in the midst of another crowded hour, maybe his last as an elected leader.

Along with his Senate Tonto, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, McCain has been the most ardent critic of the White House’s foreign policy in pretty much every hot spot in the world.

[…]

McCain also finds himself in the thick of the latest “fight for the soul of the G.O.P.” against the Tea Party right, a cohort that arguably would not have the influence it has if McCain had not chosen Palin as his running mate. They are represented in the Senate by McCain’s junior colleagues Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky — or “wacko birds” as McCain has referred to their far-right ilk.

[…]

McCain is sick of talking about Cruz. “We have a cordial relationship,” he insists, which in the Google translation of political code is something between abject disgust and minimal tolerance. Cruz is an upstart, whose goal seems to be to position himself to run for president in 2016. He appears indifferent to the traditional markers of Senate experience and prestige — passing bills, leading committees, dutifully winning the respect of colleagues. “You know, it’s a funny thing about Cruz,” McCain says, and then stops himself. “No, actually, it’s not funny. It aggravates me more than anything else” — the way Cruz called his fellow Republicans a bunch of wimps and talks about “how we’ve been around too long.” Cruz is the Senate’s modern-day maverick, it would seem, while McCain has become one of the institution’s fiercest traditionalists.

[…]

To pass the time on the drive back, I engage McCain in a game of hypothetical-question roulette: If he were a young man living in Arizona today, not a politician, would he register to vote as an Independent? “I would think about it,” he says, but then catches himself and reasserts his faith in “the party of Lincoln and Ronald Reagan.” Would he consider supporting an Independent presidential candidate if Ted Cruz were the Republican nominee? “No, because I have to respect the process.” Would he support his friend Hillary Clinton in a head to head against Cruz? “I will support the Republican ticket,” he says, then adds: “With all due respect, that is a foolish question, my friend.”

Läs mer: “Behind the Cover Story: Mark Leibovich on Checking In With John McCain” av Rachel Nolan på bloggen The 6th Floor.

Tidskriftsomslag. The New York Times Magazine den 22 december 2013.

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USA |  När Mark Leibovich, The New York Times Magazine, släppte boken This Town slog den ner som en bomb i Washington.

The New York Times Magazine 7 juli 2013

Åtminstone slog den ner som en bomb hos den lilla del av befolkningen som kallar sig politiker och den del av media vars jobb det är att bevaka dessa politiker.

Bilden som Leibovich målar upp var inte speciellt smickrande för någon av personerna som beskrevs.

Mest förödande var det naturligtvis för den del av media vars uppgift det är att objektivt bevaka och granska politiken.

Denna objektivitet kan man naturligtvis ifrågasätta med tanke på det smått incestuösa förhållandet mellan media och politiker.

Leibovich, ”chief national correspondent” på tidskriften, har bearbetat This Town i artikeln ”How to Win in Washington”.

I artikeln följer han en av dessa politiska “operatives” som lever i nära symbios med media.

Kurt Bardella is not a guy you can easily root for. He activates your radar and not in a good way. He laughs too much and too loud. He hangs out in cigar bars. When he talks with you, you suspect you are being worked.

I liked him instantly.

By that I mean Bardella gave me a headache, but I liked that he flouted the norms of the smooth Washington hustler. In a city where even the most rabid striving must be cloaked in nonchalance, Bardella never pulled this off or even tried. He was not shy about sharing — on his Facebook page — his ultimate ambition: to become the White House press secretary. He was not reticent in acknowledging a danger of his brash style: “I’m never that far away from blowing myself up completely,” he told me once. “It’s all part and parcel of my inferiority complex.” But generally, Bardella added, he was pretty good about channeling his demons in a way that benefited his boss, Representative Darrell Issa, Republican of California.

Bardella evinced a desperation that made him more honest than people in Washington typically are. Or maybe “transparent” is a better word, because he did seem to lie sometimes (or “spin” sometimes), at least to me. Even as he stuck out among earnest Hill deputies, something about Bardella wonderfully embodied the place. It’s not that Washington hasn’t forever been populated by high-reaching fireballs. But an economic and information boom in recent years has transformed the city in ways that go well beyond the standard profile of dysfunction. To say that today’s Washington is too partisan and out of touch is to miss a much more important truth — that rather than being hopelessly divided, it is hopelessly interconnected. It misses the degree to which New Media has both democratized the political conversation and accentuated Washington’s myopic, self-loving tendencies. And it misses, most of all, how an operator like Kurt Bardella can land in a culture of beautifully busy people and, by trading on all the self-interest and egomania that knows no political affiliation, rewrite the story of his own life.

[…]

Bardella was never going to be one of those civic-minded idealists who descend on the capital every year to “make a difference.” When I first met him, he admitted that he was not much of a true believer in any political cause. The Republicans simply found him first. He told me that he was not so much an “R” or a “D” as he was an “O” — “an opportunist.” His passions were ignited less by an inspirational candidate or officeholder — there were no posters of Ronald Reagan or J.F.K. — than they were by celebrity operatives on TV, fictional (Josh Lyman) or real (James Carville). They were the players in a thrilling screen game, and Bardella wanted in.

“When I first came here,” he told me, “I was standing on the streetcorner with my suitcase, thinking: There’s no way I belong here. This is crazy. I’m going to get eaten alive.”

As a teenager, Bardella read the memoir of the celebrated Clinton aide turned TV star, George Stephanopoulos, “All Too Human: A Political Education.” What struck Bardella was Stephanopoulos’s description of his years as an altar boy in the Greek Orthodox church he attended in Rye, N.Y. It excited him, Stephanopoulos wrote, to be within the sanctum, an excitement he compared with the thrill he felt later as a political operative who penetrated the privileged circle where decisions are made.

“There is that place to get in Washington that everybody is striving for,” Bardella told me. “Once you get to that place, that inside place, you kind of just know it. It’s exciting,” he said. “But you’re never sure if that feeling is going to last, or if other people are seeing you as someone on the inside. It puts you on edge, constantly.”

Läs mer: “Issa and His Aide” av Ryan Lizza, The New Yorker och “The Stench of the Potomac av Frank Rich, New York.

Tidskriftsomslag: The New York Times Magazine den 7 juli 2013.

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STRATEGI | Alla är överrens om att Barack Obama och hans kampanjteam var överlägsna när det gällde att mobilisera väljare via sociala medier.

The New York Times Magazine 23 juni2013

Men även när det gällde TV lyckades man – trots begränsade ekonomiska resurser – tillhandahålla information som gjorde det möjligt för dem att få ut större effekt för sina reklampengar än teamet kring Mitt Romney.

Jim Rutenberg skriver i The New York Times Magazine:

Political marketing has usually lagged behind commercial marketing. Companies that spend billions of dollars a year developing ways to make many more billions of dollars a year tend to have little to learn from presidential campaigns, which are generally start-ups aimed at a one-day sale. But the (re)selling of the president, 2012, was an entirely different matter. The campaign recruited the best young minds in the booming fields of analytics and behavioral science and placed them in a room they called “the cave” for up to 16 hours a day over the course of roughly 16 months. After the election, when the technology wizards finally came out, they had not only helped produce a victory that defied a couple of historical predictors; they also developed a host of highly effective marketing techniques that were either entirely new or had never been tried on such a grand scale.

[…]

Previous campaigns would make decisions about how to direct their television-advertising budgets largely based on hunches and deductions about what channels the voters they wanted to reach were watching. Their choices were informed by the broad viewership ratings of Nielsen and other survey data, which typically led to buying relatively expensive ads during evening-news and prime-time viewing hours. The 2012 campaign took advantage of advanced set-top-box monitoring technology to figure out what shows the voters they wanted to reach were watching and when, resulting in a smarter and cheaper — if potentially more invasive — way to beam commercials into their homes. The system gave Obama a significant advantage over Mitt Romney, according to Democrats and many Republicans (at least those who were not on Romney’s media team).

[…]

To understand how it works, you must first understand the vast technological engine that powered the campaign but remained largely out of view of the public and the press. Messina, the campaign manager, often boasted about how the Obama 2012 effort would be “the most data-driven campaign ever.” But what that truly meant — the extent to which the campaign used the newest tech tools to look into people’s lives and the sheer amount of personal data its vast servers were crunching — remained largely shrouded. The secrecy around the operation was partly because the president’s strategists wanted to maintain their competitive edge. But it was also no doubt because they worried that practices like “data mining” and “analytics” could make voters uncomfortable.

[…]

The concept for the “optimizer,” as it was known in the campaign, was born: a system that could determine with more precision than ever what swing voters were watching in the greatest concentrations and how to get commercials in front of them in the cheapest advertising time slots possible.

[…]

Unlike Facebook, where users were at least giving the campaign explicit permission to collect personal data even if they had not read the fine print, television watchers were making no such agreement.

[…]

The optimizer software would then comb advertising price and viewership data to figure out the top-rated time slots among those on the Obama persuadable list — which could vary from market to market — and then rank them based on which produced the highest concentration of the Obama swing voters at the best rates. The results were striking. The campaign determined that two of the top shows to buy were 1 a.m. repeats of “The Insider” and afternoon episodes of “Judge Joe Brown” — shows that were far cheaper than the evening news or anything being shown on the networks in prime time.

[…]

In the end, an analysis by the Republican ad-buying firm National Media found that Obama paid roughly 35 percent less per broadcast commercial than Romney did. Kantar Media CMAG, an ad-monitoring firm, showed that Obama and his supporting super PAC got nearly 40,000 more spots on the air than Romney and his super PACs did despite spending roughly $90 million less.

Tidskriftsomslag: The New York Times Magazine den 23 juni 2013

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GOP | Senast lät The New York Times Magazine en bakelittelefon och ordet ”smartphone” symbolisera republikanernas problem. Här är fyra bilder till.

Photo illustrations Matt Dorfman. Photographs, from left Steve ColeGetty Images; Baran OzdemirGetty Images

Photo illustrations Matt Dorfman. Photographs, from left--Gabrielle Plucknette-The New York Times--Image Source-Getty Images

Bildillustrationer: Matt Dorfman. Foto (översta raden): Steve Cole/Getty Images och Baran Ozdemir/Getty Images. Foto (nedre raden): Gabrielle Plucknette/The New York Times och Image Source/Getty Images.

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IMAGE | Republican Party är idag synonymt med världsfrånvändhet. Frågan är om man ens hinner återhämta sig till nästa presidentvalskampanj.  

The New York Times Magazine den 17 februari 2013

Det har blivit allt tydligare att Team Obama hade ett enormt teknologiskt försprång kring bl.a. sociala medier under valrörelsen. Och detta berodde inte bara på att Mitt Romney kom igång sent med sin valrörelse. 

Snarare handlade det om att partiet aldrig riktigt förstått betydelsen av att föjla med i den teknologiska utvecklingen.  

Barack Obama var dessutom inte sen att hjälpa till att sätta bilden av Mitt Romney som en person vars värderingar fastnat i 1950-talet.

Robert Draper, The New York Times Magazine, beskriver i en artikel två fokusgrupper som försökt utröna hur amerikanarna idag uppfattar republikanerna.

Den som genomförde fokusgrupperna var Kristen Soltis Anderson. Hon är vicepresident i Winston Group och är en av många yngre republikaner som har försökt få partiet att inse att man måste moderniseras om man vill kunna överleva.

One afternoon last month, I flew with Anderson to Columbus, Ohio, to watch her conduct two focus groups. The first consisted of 10 single, middle-class women in their 20s; the second, of 10 20-something men who were either jobless or employed but seeking better work. All of them voted for Obama but did not identify themselves as committed Democrats and were sufficiently ambivalent about the president’s performance that Anderson deemed them within reach of the Republicans. Each group sat around a large conference table with the pollster, while I viewed the proceedings from behind a panel of one-way glass.

The all-female focus group began with a sobering assessment of the Obama economy. All of the women spoke gloomily about the prospect of paying off student loans, about what they believed to be Social Security’s likely insolvency and about their children’s schooling. A few of them bitterly opined that the Democrats care little about the working class but lavish the poor with federal aid. “You get more off welfare than you would at a minimum-wage job,” observed one of them. Another added, “And if you have a kid, you’re set up for life!”

About an hour into the session, Anderson walked up to a whiteboard and took out a magic marker. “I’m going to write down a word, and you guys free-associate with whatever comes to mind,” she said. The first word she wrote was “Democrat.”

“Young people,” one woman called out.

“Liberal,” another said. Followed by: “Diverse.” “Bill Clinton.” “Change.” “Open-minded.” “Spending.” “Handouts.” “Green.” “More science-based.”

When Anderson then wrote “Republican,” the outburst was immediate and vehement: “Corporate greed.”“Old.”“Middle-aged white men.” “Rich.” “Religious.” “Conservative.” “Hypocritical.” “Military retirees.” “Narrow-minded.” “Rigid.” “Not progressive.” “Polarizing.” “Stuck in their ways.” “Farmers.”

Anderson concluded the group on a somewhat beseeching note. “Let’s talk about Republicans,” she said. “What if anything could they do to earn your vote?”

A self-identified anti-abortion, “very conservative” 27-year-old Obama voter named Gretchen replied: “Don’t be so right wing! You know, on abortion, they’re so out there. That all-or-nothing type of thing, that’s the way Romney came across. And you know, come up with ways to compromise.”

“What would be the sign to you that the Republican Party is moving in the right direction?” Anderson asked them.

“Maybe actually pass something?” suggested a 28-year-old schoolteacher named Courtney, who also identified herself as conservative.

The session with the young men was equally jarring. None of them expressed great enthusiasm for Obama. But their depiction of Republicans was even more lacerating than the women’s had been. “Racist,” “out of touch” and “hateful” made the list — “and put ‘1950s’ on there too!” one called out.

Showing a reverence for understatement, Anderson said: “A lot of those words you used to describe Republicans are negative. What could they say or do to make you feel more positive about the Republican Party?”

“Be more pro-science,” said a 22-year-old moderate named Jack. “Embrace technology and change.”

“Stick to your strong suit,” advised Nick, a 23-year-old African-American. “Clearly social issues aren’t your strong suit. Stop trying to fight the battle that’s already been fought and trying to bring back a movement. Get over it — you lost.”

Later that evening at a hotel bar, Anderson pored over her notes. She seemed morbidly entranced, like a homicide detective gazing into a pool of freshly spilled blood. In the previous few days, the pollster interviewed Latino voters in San Diego and young entrepreneurs in Orlando. The findings were virtually unanimous. No one could understand the G.O.P.’s hot-blooded opposition to gay marriage or its perceived affinity for invading foreign countries. Every group believed that the first place to cut spending was the defense budget. During the whiteboard drill, every focus group described Democrats as “open-minded” and Republicans as “rigid.”

“There is a brand,” the 28-year-old pollster concluded of her party with clinical finality. “And it’s that we’re not in the 21st century.”

Bild: Tidskriftsomslaget är The New York Times Magazine den 17 februari 2013.

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TAL | Många har vittnat om att Barack Obama tycker om att skriva sina egna viktiga tal. Och han skriver när alla andra har gått och lagt sig.

Nobelpriset - Barack Obama i Oslo den

Inte konstigt om hans stab då får spurta för att få allt på plats inför viktiga tillkännagivanden.

President Barack Obama hann knappt bli vald innan han 2009 tilldelades Nobels fredspris.  

En vecka efter att Obama meddelat att tänkte förstärka de amerikanska truppernas närvaro i Afghanistan flög han till Norge för att hålla det traditionella talet vid prisceremonin.

Eftersom han ännu inte gjort något konkret för att förtjäna ett fredspris bestämde man sig i Vita huset för att talet skulle fokusera på vad som utmärker rättfärdiga krig.

The New York Times Magazine har låtit samla in muntliga minnesbilder från en rad nyckelpersoner i och omkring Obamas fyra första år i Vita huset.  

Här är hur Jon Favreau, Vita husets director of speechwriting (2009-), minns de hektiska förberedelserna inför talet i Oslo.

The morning we leave for Oslo, he comes to us with an entirely new draft that is not finished yet, that he stayed up until 3 in the morning doing. He gives it to us and says: “This is kind of rough, but this is the general idea of what I want.” Everyone goes to bed on the plane and the only people up are Ben [Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser] and the president and myself and Samantha [Power, a national security aide], and we’re just still working on this thing. It was so last-minute that as the president was taking the elevator down from his room to go to the speech, he handed us the last page of edits, and we put those into the prompter as he was walking up to the stage to give the speech.

Läs mer: Barack Obmas tal den 10 december 2009 i Oslo.

Bild: Reuters Pictures. (Lägg märke till telepromptern.)

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ANALYS | Som det ser ut just nu vinner Barack Obama valet. Frågan är bara hur stor segermarginalen blir.

Oavsett vilket kommer segern att få stora konsekvenser för republikanerna.

Vilken ideologisk väg partiet borde välja har varit en het potatis åtminstone ända sedan John McCain valdes till partiets presidentkandidat.

En (av många) anledningar till Obamas stora seger 2008 var att republikanernas kärnväljare såg McCain som en typisk ”RINO”, d.v.s. ”Republican In Name Only”.

En RINO är en karriärpolitiker som anses har förstört både partiet och landets ekonomi genom att anpassa sig till den liberala politiska agendan i Washington.

Någon större entusiasm kring kampanjen blev det därför inte förrän McCain utsåg Sarah Palin till sin vicepresidentkandidat. Palin var också Tea Party-rörelsens favorit.

Efter McCains valförlust blev det Mitt Romneys tur. Och många såg även hans nominering som ett tecken på att det liberala partietablissemangets återigen hade fått den kandidat man önskade sig.

Detta i kontrast till gräsrötternas önskan om att få se en genuint konservativ kandidat som skulle våga tala sanning om behovet av att rensa upp i både Washington och i det egna partiet.

Precis som med McCain var det först när Romney utsåg sin vicepresidentkandidat som man kunde börja ana ett ökat intresse bland de republikanska väljarna.

Paul Ryan har lyckats inspirera kärnväljarna mer än Romney lyckats med. Även Romney själv har framstått som mer entusiastisk när Ryan har stått vid hans sida.

Att Ryan är de konservativas favorit går inte att ta miste på.

Ett stående inslag när han kampanjar är att framhäva att dagens ekonomiska kris är resultatet av år av misskötsel från både demokrater och republikaner i Washington. Detta genererar alltid applådera från publiken.

En valförlust innebär slutet för Romneys politiska karriär. För Ryan däremot kan det vara början på hans försök att erövra partiets presidentnominering.

Mark Leibovich skriver i The New York Times Magazine:

To many, Paul Ryan was a key figure — if not the key figure — in that future. In fact, his selection as running mate instantly mollified two basic insecurities that had been nagging at the conservative establishment for some time: one was that their standard-bearer, Romney, was a closet moderate who could not win over the hard-core “movement conservatives”; the other was that the fervor that animated the Tea Party movement had acquired a dangerously anti-intellectual strain, embodied by the likes of Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain. When I asked Ryan if today’s Republican Party was more “idea based” than it was two years ago, he squinted his intense eyes, nodded hard and said yes. I then asked his opinion of the more, let’s say, knowledge-averse bent of some conservative populism, mentioning Palin and Bachmann while understanding that he obviously couldn’t outwardly offend them or their supporters. “I have my poker face on,” Ryan said before letting slip with a tight grin.

In the midst of Romney’s deliberations, Ryan was the clear running mate of choice among the right-wing commentariat. (“The Republican Party’s intellectual leader,” wrote The Weekly Standard’s Stephen F. Hayes and William Kristol, who is partly credited with “discovering” Palin during a cruise to Alaska hosted by the magazine in 2007.) Ryan was considered a long shot among several contenders — he was too young, too conservative and too potentially offensive to older voters because of his plan to overhaul Medicare. Another knock was that he was too cerebral, or “wonkish,” to win broad appeal in a general election. This is one of those backhanded criticisms that in fact flatter. He was “too smart,” “too substantive,” in other words, for the sound-bite shorthand of the campaign trail.

[…]

Ryan is gifted at shrouding a cutthroat ambition in sheepish nonchalance. It is a key political skill — trying constantly to impress without looking as if you’re trying — and one that has eluded many politicians past and present. He is also deft at conveying precision and specificity without being the least bit precise or specific. He has honed his image carefully and promotes it relentlessly on the stump. In late September, Ryan introduced a slide-show demonstration to his appearances. “I’m sort of a PowerPoint guy, so bear with me,” he said the first time he did this, in Orlando, Fla., by way of apologizing for his apparent inability to communicate without his security blanket. Though his PowerPoint presentation is an extremely basic four-slide tutorial that shows how much the national debt has risen since World War II — something that many fifth graders could grasp — his home crowds invariably nod and praise him for his faith in their ability to grasp hard truths.

[…]

If Romney loses, the recriminations play out in two predictable ways among Republicans. Some will say that the party must attract a broader base of support among independent and moderate and nonwhite voters, which would argue for the less severely conservative tone that Romney adopted right after his first debate. They might even point to the presence of Ryan on the ticket as, ultimately, a negative, that his selection did nothing to move national polls in favor of Romney and possibly even scared off potential voters.

But a far more vocal — and probably bigger — group on the right will maintain that the ticket was not conservative enough. They will insist that Republicans need to stop nominating the next establishment guy in line. They will say Mitt Romney ran a lousy general election campaign, except for his finest act, the elevation of Paul Ryan, who was a very good Boy Scout and who waited his turn.

Övrigt: Tidskriftsomslaget är The New York Times Magazine den 21 oktober 2012.

(Inlägget publiceras även på Makthavare.se.)

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ARGUMENT | När Barack Obama kandiderade till presidentposten var han en av de få politikerna i Washington som talade om fattigdomen.

Sedan han trädde in i Vita huset har man hör väldigt lite, om ens något, om ämnet i Obamas tal. Vilket är märkligt eftersom problemet på många områden har förvärrats.

“The number of families in deep poverty grew sharply during the recent recession and its aftermath, and in 2010, the share of Americans whose families made less than half of the poverty line hit a record: 6.7 percent of the population, or 1 in 15 Americans. The numbers are even higher for children, disturbingly so. In 2010, 1 in every 10 American children lived in deep poverty”, skriver t.ex. Paul Tough i The New York Times Magazine.

Administrationen försvarar sig med att den ekonomiska krisen har hindrat presidenten att agera kraftfullare. Men detta förklarar inte tystnaden.

Att inte ta upp problemen är ju det samma som att medvetet avstå ifrån ett argument som rimligtvis borde ha ökat människors förståelse för de omfattande ekonomiska stimulansåtgärder som presidenten föreslog.

Tough skriver:

If any American president might have been expected to focus his attention on Roseland and its problems, it would be Barack Obama. The neighborhood, as it happens, played a critical role in Obama’s personal and political history. As a young community organizer, he worked in Roseland and at a nearby low-rise housing project called Altgeld Gardens for three years in the late 1980s; it was in these communities, Obama said in the speech announcing his presidential run, that he “received the best education I ever had.” And when he finally left Roseland, for Harvard Law School and a political career, he did so, he said, to gain the knowledge and the resources that would allow him to eventually return and tackle the neighborhood’s problems anew.

When Obama ran for president the first time, urban poverty was a major policy focus for his campaign. Senator Obama gave speeches on the issue, his campaign Web site had a dedicated poverty section with a variety of policy proposals, and in his platform, he committed his administration to “eradicating poverty,” pledging that “working together, we can cut poverty in half within 10 years.” But the official poverty rate has continued to rise under Obama. In May, Bob Herbert, the former New York Times Op-Ed columnist, castigated the president in the online magazine The Grio for his failure to address publicly the “catastrophe” of children growing up in urban poverty. “Barack Obama can barely bring himself to say the word ‘poor,’ ” Herbert wrote.

The idea that Obama hasn’t done much for poor Americans is simply not true; by some measures, he has done more than any other recent president. But Herbert is right that Obama has stopped talking publicly about the subject. Obama hasn’t made a single speech devoted to poverty as president, and if you visit barackobama.com these days, you would be hard-pressed to find any reference to the subject whatsoever. As a result, he is missing — so far, at least — an important opportunity to change and elevate the national conversation on poverty.

[…]

Early in his presidential campaign, in July 2007, he gave an entire speech about poverty at a community center in Anacostia, a high-poverty neighborhood in southeast Washington.

[…]

Looking back at the Anacostia speech today, what is striking about Obama’s proposal, beyond its size and scope, was that he didn’t conceive of it as just one more federal spending program. It was, instead, something more potentially disruptive: a thorough overhaul of existing federal aid to inner cities, a blueprint for a more coordinated, more effective, more responsive way to direct the often haphazard flow of government money into urban neighborhoods devastated by the multiple effects of concentrated poverty. It represented a break from the past: a new way of doing things in neighborhoods like Roseland.

As president, Obama has followed a very different path from the one he described in Anacostia. The Promise Neighborhoods program exists, but it is a small item tucked away in the discretionary budget of the Department of Education. Rather than devoting “a few billion dollars a year,” his administration has spent a total of $40 million on the program in the last three years, with another $60 million in grants going out to community groups later this year. A few other initiatives have focused on concentrated urban poverty, but they are mostly small and scattered. Instead, the antipoverty path that Obama has pursued looks more like a traditional Great Society Democratic approach: his administration has spent billions of dollars on direct aid to poor people, mostly working-poor families.

The reason for this shift in priorities, according to people in the Obama administration, was the economic crisis they inherited.

[…]

And while it’s almost a cliché among liberals that what Obama needs to do is give a few more good speeches, it really would make a difference for a president to talk publicly about the challenges of poverty policy in the candid and thoughtful ways that Obama did as a senator and in his first presidential campaign. When I asked Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s longtime friend and mentor who is now a senior adviser to the president, about his relative silence on urban poverty, she said that the way the president spoke about poverty as a candidate in Anacostia — as a unique problem specific to one group of Americans — simply wasn’t the right way for him to speak about it as president. A better approach, Jarrett said, was for the president to propose and support a set of broad programs that raised all Americans economically, an approach that she described as inclusive. She added: “I think our chances for successfully helping people move from poverty to the middle class is greater if everyone understands why it is in their best interest that these paths of opportunity are available for everyone. We try to talk about this in a way where everyone understands why it is in their self-interest.”

It’s a challenge for any politician in troubled economic times: how do you persuade voters to devote tax dollars to help the truly disadvantaged when the middle class is feeling disadvantaged itself? The problem is that universal economic progress will not help those in deep poverty — or at least not enough. Places like Roseland need specific, targeted, effective help if they are ever going to change.

Bild: Tidskriftsomslaget övan är The New York Times Magazine den 19 augusti 2012.

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KAMPANJ | Mitt Romney har haft det tufft den senaste tiden. Han har varit under ständig attack för sin tid i riskkapitalbolaget Bain Capital.

Parallellt har man också angripet honom för att han vägrar offentligöra alla sina deklarationer.

Kritiken är i och för sig inte ny. Vad som är nytt är att demokraterna verkar ha bestämt sig för att fokusera på Romneys tid i näringslivet.

Man skulle gissat att det var mer fruktbart att inrikta sig på hans ständiga byta av åsikter i olika sakfrågor. Listan över alla gånger han har flip-floppat är nämligen lång som en måndag.

I artikeln ”Can the Democrats Catch Up in the Super-PAC Game?” har Robert Draper beskrivit hur strategin har tagit form bland Barack Obamas allierade.

Bill Burton och Sean Sweeney har grundat en s.k. super PAC. Deras Priorities USA Action är en av de ledande på den demokratiska sidan.

Last December — specifically, on Pearl Harbor Day — Burton and Sweeney met with a few other Priorities advisers in the Dupont Circle office of the pollster Geoff Garin to decide just what their Romney story would be. They quickly discarded the Romney-as-flip-flopper leitmotif. To say that the Republican lacked a firm set of positions was to concede that he couldn’t be defined. Better, they concluded, to assert that Romney in fact possessed beliefs — very extreme ones.

Burton and his colleagues spent the early months of 2012 trying out the pitch that Romney was the most far-right presidential candidate since Barry Goldwater. It fell flat. The public did not view Romney as an extremist. For example, when Priorities informed a focus group that Romney supported the Ryan budget plan — and thus championed “ending Medicare as we know it” — while also advocating tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, the respondents simply refused to believe any politician would do such a thing. What became clear was that voters had almost no sense of Obama’s opponent. While conducting a different focus group — this one with non-college-educated Milwaukee voters on the eve of Wisconsin’s April 3 primary — Burton and Sweeney were surprised to learn that even after Romney had spent months campaigning, many in the group could not recognize his face, much less characterize his positions. Compounding the Republican nominee’s strangely persistent obscurity is that, as Garin told me, “Romney is not a natural politician in the sense of embracing opportunities to talk about himself.”

That left an opening for the Democrats to tell Romney’s story, and over the spring they figured out how to do so. Obama’s opponent was not an ideologue per se, the Priorities team decided, but instead someone who knows and cares only about wealthy Americans. Burton describes the distinction as “a top/bottom rather than left/right approach” — also known in Republican circles as class warfare.

The best explanatory tool for this narrative would prove to be Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital. In this recasting of Romney’s self-described chief qualification to be president, the candidate may well be someone who understands how the economy works but cares only about making it work for rich guys like himself. As one participant in the Priorities focus groups told me, “Businessmen are often highly admired, but there’s no real template for somebody with Mitt Romney’s type of business experience getting embraced.”

Läs mer: ”Romney’s Midsummer Test ochStatus of Bain and Romney’s Tax Returns”. Båda av Mark Halperin på Time. ”After missteps, Romney adds to communication team” av Sam Youngman på Reuter. ”Democrats Pounce On Poll Showing Attacks On Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital Career Are Working” av Jon Ward, The Huffington Post.

Bild: Tidskriftsomslaget är The New York Times Magazine den 8 juli 2012.

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TV | Julia Louis-Dreyfus (”Seinfeldt”) spelar vicepresident Selina Meyer i den nya tv-komedin ”Veep”.

Kvinnliga politiker verkar för närvarande vara populära ämnen i filmer och tv-serier.

Vi har Tina Fey (”Saturday Night Live”) och Julianne Moore (”Game Change”) som Sarah Palin, Meryl Streep som Margaret Thatcher (”The Iron Lady”) och Michelle Yeoh som Burmas Aung San Suu Kyi (”The Lady”).

Bakom ”Veep” står Armando Iannucci som tidigare har gjort de politiska komedierna ”The Thick of It” och ”In the Loop”.

Carina Chocano, The New York Times Magazine, skriver:

If “The West Wing” was a fantasy of hyper-competence, “Veep” is its opposite: a black-humor vision of politics at its bleakest, in which both sides have been co-opted by money and special interests and are reduced to posturing, subterfuge, grandstanding and photo ops. Naturally, it’s hilarious.

 […]

In preparation for the role, Louis-Dreyfus spoke to Al Gore, as well as chiefs of staff, vice-presidential speechwriters and her old friend and fellow “Saturday Night Live” alumnus Senator Al Franken, posing questions about whether they followed guidelines when talking to the press and whether the Secret Service followed them to the bathroom at night. She also spent hours observing the gestures, postures and body language of politicians on C-Span and getting them down pat. Iannucci describes a hand gesture she perfected that he particularly admired, “a clenched thumb thing” used only by politicians “that no one else does in real life.”

“It’s not a fist, and it’s not a finger-point,” Louis-Dreyfus explains. “You could call it a ‘thist.’ You make a fist and then you move your thumb on top of the bent fingers, like you’re ready to have a thumb fight with someone. It’s not a natural human gesture. It tries to straddle both sides, you know? To be powerful, but not aggressive.”

[…]

As much as “Veep” draws on real life, it has already proved eerily prescient. In an early episode, Selina caps a long and trying day with a disastrous photo op at a frozen-yogurt shop, where her press secretary has been fielding complaints from the owner about his taxes. The episode had already been shot when, in real life, Vice President Biden visited a custard shop and sharply chastised the manager for complaining about his taxes, setting off a minor controversy. (Or maybe not so minor: Googling “Joe Biden,” “custard” and “swear” yields more than six million results.)

Övrigt: Se även trailers 1 och 2. Samt “chacter spots” 1, 2, 3, 4, och 5.

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