A Strange Season for Politics

Huckabee_fat A good friend tried to persuade me last evening that in the end this year’s elections for president, vice-president and the Congress will be decided by money.  This, of course, mirrors the accepted wisdom of the social scientists.  For most ofthem elections in a highly developed "market" are a matter of funding and "branding."

Maybe so, maybe not.  I hope not.

In any case, this year seems very different.  The Obama and Huckabee phenomena speak to something very much at odds with the accepted wisdom of the social scientists.

Barack Obama is virtually an unknown quantity.  He is a gifted orator.  He carries himself like a president of the Kennedy type.  His election will signal a new phase in American race relations.  We all know that race relations haunt us in the ways that Faulkner expressed so well.  Nevertheless, his meteoric ascension to threaten a Clinton restoration is illogical.  Who is this man and what will he really do if he achieves his goal?  Not enough is known about him to say.

And then there is Huckabee.  I would like to have a beer with him but he probably does not drink.  He is anathema to the political establishments of both parties, a son of the despised rural South, an evangelical Protestant minister, and another gifted orator.  His very name sets the teeth of political commentators on edge.  Christopher Matthews, in a display of rage, called him the "hick" a couple of nights ago.  Now Huckabee has humbled Romney, the poster boy for political ambition.  He and McCain are clearly combining to destroy Romney in New Hampshire.  Look to see Huckabee do better than expected in New Hampshire.

Maybe this isn’t just about money and marketing?  pl


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44 Responses to A Strange Season for Politics

  1. strange says:

    A Strange Season for Politics

    Bookmarked your post over at Blog Bookmarker.com!

  2. James Pratt says:

    I agree with you Col. this is not a year when insider politics sells very well. The Huckabee vote is upset at the numerous GOP lobbying and sex scandals and under a great deal of economic stress.Calling the Club For Growth the ‘Club For Greed’ and taking on Rush Limbaugh means Gov.Huckabee is a more dangerous rebel to the GOP money wing than the Anti-Iraq-War Dr. Ron Paul. The Obama vote started as an antiwar movement because of the speeches Sen. Obama gave in 2002 but has since broadened its appeal. The antipathy to the status quo of the Bush years is a majority passion. Everyone still standing after Iowa is suddenly about change.
    This is the time to get them on the record. I hope somehow the oil, arms and health insurance industries lose their best of all possible worlds (for them) so that the rest of us can make some progress.

  3. different clue says:

    As a mere layman and voter myself, it feels like a “revolt of the voters” to me. We know very well who the masters of money and branding want us to vote for. The Corporate Establishment’s obvious drive to coronate Clinton has filled many Democratic voters with a deep-seated,bitter and vicious resentment, for example. I couldn’t say whether this is what happened on the Republican side in Iowa.
    Perhaps the engine room wants to send the Bridge a message that the Bridge has lost control?

  4. Marcus says:

    “This” I think is about disillusionment. W who many people thought they knew, turned out to be a very dangerous incompetent.
    Why are people flocking to the good orators? Maybe they long for a president that has the basic skill of grammar, and are associating that with competence.

  5. GSD says:

    It is a very convincing claim that money is the do all and end all in politics, but it is not the case.
    Were it THE case we would have had a Perot presidency and a Forbes presidency.
    Mitt Romney is about to learn the limitations of money too.
    For such a purportedly savvy businessman, this campaign appears to have been a bad investment.

  6. Jose says:

    Throw the bums out!
    Get people in there that are a complete 180 from what we currently have.
    All we need is leader that can talk to us in a manner that we can understand, in a manner that understands us, and most importantly will shake the status-quo.
    Look what happened to Romney’s money, Hillary’s endorsement and the way the pundits are freaking out!
    Things can get even more interesting if:
    The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.
    – Plato
    “People came first; Empires/Nations were only second, while the Emperor was the least important.” – Mencius

  7. David W says:

    I agree that Obama is a gifted orator and popular politician, however, I’m not sure how much change he really represents, besides being a man of color and outside of the (current) political establishment. However, as per our earlier discussion on ‘change,’ I think that his constituency falls into the vague end of that spectrum, and cosmetic change and a few populist sops may be the extent of his idea of change.
    Huckabee clearly falls into the likeable guy mode, however, I couldn’t be more wary of the idea of ‘having a beer with the guy.’ I think this is a case of wishful thinking–especially when the guy is a teetotaler! By the same reasoning, the guy you’d want for your pastor at church is probably by definition not the man you want running a modern society that is a mixture of religious and secular beliefs.
    Huck is playing well right now because of who he is not, and because the genial mask covers up some scary fundamentalist beliefs; a creationist as President might be one of the few ways we could dumb down this country after Bush II!
    Personally, I think that Edwards is more an agent of real change–his message and platform are a direct strike at the corporate hegemony, and right now, I think the House Media organ is ignoring him in an attempt to limit the spread of that message. He’s not the trendy pick, but I think he’s got the goods to shake up the joint–which is why the media Kool Kids are trying to freeze him out.

  8. Jim Schmidt says:

    “Maybe this isn’t just about money and marketing.” Pl
    Is history moved by ideas or money?
    I put this question to an Edward’s foreign policy advisor. Didn’t catch his name. He taught a class on Straussians and Neocons back east somewhere. Surprised by the conversation, he wondered if I was a professor. After all, he was in the middle of nowhere, wind howling outside, branches clacking with their heavy coat of ice, the landscape so monochrome grey even Ansel Adams would have trouble finding Zone 2. I told him no, just lots of reading (SST thank-you). But, there we were, talking, exploring, just one more talk among the many that went on by many over many months. To answer the question, he favored ideas. Good answer.
    Ideas or money and marketing?
    Money certainly was in play in Iowa, millions by some accounts, but, in the end, ideas won out. Simple ideas such as integrity matters, principles matter, people matter, families matter, neighbors matter, towns and cities matter, our country matters, the world matters. Simple ideas. For the money and utopian elites, the clever people playing us like marionettes these last few years, imagine the astonishment when they yanked and the strings came loose.
    HC is still in shock. Her Schlieffen Plan never anticipated some gawky, junior senator from Illinois and his fleet of independents, women, first time voters and ordinary folk showing up, fighting back. How dare they? According to HC and the Beltway courtiers, she deserved coronation, not a messy street fight.
    In fairness, I favored Hillary through the summer. I still think she would be a good president. However, her reflexive support for Kyl-Lieberman changed my mind and was the moment I lost interest. I heard this was a common experience. In the end I supported Joe Biden (I like lost causes), with Barack second.
    PL categorizes this as a Strange Season for Politics. I prefer a Fun Seasons for Politics. This last caucus was the best I have experienced. It did not matter who you supported. Everybody, professional, volunteers, voters, seemed to all feel this was important work, that duty demanded seriousness, and that getting involved mattered.
    In my state, and I see it in NH, ordinary people are getting involved, getting educated, asking tough questions, passing judgment.
    Some in the press hate it. Hitchen’s called the caucuses a “scam” and Iowa a banana republic (actually, we are a Frozen Banana on a Stick Dipped in Chocolate Republic, but I quibble.)
    Jeff Greenfield saw Brigadoon.
    The political pundits were prolific in both errors and hyperbole about the nomination process, even though the methods a state party uses to nominates their candidates is really, state party business (read voters), not theirs. Criticism is always valuable, but this seemed way off the mark, the subtext being a shocked distaste for the spectacle of unruly natives defying their eastern masters.
    Their point, I think, is that we all should hang our heads in shame, pay our taxes and shut up.
    I was 2008 caucus chair in my precinct. In 2004, 74 people showed up, in 2008, 198. Of those 198, 70 were new voters or cross over republicans. We were packed. Big kitchen party. HC got the most votes, but split delegates evenly between Obama and Edwards. She lost an extra delegate when all the non-viables got together for the shear pleasure of taking the extra delegate from her. Such is politics.
    So, this year, now, ideas rule. Lurking underneath is an old-fashioned idea that we the people, not the brokers and pro’s and our ever-loving friends the Straussians, matter.
    Are we in for bitter disappointment? Who knows? But for now, I am listening to Brother Ray singing “America the Beautiful”, digging the thaw, sipping a nice, mellow Tennessee whiskey and enjoying the moment.
    Go New Hampshire.

  9. We all know that race relations haunt us in the ways that Faulkner expressed so well.
    Faulkner’s too hard to read for linear thinkers like me. God only knows how many times I’ve started “As I Lay Dying” but I do know how many times I’ve finished it: zero. (It is sitting among my other half-finished Must-Read-Before-My-Eyes-Give -Outs like “The Brothers Karamozov” and Kesey’s “Sometimes a Great Notion”) It’s been over a decade since my last attempt. Maybe it’s time for yet another try.
    I’ve always preferred Flannery O’Connor.
    Barack Obama is virtually an unknown quantity.
    So was Arnie in California, politically speaking. He had absolutely no political platform whatsoever beyond his celebrity status. He won anyway. In fact, he may have won precisely because he had no platform. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.
    Almost forgot. USO’s got another campaign going. Time for another shameless plug:
    Time To Give To The USO

  10. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Ah, that’s the hard stuff. I was thinking of “The Bear.” pl

  11. chimneyswift says:

    The lug nuts came off the wheels with NAFTA and the sweeping deregulation of industry under Clinton. Those regulations were there for many good reasons, but because we were in the upswing of a technology-driven economic expansion it was hard to tell at first that they would soon be a big problem. NAFTA (and the GATT/WTO and IMF) played in to the complex shifts of capital in a globalized world in ways that did not only hit working class Americans hard, but clearly created untenable situations for most of the less-developed countries in the world.
    What no one in the Beltway figured was that many many Americans would figure all of this out and care quite a bit. That is what we are seeing now.
    This country has competing histories, and the movers and shakers behind deregulation and corporate-centric gobalization did not just set out to undo the New Deal, they set out to re-establish a social order akin to the Gilded Age.
    When NAFTA passed it looked bad in an early-80’s we’re losing our jobs to the Japanese kind of way. When the Seattle protests happened it created a nascent seed of awareness that it was more complicated than that. As people’s options shrunk and their costs of living multiplied (as opposed to merely increasing) they began to become suspicious of the motives of our entire ruling elite. This happened in parallel with the ever more egregious abuses of power in the Bush administration. Disgust with ethical abuses and clearly complaisant (if not outright complicit) practises from the Democratic leadership and the entire Fourth Estate grew slowly, but has now found outlet.
    Simply put, there has been for some time a growing awareness among a great many Americans that the people running the show are ripping us all off. No one is profiting but the people at the very top and it is obvious.
    It is important to note here that there has also been a huge effort on the part of many thousands of people to communicate this for some time. What we are seeing is the result of an organic growing awareness dovetailing with consistent pressure from widespread international grassroots organizing, commited academic research and heartfelt compassionate acts of citizenship. The reason that the corporatist agenda isn’t working is that most people actually care about other human beings. And it has become clear that the people running the show do not.
    This is why it is Mike Huckabee on the Right and “Anodyne” Obama on the Left who have been lifted by this wave of democratic participation, because they CARE. And people are ready to get back to a world in which we care about each other rather than just mucking things up for any limited gain whatsoever.
    The staggered electoral cycle and the existence of a directly elected national executive remain as testaments to the genius of this country’s founders. This is the system working.
    And if you’re looking for some insight to the substance of Obama’s agenda, here is an article about his “open government” proposals. I find these to be remarkably forward thinking and indicative of some dramatic “change” indeed.

  12. Enobarbus37 says:

    In retrospect, look at the power of the NIE on Iran. It changed everything.
    Hell, you had an op-ed piece in the Washington Post by Henry Kissinger, yeah Henry Kissinger, saying the NIE was full of bananas.
    The NIE knocked the legs out from under the “establishment”. It would be interesting, very interesting, to know more about its origins.

  13. Steve says:

    Jim Schmidt,
    I live in Mason City, and caucused for Dodd, figuring I owed him one for his hold on the FISA bill. I then went for Edwards who was my candidate all along.
    Clinton carried my precinct, followed by Obama, and then Edwards, though she received a minority of total delegates.
    An interesting observation on how the media have spun the Obama win. I’ve now heard, more than once, how surprising it was that a black candidate could win A)a 95% white state, and B) a red state.
    Contrary to that media wisdom, I never sensed the racial angle at all with any Iowans I talked to. Perhaps, the spin was just indicative of bicoastal elites assuming that everyone else is stereotyped as bigoted. Or then again, and more likely I think, they were projecting their own racial fears.
    And the red state spin–yeah Iowa was in 04, but you have to go back to 84 to find the last time a republican pres carried the state.
    Just my thoughts.

  14. frank durkee says:

    Just a couple of oservations concerning training I share with Obama, the Chicago Institutres training in community organization. It requiires that you ask the toughest questions you can find. That you listen to find out what is actually happening in the areas you seek to organize, that you get to know, analyze, and interact with the actual powerstructure of the population you are organizing. that you identify “leaders’ among th poor, train them to do their own work, research, actions, etc, set the agenda. It holds to no permanent enemies and no permanent alliances. much of what the Col. and others have suggested concerning the Intelligence process is similiar. the content perhaps different but the goal is to kow as well as possible what is going on, who is doing it, what agena one is supporting and how to obtain it. A key element is the development of focused, researched action groups not of specialist but of the local leaders. Being able to listen, to speak, to analyze, and to act are all critical. An ‘organizer sets out as one to build a trained self sustaining loval action group to interct with the powerbrokers oto enable change for the client group, the poor in most cases.
    He’s done this and in some tough areas on some tough issues as a youn man. It conditions and ahapes your orientation and actions in some useful ways for the political process. the goal is to create a sufficient ingormed powerase to initiate and obtain changee in a conflicted workd with other power players. You normally start with the weakest hand and players and if your good and to some extent lucky it happens with a lot of hard work. Much of the work is focused on knowing the issues well, knpwing what you seek to do and finfding the aviable allies to seek it. In an urban community it involves the whole structure of the community and how it actually works.
    Somehow i think this is not irrelevant to Obama’s effectiveness. His core trainin is in citizen facilitated change. Effective speaking is a component of that but only a component and not by any means the most siginificant. it is not a task for idealists, clear eyed realism and the work to arrive at that are the critical prequisites.
    This isn’t all he is or has done but it is perhaps a window into an important aspect of how he became who he is.
    I have know some senior intelligence analysts and several excellent organizers and the mind sets are in many ways remarkably similar.
    { excuse wrrors o spelling and tyoing I’m both elderly sn dyslexic] Thanks.

  15. Andy says:

    Maybe this isn’t just about money and marketing?

    Money and marketing is a requirement to be competitive, but when all the so-called “top tier” candidates have both in spades then I think other factors start playing a significant role.
    Like CWZ indicated, being an unknown quantity can be a benefit, particularly if the known quantities (or at least better-known) are unappealing.

  16. DeLudendwarf says:

    Speaking generally:
    Until you have taxpayer funded(government financed campaigns) you have a corrupt electoral process.
    Re: Bam, Hill, and Hick.
    Doubt that Obama and Clinton are electible nationally. Huck’s a loon, ditto.
    It will be interesting to see to what levels we sink in this election, before things get sorted out.
    We might have to settle for something less than tout-acclaimed quality horse stock, before we find true runners.
    Just a thought.

  17. Enobarbus37 says:

    Please forgive this additional post if it is felt to be redundant. I quote from today’s Post:
    “Part of the reason I’m going to the Middle East is to make it abundantly clear to nations in that part of the world that we view Iran as a threat, and that the [National Intelligence Estimate] in no way lessens that threat, but in fact clarifies the threat,” Bush said in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot released Friday.
    Administration officials have been alarmed by what they see as Iran’s efforts to develop a nuclear weapon and intimidate its Sunni neighbors. But their efforts to build support for sanctions and other pressure on Tehran took a serious hit last month when a National Intelligence Estimate — representing the shared view of U.S. intelligence agencies — concluded that Iran halted its nuclear arms program in 2003.
    Administration officials insist that the estimate showed Iran remains capable of, and interested in, developing a nuclear weapon. But Israel, which is believed to have nuclear weapons, saw the report as a sign that Washington is flagging in its zeal to confront Iran, which they regard as a threat to its existence. And in Arab Sunni countries such as Saudi Arabia, which feel threatened by the rising Shiite power that Iran represents, the NIE renewed doubts over whether the United States might be seeking an accommodation with Tehran.

    What’s the point? The point is that the NIE took away the domestic constituency that Bush needed. He can go and live in the ME if he wants to, but his domestic consituency for bombing Iran is absolutely gone.
    The NIE completely changed the rules of the game, and, specifically, has catapulted Obama permanently over Clinton.
    Clinton has all the money in the world. It hasn’t much to do with money.
    Once again, it would be interesting to know how a document that has had about the same effect on the US as the Declaration of Independence ever saw the light of day.

  18. Marcus says:

    I agree with the thrust of your post but I disagree with your assessment:
    “Simply put, there has been for some time a growing awareness among a great many Americans that the people running the show are ripping us all off. No one is profiting but the people at the very top and it is obvious.”
    I think if this were true the two leading candidates would be Edwards and Paul. These two are the most consistent and passionate about the fleecing of America.
    I think people, in a time of stress , are attracted to charismatic orators. Think Churchill, Hitler, and Roosevelt.

  19. Cornfed says:

    Sen. Obama’s rise may seem illogical but it should be placed in context with his 15 year relationship with Chicago politcal consultant David Axelrod. Obama may be outisde the most visible power faction of the Democratic party but that does not mean that he is outside all power factions in the party or that those inclined to donate lots of money view him as a threat to the status quo. On the contrary, Sen. Obama has had no problem at all financing his campaign. If anything his ascendancy is an example of a masterfully executed politcal marketing campaign crafted with precision, implemented with patience and peppered with audacity. That so few recognize this is a testament to how well planned and carefully executed his progression to this point has been. His run was inevitable, the only surprise was that it was so soon.
    I think the battle for the Republican nomination will be the place where we’ll see the most genuine clash between the establishment understanding of how candidates are annointed and the potential success of another dynamic. While Gov. Huckabee is not a political naif nor utterly without his own faction from which to draw (and they are a motivated faction), that the GOP establishment is so clearly dismayed by his success speaks volumes. That Sen. McCain has lately enjoyed a huge infusion of money and media support speaks libraries. South Carolina will be fascinating.
    Just a closing thought, at the risk of exasperating this company with a pop culture reference and marking myself evermore as one of those puddle-deep Generation X-ers I’ll pass along a movie quote that has been running through my head since caucus night. It burned itself there the first time I heard it (nearly 19 years ago now) and has to some degree shaped both my personal and political thinking ever since.
    “Ask youself why you seek the cup of Christ. Is it for His glory or for yours?”
    No politcal candidate is wholly pure, either in motivation or action, but so far neither of the lately annointed “outsider” candidates look good to me through that particular lense.

  20. jonst says:

    If you never finish The Brothers Karamozov, try and make sure you at least read the chapter titled: The Legend of the Grand Inquisitor.
    There are lots of reasons Dems are rejecting HC in favor of BO. But I would not underestimate the subtle linking of HC with Bush. Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton? The nation is, I suggest, sick of it. Sick of the entire era.

  21. …just to give social science its proper gravity. Political scientists who study possible explanations for why one thing happens and another does not are compelled to consider the array of factors that are pertinent.
    Exceptions may prove anything but the ‘rule,’ or so-called conventional wisdom.
    There is no doubt candidates need resources but resources are just one factor.
    Voting behvaior is well studied. People make their choices for lots of different reasons. Most here know that the informed or ill informed hunch, gut feeling, inchoate intuition, rule such choices where they are found to do so.
    Also, participation closely tracks: age, education, householder economy, and, to a more dynamic (lesser) extent, ethnicity.
    18-25 year olds don’t have all those skins in the game but they will respond to appeals that in effect say to them, ‘they matter.’

  22. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    For a good Southern prayer, I’d go with Huckabee. But for a good Southern drink, your best bet may be Fred Thompson, at least from what I can tell from watching the debates After prayers with Huckabee, you may hear the history of the Baptist church in the South. After drinks with Thompson, you may end up in a smoked filled bbq restaurant at 2 am, listening to him talk about the upcoming recruiting prospects for Univ. of Tenn football. Different Southern priorities, I suppose.
    A Southern prayer and a Southern drink. That sums up much of Southern history. But you don’t want to get the two mixed up. I don’t think I’d ask Fred Thompson for a good Southern prayer followed by the history of the Baptist church and I most assuredly would not ask Huckabee for a good Southern drink followed by 3 days of tailgating at the Ark.-LSU game. Such a Southern faux pas typically leads to everyone feeling ill at ease and, to use a Southern term, puts a damper on things.
    I am not voting for either but God bless ‘em both. If history is any indication, I’d probably go with the Southern drink and SEC tailgating experience but I am not Baptist, although I know a few who are. Some of them are very good and well intentioned folks, notwithstanding copies of “Left Behind” wherever you look.

  23. Country is not really ready for a Saul Alinksy type (Chicage socialist and street/community organizer). Thus DEMS are left with a leading candidate of foreign financial interests and domestic corporate interests. Guess who? Finally if I had to guess now the voters feel a need for a mild revolution that leads to a Huckabee/McCain ticket. It does appear that these two are the most likely to not be tied to the interests that dominate US politics. But also true that they are the least likely to be dominated by foreign interests. Written by a fuzzy heady liberal secularist.

  24. Enobarbus37 says:

    I pray, I sincerely pray, that Obama picks Webb as his running mate.
    Isn’t Webb a Libertarian for those of a Libertarian bent?
    Of course, if Webb brought Virginia’s electoral votes with him, well, that would make him the good Lyndon Johnson (as opposed to the real Lyndon Johnson). Note that Virginia went Republican in 2000 and 2004 and has 13 electoral votes.

  25. Matthew says:

    Col: The big story is that despite media consolidation the people are rejecting the canned messages of the “acceptable” candidates.

  26. lina says:

    If you want to know who Obama is, I suggest reading the autobiography he wrote when he was 32:
    Sales of this and his other book “The Audicity of Hope” helped the Senator and his wife pay off their student loans.
    I can’t vote for Huckabee because I disagree with 98 percent of his policy positions. But if he was still a preacher rather than a politician, I would probably show up at his church on Sunday just to get a feel-good Jesus fix.

  27. taters says:

    Col. Lang,
    I tried on the Obama hat and found it severely lacking.
    I know HRC’s vote for Kyl Lieberman has been slammed.
    Both of my senators here in MI, Levin & Stabenow who voted against (among the other 23 nays)authorization to use force in Iraq also voted for KL.
    Few have been so vocal in their oppostion for attacking Iran as you and Wes Clark. (Clark started StopIranWar.com)Clark supported Clinton’s vote on KL, for the Dems it was a stall tactic. In the end it was toothless name calling and stripped of any authorization for force. I really respect and admire Sen. Webb but I disagree with him on this.
    The NIE was released and so the “stall” worked. Sen. Clinton, who is under more scrutiny than the others made the correct call and was willing to pay the political price from the left. Obama, and others have castigated her for this. Obama was a no show and did not vote. Not exactly what I call moral courage. He claimed he did not know about it coming up at the time for a vote. The sabre rattling crowd got to rattle their sabre’s and the Dems were able to stall. Bellicose? Yes. War? No.

  28. frank durkee says:

    It’s nice to know that t least one of us {Wm. Cumming ] knew what my obscure reference was. Radical Democrat would be my personal descriptiion of the oreintation of my training. I’ve no clue if O’s ready to be President, save for Washington who the hell is on 20 January? My only point is that he has at least some relevant experience, in my judgement.

  29. Plymouth Rock says:

    Reading Durkee’s comments above, I was struck by the similarities of that approach to the COIN manual. Different goals and settings, much the same strategy.

  30. Col-
    Ah-ha, we read “The Bear” in high school. I just might be able to handle that one. If you’re ever in Oxford MS, stop by his house Rowan Oak. It’s a good way to spend an hour or so. August is a good time to visit northern MS – you can cut the air with a knife.
    That chapter title rings a bell so I must have at least gotten that far. Of course, I don’t remember a thing about it 20 years after the fact.
    I’ve heard your theory from other folks, too – that we’re just not real excited about having two families running the show for at least a total of 20 years.

  31. Chatham says:

    Sen. Obama’s message of change and outsider status seems to be more marketing than anything else. If you listened to the last debate, all the Democratic candidates talked about change and tried to cast themselves as an agent of that change (Richardson being more substantative, it seemed). Obama was being groomed by the establishment early on, and his political history has been much less than revolutionary. I believe his outsider status and message of change are being overblown by those looking at his rhetoric rather than his actions.
    Huckabee, on the other hand, seems to represent a populist movement that the establishment was happy whipping up when they thought they could control it. Now it’s time to pay the piper, and he represents something that genuinely scares them. I wouldn’t be surprised if they prefer Clinton or Obama to him.

  32. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Per Obama the Jewish Telegraph Agency wire story, 4 January 08, by Ron Kampeas contains some interesting data of use for a realistic assessment:
    “Obama and the Jews
    Friday, 04 January 2008
    WASHINGTON — Ask about Barack Obama’s natural constituencies, and you might hear that he’s the first black with a viable shot at the White House; or about his Kenyan father and his childhood in Indonesia; or the youthfulness of his followers; or the millions of Oprah junkies swooning over his candidacy. What you might not hear is that the Illinois senator, who made history Thursday by winning the Democratic caucus in Iowa, has made Jewish leaders an early stop at every stage in his political career.
    In his first run for the Illinois Senate in 1996, he sought the backing of Alan Solow, a top Chicago lawyer. Eight years later, running for the U.S. Senate — long before he became the shoo-in, when he was running in a Democratic field packed with a dozen candidates, including some Jews — one of his first meetings was with Robert Schrayer,a top Jewish philanthropist in Chicago.
    When he launched his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in late 2006, he named as his fund-raising chief Alan Solomont, the Boston Jewish philanthropist who helped shepherd Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) to the Democratic candidacy in 2004.
    And he chose a gathering of the pro-Israel lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, last March to deliver his presidential candidacy’s first foreign policy speech.
    “Some of my earliest and most ardent supporters came from the Jewish community in Chicago,” Obama told JTA in 2004, after his keynote speech galvanized the Democratic convention in Boston…..”

  33. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I read it as a Rat at VMI. pl

  34. Probability is high that the US is undergoing the long-term realignment of the parties. Bush/Clinton triangulation never really achieved majority status. Question now is can either party muster a majority President? Doubtful. But by time the next four elections down the road after 2008 have occurred the World will be realigned into competive trading blocks, 30 nuclear capable, ballistic missile nations for destabilization of international politics and 2008 will serve as the historic mark when Wilsonian dreams of expanding democracy worldwide finally died for the world’s oldest and richest democracy. Still 100 years for those dreams was not too bad a run.That combined with militarism was the US competitive edge on the world scene and now no one outside the US and many within wants that to be the ruling combination. Possibly we are entering the new dark ages but it will have been facilited by an apathetic, non-voting US public that felt the ruling classes knew best. Perhaps environmental issues alone by 2028 will make the Greens dominate political activity in the US. When you look back at the 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004 elections, powers within the party selected the candidates not outsiders. Might as well have been smoke filled rooms and maybe history will show it was. The fog of war instead of the fog of politics. Notice how no one discusses conversion of the US economy from its dependence on the military to civilian purposes. Another issue the political economists don’t wish to discuss.

  35. Andy says:

    I’ve heard your theory from other folks, too – that we’re just not real excited about having two families running the show for at least a total of 20 years.

    I’m in that camp.
    I didn’t find The Brothers Karamazov that bad, but I’ve always preferred Gogol over Dostoevsky.

  36. zanzibar says:

    No matter who – Obama, Clinton, Edwards; or McCain, Huckabee, Romney, Guiliani – AIPAC and the Likudniks are in the drivers seat when it comes to our domestic politics. They are the money guys and very influential advisors. None of the current field of presidential candidates or the Congressional leadership will cross their path.
    I sincerely doubt if that stranglehold will dissipate in my life time. Only when a reasonable segment of my fellow citizens realize that our national interests are being subverted at the altar of Likudism will that change begin.

  37. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    <"that stranglehold">
    Zanzibar, as a product of the 1940s, I share your concerns about the future. My take, however, is that it is not just the Likudniks but rather the alliance (domestic and transnational) between Gentile and Jewish elites that is the issue. We can look at British history as an example and Barbara Tuchman’s “Bible and Sword” is very useful in this regard.
    Every embassy in town (DC) and every foreign ministry around the planet is assessing the foreign policy positions of the candidates. Logically, the first step is to gather data on the advisors to the candidates and to collect the speeches of the candidates for content analysis. And one can scan the establishment Council on Foreign Relations’ products for indicators. Psychological profiling could be included.
    As I have posted, I believe the “Princeton Project on National Security” led by George Shultz and Tony Lake spells out the general lines of policy for 2008 and 2012 for both parties. Neocons were involved as were representatives of the Christian Right (Wheaton College had a rep there, for example.)
    My own view is that the aforementioned Gentile and Jewish elites since the 1898 Spanish-American War have promoted an imperial foreign policy not unlike the British Imperial policy under Palmerston.
    The Christian Fundamentalist movement which developed in the early 19th century in the UK, and which was transferred to the US in the late 19th century, is a tool of this imperial policy. This is the theme of my current book project: “Dark Crusade, Christian Zionism and American Foreign Policy”.
    The meeting this week convened by former US Senator Boren (D-OK) which pivoted around Bloomberg is curious. Are they planning a “Bull Moose” sort of Third Party? Boren, like the Bush41 and 43, is a member of the elite Yale Skull and Bones final society…an imperial nest.
    In the longer range, say 2030 to 2050ish according to projections, the demographics of this country will more a Latin American mix, say a Brazil-Mexico type mix. A case can be made that the political culture which produced our Constitution will be dead (thanks to the electronic media and other factors) and our internal politics will resemble the “petty despotisms” of Latin America we have seen over the past couple of centuries. By that time, a multipolar global environment — EU, Russia, China, Japan, India, etc. — will have emerged constraining an exhausted and disoriented former USA.
    Hillary, IMO, shed a sincere tear in the coffee shop contemplating America’s future the other day… our country (and Canada) owes its existance to a woman, namely Elizabeth I, for whom my state, Virginia, is named…Sir Humphrey Gilbert, Raleigh, Drake…Walsingham…

  38. pallen says:

    Col. Lang,
    Thanks for the Faulkner reference about race. Since you’ve read “The Bear,” you might want to consider reading it again, and then Faulkners’ “The Reivers.” He uses the characters from “The Bear” to introduce the plot and story line. I’ve never laughed as hard as when I read the first chapter of “The Reivers.” Faulkner is my favorite author, having grown up in the South.

  39. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I was lucky enough to have been taken to UVa as an undergraduate to hear Faulkner lecture on his newly published work, “The Reivers.” He was “writer in residence” there at the time.
    It was a memorable evening. pl

  40. David Habakkuk says:

    Clifford Kiracofe,
    This is not a history I have looked at closely, but surely there were always very great differences of view, in Britain, within both Gentile and Jewish elites?
    Certainly there were deep divisions within Anglo-Jewry about Zionism. Following the Balfour Declaration, David Alexander and Claude Montefiore, presidents respectively of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and of the Anglo-Jewish Association, wrote to the Times in protest. They described the Declaration as ‘a veritable calamity for the whole Jewish people,’ which must ‘have the effect throughout the world of stamping the Jews as strangers in their native lands, and of undermining their hard-won position as citizens and nationals of those lands.’
    Two figures prominent in the Liberal Party at the time, Herbert Samuel and Edwin Montagu, took diametrically opposite positions. As Geoffrey Wheatcroft puts it:
    ‘Samuel and Montagu, who were cousins (and both non-religious) embodied a fierce division of opinion about Zionism within Anglo-Jewry. Samuel became a strong supporter of the project, and then first high commissioner for Palestine when it was made a British mandatory territory after the First World War. But Montagu, the only Jew in the Cabinet at the time, was intensely hostile to the Balfour Declaration and the idea of a Jewish homeland, let alone state, bitterly asking colleagues why they disliked him so much that they wanted to pack him off to an oriental ghetto.’
    (See http://comment.independent.co.uk/commentators/article2347452.ece.)

  41. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    <"were always very great differences of view, in Britain, within both Gentile and Jewish elites?">
    David Habakkuk, yes indeed and this is a point which I did not make clearly enough. Barbara Tuchman’s “Bible and Sword”, despite technical faults, is useful in outlining the alignment of elites which produced the Palmerston policy and led to a “pro-Zionist” foreign policy. Wheatcroft’s excellent book is very helpful as you indicate.
    There were clearly pro and anti Zionist elites in the UK just as there were here in the US within the Jewish community and Gentile community. Here, the Reform community was a holdout against political Zionism for quite some time, for example. Montagu was eloquent and correct, IMO, and his views reflected similar views in the US held by leading personalities.
    But Montagu’s perspective unfortunately did not prevail. The UK and US pro-Zionist Jewish elites and the pro-Zionist Gentile elites allied in terms of policy, each side with varying motivations it would appear. For example, Norman Rose in his “Gentile Zionists: A Study in Anglo-Zionist Diplomacy 1929-1939” presents useful data. Churchill’s view from his writings in the 1920s seems to have been an unsentimental policy to use Zionism against Bolshevism. I am trying to sort through all of this complicated, complex, and fascinating history myself.
    An interesting case over here is the “American Jewish Committee” founded in 1906 with a push from the Kuhn-Loeb interests it is said. This prestigious and influential group was cool to political Zionism until the WWII era when it shifted to a pro-Zionist stance. They publish Commentary Magazine (since 1946), the Neocon organ of Kristol, Podhoretz etal.
    On the Reform side, over here, Rabbi Judah Magnes tried to promote a sensible and moderate position.
    Over the past two decades, we have seen the Republican Party in the US come into alignment with the Likud, particularly the Netanyahu faction. The Neoconservatives have been the middlemen in effect. This alignment is undergirded by the Christian Right component of the Republican Party’s base: the late Jerry Falwell, Robertson, Hagee, etal. I am familiar with this from first-hand personal experience in the Senate of the United States 1981-1992 when this alignment (which I objected to) was in the process of construction.

  42. David Habakkuk says:

    Clifford Kiracofe,
    A query.
    If one is looking at the roots of neoconservatism, one strand goes back through the Strauss/Bloom connection to European currents of thought — the ‘conservative revolution’, Kojève etc (I have just got hold of the Shadia Drury book you recommended.)
    Another goes back to NSC 68 — and a tradition which is carried onward from that paper through the Wohlstetters, ‘Scoop’ Jackson, Team B, Pipes, Wolfowitz, Perle etc to the present.
    I know a good deal about NSC 68. What is not clear to me is precisely how and why that tradition of thinking about Soviet policy and nuclear strategy gets married up with Zionism. Where should I look for enlightenment?
    On alliances between Gentile and Jewish elites. One place where these were very close was the Gaitskellite right of the Labour Party — where my own political roots lie. Our thinking was decisively shaped by Jewish refugees from the disasters of Europe. Koestler’s Darkness at Noon was a key text — and our political philosophers were Isaiah Berlin and perhaps even more Karl Popper, with his polemics against ‘historicism’ and ‘utopian social engineering’. In part, one might call this Burke made palatable for social democrats.
    Obviously, for someone raised on Popper, Fukuyama’s ‘End of History’ paper is charlatanism, and the project of democratising the Middle East at the point of a cruise missile reminiscent (to quote Wilde’s Lady Bracknell) ‘of the worst excesses of the French Revolution.’
    What has shaken me — and I really still cannot quite understand — is the upsurge of the Jacobin spirit in places I thought inhabited by sensible and moderate people: such as the editorial conference rooms of the Financial Times and Economist, and the economics faculty of Harvard.

  43. taters says:

    I’m sure many of, including Sen. Webb are a mixture of many things. I don’t believe this, however would fall under libertarianism and I’m sure Ron Paul would strongly disagree with it. as for myself, I thoroughly agree.
    Class Struggle
    American workers have a chance to be heard.
    by JIM WEBB
    Wednesday, November 15, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST
    The most important–and unfortunately the least debated–issue in politics today is our society’s steady drift toward a class-based system, the likes of which we have not seen since the 19th century. America’s top tier has grown infinitely richer and more removed over the past 25 years. It is not unfair to say that they are literally living in a different country. Few among them send their children to public schools; fewer still send their loved ones to fight our wars. They own most of our stocks, making the stock market an unreliable indicator of the economic health of working people. The top 1% now takes in an astounding 16% of national income, up from 8% in 1980. The tax codes protect them, just as they protect corporate America, through a vast system of loopholes.
    Incestuous corporate boards regularly approve compensation packages for chief executives and others that are out of logic’s range. As this newspaper has reported, the average CEO of a sizeable corporation makes more than $10 million a year, while the minimum wage for workers amounts to about $10,000 a year, and has not been raised in nearly a decade. When I graduated from college in the 1960s, the average CEO made 20 times what the average worker made. Today, that CEO makes 400 times as much.
    In the age of globalization and outsourcing, and with a vast underground labor pool from illegal immigration, the average American worker is seeing a different life and a troubling future. Trickle-down economics didn’t happen. Despite the vaunted all-time highs of the stock market, wages and salaries are at all-time lows as a percentage of the national wealth. At the same time, medical costs have risen 73% in the last six years alone. Half of that increase comes from wage-earners’ pockets rather than from insurance, and 47 million Americans have no medical insurance at all.
    Manufacturing jobs are disappearing. Many earned pension programs have collapsed in the wake of corporate “reorganization.” And workers’ ability to negotiate their futures has been eviscerated by the twin threats of modern corporate America: If they complain too loudly, their jobs might either be outsourced overseas or given to illegal immigrants.

  44. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    <"NSC 68. What is not clear to me is precisely how and why that tradition of thinking about Soviet policy and nuclear strategy gets married up with Zionism.">
    David Habbakuk,
    Have been wrestling with this one myself, ie “Cold War Zionism.” We have Nitze, the rise of the RAND Corporation, the Truman Administration. General Marshall’s colleague George Kennan and Chip Bohlen opposed the NSC-68’s hyperinflated threat and militarization of foreign policy.
    1.Paul Nitze’s career before World War II was as a Wall Street investment banker with Dillon, Read. The firm was a leading financier of the German military-industrial complex after WWI, transactions in which I assume Nitze was involved.
    Paul Nitze’s uncle, Paul Hilkin, was implicated as a German agent in the notorious Black Tom sabotage against US ships in New Jersey in WWI. “Not until 1930, however, did the case seem finally clinched when Paul Hilken, a naturalized American living in Baltimore, admitted having been “paymaster” for a number of German agents.”
    The Witcover book on the matter is very revealing indeed.
    I locate Nitze within pro-German circles (in the US on Wall Street) of the 1930s obsessed by “anti-Bolshevism.” In turn, these circles are linked to similar ones in Europe, UK and France etc.
    2. I note high level Wall Street Jewish anti-bolshevist circles 1930s at the American Jewish Committee, which was well to the right. They did become anti-Nazi after a while and linked to the Churchill circles in the UK. The AJC, retaining its anti-Bolshevism, swings to Zionism prior to the Biltmore Conference in 1942. Then, in 1946 starts publishing Commentary which is anti-Communist and pro-Zionist. If you can examine runs of Commentary in a library just start with the first issue in 1946 and scan the tables of contents and you will see the “Cold War Zionist” line developed. Kristol and Podhoretz become editors. Kristol then does “Encounter”
    in Europe.
    3. On the role of Wall Street involvement with the Nazi military-industrial complex see in particular the essential,
    James Stewart Martin, All Honorable Men (Boston:Little Brown, 1950). Note relationship of “General” Draper (a Dillon Read man) to the Nazi and then post WWII German industrial and financial world. Ike was well aware of all this.
    And Charles Higham, “Trading with the Enemy. The Nazi-American Money Plot 1933-1949” (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1983). I had lunch in LA with Charles a few years back, fascinating and remarkable character with a Brit background.
    4. Per Koestler, a friend of mine in the French Resistance, then MI, had an interesting meeting with Koestler as the war was ending. I remember reading Darkness at Noon some decades back.
    There is an interesting book by a late friend of mine presenting important insights into the 1920s and 1930s and the European situation,
    Yitshaq Ben-Ami, “Years of Wrath Days of Glory Memoirs from the Irgun” (New York, 1982). Koestler is mentioned on page 475.
    Details of the relationship between the AJC and Churchill are given in a scarce book,
    Eugen Spier, FOCUS. A Footnote to the History of the Thirties (London: Oswald Wolff, 1963).

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