And here's the new ad featuring Caroline Kennedy:
Thursday, 31 January 2008
And here's the new ad featuring Caroline Kennedy:
Monday, 28 January 2008
Sunday, 27 January 2008
Friday, 25 January 2008
Friday, 18 January 2008
Tuesday, 15 January 2008
Friday, 11 January 2008
Rule Number 1: Even if there's two feet of snow and it's freezing outside, never ever wear a sweater under your jacket. John McCain was the worst offender here:
I'm sorry John, you may have won the Republican vote, but to me that sweater just screams 'grandpa'. If it's cold, and you want to look presidential, why not wear an overcoat? (And it's not as if McCain hasn't had problems with sweaters before.)
Rule Number 2 (and the photo above shows McCain breaking this one too): Always wear a tie, especially if you're a man of a certain age. Going tie-less draws attention to those wobbly lines around the neck and, like the sweater, reminds people of your age. Bill Clinton was guilty of the same offence when he appeared open-necked for his notorious 'fairy-tale' speech in New Hampshire. For me, it drove home the message that here was an angry older man resenting the fact that his own time had come and gone:
By contrast, Barack Obama strode through Iowa and New Hampshire wearing a classy suit and tie and looking - well, presidential:
And of all the male candidates, only Barack can get away with the open-necked look. Note to candidates: if you're going to leave the tie at home, make sure you're wearing a tailored suit and expensive shirt - and it probably helps if you're under 50:
Mind you, Obama's easy sartorial image may not be all that it seems. Writing in last autumn's Dissent, David Greenberg described how Barack chose an outdoor setting to announce his candidacy in February and 'struck a Kennedy-esque pose by appearing in a thin topcoat on a freezing day'. What the audience didn't know was that his team had concealed a space heater on the platform. As Greenberg says, it was 'an act of benign contrivance, but contrivance nonetheless.'
Finally, spare a thought for Hillary. If the above rules make it difficult for male candidates to appear presidential, imagine what it's like being the first female candidate. There are no rules, so you have to make up your own. If she's made the occasional fashion error, it's not entirely her own fault:
Thursday, 10 January 2008
The endorsement speech by union leader D. Taylor is confirmation that Barack, besides being a first-class orator himself, can also inspire vision and eloquence in others, and at the same time puts paid to the post-New Hampshire myth that only Hillary speaks for blue-collar voters. Watch it here (via):
Monday, 7 January 2008
Friday, 4 January 2008
Simply put: he sounded like a president. The theme was not just change; it was a new unity. And as a black man, he helps heal the past as well as forge the future. This really was history tonight. To win so many white voices, and bring together so many minorities, and use the unifying language that leaves the toxins of race and partisanship behind: This was the moment America stopped being afraid.
This was the America we have missed and have found again.
George Stephanopoulos is reminded of Clinton in '92: 'It is all about you the people, doing what you want and giving you the lead and getting your priorities noticed.'
For me, having recently watched the DVD of Primary, Robert Drew's pioneering documentary about the 1960 Wisconsin primary battle between JFK and Hubert Humphrey, other comparisons came to mind. The similarities between these two midwestern contests, one on the cusp of the '60s, the other in the first decade of a new century, were striking: in both cases, a relatively young and charismatic newcomer was up against a candidate representing experience and continuity, and in both cases it was the former who excited and attracted new, younger voters to re-engage with the political process.
I don't think it's just the retro furnishings in this photo of Obama's campaign bus that prompt such comparisons:
(Photo: Carlos Barria, Reuters)
Thursday, 3 January 2008
The book's key strength is its grounding in the personal experiences of its author, whether as a husband fearing for his wife's safety in New York on 9/11, a father worried about his family living in an increasingly crime-dominated area of north London, or a long-time leftwing activist concerned about the direction taken by some of the causes he once passionately supported. But that personal dimension is also the book's weakness, for it makes it possible for critics to charge that it is the author, and not those on the Left he lambasts, who has changed. In fact, a number of the reviews of Anthony's book in the liberal press have been along these lines: dismissing it as the story of a middle-aged man's move to the right with age. It has to be said that the book's sub-title encourages this reading, as does the inclusion of a chapter on crime, which does indeed chart the author's change of heart on this issue in response to the drug-fuelled violence and burglaries in his locality. Like Cohen's book, Anthony's story oscillates between personal and political change and brings to mind that immortal line in Hawkwind's 'Master of the Universe': has the world gone mad, or is it me?
Of course, there is a necessary confessional element to Anthony's story, and it is honourable and honest of him to admit where he was mistaken or deluded in his youthful beliefs. I identified particularly with his description of the way a close-up encounter with the Sandinista revolution first alerted him to the totalitarian tendencies of even the most idealistic of far-left movements. Like Anthony, I was a firm supporter of the Sandinistas, though my involvement only extended to subscribing to the international solidarity campaign, whereas he actually went as far as joining a Nicaraguan labour brigade.
Looking back, it was probably the Sandinistas who provided me with my own initial 'Euston moment' - my first experience on the road to Euston, perhaps? As someone actively involved in the adult literacy movement at home, I was fascinated to hear about the new Nicaraguan regime's mass literacy campaign, inspired (as all of us were in those days) by the ideas of Brazilian educator Paulo Freire. But when I actually had the chance to look at what went on in those revolutionary literacy classes, and at the teaching materials the Sandinista educators had developed, I was appalled. Rather than the Freirean dialogical 'starting from where people are', approach I had expected, I saw instead dogmatic statements praising the revolution being used as the basis of teaching, with little room for dialogue or questioning. However, over the years I've found little criticism of the Sandinistas on the Left, where they are still held up as an example of a revolution that (unlike all the others) didn't go wrong, and would have been fine and democratic if the Americans had just left them alone. So it was refreshing to read in Paul Berman's Terror and Liberalism that he had entertained similar doubts, and - as Anthony's book reminds us - tried to publish them in Mother Jones but had his piece rejected by the editor - a certain Michael Moore (someone else who doesn't emerge well from Anthony's book).
As a footnote - and it's no reflection on the quality of the book - I was pretty annoyed by its sloppy editing and frequent grammatical and spelling errors - and this from Jonathan Cape, supposedly a 'quality' publisher. I won't go on - otherwise I too will open myself to accusations of sounding like an angry middle-aged man...