I think the Obama campaign has made a big mistake going negative on Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin so quickly. Firstly its obvious to everyone why the Palin nomination might pan out to be a Really Dumb Idea – we don’t need the Democrats to spell it out to us. Secondly we saw during the democratic primary that large numbers of the US political press (Exhibit A: Chris ‘Tweety Bird’ Matthews pictured here) are openly hostile towards the notion of a female executive: they’ll be watching Palin like hawks and as soon as she makes her inevitable mistakes they’ll swoop: the Obama campaign wants to be a LONG way away from the mysogenistic rat-fucking that will then ensue.
If Palin turns out to be a formidible campaigner then the Dems can always sic Hilary on her to rend her limb from limb; this is a pretty unlikely scenario though – chances are Palin will manage to hurt her campaign a lot more than the Dems ever could and it’ll look better for them if they’re seen to be nurturing this delicate flower of caucasian womanhood, not trampling all over her.
UPDATE: Well that didn’t take long. Left-wing blogs in the US are ‘swiftboating’ Mrs Palin already.
Palin and her husband recently had their fifth child; they knew early in the pregnancy that it had Down syndrome (three copies of the 21st chromosome or fragments thereof) but she carried the child to term anyway. This makes her enormously attractive to pro-life religious voters and in Karl Rove’s America the trick is to attack your opponent where they are percieved to be strong. Democratic supporters have started a whispering campaign suggesting that the child was actually born to Palins teenage daughter and that Mr and Mrs Palin adopted the child and engaged in a cover-up.
Of course, none of this is anybody’s business except the Palin family – its the exact same tactic that right-wing opponents of Barack Obama have tried to do to the democratic nominee with their absurd ‘stealth muslim’ birth certificate conspiracy theories.
Interestingly enough this is similar to the smear tactics used against John McCain in the Republican primary back in 2000. McCain and his wife adopted a young girl from Bangladesh. The Bush campaign published pictures of McCain with the child and suggested that he had fathered a black daughter out of wedlock. McCain was winning prior to the smear but shortly afterwards lost the nomiation to George W Bush.
Everybody openly deplores these kind of tactics but they are the most consistently successful way to win elections. People pretend not to be influenced by negative campaigning but all the research shows that it is the single most effective technique in the modern political toolbox, so expect to see a lot more of this kind of dirt flung around, both in New Zealand and in the US.
I’ve just heard that the new Labour Party list has Judith Tizard equal with Helen Clark at the number one spot.
Presumably the party will be issuing an amended list post-haste. Can’t these idiots do anything right?
In the United States the reaction to McCain’s nomination of Sarah Palin seems to be glee from Democrats and outrage and despair from Republicans, which is probably not the reaction the McCain08 campaign was hoping for.
This is all a bit premature: Palin is a pretty big gamble (especially when compared to Senator Obama’s overly cautious choice of running mate) but sometimes long bets pay off. Mrs Palin is about to be subjected to incredible media scrutiny so we will know in a few weeks (if not days) whether or not she was a wise choice.
There’s an anecdote from the Second World War – I think it comes from either Hugh Trevor-Roper or A J P Taylor – in which one of Hitler’s Generals (Guderian?) returns from his command on the rapidly deteriorating Russian front furious at the catastrophic decisions the Fuhrer has made and his general mis-conduct of the war. The highly decorated veteran charges into the Reichskanzlei (this was pre-July plot) ready to give this jumped up little Austrian corporal the dressing down of a lifetime. He bullies his way past the numerous party flunkies and storms into the office of the Fuhrer. The door is closed, a few minutes pass and then the general emerges, beaming with confidence. ‘It’s all going to be alright,’ he tells his aide-de-camp. ‘We will triumph! The Fuhrer has given me his personal assurance!’
Something similar happened in New Zealand yesterday; Winston Peters spent the entire day breathing fire and bellowing smoke and righteous fury while delivering deranged speeches which he no doubt convinced himself were Churchillian. He would NOT step down! He would take on all-comers! There was a plot and a conspiracy and HE would overcome!
Then he spoke briefly with Helen Clark who quickly emerged to announce that Peters would be standing down and would continue to support her government, he would happily cooperate with the Serious Fraud Office and was currently occupied playing with a ball of wool.
What could she have said? We will probably never know. The PM has apparently assured Peters that he can have his portfolio’s back as soon as the SFO probe winds up; Peters is deluded enough to think that will only be a few days (I’m guessing his current plan is to yell and scream threats at the auditors and they will be so impressed by this that they will just drop the case) while Clark knows that the fraud investigation is likely to become increasingly murky and complex and will probably drag on for years, as Mr Peter’s court cases are like to do.
Whatever transpired last night, Clark has managed to somehow spin a critical sitution into gold; she looks awfully good right now while just yesterday it looked like it was all over for her. Astonishing.
UPDATE: There is another plausible Peters-SFO scenario suggested by this story in the Herald:
The statement, several pages long, was generated by the trust and showed incomings and outgoings. It showed money from the Vela brothers and Sir Robert Jones going in, then being paid to New Zealand First.
So the SFO might examine this document and conclude that funds from the Spencer Trust were indeed paid to New Zealand First. This will mean that Peters has been lying to the country and that the party has been filing false declarations for years but this is not the concern of the Serious Fraud Office. They drop the case and Peters gleefully announces that he has been exonerated.
If elected I plan to promote world peace!
Republican nominee John McCain has chosen Sarah Palin, the Governor of Alaska as his Vice Presidential running mate. True to Senator McCain’s character this is a rather brilliant but incredibly risky decision – Palin is a woman, which will boost McCain’s chances with the fickle, easily distracted female voter demographic; she is also insanely conservative and religious which will shore up his base with the insanely religious conservative demographic who are distrustful of Senator McCain’s occasional tendency to say things that are not flat-out deranged. She is also a former beauty queen and still pretty hot.
Less encouragingly she is currently involved in an ethics scandal in Alaska; she is also young (44) and staggeringly inexperienced which is a pretty big deal when you are Vice President for a 72 year old cancer survivor. She will not be looking forward to her debate with Joe Biden, Obama’s VP pick.
Senator McCain is a very smart man, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Palin exceed expectations and dazzle the voters; but McCain is also a gambler and there is always a chance that his VP will crash and burn: then the house wins. Ahead in the polls once again, Senator Obama is currently the house.
If elected I will break the fourth wall . . .
Like I said, I thought Barack Obama has made better speeches – but I’m (a) somewhat cynical and (b) not an American. The US wire services are carrying reports of crowds of people crying while watching Obama on TV in hotel foyers and airports across the country. Obviously they got something out of it I didn’t.
I think part of it had to do with expectations; while politics junkies know Obama is a great orator from his performance in the primaries the majority of Americans don’t participate in primary politics. Their real first exposure to the democratic nominee happened tonight. And for the past few weeks people’s expectation of Obama has been set by the Republican Party: he’s a vacant, empty-headed celebrity.
Left-wing pundits like Josh Marshall have been tearing their hair out in frustration at the failure of the Obama campaign to push back against Senator McCains negative attack-ads; I now wonder if the Democrats were doing something clever (for the first time in twelve years) and letting the Republicans lower expectations about Obama so that when people tuned in expecting to see some sort of political version of Paris Hilton and were met with the formidible reality of the Illinois Senator in full flight the counter-effect would overwhelm them.
I’m guessing that the PM is not going to meet with Peters today. She’ll have heard his interview with Sean Plunket this morning, concluded he is temporarily insane and will give him a few days to cool down before she tries to reason with him.
UPDATE: Well shut my mouth, Clark is meeting Peters at ‘an undisclosed location’. I’m sure she’ll be rivited to hear more about the great media-big business-serious fraud office conspiracy that’s scheming to take him down.
In a few minutes Barack Obama will deliver his acceptance speech at the democratic nomination. Unless he transforms into a being of pure energy that instantly rids the world of all poverty and sadness I don’t think he’ll be able to meet the expectations that have been built up around this speech.
If this does happen I hope he’ll also debug this biopython code I’ve been struggling with all morning. That’d be change I could believe in.
UPDATE: Interesting – the speech so far is all reversal: instead of ‘hoping to dream’ or ‘daring to hope’ Obama is going negative on his opponent John McCain. Smart.
UPDATE: Damn, he was out of meter for a while there – you could see the frustration on his face – but then he really hit his marks towards the end. Not up to his previous standard (‘Yes we can’, ‘A more perfect union’) but he’s still an astonishing orator.
I note with some sadness that my code still won’t compile. Back to the coal mine . . .
Are you still the Foreign Minister?
I think there’s still a chance that Clark won’t sack Peters; its important to bear in mind that neither of them think they’ve done anything wrong: this is all just a big media beat-up, a conspiracy to get honest Winston Peters out of power and the Serious Fraud Office investigation is just that department taking revenge on the government for closing it down. It’s all that horrible Rodney Hide’s fault and we all know he’s in the pocket of big business. Surely we can’t let them and the National Party win?
So I still think its possible Clark won’t sack her Foreign Minister. If she does there is a chance he will not try to bring down the government, but a very small one. While most politicians believe parliament is there to serve the public and pass laws, Peters knows it is there to provide him with a handsome salary, a crown limousine and a staff of flunkies. If it is no longer performing that function then it has ceased to have any purpose and there’s no point in continuing to support it.
Still, at Winston’s age politicians do have one eye on the history book: of course he’ll be remembered as one of the great lawmakers and statesmen of our age, and indeed all time – on the other hand, bringing down two governments in ten years might not look that great in the footnotes.
Peters has announced he will not stand down; this suggests that he will pull the plug if Clark sacks him. The Dom-Post has Peters comments:
[Peters] said unnamed groups were organising a plot against him and that the SFO was part of it.
He said if the SFO had talked to him he would have convinced them in five minutes” that he was not breaking the law.
Challenged on his claims that the SFO was plotting against him, he shot back saying what other explanation could there be.
Why would they never ever come and talk to me if they had an intention of coming to talk to me?”
He said Wellington’s Dominion Post was part of the malevolent planning strategy” and he would not stand down in the face of a kangaroo court of public opinion, organised by the media in this country and others, and accept that this is the kind of society we live with…
The public has been most vilely misinformed.”
Spare a thought for Helen Clark this morning as she tries to salvage her political future while reasoning with this deluded maniac.
Obviously Winston Peters ‘fuck off and die you lying vermin’ routine has been really effective at getting the media to cut him some slack: I can’t wait to see how well it will play with the Serious Fraud Office.
As Peters looks set to bring his second government coalition in a decade crashing down around his ears its worth taking the time to just stop and admire how totally pointless this whole debacle is. It was not illegal for Peters to accept a $100,000 donation from Owen Glenn, but when the New Zealand Herald published an article alleging that he had done so he decided to to deny everything and demand that the editor and political editor of the Herald resign. He then went on to cheerfully nurture feuds and vendetta’s with some of the most formidable investigative journalists in the country; even though he knew that the stories they were publishing about him were true he denied them and then threw temper tantrums every time more evidence emerged.
Although this is a financial scandal in a superficial sense the real engine of Peters destruction is his vanity: we now know that Clark has known about Glenn’s donation since February; she is smart enough to have seen this coming.
Its not hard to imagine Clark remonstrating with Peters and getting the same run-around he’s given the country (‘there was no donation to me; the donation was to my lawyer’) with Peters eventually losing his temper and telling Clark to support him or lose his vote and have the country go to the polls while she was twenty points behind. The past few months must have looked to her like a slow-motion car-crash with Winstons drunken ego in the drivers seat.