It’s a sad day for political commentators around the world. In this “slow-news” day right before the Independence Day holiday, Governor Sarah Palin has announced she will step down before her term expires in 2010, turning over the governor’s duty to lieutenant governor Sean Pernell. Watch her remarks here:
Now, this is sad news! Since George Bush has been gone, and Dick Cheney along with him, there has been a lack of politicians to make fun of.
Yes, Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina dutifully filled that gap with the announcement that he’d cheated on his wife with an Argentinian woman. That kept pundits and Jon Stewart going for a good few days – but for the long term, that’s not enough! And now, with the loss of Sarah Palin, who will be left to joke about? I am considering re-joining the Facebook group “I have more foreign policy experience than Sarah Palin,” just for old times’ sake.
But friends, don’t fret: There are rumors Palin might seek the Republican nomination for President in 2012. Hurray and a happy Fourth of July, everyone!
Just around the 100-day-mark of Barack Obama’s Presidency, he is faced with a great challenge and opportunity: naming a new justice for the Supreme Court. Of course, everyone wants to have a say in that.
One of the greatest dangers facing American democracy today is extreme partisanship. The division of public and politics along party lines hinders political discourse and halts social progress at great costs to society. If little else, Americans can agree on that. But, as soon as you ask who is responsible for political bipolarity, people are divided: Fox News or the liberal media, fundamentalist evangelicals or the eastcoast elite, rich republicans or wealthy democrats, SUV drivers or treehuggers.
“Split: A Divided America” is a documentary that shines a light on the roots and consequences of this political divide. While it can’t solve all the problems and leaves the viewer with open questions, there are still some insights to be drawn from it.
While the lead- up to the war in Iraq has been harshly criticized by many, new evidence suggests the carrying out of those plans was shockingly unprofessional and haphazard. The New York Times, along with ProPublica, have obtained a draft version of a report on the implementation of rebuilding plans that exposes practices such as
decision making that was often carried out on the go, or by only few individuals without consultation of further expert opinions (Big Decisions, Little Debate)
The whole report can be accessed and searched via the New York Times website, where you can read all the outrageous information for yourself.
The report concludes with a part on “Lessons Learned”, and one can only hope that those lessons will be absorbed by the people in charge of the USA’s other war, as the article points out:
“The United States could soon have reason to consult this cautionary tale of deception, waste and poor planning, as both troop levels and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan are likely to be stepped up under the new administration.”
Grand seigneur of the intellectual left in the US, Noam Chomsky has given the Spiegel an interview. He makes it pretty clear that Europeans shouldn’t hope for much from a possible President Obama.
SPIEGEL: “Change” is the slogan of this year’s presidential election. Do you see any chance for an immediate, tangible change in the United States? Or, to use use Obama’s battle cry: Are you “fired up”?
Chomsky: Not in the least. The European reaction to Obama is a European delusion.
SPIEGEL: But he does say things that Europe has long been waiting for. He talks about the trans-Atlantic partnership, the priority of diplomacy and the reconciling of American society.
Chomsky: That is all rhetoric. Who cares about that? This whole election campaign deals with soaring rhetoric, hope, change, all sorts of things, but not with issues.
He has more to say about the state of American democracy and the 2008 elections. Chomsky touches upon the role religion plays for campaign managers, the narrow spectre of choices voters are given and McCain’s honest suggestion that this election really is about personality and not issues, as the Obama campaign claims. The full interview is here.
Before Barack Obama’s hugely successful tour through Europe and the Middle East, his critics assumed this was all about photo-ops, that Obama wasn’t coming for a dialogue, but for the pictures of him talking to important foreign leaders and delivering speeches in front of aroused masses of Europeans. That’s why Merkel and others denied his campaign to set up stage in front of Brandenburger Tor – it’s not a place for election talks.
And guess what, the critics were right about abusing European crowds for campaign purposes. However, it’s not Obama who is using the pictures of 200,000 Berliners on Straße des 17. Juni. Here’s the Republican National Committee’s attempt at trying to frame Obama as the King of the Eurotrash Dance Nation which apparently has its headquarters in Berlin.
Bring together 200,000 people and you will surely find a pill popping anarchist, a Paris Hilton clone, and some death metal goth heads who will gratefully deliver all the cliché-laden sound bites to use in an attack ad. Why bother and interview the 199,983 normal people from the audience?
The other way is to simply imply that giving a speech to a huge audience overseas is related to force Americans to buy foreign oil. What, you didn’t know that Germany is new on the board of OPEC? Didn’t you see the big oil pump Obama was standing in front of, that thing was huge!
To be fair, I have no idea how Americans are perceiving these ads. It’s just hard to believe that you can slap a negative message on such positive pictures. Then again, an American politician in front of clapping and cheering Europeans might still be an alienating sight to many American voters. All in all, McCain would probably be best of by finding a way to create these pictures himself.