Posts Tagged ‘campaign’

Democracy in America is a useful fiction

January 26, 2010

Chris Hedges, truthdig.com,  January 24, 2010

Original: AP / Charles Dharapak

Corporate forces, long before the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, carried out a coup d’état in slow motion. The coup is over. We lost. The ruling is one more judicial effort to streamline mechanisms for corporate control. It exposes the myth of a functioning democracy and the triumph of corporate power. But it does not significantly alter the political landscape. The corporate state is firmly cemented in place.

Continues >>

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Bush’s Follies Will Destroy Obama If He Lets Them

November 28, 2008
Truthdig, Nov 25, 2008
USAF / Staff Sgt. Samuel Rogers

By William Pfaff

One might think that if Barack Obama believes he can make a success of his new administration by largely reconstituting the Clinton administration, Hillary Clinton included, he should know better than to take on the reckless ambitions and commitments of the George W. Bush administration as well: the government that gave America the Mideast and Asian crises, blunders and humiliations of the past 6 1/2 years.

The world has witnessed a futile, destructive and illegal American invasion of Iraq, a war conducted on false pretenses, supposedly against terrorists, accompanied by worldwide actions that have made American policy in Bush’s “global war on terror” seem to many Muslims an attack on Islamic society itself.

Obama is now taking on the quasi-impossible tasks of bringing to a successful and responsible conclusion the Bush government’s wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, as well as what shows signs of becoming another military intervention of grave and unforeseeable consequences in Pakistan. He is doing so without challenging the assumptions and goals of Bush administration policy.

It has been the mindset of the Bush administration—and, unfortunately, of much of the neoconservative-influenced foreign policy establishment in Washington—that international society’s problems are reducible to wars that American armies will win. They are wrong on both counts. But some still argue that this is the way to a better and more democratic world.

Obama has no choice but to accept responsibility for these American crises. But why should he accept them on the distorted and even hysterical terms by which the Bush administration has defined world affairs since 2001?

Iraq has been a victim of the United States. Washington had no legal or moral justification for invading the country and destroying its infrastructure, killing an uncounted number of Iraqis and displacing half a million or more to ruined lives while setting off the sectarian conflicts that have wracked the country since 2003.

There is a heavy American responsibility to do no more harm, however well-intentioned. The present volatile situation in the country is for the moment a largely political shoving match between the divided and possibly ephemeral Shiite government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his rivals, who include the Shiite radicals of Muqtada al-Sadr, and the Sunni, and largely ex-Baathist, Awakening Movement, sponsored by the U.S. Army to defend Sunni tribal regions against the foreigners of the fundamentalist al-Qaida. In addition, are the two Kurdish movements that together control, and plan to make independent and permanent, a Kurdistan nation incorporating—if they have their way—the oil-rich Kirkuk region.

One can make the political—and moral—argument that as the American invasion is responsible for the Iraqi upheaval, Washington should somehow settle it. The answer is that it’s impossible for Americans to do so. The U.S. cannot do it by continued military occupation and intervention in the country’s affairs.

Only the Iraqis themselves can settle this, and doing so may entail even more religious and ethnic struggle. The neighboring Shiite great power, Iran, will play its cards in the country. The Saudis will play theirs. Israel will do everything in its power to prevent an American withdrawal. All of this will probably add still more tragedies to those of the last six years, but at least the U.S. responsibility will have become only indirect, which is bad enough.

Barack Obama started off his presidential campaign by saying that he would get American troops out of Iraq by mid-2010. That was a strong, simple position that, if resolutely carried out, would make it clear to the Iraqis what they have to do to save themselves, and how long they have in which to do it.

Since the early campaign, the president-elect has been forced to qualify his position, weaken it, blur it, say that actually many U.S. troops probably will stay on, the dates may change, American involvement will continue, and so on. He has been forced back toward the Washington consensus opinion, the centrist and “responsible” position, close to the Bush opinion.

Nearly everyone is against his sticking to his original policy: The Iraq factions all plan to exploit American ambiguities to strengthen their own positions and maneuver the American command to favor them. The Kurds want time to make their proto-Kurdistan even more impregnable (while encouraging their reluctance to deal with Turkish and Iranian hostility to a sovereign Kurdistan, as well as deal realistically with their fellow Iraqis).

In Washington, the Pentagon is against withdrawal on Obama’s terms. It still wants permanent bases in Iraq. It claims Obama’s timetable is logistically impossible. The Republicans will shout “treason” and “betrayal.” American oil companies and the corporations that are already part of the occupation, as well as those that have big ambitions for moving into an American-secured Iraq, will demand that the U.S. stay.

All this must be resisted if Obama is to be his own man. He has to rid himself of George Bush’s folly. He must make Iraq truly independent. If he doesn’t, it could destroy his administration.

Visit William Pfaff’s Web site at www.williampfaff.com.

© 2008 Tribune Media Services Inc.

McCain/Palin Campaign’s End-Run Around Media

September 30, 2008

The McCain campaign is attempting to do something unheard of in the modern political era. It is not just running against the mainstream media, it is running around it.

[Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin speaks at a rally at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, on Monday. (MANDEL NGAN / AFP/Getty Images) ]Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin speaks at a rally at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, on Monday. (MANDEL NGAN / AFP/Getty Images)

This strategy is not so much expressed in McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt’s declaration last week that the New York Times is “150 percent in the tank” for Democratic Sen. Barack Obama or the media-bashing by several speakers at this month’s Republican National Convention. It’s more about the GOP’s continued sheltering of its vice presidential nominee, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.She has yet to hold a major press conference 32 days after McCain announced her as his running mate – and that’s not changing anytime soon. McCain spokesman Michael Goldfarb said Palin will do at least one news conference before election day. That could mean that the person who could potentially lead the free world will have done one national press conference before being sworn into office.

The Democratic vice presidential nominee, Joe Biden, has given more than 89 national and local interviews over roughly the same period of time.

Other than TV interviews with CBS anchor Katie Couric, ABC anchor Charlie Gibson and conservative Fox News commentator Sean Hannity, Palin hasn’t engaged the press. The effort to shield her is so intense that when she met with foreign leaders in New York last week, the campaign initially would only allow photographers near her.

No favors

“I don’t think the campaign is doing her any favors by not letting her answer any questions,” said PBS political editor Judy Woodruff, who has covered politics for 30 years for CNN and PBS. “If she’s elected vice president of the United States and were she to succeed to the presidency, she needs that interchange with journalists. The American people have a right to know what does she know and how does she think.”

“The media needs to continue to say, every day, until she has a news conference, ‘When is she going to have a news conference? Why isn’t she having one?’ I just find it astounding,” Woodruff said. “I think the media has a responsibility to continue to point out that this is unlike any presidential or vice presidential candidate in memory. She has been more bottled up.”

When television news outlets threatened not to run any images of her meeting with Afghan president Hamid Karzai on Tuesday unless reporters were allowed in as well, the campaign allowed CNN – which was providing the pool report for the event – inside. Briefly. According to the network, “CNN’s producer and other photographers were allowed in the room for just 29 seconds.”

‘Free Sarah Palin’

Last week, The Chronicle began a “Free Sarah Palin” campaign on its Politics blog, documenting the continuing lack of access to the candidate. The effort was echoed by CNN host Campbell Brown, who called on “the McCain campaign to stop treating Sarah Palin like she is a delicate flower that will wilt at any moment.”

“This woman is from Alaska, for crying out loud. She is strong. She is tough. She is confident. And you claim she is ready to be one heartbeat away from the presidency. If that is the case, then end this chauvinistic treatment of her now. Allow her to show her stuff,” Brown said. “Free Sarah Palin.”

The real loser in this game of hide-the-candidate: voters. Palin was not well-known outside of conservative circles before the campaign chose her. Polls, including one taken by the Pew Research Center, taken over the past few days show that Palin’s approval rating has dropped since she was nominated.

“The lack of access is potentially damaging in the eyes of the voter, because they are trying to get to know the candidate,” said Paul Dimock, associate director of the nonpartisan Pew Research Center for People and the Press. Palin is especially vulnerable because voters know McCain, Obama and Biden better, he said.

“The McCain campaign has discovered it has a major problem,” said Carol Jenkins, president of the Women’s Media Center. “Increasingly, it has become clear that she doesn’t have a grasp of the issues. If I were John McCain, I’d be doing the same thing with her.”

No incentive

But Jenkins said the campaign doesn’t have an incentive to give the media more Palin face time. “If there is anybody more despised than Congress, it’s the media.”

So what can the media do? Jenkins said they shouldn’t have given in to the campaign’s demands last week during Palin’s New York visit. “At some point, the media has to stop cooperating with the campaign.”

Friday, syndicated conservative columnist Kathleen Parker had seen enough of Palin – and called on her to withdraw.

“Palin’s recent interviews with Charles Gibson, Sean Hannity and now Katie Couric have all revealed an attractive, earnest, confident candidate. Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League,” Parker wrote at the National Review Online.

“Palin filibusters. She repeats words, filling space with deadwood. Cut the verbiage and there’s not much content there,” Parker wrote. “If BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself.”

But other news executives say what the McCain campaign is doing is not that unusual.

“All politicians go through a stage where they want to minimize how much they are exposed to the media,” said Paul Friedman, vice president of news at CBS, the network that scored one of the three major Palin interviews. He shrugged at what could be learned in a news conference that couldn’t in a one-on-one interview. “I just don’t think it is that cosmic of an issue. We’ll see more of the candidates soon. Just wait for the debates.”


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