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US2012: now it's getting serious

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Robin Lustig | 10:51 UK time, Friday, 31 August 2012

It's more than 30 years now since Ronald Reagan asked the most potent question a challenger can ask when seeking to defeat an incumbent president: "Do you feel better off today than you did four years ago?"

Last night, Mitt Romney, in accepting the Republican party's nomination as challenger to Barack Obama, asked the same question -- knowing full well that for many American voters, in the midst of a prolonged economic slow-down, the answer is a resounding No.

Remember Sarah Palin, in that brief moment when it looked as if she might become the Republican party's standard-bearer? She used to ask the same question in a folksier, but perhaps even more potent, way: "How's that hopey-changey thing working out for ya?"

Because of course hope and change is exactly what Barack Obama did offer four years ago -- and for many American voters, the hopes of 2008 have become the disappointments of 2012.

As Mitt Romney put it last night: "Hope and change had a powerful appeal. But ... if you felt that excitement when you voted for Barack Obama, shouldn't you feel that way now that he's President Obama? You know there's something wrong with the kind of job he's done as president when the best feeling you had was the day you voted for him."

The US is still, despite everything, the biggest economy in the world. The man who sits in the Oval Office makes decisions that reverberate far beyond the US's shores. That's why, every four years, some people outside the US ask: "Shouldn't we all get a vote?"

The US opinion polls suggest that this year's election will be a close one. It's rare for presidents to be defeated after serving just one term (Jimmy Carter in 1980 and the first President Bush in 1992 are the most recent exceptions), but no one is taking it for granted that Barack Obama will still be in the White House next January.

It would be a different story if the rest of the world did have a vote, although it's true that national leaders are often far more popular overseas than at home (Margaret Thatcher was the prime UK example). According to one recent poll, 87 per cent of German voters, 86 per cent of French voters, 80 per cent of British voters, and 74 per cent of Japanese voters have confidence in Obama -- and large majorities want to see him re-elected.

Part of Mitt Romney's appeal to American voters is that he will be a tougher President than Obama. He believes, as he put it last night, that "when the world needs someone to do the really big stuff, you need an American."

He didn't mention Afghanistan or Iraq, but he did mention Iran, and he warned Russia and China that he'd be tougher on them too. (I couldn't help noticing, by the way, that he didn't once mention the last Republican president, George W Bush, who seems to have been almost entirely written out of the Republican history books, at least for now.)

It's often said that all that matters in any election is how voters feel about the economy -- and more specifically, about the economic future. In fact, it's more complicated than that, which means that despite the grim economic picture -- and in particular the jobs picture -- Barack Obama is still in with a chance.

For one thing, as Hillary Clinton learned during the Democrats' primary campaign four years ago, he's a supremely effective campaigner. He's also an inspiring speaker, which no one would claim for Mitt Romney. (Mind you, it may be that in 2012 there's less of an appetite for inspiration, and more of an appetite for perspiration.)

The electoral demographics may also be in Obama's favour: women voters, African-Americans, Hispanic voters, all lean towards the Democrats -- and the recent furore over a Republican congressman's remarks about "legitimate rape" will have done nothing to help Romney.

Next week the Democrats will hold their own convention, and after that, it'll be time for the televised presidential debates. I'll be watching, of course, and I'll also to be doing some reporting from the US in the run-up to the election in November.


  • Comment number 1.

    I notice the Democrats' convention will be in Charlotte, North Carolina.

    Are conventions usually held in "Swing States"? Maybe one of our U.S. contributors can enlighten me.

    Meanwhile, for anyone who is missing Mark Urban...

  • Comment number 2.

    # 1 Scotch Git,
    Last July’s announcement Democratic convention would be held in anti-union city of Charlotte, North Carolina - least unionized state in the country - set off opposition from labor movement. The message to the labor movement would seem: Sit it out!

    Q. Why would labor want to channel limited funds into bolstering a local economy organized around avowedly anti-union principles? By opting for North Carolina as a convention destination, rather than a swing state with stronger union infrastructure such as Ohio or Wisconsin, the Democratic Party may be creating its own problems, but I guess someone thought it was a good idea.

    Unions have already scaled back their involvement in the convention. If the labor movement decided to altogether avoid devoting members' time or money to attending, the Democrats could only claim they had been warned. The party did not seek union input or prioritize supporting organized workers when selecting the convention location, and as soon as the news went public, labor pointed to some shortcomings: North Carolina is a so-called “right to work” state; Charlotte has virtually no unions among its building trades, construction firms, or service workers; & Charlotte has not one unionized hotel.

  • Comment number 3.

    # 1 Scotch Git, Part II:
    Four years ago, labor contributed heavily to the Democratic National Convention in Denver, including a $100,000 donation from the AFL-CIO & several individual union contributions of over $1 million. This year, union members looked askance when the Democratic Party approached them to help fund its gathering, & support has trickled.

    The relationship between Democrats & labor was already sore; convention has rubbed salt in the wound. Unions have felt that the Obama admin. has done too little to stand with them in places such as Wisconsin or to champion pro-worker legislation nationally. Republican obstruction in Congress hasn’t made it easy for the White House to push labor's legislative agenda. But the lack of action on the legislative front renders symbolic acts like the choice of a convention location all the more important.

    Obama, on campaign trail, raised expectations by speaking the language of workers’ rights. But his admin, once in office, did not make the labor-backed Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) a priority, and that bill suffered a quiet death. Subsequently, Obama implemented a wage freeze for federal workers & pushed some controversial "free trade" deals of its own (including one with Colombia, where union organizers are sometimes murdered).

    So, Scotch Git, here's a big issue to eyeball at the Democratic Convension in N. Carolina. How will labor respond? If not well, why on earth did Democrats select this state?

  • Comment number 4.

    That's why, every four years, some people outside the US ask: "Shouldn't we all get a vote?"

    Heck of a precedent.

    Getting to vote every four years on one's choice for who gets to hold sway on so much of your life beyond your own government, I mean.

    Funny if the notion caught on here.

  • Comment number 5.

    #2, #3


    Thank you for the detailed response. I try not to say anything too controversial on threads about U.S. elections because A) I don't have a vote, & B) My ignorance of the subject is truly appalling. (see #1, #2 & #3).

    Your explanation does make me wonder if anyone did a cost/benefit analysis on President Obama's behalf.

  • Comment number 6.

    Having heard some of the speeches from the convention (and turning off others) -- it became clear that if Greeks had paid their taxes, their average living standard would have be greater than that of the average American. The Greeks still have hope that within a few years they will have a basic social security system that will function-- but for millions of Americans that is a luxury being portrayed as ´the devil in person´-- and just as black.

    Somehow America brings to mind a Britain in the 1930´s -- a world power and most of its citizens in poverty --but they had at least the luxury of escape to the colonies for decades to come.

    The unions have (more or less) been decimated and the circle completed -- the downtrodden again are told they will be´free´-- but only if they vote for ´enslavement´.

    --- and they cheered--in a sort of ´Pavlovian´way.

  • Comment number 7.

    '1.At 12:02 31st Aug 2012, Scotch Git
    Meanwhile, for anyone who is missing Mark Urban...'

    ...will now probably need a well-developed sense of irony.

  • Comment number 8.



    Why not leave threads open for a month or two? What are they afraid of?

    I wonder if Mr. Urban is as frustrated by this rejection of further comments on his blog threads after 2 or 3 days as I am. I fail to see what anyone gains from this policy.

    frustrated git

  • Comment number 9.

    # 5. Scotch Git:
    You're more than welcome; that's what we're here for - to add to one another's information so that we can render better opinions and move the debate forward.
    You: "Your explanation does make me wonder if anyone did a cost/benefit analysis on President Obama's behalf."
    Not that I can find, but conventions bring big money to the hosting city and also most of the "productive" work is done out-of-sight: it's what goes on in the back rooms that matters most to the success of a campaign. That's where top campaign operatives and interest groups such as the National Rifle Association, labor and the Chamber of Commerce outline their strategies & glad-hand elites who write big checks to the campaigns, SuperPACS and political parties.
    My main worry is vote-rigging, such as we saw in the Gore/Bush election; I wonder who has checked the voting machines that can render any candidate 'PRESIDENT" -no matter how people actually vote. I've brought this up several times, but have never seen an analysis of what has been done. You'd think this shoud be the most important, most fundamental issue of them all!

  • Comment number 10.

    # 6 quietoaktree:
    Did Americans pay their taxes? Do the Americans still have hope that within a few years, they will have a basic social security system that will function?
    The US is a world power with its citizens slip-sliding inti a cesspool of poverty. I wonder how the individual states will escape Washington.
    Wonderful statement yours - about Pavlov; oftentimes, I feel this is how Americans respond yo "key" phrases (true or not).
    - Approximately 45M Americans were living in poverty in 2011.
    - 2009 saw the largest single year increase in the US poverty rate since the US government began calculating poverty figures back in 1959
    - US poverty rate is now the 3rd worst among the developed nations tracked by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
    - According to the US Department of Agriculture, on a year-over-year basis, household participation in the food stamp program has increased 32.28%.
    -The number of Americans on food stamps surpassed 41M for the first time ever in June, 2010
    - One out of every 6 Americans is now being served by at least one government anti-poverty program
    -More than 50M Americans are now on Medicaid, the US Govt health care program designed principally to help THE POOR
    - One out of every 7mortgages in the US is either delinquent or in foreclosure during the first quarter of 2011. This is the so-called housing "pick-up".
    -Nearly 10 million Americans now receive unemployment insurance, which is almost four times as many as were receiving it in 2007.
    Wait till January, 2013 when the severe cuts come. What do you think will happen?
    I could go on, but what was I doing - drawing some camparison with Greek.
    The biggest comparison: the bankstas played H...L with both peoples.

  • Comment number 11.

    What if no one really, factually has a vote?
    What if Presidents, and Vice-President, and Representatives get elected, but somewhere behind the scenes, countries are really run by a political elite that pulls the strings of puppets?
    Sound conspiratorial? Yes, it does, but it would explain why Democrats act like Republicans and Repuclicans act like Democrats. it would also explain why we must, MUST get money out of politics, lobbies out of politics...

  • Comment number 12.

    US 2012: now it's getting serious?
    To me it's just more the same-old, same-old.
    I'm beginning to feel that elections in the US, because of its super-reach into the rest of the world - should be monitored. I wonder how the chads would fall then.

  • Comment number 13.

    As said by a thinking American (on BBC)

    "Four more beers"


  • Comment number 14.

    '8.At 10:35 1st Sep 2012, Scotch Git
    Why not leave threads open for a month or two? What are they afraid of?'

    No idea. On either count.

    Certainly there seems a phobia for consistency, as I have had po-faced replies to enquiries on this, 'explaining' what governs when a blog is pulled, which are hilariously at odds with the evidence of their own pages, be it time, numbers or a sudden concern with 'controversy'.

    Like BBC editorial, what governs most moderation very much appears down to the arbitrary whim of a small, unaccountable minority.

    Not in a good way.

    Day in, day out, I hear anchors saying 'we want your views', only to find the views I am then served back have passed through a very partial filter before being selected for broadcast.

    Hence interactive blogs are the few (sadly tucked away) means to actually see what folk think free of such oversight. Knee-jerk modding or early closing is paranoid censorship.

    If an Editor tells me what they think, or what they think I should think, then I feel it's only right to have the opportunity to have an opinion back, and in a forum so others can see, agree or disagree.

    That one does so, and a handful of people get to respond within a few day window before a closing... represent hardly credible actions of an entity that claims professional trust, genetic impartiality, the right to ask questions or the power to hold other powers to account.

    Unless they really believe they are unique in this too.

  • Comment number 15.

    '13.At 23:33 1st Sep 2012, quietoaktree'


    As this PR stunt has proven popular with a 24/7 content-desperate 'news' estate, I hark to the high profile BBC 'talent' who was scathing about the use of the wrong kind of high profile spouse by the Republicans, whilst apparently appreciating, like, totally, the value of another saying what she will not be doing...


    Or the BBC's curious omissions of well-received speeches by Republican representatives who do not quite suit the narrative of foaming Tea-partiers.

    However, credit this piece, which has an interesting take at the end...


    With 'likeability' now being a potent political force these days, vast global media resources being deployed on the cuddly aspects of candidates they like seems a sure-fire way to get the results they desire.

    Sadly I fear I am in a minority in seeking leadership from folk who I would probably actively avoid socially. I prefer competence and integrity to popularity, especially the variety manufactured in a spinner's focus group.

  • Comment number 16.



    The list of that which is verboten includes other beverages.

    Which would make Mr. Romney popular in Edinburgh, but maybe not so much in Lincolnshire.

    On a personal note, I'll have to reconsider my chat up line in the event of my ever meeting Marie Osmond...

  • Comment number 17.

    #15 JunkkMale

    --your BBC link # 19426564 -- appears to have suffered a ´Cyber Death´?

    The developments that have worried me with this election are the ´rat packs´ (answerable to no one) and the Supreme Court ruling that companies are ´individuals´. The latter is most dangerous -it is only one ruling away from ´the Right to bear arms´ (some do), ´Stand your Ground´ and ´pre-emptive strikes.´

    Forty years ago it was said that 1000 individuals and families ´ruled and/or owned the World --today the number is probably much less. Constitutions (or lack of them) -- have been no hinderance. Wave a flag -- and you can sell ´a pig in a poke´ to most of a population -- the re-election of GW Bush and the apparent ´too close to call´of this election are examples.

    The Cold War has never stopped, Communism has been defeated -- the age-old targets are once again the ´serf´ wealth machine -- with them once again in their proper place --a la Ayn Rand or worse.

    --and ´Rollerball´


    --the ´wished´outcome ?

    -- and this election is ´too close to call´ ?

    --- May the Gods help us.

  • Comment number 18.

    '17. At 13:28 2nd Sep 2012, quietoaktree wrote:
    --your BBC link # 19426564 -- appears to have suffered a ´Cyber Death´?

    Ordinarily I'd presume my cut n' pastin' to be at fault, but this time... not me guv!

    From the google search (BBC's site search being easier, faster and better than most things claimed by the market rate talents on The Editors page. ie: not):

    BBC News - Michelle Obama: 'I'm not watching Republican ...
    www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-19426564 Share 3 days ago – US First Lady Michelle Obama tells US late-night host David Letterman that she has not been watching the Republican National Convention.

    Who knows? Maybe the powers that be decided gushing luvvie on luvvie segments really didn't quite stack up as high profile on-air talents derided the wrong kind of spouse on the line, at least during conventions they didn't like.

    Or maybe they decided to change the URL for some odd reason.

    As you will appreciate, I find what the BBC gets up to with edits and archives always... 'interesting', especially when it comes to stuff they appear to feel others need not, or no longer get to see or hear.

    Even more oddly, a search on the BBC site for a story that was there now only throws up...

    Michelle Obama on Letterman
    ITN / 30 August 2012
    Michelle Obama has appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman talking about the family's pet dog Bo and campaigning for her husband's re-election…

    Sometimes the tidying up can throw up more than simply leaving things dusty.

    In other 'news', I also notice the beer piece has been updated, at least pictorially, to show the incumbent chillin' with some blue collar guys from what research has shown is possibly a neglected demographic sector.


    At least we know that whatever politicians get up to, the media who impartially and professionally 'report' their antics will be every bit as 'creative' in getting folk to vote the way preferred.

    Personally, I tend to find propaganda propped up by censorship and revisionism to hark back to eras with poor historical precedents.

  • Comment number 19.

    If you liked that, you'll love this!

    Click on £0.3M TO HIDE 'BIAS' REPORT

  • Comment number 20.

    #19 Scotch Git

    --- Nothing newer than 2004 ?

    --How many dead Palestinians since then ?

    --only for wanting their land back ?

    --the Jewish Telegraph must have the numbers somewhere ? ---biased ?

  • Comment number 21.

    #18 JunkkMale

    "Personally, I tend to find propaganda propped up by censorship and revisionism to hark back to eras with poor historical precedents"

    -- Very true --but that is what propaganda is -- and has never changed.

    -- From National and International mis-information to its 5th column.

  • Comment number 22.



    I'm sure you'll have noticed the word BIAS is printed as 'BIAS' because we don't know if the report is, in fact biased because the BBC won't tell us, so people naturally wonder what it is that the BBC is so anxious to keep from public view and so they come to the possibly erroneous conclusion that it must be biased and now we're going around in wee circles.

    P.S. I think it's probably biased, but I don't know for sure. But I sure think we should be telt!

  • Comment number 23.

    #22 Scotch Git

    -- Do you know of other Jewish newspapers -- other than the ´Jewish Sun´and ´Jewish Daily Mail´?

    -- even a ´Beano´ or an ´Oor Wullie´-- would be an intellectual upgrade !

    --I am sure we can agree on that point.

  • Comment number 24.

    Do you remember when in 2005 the Labour part threw out an 82 year old activist for heckling Jack Straw and had him held under the Terrorism Act? It said a lot about the party - and they soon realized this and let him back in. Last week a couple of republican activists were thrown out, not for heckling but for exposing the truth in another way. They threw peanuts at a black female CNN camera-person - saying that's how we feed m...... In one case the BBC made a lot of it and in the other this week they forgot the issue immediately. What does that tell you about the BBC?

    I think is may well indicate the right wing bias of the BBC top management.

    Mr Wolfgang's 'crime' was to campaign against war whereas the Republican party members was to expose just how really racist the Republicans really are still.

    In one case the full power of the police state was used against an elderly escapee from Nazi repression and in the other one the individuals were quietly removed and told to keep quiet about the reality of the Republican party till after the election.

    The real problem is the editorial control in the BBC that decided to bury the Republican story.

    Why are the BBC campaigning for the Republicans? I'm not saying that the other side are all sweetness and light - particularly remembering the history of the Democrats - which is also withheld from the British People.

    Why does the BBC still portray the USA as a wonderful country, full of wonderful people? They really can't be said to have any real democracy and they support one bunch of religious extremists and butcher others but are a country full of such extremists. (I'm also not saying that the UK has democracy either!)

    So I suppose I am saying: why does the BBC have such a pro USA bias and why does it not treat the USA in an unbiased and fair manner - can it be that the executives want to take retirement jobs there - oh one just has?

    In the end, BBC, you cannot be fair to two different devils, for by doing so you condone the devilish nature in both. You have to take sides for by not taking sides you are taking sides! Remember the hundreds of thousands killed in the wars created and fostered by the USA and ask yourself if these people too deserve a voice.

  • Comment number 25.


    --The BBC is damned if it does and damned if it doesn´t.

    -- It is often up to the reader (or listener) --to put facts together --even years apart. Since the last thread was closed in this 24/7 era (with 23/7 repeats) --
    this was one of the ´gems´that appeared--


    --probably won´t help any of your arguments -but definitely mine.

    --and this for comparison--


    --Apples and oranges ?

    (40 years ago I worked for a while on the Thalidomide problem -- it is still a good drug that has found many beneficial uses --but not for pregnant women during organogenesis and limb formation. --the last I heard it was only being produced in Brazil. This was not a case of a company taking short-cuts)

    --who should give the apology ?

    --we ´geriatrics´ have a serious disadvantage in this 24/7 news Tsunami --our memory is still functioning.

  • Comment number 26.

    Jings! Crivvens!! Help mah boab!!!

  • Comment number 27.

  • Comment number 28.

    '20. At 21:06 2nd Sep 2012, quietoaktree wrote:
    #19 Scotch Git
    --- Nothing newer than 2004 ?

    There is possibly some irony when folk, or entities with irons in fires, reach back to select various historical eras to suit arguments, be it actual events, when they're reported... or when dredged up from archive or memory to be commented upon. And the internet now is a trillion URL treasure trove of links to discover those who agree with you. But like any cornucopia spilling onto the buffet, it's only as good as what you choose to put on your plate and bring back to the table.

    I here merely note that said 'report' remains 'closed for...' sorry, off the menu.

    When the Argentinians first rattled their sabres so loudly (and disastrously the first time... and seemingly poor learners from history even after a few decades), at Uni I penned a satirical tale for the student rag entitled 'My great-great-great..(a lot)..grandfather was a Roman comfort boy', citing ancient actions as precedent for current claims.

    Now I know it's all much fuzzier now, and that's what diplomacy and such awesome institutions as the UN are there to 'handle', but sometimes whose lands were whose, and when, and why and how lost can be interesting as much for when trotted out and highlighted via selected facts vs. casually brushed by to suit.

    Hence my concern with what gets put in, and left out... or removed, anywhere.

    'You have to take sides'

    Not if you are seeking credibility as an impartial, professional news reporting entity.

    No matter how unique the funding model.


    '25. At 23:41 2nd Sep 2012, quietoaktree
    -- It is often up to the reader (or listener) --to put facts together --even years apart. '

    No argument. Hence I question, still, who gets to portray 'facts', for 'education and information'... and for uniquely-sourced money no matter what, when we all, clearly, see the need to track elsewhere and widely, to get anywhere near what might be described as the 'full picture'.

    I have long since ceased to be impressed with 'balance' getting accepted as failing all sides on the basis that the result must be 'about right'.

    To repeat my CSI analogy, the liver temperature of a corpse with head in an oven and feet in the freezer may be a healthy 37degreesC, but it's still a rotting corpse.

  • Comment number 29.

    #20, #28

    "In August 2012, The Commentator revealed a Freedom of Information request, which demonstrated that the BBC has spent approximately a third of £1,000,000 (over $500,000) to concel the Balen Report from the British public."

    Source:- Wikipedia

    "THE BBC spent more than £330,000 to conceal a report on its coverage of Israel.

    And it used licence payers' money to do it.

    It came to light after The Commentator website demanded the information under the Freedom of Information Act.

    The website added that the true cost was "likely to be far higher, as in-house legal time is not factored in and nor is Value Added Tax"."

    The link on #19 reveals the date the article was published to be Friday, 31st. of August, 2012

    Now, while I realise the print edition is probably wrapped around fish 'n' chips already, we are barely into September!

  • Comment number 30.

    25. quietoaktree wrote: "we have a serious disadvantage in this 24/7 news Tsunami --our memory is still functioning."

    Quite so, but isn't that the reason for History? So that those who did not experience events themselves can appreciate the significance of the present through the lens of the past? (A friend spent 10 years in a concrete prison cell without bedding or much food just because he was a History Professor in a country that wanted to reinvent its past.)

    It is not the case in the real world that a good memory is unpardonable (P&P Jane A.). Indeed a good memory is very easy today with all the Wiki and encyclopaedia data on instant tap - even Google Earth has historic Maps!

    The willingness to find out is what is lacking in many people; in the majority of people; along with the wit to see things from the perspective of others.

  • Comment number 31.

    #28 JunkkMale

    "There is possibly some irony when folk, or entities with irons in fires, reach back to select various historical eras to suit arguments,.."

    That sentence implies that neither countries nor individuals act or react with some form of behavior that appears logical (or fair) to them (for whatever reasons) --if A and B then C.

    -- that appears to be our ´sticking point´?

    -- No matter how illogical (or insane) societies become, they can (and do) justify all previous and future actions --often beginning with a false premise or one they use from a Constitution (or lack thereof). It was for good reason that ´Games People Play´ was popular with students in bygone years -- only the sequel ´Games that Countries and Societies Play´--was never written.

    --I trust (and hope) your dissatisfaction with the BBC is not on a philosophical basis ?

    -- will attempt later to justify the previous links and their connection to ´US2012´and `After the Olympics: politics back to normal?´

  • Comment number 32.

    To JunkkMale #28

    "Hence my concern with what gets put in, and left out... or removed, anywhere"

    but you're not concerned about the confiscation of recording devices after the flotilla incident?

  • Comment number 33.

    #28 JunkkMale

    ´Normal´ politics for the UK is based on the ´Oath´-- with the emphasis on having British Subjects. Even with the many EEG and EU opt-outs, the privileged are increasingly becoming ´hot under the collars´.

    "But, Mr Hague added, the government wanted the opportunity to negotiate a "better relationship" between the UK and Brussels, which would include the return of some powers, before asking the British people to vote."


    Three possibilities have appeared -- either Hague (and his supportive Royalists) have the backing of Cameron --or they do not and also one ´hell of a fight´is brewing with the others. The cabinet re-shuffle may (but I doubt it) bring some clarity.

    Hague´s handling of the ´Assange´affair including his previous and latest comments --should have meant his dismissal --the BBC has reported he is likely to remain in his post.

    The ´Gem´link (#25) -- was only a part of what he has said. The enclosed link gives this version.


    -- or ´The only person on the stage missing´--is Europe --but that he has already dismissed.

    --and he knows America´s position towards Britain --

    " “You don’t have to be president for many days to realise that the United Kingdom is absolutely indispensable to them as well.”

    With the UK diplomacy in tatters -its (Hague´s only ?) hope is with America --a Regan-Thatcher like relationship --with if necessary, Romney, Ryan and Ayn Rand. (#27)

    #30 J_f_H

    --any comments, contradictions or improvements ?

  • Comment number 34.

    '29. At 12:03 3rd Sep 2012, Scotch Git'

    He'd have got away with it, but for you kids and your darned... facts.

  • Comment number 35.

    #15 JunkkMale

    "Sadly I fear I am in a minority in seeking leadership from folk who I would probably actively avoid socially. I prefer competence and integrity to popularity, especially the variety manufactured in a spinner's focus group."


    " despite all the debate over Ryan's most recent fibs. "We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers," a defiant Romney pollster Neil Newhouse said at a panel hosted by ABC News at the Republican National Convention in Tampa last week."

    --- The electorate should not be confused by facts --when the lies are perfectly adequate ?

  • Comment number 36.

    When can/may Hague/Cameron be deposed? Regime change is certainly needed!

  • Comment number 37.

    '31. At 15:09 3rd Sep 2012, quietoaktree .

    I trust (and hope) your dissatisfaction with the BBC is not on a philosophical basis ?'

    A fair question, which I hope to find a moment soon to respond to.

    Meanwhile, in the wonderful world of swapping and citing URLs, and on-topic, in the spirit of balance, here's one from the party that appears to have brought us the Mother of All Countries, at least as I read my BBC online pages... 'How a nation fell for Michelle Obama'.


  • Comment number 38.

    #37 JM

    -- Those little things are meant to try us --as the Gods work in mysterious ways, their wonders to perform.

  • Comment number 39.

    '38. At 16:51 5th Sep 2012, quietoaktree"

    I feel your pain. When the BBC wrote that all had 'fallen for' Mrs. O, I did not credit them with such subtle double ways with words...


    Shame such holding of power to account seems to slip the minds of many when caught up in the moment.


  • Comment number 40.


    -- It seems the discussion is whether the Obamas were born with a plastic spoon in their mouths -- or a gold one.

    -- Here is a good one on power, definitely to be loved by Romney and Ryan. (posted by Kane)-- compare with Merkel.


  • Comment number 41.

  • Comment number 42.

    '40. At 22:03 5th Sep 2012, quietoaktree
    -- It seems the discussion is whether the Obamas were born with a plastic spoon in their mouths -- or a gold one.'

    More on who gets to reliably inform folk on the various 'facts' presented. What is carefully selected to go in, and what is moved to the backwaters of coverage... if at all.

    Hence what came out of ex-President Clinton's mouth yesterday... and made the top of the hour headlines, that in places seemed as accurate as his wife's helicopter escapades, his own in-office activity recollections, Obama-supportive statements in more competitive times, and the aforementioned deification of the Mother of all the Americas... as covered came across as, shall we say, 'respectful' at the least.


    What IS interesting is how the tack that inheriting a deeply damaged economy is grounds for slack being cut in some cases, but not in others, by media whose 'reporting' and now 'insights/views', etc on top, seem more guided by tribal ideologies. In some cases, where none should exist.

    Don't get me wrong, the Republicans seem as slimy and venal as they come, but I remain unconvinced that painting Obama's second term as a second coming serves any better.

    As I just pointed out elsewhere about Corby, the Conservatives deserve everything that is not coming their way there. Just... I don't think the country deserves the alternative any better, though aspects may serve the narrow interests of those whose interests are too often conflicted to rely on much any more.

    If Obama can win on policy and fair campaigning, then good luck to him, his party and the country.

    I simply observe we are pretty much 'ruled' by the power of media, and when the MSM gets in the tank to the extent of boosting who it likes to the extent it does, trashing those it doesn't to the extent it does... and censoring out what doesn't suit about those it does like to the extent it does... things are getting pretty skewed.

    Most MSM are welcome to do so. They are private entities and live or die by their version of truth appealing to their audiences.

    One I am aware of does not.

    Their 'performance' thus far is in the spotlight. And I have found it less than informative or educational than might be hoped.

    Your link in #41 was interesting, and again it is unwelcome to see where it is shared, and where 'tucked away' (noting mention in the piece above), when one might imagine it would in other circumstances warrant some 'analysis', perhaps with screaming 'split' headlines? This time it seems it was deemed a shame to spoil a good party.

    On a technical basis I was surprised in this day and age to see such a thing carried out via non-secret ballot, with result assessed by no better than a guess-the-volume bawling out.

    But then fundamental democratic processes do seem subject to change to make a flawed model 'different' all the time.

  • Comment number 43.

    What on Earth is this --among todays 2012 ´most popular´BBC articles ?

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-11049316 --from 2010.

  • Comment number 44.

    '41. At 01:07 6th Sep 2012, quietoaktree

    The Guardian has a view.


    Who that view informs, as delivered to their door, who knows?

    Most liked comment interesting as much for numbers as content.

    '43. At 12:49 6th Sep 2012, quietoaktree '

    It has been 'updated'. I guess that can happen any time. And if 'popular' (in this case a less than apt term) maybe acquires a time code that saw it ported forward? Another area where I have had cause to ask questions of the powers that be, and they have adopted a 'we get it about right' attitude. If things 'evolve', or change, then it may be legitimate to 'update', but I'd prefer for the purposes of tracking to have the original left and then corrections added in complement, logged sequentially on a chronological basis. No shame in that, unless, of course, there is some shame in the original. Thereby adding more shame on top for any stealthy 'correction' to tidy up later.

    Speaking of which, remember this?:

    '18. At 18:29 2nd Sep 2012
    BBC News - Michelle Obama: 'I'm not watching Republican ...
    www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-19426564 Share 3 days ago – US First Lady Michelle Obama tells US late-night host David Letterman that she has not been watching the Republican National Convention.'

    Took a bit of doing, but I got them to admit that yes, it was there, and then it wasn't, because someone else owned the footage.

    I am now on my 3rd round asking just what, and despite thin reasons that are not excuses, precedent the BBC feels is met by publishing stuff and then obliterating any trace (as if a still could not be substituted with explanation), like some 50's Kremlin May Day rally balcony photo.

    Editorial by omission can be every bit as potent, and destructive to the story, or trust, as commission.

  • Comment number 45.

    #42 JunkMale

    "Don't get me wrong, the Republicans seem as slimy and venal as they come, but I remain unconvinced that painting Obama's second term as a second coming serves any better."

    I share your ´pessimism´ and fail to see any hope for ´optimism´. Gore Vidal gave everybody a ´run for their money´ on that topic. What worries me most is the insensitivity openly declared by many when it is obvious that for a large part of the American society --even a ´plastic spoon´is a luxury.


    Interest groups have not changed their McCarthy and Cold War propaganda --as Rome burns --and take pleasure in stoking the fire as journalists and ´Think Tanks´ are paid (and can only hold their job) for upholding a specific ´--ism´.

    --what would most do with a wife (or husband) and two kids to house and feed-- if not sell their souls ?-- unemployment (or threat thereof) tends to focus the mind. If Western Europe opened its doors to all Americans and offered their long list of social benefits to those that arrived --how many would (or should) take the offer -100 million?

    With Romney and Ryan winning I see the present catastrophe worsening --with Obama and Biden winning-- the present catastrophe ´hopefully´ steady.

    If anything positive can be drawn from #41, it is that wars are unlikely to be popular for some time to come -- perhaps Vidal was correct -- the ´Empire´ IS declining ?

  • Comment number 46.

    #44 JunkMale

    -- you are really enjoying yourself with this ´cat and mouse´game.

    I will not respond to the Guardian article as my views on the topic go deep -- but many thanks for the link --it has been saved for future reference.

  • Comment number 47.

    46. At 14:42 6th Sep 2012, quietoaktree wrote:
    -- you are really enjoying yourself with this ´cat and mouse´game.

    Bemused at what to make of that, along with the mis-spelling, which I am more used to from those who give up on debate and seek to score points, if this is a game of sorts, in other ways.

    Never thought of an exchange of views as cat and mouse, but maybe we have an eloquent example of my point that while there's an internet full of sources to cite, the power of well constructed debate remains in black and white for all to see and judge.

    Which is why I find it sad, if telling, when 'closed for comments' shutters come down. Especially from unexpected quarters.


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