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11.06.11

Everyone else can see it. Why can’t they?

Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan were right-wing, obviously. But they were coherent, courageous and possessed of certain irreducible beliefs. And not wrong about everything. Sarah Palin is, in contrast, clearly incoherent and vapid. Andrew Sullivan once described her as the “reductio ad absurdum” of Reagan’s conservatism. Palin, basically, manifestly is nuts. The reluctance of the American right to acknowledge the self-evident contrast between Thatcher and Palin is indicative of their estrangement from reality. If the Republicans select her as their presidential candidate, reality will surely, finally, file for divorce.

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22.08.10

Get a grip, Obama

“I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there. I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding.”

What?

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14.08.10

American Trilogy III: The movement is everything

Anthony Painter has recently written about movement politics for Progress. He recounts how “equal voting rights and civil rights”, the fruits of the civil rights movement, “changed America. But it was the movement that followed it and, in part, was a reaction to it, that was America’s most successful ‘movement for change.’ That was the audacious and many headed conservative movement. If the civil rights movement was driven by a sense of moral injustice, the conservative movement was motivated by a sense of moral outrage.”

Painter doesn’t, however, draw the more contemporary parallel: the movement that powered Barack Obama into the White House was driven by a sense of moral injustice, while the Tea Party movement, the most visceral counter reaction to this victory, is motivated by a sense of moral outrage. They are outraged with the ‘socialism’ of Obama-care, outraged with the free market perversion that is the bank bailouts, outraged with the extension of the big government leviathan that has been the fiscal stimulus, outraged by illegal immigration, outraged with plans to build a Mosque near Ground Zero and outraged by the indifference of Washington DC to all of this. They want their country back.

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13.08.10

American Trilogy II: Yes, we can v No, you can’t

My Father-in-law, Walter Urbanek, has recieved a letter from John Kerry. My Father-in-law isn’t a top level politician. (Though, he was school friends with Peter Welch). It is a letter that asks him to donate to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee

Kerry begins:

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03.03.10

Two Sorry Tory Stories (or some differences between the UK and the USA)

James Crabtree has written a fascinating and much commented upon Prospect piece on the role that an apology might play in a quick return to Labour government should the Conservatives win the General Election later this year. This has set me thinking about the role of contrition in politics in general and two sorry Tory stories in particular. These sorry stories are: First, seeing (tacit and non-formal) apologies for being slow to make peace with the 1960s and for the excesses of the 1980s as being integral to the rebranding of the Conservatives sought by David Cameron (a project that is now threatened by a sense that the credit crunch and the scale of public debt have caused the Conservatives to renew their marriage vows to Margaret Thatcher and the 1980s); and, second, conceptualising the Republicans as being split between those who see a need for some kind of apology for the years of George W Bush as necessary to their political renewal and those who do not.

Some recent events – the reaction to the attempted Christmas day terrorist bombing in the US; the election to fill Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat in Massachusetts; the tea party protests; the spike in retirements from Democratic Congressmen; and President Obama’s approval rating – would seem to strengthen the position of those who are unapologetic for the Dubya years. But my default sense – which I am increasingly having cause to question – is that in the long-term more contrition than that which the likes of Karl Rove are presently prepared to offer will be required for the Republicans to fully recover. That said; there are signs, which are worrying to a European and (in the American sense of the word) liberal, that an unreconstructed Republican party might return to the White House in 2012. An example of such a sign is that when I departed Dulles airport, just outside DC, 48 hours ago I noted lots of t-shirts on sale like the one below.

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03.03.10

Two Sorry Tory Stories (or some differences between the UK and the USA)

James Crabtree has written a fascinating and much commented upon Prospect piece on the role that an apology might play in a quick return to Labour government should the Conservatives win the General Election later this year. This has set me thinking about the role of contrition in politics in general and two sorry Tory stories in particular. These sorry stories are: First, seeing (tacit and non-formal) apologies for being slow to make peace with the 1960s and for the excesses of the 1980s as being integral to the rebranding of the Conservatives sought by David Cameron (a project that is now threatened by a sense that the credit crunch and the scale of public debt have caused the Conservatives to renew their marriage vows to Margaret Thatcher and the 1980s); and, second, conceptualising the Republicans as being split between those who see a need for some kind of apology for the years of George W Bush as necessary to their political renewal and those who do not.

Some recent events – the reaction to the attempted Christmas day terrorist bombing in the US; the election to fill Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat in Massachusetts; the tea party protests; the spike in retirements from Democratic Congressmen; and President Obama’s approval rating – would seem to strengthen the position of those who are unapologetic for the Dubya years. But my default sense – which I am increasingly having cause to question – is that in the long-term more contrition than that which the likes of Karl Rove are presently prepared to offer will be required for the Republicans to fully recover. That said; there are signs, which are worrying to a European and (in the American sense of the word) liberal, that an unreconstructed Republican party might return to the White House in 2012. An example of such a sign is that when I departed Dulles airport, just outside DC, 48 hours ago I noted lots of t-shirts on sale like the one below.

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03.03.10

Evil Superman is back … and he is driving a truck! (Or is he?)

My wife tells me that when she first moved to the UK in the early years of the presidency of George W Bush her European friends would introduce her by saying: “This is Monica. She is American … But she’s not mental.” Obviously, this was impolite and unnecessary; as if 300 million citizens of a democratic state could be made mad purely by statehood.

At that time, however, as Charlie Brooker noted, “watching America at work was like watching the scenes in Superman III where Superman, under the influence of red kryptonite, goes ‘bad’”. It was thought, presumably, that people needed to be reassured that Monica wasn’t similarly bad, mad or dangerous to know. Then came President Obama and Americans were welcomed back into polite European society, without caveats or health-warnings.

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29.12.09

Yes, we still can (but leadership and disciplined support are needed)

The striking thing about the most powerful person in the world, as he approaches one year in office, is how, err, lacking in power he appears.

Disappointed and, according to Mark Lynas, insulted by the Chinese in Copenhagen.  A Health Care Bill that isn’t yet on the statute; is much delayed on his original timetable; and, by his own admission, is only “nine-tenths of a loaf” – some would say that half a loaf is nearer the mark and it comes with lashings of pork barrel whatever way you look at it. An Afghan strategy that even he doesn’t seem wholly convinced by and the backdrop to which Andrew Sullivan commented upon by saying:

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19.10.08

The excess and dishonesty of Joe Six Pack

Why, doggone it, does Palin use this term? I am left to presume that Mr. Six Pack is married to Mrs. Hockey Mom and Palin is seeking votes via an appeal to the cultural mores that this couple represents. But Joe’s carrying of a six pack is suggestive of weight problems. So Joe’s culture is one of excess, one that until recently at ease with easy credit. Indeed, so sanguine about excess was this culture that it embraced the dishonesty of sub-prime lending. Borrowing far beyond one’s means was as normal as downing another of Joe’s beers.

Palin – a candidate bathed in untruth – wants to have this Presidential election defined by the contours of this culture. Joe the Plumber fits this backdrop perfectly but not in the ways that Republicans argue. As Joe isn’t his real name and evading taxes, not fitting kitchens and the like, is his game, he is actually Sam the Liar. Thus, rather than a further surprise turn in this election, as we are told, he is typical of it and a motif for his times. This is the “bigger truth which is out there” but McCain would tell you otherwise. That would be sadly typical of him, however.

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