Coward Old Universe…

by Jeremy G.

Archive for the ‘2008 Elections’ Category

West Wing made the right prediction

Posted by Jeremy Ghez on November 5, 2008

The theme of the “Mommy Problem” developed by the now-defunct television series West Wing has been stunningly relevant throughout this campaign — as discussed here.

But more broadly, the screenwriters pictured the race with a surprising lucidity. Slate made an interesting video on the topic, though it could have said a bit more about the comparison between John McCain and Arnie Vinick.

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Congratulations America

Posted by Jeremy Ghez on November 5, 2008

A display of democracy and resilience, the American way this time around…

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So FOX News does not have the monopoly…

Posted by Jeremy Ghez on September 11, 2008

… of political bias.

Two stories, here and here, within the past few days, published by the Washington Post and the New York Times respectively, have reported on the issues set by the partisan approach to the 2008 elections of MSNBC and specifically of two of its main anchormen, Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann. The strategy has not been as efficient in practice as MSNBC could have expected, as the channel now seems to prefer the less controversial David Gregory for news coverage and election night.

The efficiency of market and supply and demand forces is striking. Merely being provocative does not seem to be a viable strategy . This bodes well for the future of the political debate.

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Subliminal Message

Posted by Jeremy Ghez on August 24, 2008

I think I have just figured out how Obama might just loose the coming November contest.

The Democrats have presented a McCain victory as George W. Bush’s third term in office, contrasting with an Obama victory, a symbol of rupture and an end to Washington politics, or so they claim.  However, by choosing  Delaware  Senator Joe Biden to complete his presidential ticket, Obama  has  given conservatives an  unusual opportunity to reverse roles.  Indeed, Fox News commentators have repeatedly compared this ticket to the Bush-Cheney ticket, in which the Vice President was chosen for his foreign policy credentials and experience, in order to balance the ticket.  In other words, continuation is an Obama victory in November.

Admittedly, the theory is a bit outlandish.  But the real point is that McCain, the maverick, the unexpected Republican who would be president, could actually be the man who will best stand for rupture with past political practices, given today’s turn of events.  The conservative brand has greatly suffered from the past eight years and would hugely benefit from a gamble, as risky as it may be.  This is why I stand by what I wrote here, back in February.  It’s really time to be good.

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Obama l’Européen

Posted by Jeremy Ghez on July 27, 2008

On peut tirer une leçon fondamentale du récent voyage d’Obama en Europe qui vient de s’achever: le candidat démocrate aurait représenté la figure idéale que le vieux Continent aurait choisi sans hésiter comme leader.  En effet, l’Europe aime cette grandiloquence, cette logique selon laquelle il suffirait de s’unir et s’embrasser pour résoudre le problème israélo-palestinien, pour contrer les ambitions nucléaires iraniennes, …

Mais un gros problème risque de se poser à l’Europe en cas de victoire d’Obama.  L’opinion publique dans le continent est restée sourde aux autres aspects, plus concrets, du discours de leur candidat préféré.  Qui a entendu Obama réclamer plus d’efforts de la part des Européens en Afghanistan?  On semble aussi ignorer les différences prononcées entre Obama et les positions traditionnelles de la diplomatie européenne au sujet de la question palestinienne.

 

 

Même si les Etats-Unis changeront de président en Novembre, leurs intérêts et leur détermination à agir n’évolueront pas.  En 1998, Bill Clinton n’avait pas hésité à bombarder l’Irak de Saddam Hussein qui refusait les visites des inspecteurs de l’ONU.  Mieux (ou pire) encore, c’est sous l’administration Clinton que Iraq Liberation Act, qui visait explicitement au changement de régime en Irak, a été voté.  Personne, en Europe, ne semble s’en souvenir.  On préfère opposer la présidence Clinton à la présidence Bush, alors que dans les faits, ce n’est que le contexte extérieur qui était diffèrent – du moins en apparence.  D’ailleurs, peu importe, après tout, si l’aveuglement de Clinton a permis à Al-Qaïda de se développer pour attaquer l’Amérique: les attentats du 11 septembre ont frappés les Etats-Unis suffisamment tard pour que l’Europe puisse détester Bush plutôt que Clinton.  Le Vieux Continent a décidément la mémoire très courte.  Mais il risque d’être déçu si Obama est élu.

Les dirigeants européens ne semblent pas dupes.  La prudence d’Hubert Védrine, invité de RTL vendredi matin, et celle de Robert Ménard, à l’émission On Refait le Monde vendredi soir, confirment qu’encore une fois, l’opinion publique européenne semble prendre ses souhaits pour des réalités.

 

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The “New Yorker” votes for McCain

Posted by Jeremy Ghez on July 16, 2008

If you have to explain the satire and say over and over it’s only satire and not what you actually think, it must mean that this is pretty poor satire…  This is what one may feel in the latest New Yorker scandal, whose cover pictured Obama dressed as Bin Laden, along with his wife dressed as Rambo, in the Oval office, where an American flag is burning and a portrait of the United States’ enemy is placed in evidence on the wall.

 

 

Beyond this joke – which is not so funny – one may wonder what objectives the New Yorker is actually pursuing, if it is not promoting John McCain as the best candidate.  The caricature has forced Obama to repeat once again that he is not a Muslim and that he was raised in a Christian environment.  By saying this, once again, Obama is:

  1. Alienating Muslim Americans, who will start to feel that their religion is not an asset in U.S. political life.
  2. Likely to be targeted – once more – by the far right who will claim that only guilty men try to defend themselves.
  3. Obligated to get off message in order to fix this misinformation, while success is not at all guaranteed.

 

The New Yorker rarely impressed me given its inability to step away from ideology in order to take a pragmatic look at today’s political reality.  Would the election of a Democratic President set a dilemma for a paper which has not had much to offer in terms of ideas, these past seven years?  

This latest episode leads me to believe that America deserves a bit better.  The Obama-McCain dual is most certainly an image representing America at its best, but the media seems to be missing the point…

 

 

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Johnny Be Good…

Posted by Jeremy Ghez on February 6, 2008

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It looks good for McCain.  He just announced that he’s now hoping that mothers from his home state, Arizona, will be able one day to tell their children: “You’ll grow up to be President…”

If he does get the nomination, who will get the Vice-Presidency?  Rumors and speculation – as well as common sense, arguably – point to Huckabee: He’s young, much more conservative and probably much more appealing to the Conservative base McCain will have a hard time with.  Will this be enough for McCain to conquer the Republican Party?  Perhaps…  Some still seem to prefer Hillary though – probably because they’ll be more able to explain why they hate the President.

 

But a bit more chutzpah on the part of McCain would be appreciable.  Most Democrats claim today that eight years of Bush will make any Republican candidate look bad.  McCain should call them on their bluff, and show enough pragmatism to get on his ticket a Lieberman or a Bloomberg, and finally do things differently in D.C., and not just pretend.  Pragmatism, and a bit less ideology – that works also for the Left. 

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Giuliani’s dead…

Posted by Jeremy Ghez on January 30, 2008

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It’s not the first time, but I was wrong about Giuliani.  After his third place tonight, in Florida, the former mayor is likely to quit tomorrow and endorse tonight’s big winner, John McCain.

Giuliani might just become an interesting case study for political science and elections.  His fifty day media blitz in Florida did not allow him to get any national time, and thus benefit from the same momentum McCain gained in previous primaries.  Giuliani’s dream is over.  Momentum, more than money, still matters.

What is to follow is probably even more interesting.  I have a hard time imagining a scenario in which Huckabee or Romney could turn this around.  On his end, McCain will probably be less popular with the base of the Republican Party, but will have much more appeal with the Independents, and most of all, all these Democrats who hate Clinton – should she get the nomination. 

One open question for McCain, in this context, is who to chose for Vice President?  One strategy would emphasize the need to reach out to the Republican base which, according to the Karl Rove school of thought, is the gets the party’s nominee elected.  The other strategy would consist in fighting on Democrat ground, and aim for a more liberal Vice President.  Given his huge defeat in this primary, Giuliani is an unlikely candidate – his endorsement for McCain will suffice.  Other names, including Independents Michael Bloomberg and John Lieberman, pop up.

Much will depend on who the Democrats choose.  One thing is sure: McCain is becoming the worse nightmare for Democrats.

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Clintons: A Sinking Boat?

Posted by Jeremy Ghez on January 27, 2008

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It doesn’t look good, Hillary… Granted, the war is not over. Florida and Super Tuesday may save the day. But after her loss today in the South Carolina primary, it seems clear that the former First Lady is loosing her momentum, and extra efforts will be needed to turn this campaign around.

Anderson Cooper contributors made a great point tonight, on CNN: Like it or not, the Democrat Primary is not about race or gender, contrary to what Bill and Hillary have claimed repeatedly.  While it is true that one African American has won a primary in the past in South Carolina – Jesse Jackson – another lost – Al Sharpton.  There is no clear rule, but almost surely there were maneuvers to lower expectations on the part of the Clinton campaign – the oldest political tactic in the book.

The bottom line is that American people are much smarter than the Clintons think.  

First, gender and race play a very marginal role when it comes down to choosing between Obama and Clinton.  If anything, Clinton could have relied on the strong reputation of her husband in the African-American community, but she blew it.  And now she’s making this about race.

Second, thinking that people primarily rely on ethnicity to determine their choice is plain stupid.  Americans are dealing with real issues, related to the state of the economy and to poverty.  They want answers.

So maybe Hillary should ask Bill to shut up.  He’s not helping.  And she doesn’t look like she’s making history.  Bhutto, Thatcher, Meir and Gandhi look more unreachable than ever.

Posted in 2008 Elections, Women | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Torturing Debate

Posted by Jeremy Ghez on December 11, 2007

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The admission by the CIA that interrogation tapes were destroyed has sparked – again – the debate on torture and on the Bush Administration’s competence. 

To be sure, the Bush Administration has fumbled the ball yet again.   This is not a black and white issue – although promoting other ways to fight terror would certainly be strategically efficient in the Global War on Terror.  It is not a matter of free barbarity or violence for the sake of violence.  It is not as if our opponents are angels from Heaven.  But because of this Administration’s inability to communicate or to elaborate a viable strategy that offers and spreads hope at least as much as it generates fear, there will only be one side to the story, once again.

Just like in the cases of Guantanamo and Abu Grahib, what strikes me most is the speed at which the information was revealed – in this case, the tapes were destroyed in 2005, meaning less than two years ago.  Beyond this new controversy – or scandal, depending on where you place yourself – we have additional proof of how efficient our democracy is in bringing the information that matters to the public in a reasonable amount of time.  This is not true for all Western countries.  The U.S. should seek to draw all benefits from that democratic vitality.

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