Tuesday, January 08, 2008


The speeches after the Iowa caucus result: Obama and Clinton... Hillary was surrounded by her supporters - Madeleine Albright and of course Bill (though the picture cut off the top of his face). Barack Obama appeared on his own, reinforcing the image of a potential president, who, we are told, has to take the crucial decisions on his own (via C-span, 6 Jan).

The British media have, of course, reported on several occasions that John McCain's campaign has "come back from the dead" in the last few months. The reasons for this, though, might remain a mystery. Only one correspondent, Claire Bolderson, reported that, since McCain strongly supported the 'surge' in Iraq, indeed advocated a similar policy long before it happened (see here and here), and now things are going somewhat better in Iraq, people are saying, "McCain was right..." (BBC WS, Newshour, 7 Jan.).

A useful summary of the Democrat candidates' latest positions was provided by The New York Times:
Advisers to Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama say that the candidates have watched security conditions improve after the troop escalation in Iraq and concluded that it would be folly not to acknowledge those gains. At the same time, they are arguing that American casualties are still too high, that a quick withdrawal is the only way to end the war and that the so-called surge in additional troops has not paid off in political progress in Iraq.
Neither Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Obama nor the other Democratic candidates have backed away from their original opposition to the troop escalation, and they all still favor a quick withdrawal from Iraq. But Mrs. Clinton, for one, has not said how quickly she would remove most combat forces from Iraq or how many she would leave there as president. Former Senator John Edwards, by contrast, has emphasized that he would remove all combat troops from the country, while Mr. Obama favors withdrawal at a rate of one to two brigades a month. Those plans stand in contrast to the latest American strategy of keeping most American combat brigades in Iraq but giving them an expanded role in training and supporting Iraqi forces.
“The best leverage we have to get Iraq’s political leaders to do their job is to immediately begin to withdraw our troops,” [Obama’s spokesman, Bill Burton] said. ('As Democrats See Security Gains in Iraq, Tone Shifts', 25 Nov 2007)
Jeff Weintraub had a long and interesting post on Ron Paul. Paul may only have got less than 10% support, just behind Rudy Giuliani, in New Hampshire, but as Jeff says
the real significance of Ron Paul's appeal, and the deeper problem of which it is only one symptom, is that a world-view of simplistic free-market fundamentalism and wishful isolationism has a lot of seductive resonance for many Americans
Bernard Guetta, on France Inter, pays grudging respect to John McCain:
en donnant, hier, cinq points d’avance à John McCain, les Républicains pourraient bien avoir mis en selle un candidat de poids. A 71 ans, sans grands moyens financiers et sans aucun charisme, le sénateur de l’Arizona, n’a rien, a priori, d’un futur Président. Défenseur de la guerre d’Irak et vieux routier de la politique, il a même tout contre lui mais ce militaire, fils et petit-fils de militaire, épouvantablement torturé par les Vietnamiens après qu’ils eurent abattu son avion, se trouve être la plus noble figure du camp conservateur.

Homme de principe, très conséquent dans ses prises de position, il avait vainement mis en garde, comme toute l’armée, contre l’insuffisance des effectifs engagés en Irak. Il dit, aujourd’hui, que l’Amérique ne doit pas s’y permettre une défaite mais c’est le même homme qui a mené bataille, et marqué des points, contre le développement de la torture, encouragé par Georges Bush.

Hostile à l’avortement et au mariage homosexuel, très rigide sur les questions de mœurs, il fait pourtant entendre une voix dissonante dans son camp en critiquant les baisses d’impôt, réclamant une moralisation du financement des campagnes électorales et prônant une régularisation des immigrés clandestins. Il incarne, lui aussi, une forme de rupture.
('Les leçons du New Hampshire', 9 Jan 2008)
Update 2:
A caller raises Ron Paul's views on slavery and the Civil War and the Civil Rights Act (C-span, 6 Jan, phone-in with John "Chip" Saltsman, Huckabee's campaign manager).

Channel 4 News (9 Jan) says that McCain is doing better now that Iraq is no longer so much of an issue... Jon Snow, in his report, says that McCain's campaign has come back since the surge has brought reduced levels of violence in Iraq and his fortunes rise and fall with those of the war (see).


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