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Archives for May 2008

Clinton's dilemma

Justin Webb | 20:37 UK time, Saturday, 31 May 2008


The key point on Florida and Michigan as made here, near the bottom of the piece, is not really the outcome - exciting as Wolf Blitzer et al seem to think it is.

The vital issue is the reaction of the Clinton camp to whatever the decision is. Do they accept it and thus achieve yet another victory that is not quite enough of a victory for victory (if you see what I mean) or do they fight?

Some seem to think the prospects of a fight beyond next week are realistic. But as the Wall St Journal points out, Hillary Clinton is no Jerry Brown, no Jesse Jackson. She would not be fighting on for honour and for dignity - she would be fighting to win, and with a powerful if flawed case.

That would be unique in modern times and uniquely damaging to the party.

Talking to Bin Laden?

Justin Webb | 09:17 UK time, Friday, 30 May 2008


For those more interested in the issues that will face a future American president than in the minute discussion of Michigan and Florida etc, this is worth a look. I cannot imagine a similar sentiment from any responsible person in the US.

I am in Missoula, Montana - a long flight with a change in Minneapolis, but sadly no time to use the famous men's bathrooms - to see the governor; I can't see him biting on the idea of talks with bin Laden but it might be an ice-breaker. It would certainly give him some dinner party conversation, "had these crazies in from the BBC - wanted to know if I'd talk to Bin Laden... !"

All the talk about Scott McClellan (was he in the loop; has he gone loopy; etc etc) has distracted people from the simple, devastating fact that a man whose entire professional life was built around President George W Bush now finds the man deeply unattractive.

As usual, Peggy Noonan hits the nail on the head when she says of McClellan: "The implication of his assertions and anecdotes is that Mr Bush is vain, narrow, out of his depth and coldly dismissive of doubt, of criticism and of critics." The full piece is here.

The president has been misunderestimated many times in the past but the McClellan attack is wounding. McCain will be looking to point out that the Iraq war he wants to win will be his war, fought in his manner - not the leftovers of a disaster disowned by many of its keenest protagonists.

Europeans love Obama

Justin Webb | 22:56 UK time, Thursday, 29 May 2008


I love this neat little skewering of the Clinton case that it should never be over until it is over.

And this manages to be funny and relatively gentle for an anti-Hillary piece.

Meanwhile it is surely no surprise that Europeans love Obama but the real conundrum is why anti-American Russians seem to love McCain.

Might this vice-presidential choice get him more traction closer to home?


Justin Webb | 22:11 UK time, Wednesday, 28 May 2008


A wonderfully challenging piece takes both the (presumed) candidates to task and for an interesting reason you will never hear properly discussed on the 24-hour news shows.

This is the central point:

"Hypocrisy is not the biggest issue. The real issue is that Messrs. Obama and McCain are telling us Americans that our normal lives are not good enough, that pursuing our own happiness is "self-indulgence," that building a business is "chasing after our money culture," that working to provide a better life for our families is a "narrow concern". They're wrong. Every human life counts. Your life counts. You have a right to live it as you choose, to follow your bliss. You have a right to seek satisfaction in accomplishment. And if you chase after the almighty dollar, you just might find that you are led, as if by an invisible hand, to do things that improve the lives of others."

This - to me - is a uniquely American message. And yet you rarely hear it argued with vigour...

Judging the Kennedy gaffe

Justin Webb | 20:10 UK time, Tuesday, 27 May 2008


I am fascinated by the even split regarding the acceptability of Hillary Clinton's comments on Bobby Kennedy: I still think that on balance she was tired and made a (reasonably) honest mistake, though the case against that view is worth hearing.

As for this: What a classy woman! What a classy joke! What a classy show!


Incidentally, I am grateful to those who pointed out (and this had not occurred to me) that the electoral calendar has changed significantly and that the examples Mrs Clinton gave do not in any case serve her argument very well.

Eugene Robinson has always struck me as a gentle, warm-hearted person but the fact that the calendar argument is false is for him the clincher - and appears to have goaded even this mild-mannered commentator into anger.

Bumper sticker trends

Justin Webb | 03:55 UK time, Tuesday, 27 May 2008


Spotted on an overcrowded Bay Bridge this Memorial weekend: a car (driven by a black man, though I think that's probably irrelevant) with Obama stickers one side and Clinton the other.

Is this the start of a trend? Never seen it before anywhere. As bumper stickers go, so goes the nation. The Democrats only really began to get serious again after the 2000 and 2004 defeats when those whining (if understandable) "Re-defeat Bush" stickers got peeled off and replaced.

Meanwhile I want to write a travel piece about Rehobeth Beach, Delaware for a British audience - anything but a well-heeled, gated, protected corner of the nation (Americans who know it will smile at the thought) but possessed of so much of that peacefulness that the British equivalent would lack. Two reasons - no booze, at least very little in public. Even on Memorial Day with the town full of students. And second, less tangible, but true I think - that American respect for authority that still exists across most of the land. The lifeguards tell people, for instance, to stop flying kites near the crowds on the beach. They comply instantly. Would they in the UK? Would there be lifeguards?

Choices at the cookout

Justin Webb | 13:20 UK time, Saturday, 24 May 2008


We are told John McCain's blood pressure - I assume this is when his famous temper is not raised - is a perfectly respectable 134 over 84. But his good cholesterol is 42 - below the recommended 60. He's had skin cancer - which we already knew - but nothing appears imminently to threaten the life of the man who, if he were elected in November, would be the oldest first-term president in American history.

All of this completely misses the point of course that it's not what he's got that concerns people - it's what he might get in the next four or eight years. The polls consistently suggest that John McCain's age is a handicap - it worries people. It need not be fatal to his presidential chances but the issue has to be managed - it cannot be dismissed. Which is why a barbecue in the gorgeous red rock setting of Sedona, Arizona is causing much interest this weekend - the cookout is at John McCain's home, and among the guests are three men who are being talked of as vice-presidential candidates: Florida Governor Charlie Crist, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and former Massachusetts Governor and presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.

It has a slight air of those weekends they used to run in Britain for prospective senior civil servants to make sure that a brilliant mind was allied to an ability to hold a knife and fork properly. So if Charlie Crist is a closet vegan or Bobby Jindal cannot hold a plate and talk at the same time, or if Mitt Romney's just so unbearably unctuous that McCain wants to kill him - this is the weekend their vice-presidential chances evaporate.

Incidentally Crist looks to me to be a bit too clean-cut for McCain's tastes, Jindal is a 36-year-old Indian American whizz kid but is would surely look like an adopted son - giving the ticket an oddness that the Republicans might care to avoid.

That leaves Romney. He knows about the economy, indeed he supported it single-handed with his personal expenditure during his presidential bid, and he appeals to many on the right of the party - he is handsome and youngish. BUT McCain and he do not appear to like each other - in fact rather the opposite. Does that matter?

This weekend could be important - my sense is that if McCain and Romney look up at the cloudless Arizona sky and think big thoughts, they might just decide to try to make a go of it. Perhaps Romney will do the washing up...

Talent for upsetting

Justin Webb | 09:50 UK time, Saturday, 24 May 2008


I must say I am not convinced that this was as appalling a gaffe as some are suggesting.

But perhaps the very word assassination is better avoided. She certainly has a way of upsetting people, unusual in a top politician....

Two-ticket man?

Justin Webb | 22:13 UK time, Friday, 23 May 2008


Bloomberg for Vice President? The advantage of this rumour is that he could fit either bill - could he be on both tickets simultaneously? What's to stop it...? The founding fathers - with their hatred of party affiliations - would rather approve, I suspect. He could hold meetings at which he spoke warmly of Obama's hopefulness and McCain's cholesterol level. 2008 is capable of anything.

I am not sure how easy it is to get to the Wall St Journal opinion pages without paying but if this link works Peggy Noonan is magisterial in her debunking of the notion that Hillary has been beaten by misogyny.

This is an interesting point about the consequences of the decision the Democratic party makes about Florida and Michigan on May 31st.

Meanwhile small towns in South Dakota have days of which they never could have dreamed, which is a good thing for democracy in America, whatever its short term effects on the Democrats...

Parroting the message

Justin Webb | 19:43 UK time, Thursday, 22 May 2008


My concern about this is that the accent appears to be British.

Can anyone enlighten?

My haircut - and Hillary on the Supreme Court?

Justin Webb | 19:02 UK time, Wednesday, 21 May 2008


Apologies over that FT article which no-one could open: I have no subscription but perhaps found it on some backdoor link. It revealed that US consumption of foreign oil was dropping quite dramatically. But the moment has passed....

Adrian_Evitts kindly notes my new haircut: less than four hundred is the answer.

Thanks to David_Cunard for a stonking thought he passes on from an opinion column in the Washington Post that Hillary could the first of Obama's Supreme Court picks. But didn't the Clintons steal a load of stuff when they left the White House? (Only kidding...)

AnonymousCalifornian raises an interesting point as well that in Oregon Obama did perfectly respectably among less well-educated whites. It's an Appalachian problem that he has, not an American problem. You can solve that kind of problem in the suburbs.

And in Florida? Well perhaps...

Meanwhile, I had missed this in the US papers but the London Times comes up with a fascinating side-bar issue.

End in sight?

Justin Webb | 05:36 UK time, Wednesday, 21 May 2008


Hillary Clinton's win in Kentucky was slightly stronger than expected, but so was Barack Obama's win in Oregon - so where does that get us?

To put it crudely, better-informed people - college-educated etc - tend to vote for him. That is not something to be ashamed of.

Mind you, it helps to be agile in the maths department to see quite how she gets to her claim that she is ahead in the popular vote - this table is useful if you really want to follow her logic.

You'll note that her best figure excludes the caucus-goers and includes the two states the party decided should not be included (Michigan and Florida).

I wonder if enough superdelegates might decide now that it is over and come across to him, thereby allowing us to see an actual result on 3 June when he'll win - we assume - South Dakota and Montana.

If the party bosses decide at the rules meeting on 31 May that the Michigan and Florida votes will definitely not be counted, it seems entirely possible that the magic hurdle might be there to be jumped on 3 June.

The New York Times meanwhile has a good stab at explaining why she might be carrying on...

Attacking Mrs Obama

Justin Webb | 21:34 UK time, Tuesday, 20 May 2008


So what's going to happen over the next twenty-four hours? This is as good a summary as any I have seen.

Worth noting as well that the chatter on the right-wing blogs here is dominated by this allegation that Michelle Obama said something she might now regret and there is a tape etc etc etc.

Assuming it turns out to be false (there must be people who remember one way or the other irrespective of the tape issue) it will rebound horribly on those who hope it is true - it looks desperate beyond belief.

Haunted by Iraq

Justin Webb | 06:45 UK time, Tuesday, 20 May 2008


This complaint by the White House against NBC contains an interesting sub-plot: the sore question of whether the Iraq conflict is a civil war or not. Remember all the fanfare over NBC's decision that it was?

I must say, I thought at the time that it showed the rather self-regarding pomposity of some of my US colleages - now it comes back to haunt the station with the perfectly reasonable question: "Why didn't you give as much publicity to the end of the civil war (in your terms) as the beginning?"

Who would Jesus vote for? No doubts here.

Barack Obama's defence of his wife contained a barely coded warning, I thought - go for Michelle and Cindy McCain becomes fair game. Is that what you want?

Meanwhile, the FT has a fascinating and important piece on energy - proof to me that the US is capable of grappling with its problems and making the changes necessary.

'Enough of this foolery'

Justin Webb | 21:44 UK time, Sunday, 18 May 2008


OldSouth sets out what I suppose is the central thrust of the Republican case against Obama this November with the suggestion that he is the latest in the long line of Democratic Party secular Messiahs.

It is a reasonable case though I fear the line "Don't vote for Obama, he's just another Roosevelt!" might backfire a bit...

Here is the deal - which came to me in a flash the other day. Obama is no Roosevelt. He is no Kennedy. He is... Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman.

The date is 12th March 1906 and the Liberal Party leader has just become British prime minister after an election in which his party won a big majority. He is up against the brilliant Conservative House of Commons debater Balfour who savages the new government with a typically aggressive opening speech - think lapel pins and former pastors and Bittergate and bad bowling and being a Muslim and talking to tyrants and voting present etc etc etc. Balfour sits down to general congratulation on his side and the Liberals look worried.

Campbell-Bannerman rises and gives a speech I first read as a schoolboy and which still gives me pleasure today; it lasted four minutes and made his career:

"The Right Hon. gentleman is like the Bourbons. He has learned nothing. He comes back to this new House of Commons with the same airy graces - the same subtle dialectics - and the same light and frivolous way of dealing with great questions. He little knows the temper of the new House of Commons if he thinks those methods will prevail here. The Right Hon. gentleman has...asked certain questions which he seemed to think were posers. ...I have no direct answer to give to them. They are utterly futile, nonsensical and misleading. They are invented by the Right Hon. gentleman for the purpose of occupying time in this debate. I say, enough of this foolery. ... Move your amendments and let us get to business."

This is the crux of the Obama case - "enough of this foolery". If America buys it, McCain is sunk. If America treats this as a conventional election - in which what Obama regards as foolery is as important as ever - McCain will win...

Down the drain?

Justin Webb | 22:29 UK time, Friday, 16 May 2008


This is a stunning misjudgement from Mike Huckabee - surely inexcusable.

VP chances down the drain?

The campaign starts

Justin Webb | 08:20 UK time, Friday, 16 May 2008


The election campaign proper has started now, supporters of John McCain are turning their attention to winning, or more precisely how to win.

And this, from team McCain, is not a bad early effort:

If the choice comes down to "change" or "victory", McCain's newly tweaked more positive message might well play strongly...

This too is a sign of seriousness about winning - perhaps the McCain people have been using their spare time in recent weeks more usefully than some Democrats imagine.

Meanwhile, I see my friend Gerry Baker of the London Times has Obama's number.

This is the key point: "This [positive] media narrative is not only an outgrowth of the journalists' natural enthusiasm for a Democrat such as Mr Obama. It is also a clever ploy to pre-emptively de-legitimise any Republican critique of the Democratic nominee. It is designed to prevent Mr McCain from asking reasonable questions about Mr Obama's strikingly vacuous political background, or raising doubts about his credentials for the presidency."

Racism backfires

Justin Webb | 21:23 UK time, Wednesday, 14 May 2008


Amid all the talk of white people who won't vote for Obama and how much of an issue this is is or is not, you have to wonder whether some of the attacks from outside the Democrats' camp in November might rebound against the attackers and rather assist the candidate.

This seems typical of what he will face - and what his supporters already have to deal with as revealed in this piece.

And yet after the infamous Macaca incident one of the driving forces behind Senator Allen's subsequent departure from politics was his abandonment by previous supporters, particularly white suburban women.

So attacks using race may well backfire on those who employ them - and benefit the Democrats in some of areas where they really do have to win...


The news that John Edwards is backing Obama does nothing much for him it seems to me but does real damage to Hillary Clinton - nobody serious jumps onto a sinking ship.

She wants the superdelegates to believe Obama is a sinking ship. An already difficult case to make just got even trickier...

Bypassing West Virginia

Justin Webb | 03:06 UK time, Wednesday, 14 May 2008


With respect to West Virginia, this from the ABC exit poll was pretty devastating I thought:

"Ninety-five percent of voters in preliminary exit poll results were whites, just under a third were college graduates - among the fewest in any primary this year - and 55 percent had household incomes under $50,000, among the most in primaries to date."

Now none of that suggests that these people's views should not count, but they are not on the cutting edge of America's future nor of the Democratic party's future.

Democratic strategist (and Clinton supporter) Paul Begala warns the party off the idea of relying on "eggheads" and African-Americans as the only way to go, but the fact is that Obama could write off West Virginia and concentrate instead on, say, Colorado, or even Virginia (a much bigger prize).

Eggheads, African-Americans and suburbanites would be a perfect coalition and a winning one. Don't believe me? Go back to the wonderful and do your own math(s)!

Meanwhile, Obama is stressing the future in this newly released video which documents an impressive effort to register new voters which could (let us be frank) allow him to bypass West Virginia - if that is what he needs to do in November.

Being nice doesn't hurt

Justin Webb | 04:07 UK time, Tuesday, 13 May 2008


So West Virginia rides to the rescue? I doubt it.

quietlaurieann notes that the folks in Hitler's bunker were all men (what's wrong with being a man?) and adds a familiar but interesting suggestion that the journalists who seem to be ganging up on this gentle daughter of Middle America are doing so simply because they want to see another candidate win.

I doubt that too.

Mrs Clinton would be a very good story. Though truth be told the Clinton people have been quite outstandingly good at alienating reporters. An example: a friend of mine who's the bureau chief of a widely-read foreign newspaper gave his business card to a senior Clinton person who responded, charmingly, "One more journalist whose calls I won't have time to return!"

On the other hand David Axelrod listened patiently when I gave him the 100 reasons Obama should talk to the BBC: I am sure he was hoping I would disappear in a puff of smoke but he was polite and I appreciated it.

The other day I had to reorganise some coverage at short notice - his team could not have been friendlier and more accommodating. Back in the day, Karl Rove was the same - mostly. I don't mean that nice guys win in politics - of course they don't - but you can be nasty and nice at the same time.

This the Clinton team forgot.

As for West Virginia itself I enjoyed this almost wistful piece - so much more effective than all the shouting.

I am taken to task by several people for suggesting that the Democratic party is in a state of upset and this suggests that you are right and I am wrong.

In for a grilling?

Justin Webb | 08:40 UK time, Monday, 12 May 2008


There has been almost universal welcome for this and Obama's acceptance of it.

For me, it would work if it addressed the single biggest failing of American politics: the absence not of debate but of forensic questioning.

I thought the ABC team had a go at it in their Democratic debate (I know I am in a minority here!), and although I would much prefer, say, one-to-one interviews with my BBC colleage John Humphrys, it is a fact that "ordinary people" sometimes have a tenacity and vigour that professional interviewers lack and cannot be batted away so easily.

Many British people (of a certain age I suppose) will remember this titanic confrontation. Hope I haven't torpedoed the idea. Bring on those ordinary folks...

The Clintons' future

Justin Webb | 19:57 UK time, Saturday, 10 May 2008


Personally, I think the Clintons are perfectly capable of siding very forcefully with Obama come November - by then it'll be in their interests, hers for the immediate future of her role in the party and the Senate, and his to rescue his legacy.

Of course, there will be talk about what Hillary thinks, or what she said privately about his campaign, but by then there will be bigger issues and prizes on everyone's minds.

It is also a fact that the widely-held perception that poor and badly educated white voters tend to be motivated by visceral attachment to social rather than economic interests (even Obama himself appears to believe it) is simply not true.

Any amount of academic literature confounds this trite theory, one of the more lucid contributions came shortly after "bittergate" from Larry Bartels.

So these people are still out there to be persuaded by any candidate, Democratic or Republican. Some will not vote for a black man but plenty might.

Meanwhile, the dislike of the Clintons within the party is at fever pitch and this tasteless but funny video (not for those who are offended by obscene language) rams it home.

How to be graceful

Justin Webb | 04:31 UK time, Friday, 9 May 2008


So we have a date for the victory.

It will be interesting to see whether the Clinton camp decide that co-operating with this - a graceful acceptance of defeat on that day - might seem an attractive way out, or whether she is planning a "time of my choosing" announcement after the next decent win, perhaps as early as West Virginia.

Nothing graceful about this, and nothing that suggests she would make a decent vice-president. Just imagine yourself in Obama's shoes - would you do it?

This meanwhile is a disadvantage for Barack Obama. All those Americans who care deeply what the Brits think will be voting for him anyway and the enthusiasm of foreigners - even British foreigners - will only add to suspicions that he is not the heartland candidate.

Keeping the supers sweet

Justin Webb | 08:22 UK time, Thursday, 8 May 2008


I understand from someone in the Clinton campaign that fundraising services are now being offered to super-delegates in need of assistance, an effort to be nice which has the (wholly unexpected) side-effect of keeping them sweet.

Is this common? Maybe it is, and it might explain why some of the super-delegates are keeping the faith.

I see some supers are being proactive in their efforts - perfectly legal of course - to mug the candidates.

The Lady's not for turning

Justin Webb | 21:34 UK time, Wednesday, 7 May 2008


The Hillary event in West Virginia was the moment a lesser person would have pulled out - the sun was shining and the backdrop was gorgeous, and the people friendly.

But she fights on - as Lady Thatcher once said in not dissimilar circumstances, "We fight on, we fight to win."

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TV moment of truth

Justin Webb | 17:14 UK time, Wednesday, 7 May 2008


This is the TV moment that brought reality to the table.

One caveat: the doyen of US political broadcasters has had his issues with the Clinton camp and they will suggest this is yet another sign of his dislike of her, but what he says is still true.

The End

Justin Webb | 06:02 UK time, Wednesday, 7 May 2008


It really is as simple as that.

Even if Hillary were to surprise us all by performing well in forthcoming Obama-favoured contests in states like Oregon and South Dakota - even then, her victories would change the underlying arithmetic of the race so little that the impact would be minimal.

Her speech began with an odd line about going all the way to the White House and some commentators reached for their hard hats. But Bill didn't look as if he was going anywhere and nor is she.

Having said that, Clintons being Clintons, this could still run and run but only into the ground. One of her fundraisers told me in the middle of the night that a large sum of money to be clinched tomorrow will now be lost.

You stop running when the money runs out and the money will now run out. There is no argument to make to the super-delegates.

Could she run on just to secure the vice presidency, in a more genteel minor key, perhaps, a la Republican runner-up Mike Huckabee?

And talking of Mr Huckabee, I see that he is still doing rather well in the Repubican non-race.

Will that 12% of Huckabee voters go somewhere else in November?

Piece of the action

Justin Webb | 18:09 UK time, Tuesday, 6 May 2008


It certainly looks today as if a large number of Republicans are turning out to vote in Indiana.

But not nessarily as spoilers - in fact, I suspect the hardcore spoilers will be outnumbered by those who just want a piece of the action, further evidence that this election has made politics sing again in America.

For those hungry for the next round and the next song, it is plainly to be found in Michigan and Florida, with the Clinton campaign working out a strategy that brings the two rogue states into play.

I bring urgent news from Patrick Henry College, where I have spent a pleasant few hours with some very earnest students talking about politics and culture: there is going to be a Democrats club on campus!!

Not sure quite how well attended it will be - the students giggled when I asked them if they were supporters of Obama or Clinton. But the tectonic plates of US politics are grinding...

Republicans for Hillary

Justin Webb | 18:33 UK time, Monday, 5 May 2008


On a visit to Indiana I meet Darlene Boatman, a Republican supporter of President Bush. This time, Darlene is going with Hillary.

She has made the necessary arrangments to be able to vote in the Democratic primary. But this is not part of Rush Limbaugh's Operation Chaos.

Far from it - Darlene is smitten.

She had given up on America, she tells me, to the extent of trying to persuade her adult sons to emigrate.

But "this little woman" with her guts and determination and sheer bloody-minded refusal to die, this woman has re-established Darlene's faith in the nation.

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I wonder how many similar people there are who have been looking at the Clinton phenomenon and just thinking, "wow!"

And thinking that "thinking wow" is enough.


Back with the Democrats, a day spent among Hillary supporters in Indiana convinces me of one thing: her fire is not yet extinguished.

Oddly, what I found convincing - for instance at a packed fire-house meeting in Merrillville (America's fastest growing town the locals tell me, though it would have burned to the ground had there been an emergency today) - was the reasonableness of her people.

The candidate herself can seem mighty scary. The Obama charge that "she will do anything to win" is not without some justification.

Yet the mood among her most enthusiastic backers is still positive. I could find not a single real Obama hater, no-one who wouldn't vote for him in November - there was not a racist among them. Just a real enthusiasm for her guts and a belief that this is not over.

They all think she can win the popular vote, though as we know, they have invented their own arithmetic for the purpose ...

Bashing the 'elite'

Justin Webb | 07:25 UK time, Monday, 5 May 2008


Obama claims Clinton's comments on Iran make her too similar to President Bush.

For me it was not Iran - it was gas (petrol!) that put me in mind of the president. This casual dismissing of the opinion of professional economists as "elite".

Years ago, I made a radio documentary about the Bush White House's attitude towards science and scientists, and I had a conversation with a White House adviser in which he dismissed Harvard and Princeton as "elite". He simply would not accept that they were elite for a reason - that they were places where great numbers of clever people got together and thought about things.

In other words, that they were universities. In other words, that they had opinions to be valued above those you might find in your local gas station.

Many Americans find this kind of nonsense very depressing. How ironic that another wealthy graduate of Yale is responsible for it.

Faking it well

Justin Webb | 15:26 UK time, Saturday, 3 May 2008


This is a hoax.

It has been dubbed. (The footage is taken from a documentary.) But it's rather well done.

So far the most famous YouTube impact on an election was this - poor Senator Allen crashing and burning in the summer heat in 2006 with a racial slur on a man who turned out to be a fellow Virginian, and actually rather brighter than the senator.

But that stuff - true stuff - is so yesterday. Are fakes, cleverly done, about to take over and create a new weird parallel universe for elections in the US, and eventually in the UK as well?

Voter suppression?

Justin Webb | 17:03 UK time, Friday, 2 May 2008


This is fascinating - an effort by Clinton supporters, it is claimed, to suppress the vote in North Carolina.

I must say I have agreed in the past with those who say that if in November by some chance it is Clinton/McCain, most black people will turn out for their former favourite white family. But maybe not. It's yet another factor for the superdelegates to consider.

On the subject of Obama and Wright, possumpam raises the question of whether or not the Clinton tactics would be legal in the UK: surely they would be? They are using language that is perfectly legal.

Jaded Eagle wonders about Wright's motives - I do too. Would be fascinating to know. Looks to me to be a case of massive ego. A black friend points out - on the substance of his beliefs including the idea that AIDS was created by the US government - that millions of white Christians think that atheists are going to Hell: an equally cruel and divisive belief, and equally unsupported by scientific evidence.

I sympathise with Peacocj.

Adjonline raises the question of the truthiness of the whole Obama campaign: and the answer is of course that David Axelrod invented Matt Santos before he invented Barack Obama, or at least at the same time as he began his work on the (real life) candidate. Mike_D442 we did mention this before, but it's certainly worth repeating.

Finally the debate between Board Stupid and NoRashDecisions goes to the heart of our cultural divide! We (Brits) don't like politicians. You Americans want to like yours. The cynicism - as opposed to scepticism - of the British way is nothing to be proud of in my view.

On the subject of electability, secretRosa, I suppose the big question is whether the kids will actuallyvote. The oldies definitely will.

Noetus takes me to task for suggesting that Washington DC is peaceful. You make a reasonable point but I do think Brits tend to over-emphasise the violence of American society. Most of America - the middle bits as well! - is remarkably peaceful.


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