Posts Tagged ‘2008 presidential campaign’

Johan Galtung on President Obama

September 20, 2010

For those of you who missed it, Johan Galtung voiced his discontent with President Obama in an interview with Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman last week (September 16).  Galtung described Obama as a man with “megalomaniac” tendencies who hasn’t kept any of his campaign promises and who doesn’t deserve the support of those who stomped for him in 2008.

AMY GOODMAN: What is your assessment of President Obama?

JOHAN GALTUNG: I have never believed in him. Never. I have lots of editorials and things written in the election year. I think that I sense something slightly megalomaniac in him, which is disturbing. The idea of being able to unite all of the US, just as he unites skin colors and faiths and origins in his body, and for that reason, leaning over backwards to negotiate with the Republicans and taking on Republican points, whereupon the Republicans vote no. Now, maybe the Republicans will now change from being a “no” party to some couple of “maybe” or “yeses,” maybe. But in the meantime, he has lost the support of the people who are voting for him. If I had been working like mad in 2008 to get him elected, because of some beauties in his rhetoric, and had experienced what I have experienced now, I would not work for the midterm elections.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you think he has gone back on, in terms of his promises?

JOHAN GALTUNG: Practically speaking, everything. Guantánamo is still there. Rendition is still there. There is the saying that no torture should take place; I haven’t seen the mechanism to ensure that that’s the case. The withdrawal from Iraq, with 50,000 remaining. Stepping up, escalating the war in Afghanistan. And as we know, whatever withdraws from Iraq essentially goes to Afghanistan instead.

I think it’s very contrary to the kind of thing that he was exuding, including the nuclear point. What kind of thing is this, to get rid of old-fashioned weapons with the Russians and then arguing for $180 billion to modernize the nukes—$100 billion for the weapons carriers, $80 billion for new warheads? What kind of nuclear-free world is this? He should have had the decency, when Norway made the mistake of giving him the Nobel Peace Prize, of saying, “I graciously, gratefully decline. I haven’t earned it yet. Let’s come back when possibly I have earned it.” He didn’t say that, and dispensed with the prize money in a disgraceful way.

AMY GOODMAN: How?

JOHAN GALTUNG: To all kinds of irrelevant organizations. He didn’t even give it to US peace organizations. Let me just mention one: the American Friends Service Committee, which is a fantastic organization doing marvelous work all over the world. Could have given the whole thing to them.

You’ll notice that Galtung’s argument evolves around foreign policy while at the same time criticizing Obama for “leaning over backwards” to Republicans. This assertion, however, is based on Obama’s handling of domestic matters (such as health care reform). Though Galtung’s discontent with Obama might be warranted, he tends to interpret everything political through a lens of foreign policy. By stating that those who worked “like mad” for Obama in 2008 shouldn’t work for him in 2010 — based on the points mentioned by Galtung — Galtung takes it for granted that these voters supported Obama because of some “beauties in his rhetoric” on matters of foreign policy, and that his record on these issues disqualify him from their continued support (note to Galtung: Obama isn’t on the ballot, and many Democrats aren’t exactly highlighting their ties to Obama on the campaign trail).

Campaign Poetry: Cultivated Image

May 4, 2010

“How did they do it? Contrary to their own carefully cultivated image, the money did not grow at the grass roots. ‘It wasn’t the Internet,’ said Pritzker. ‘We tapped everybody and did every event we could. He’d do seven events in New York, back-to-back-to-back-to-back.’ Internet donations totaled less than 15 percent of Obama’s fund-raising through 2007. Money only started to cascade through the Web after Iowa in early January 2008, and it would take another several months, as the primaries dragged on, for the grass roots to represent half the campaign’s fund-raising.”

Richard Wolffe – Renegade. The Making of Barack Obama (p. 74).

Campaign Poetry: Hardened

May 2, 2010

“Obama’s ambivalence and detachment could be a strength in politics and even in his personal life. It hardened him against failure, protecting him from the pain of defeat, or an absent father. But it also served to isolate him, pushing away those who could sustain him, as he strove to succeed. The price of political success seemed a certain sum of personal failure.”

Richard Wolffe – Renegade. The Making of Barack Obama (p. 123).

Campaign Poetry: Biden’s hair

April 29, 2010

“As he turned away from me, I witnessed a classic Biden moment. Frank Greer, a legendary Democratic media consultat, was helping us by volunteering as our stage manager at all four debates. Frank had a full head of thick gray hair, and as the folically challenged Biden grabbed him to thank him on the way out, he said, ‘Man, Frank, if I only had your hair I could have been the number one guy on this ticket!’ And with that, our vice presidential nominee triumphantly entered his motorcade for the drive to the airport.”

David Plouffe – The Audacity to Win (p. 349).

Campaign Poetry: The new adage

April 28, 2010

“When I was coming up in politics, the saying was, Don’t put anything on paper you don’t want to see on the front page of the New York Times. The new adage should be, Don’t say anything you don’t want posted on YouTube and whipped around the Internet at warp speed. We were spared to an extent in that there was no video of his comments in California, and the audio recording was not great quality. The words were still replayed incessantly, but because online video is now king, the clip didn’t get the play it might have.”

David Plouffe – The Audacity to Win (p. 217).

Campaign Poetry: Late Night with Kent Conrad

April 27, 2010

“Obama was planning to do the national morning shows on Wednesday so it would not look like we were hiding in defeat. I decided to travel with him for a few days, so I had to be up early to meet him at the tapings. Sometime after 3:00 a.m. I had finally dozed off, and I was suffering through some fitful sleep when the hotel fire alarm started blaring. Dazed, I lurched into the hallway, where I ran into North Dakota senator Kent Conrad, who had endorsed Obama right before Iowa (our first senator outside of Illinois) and had been in New Hampshire campaigning for us. Standing in my boxers in a hotel hallway in the middle of the night with Kent Conrad, I suddenly experienced an overwhelming urge to get the hell out of New Hampshire.”

David Plouffe – The Audacity to Win (p. 152).

The Politics of a Book Release: 2012 Edition

March 9, 2010

(updated May 1, 2010)

The fact that most American presidential hopefuls write a book before they announce their candidacy seems to be a truism of American politics. Thus, most Republicans with their aims on the 2012 Republican presidential nomination will release a book upon announcing their candidacy.

It’s not exactly rocket science. Just take a look at this list, containing the names of former presidential candidates who released books upon running for the presidency:

Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Bill Richardson, Dennis Kucinich, John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul, John Kerry, John Edwards, Howard Dean, George W. Bush, Steve Forbes, Alan Keyes, Pat Buchanan, Lamar Alexander, Bill Clinton, Ross Perot, Bob Dole, Jack Kemp, George Bush, and Ronald Reagan.

And that’s just as far back as I’ve checked. Feel free to list older examples in the comment section below.

By releasing a book upon running for the presidency, the candidate can introduce his life story, the travails of his past, and his vision of America’s future. Furthermore, having a book with your face on the cover increases your name recognition, and it’s a nice way for potential voters to get to know you and your ideas.

Former Massachusetts Governor, and failed 2008 presidential candidate Mitt Romney just released his book, entitled No Apology. The Case for American Greatness.

The Economist (February 27th-March 5th, 2010: pg. 44) describes it as “a 323-page paean to American greatness and a thinly disguised presidential manifesto ending with a 64-point ‘Agenda for a Free and Strong America’.”

Along with Romney, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Lamar Alexander and Jim DeMint are all potential (though more or less likely) 2012 Republican presidential candidates that have written or authored books, and Tim Pawlenty will be publishing a memoir in 2011.

According to the apparent release-a-book-before-you-run-for-president-logic, the following need to write a book pretty soon if they’re going to be among the top contenders in the 2012 Republican primaries (add other names below if you can’t find them here):

Indiana Representative Mike Pence, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, South Dakota Senator John Thune, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, Lousiana Governor Bobby Jindal, and Texas Governor Rick Perry (not a likely contender if he loses his re-election campaign for Governor of Texas).

Former actor, Tennessee Senator and failed 2008 presidential candidate Fred Thompson is set to release a book in May entitled Teaching the Pig to Dance: A Memoir of Growing Up and Second Chances. The title doesn’t really sound like a political manifesto, but who knows, maybe Fred Thompson, the self-proclaimed “consistent conservative” is gearing up for another run for the presidency?

On an end note, take a look at what could’ve been the 1990s first-couple:

POST SCRIPT: According to several reports, newly elected Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown has signed a book deal with Harper Collins for a book to be released next year. I didn’t mention him among the potential contenders for the 2012 nomination, but who knows? Barack Obama ran as a freshman Senator in 2008. BUT, while Obama was elected to the Senate in 2004 – four years prior to his historic win on November 4, 2008 – Brown was elected to the Senate this January – just two years prior to the 2012 Iowa caucuses…


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