Monday, 7 May 2007

Back in the US...

Now that the French presidential election is over, there's another leadership race to focus on. Although it is still far away, the 2008 US presidential election is kicking into gear, with headline-grabbing (inter-party) debates already grabbing headlines — and fundraising through the roof.

Here's an update on what the candidates have been doing...

  • Romney courts the religious right. Expect more candidates of all stripes to have to do the same (McCain already has), as the religious right demographic is crucial, especially for Republicans.
  • GOP candidates united on war, divided on social issues in Reagan Library debate last week. Poll leader Giuliani sticks out among social conservatives in the Republican debate.
  • Fred Thompson, a viable contender or not, has policies much like those of John McCain, whose uninspiring campaign seems to have withered even more. However, John Dickerson points out the problems Thopmson — who seems to have a fair amount of support — and his supporters face, if he indeed intends to run in the race to succeed George Bush.
  • The Washington Post on Obama and the race gap. Just shows how Americans still focus all too much on race. It shouldn’t matter.
  • John Edwards gets it right, discredits 'war on terror' politicial phrase.
    Campaign-hardened Republicans used to treat the phrase "global war on terror" so casually, even affectionately, that they talked about "the G-WOT," after the four-letter abbreviation used in White House calendars to denote Iraq messaging meetings. Democrats embraced it, too, with John Kerry asserting during his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention: "We are a nation at war, a global war on terror."
    But increasingly the phrase is being regarded with hostility by many Democrats, who view it as little more than propaganda, and with a degree of skepticism by some Republicans, who consider it tired and vague. The left lobe of the blogosphere roared its approval in March when the House Budget Committee directed its staff to eschew "global war on terror" and instead use more precise language like "the war in Iraq" and "ongoing military operations throughout the world." And last month the British government announced that it too had retired the phrase.
    Now Kerry's former running mate is declaring his independence from a phrase that politicians have been brandishing with brio for more than five years. At last month's Democrat debate in South Carolina, moderator Brian Williams asked the eight candidates: "Show of hands question: Do you believe there is such a thing as a global war on terror?"
    Senator Hillary Clinton's hand shot up. After hesitating noticeably, Senator Barack Obama joined her. Edwards did not, even though he has used the phrase himself and a policy paper on his Web site refers to "winning the war on terror." And now, in his first interview to explain his turnabout, Edwards tells TIME that he will no longer use what he views as "a Bush-created political phrase."

    "This political language has created a frame that is not accurate and that Bush and his gang have used to justify anything they want to do," Edwards said in a phone interview from Everett, Wash. "It's been used to justify a whole series of things that are not justifiable, ranging from the war in Iraq, to torture, to violation of the civil liberties of Americans, to illegal spying on Americans. Anyone who speaks out against these things is treated as unpatriotic. I also think it suggests that there's a fixed enemy that we can defeat with just a military campaign. I just don't think that's true."

  • The Economist profiles Rudy Giuliani and his campaign.
  • Hillary Clinton, among others, listed on the Time 100 most influential people "who shape our world" list — yet George W. Bush isn’t?
  • Obama preaches about fuel efficiency to American auto companies, saying Japanese firms have done a much better job in making their cars more eco-friendly and less energy-relient. A bold move?

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