News Picks: Palin and the media, Obama, Phone hacking, Cowen’s victory

US Politics

Sarah Palin and the Media symbiosis – The excellent US pollster Nate Silver has posted an interesting piece of research about how American’s view Sarah Palin. It’s not so much the argument of how favourably or unfavourable they look upon her but just how many people actually hold an opinion of the former Alaskan governor, who until she was the surprise pick for Republican vice presidential nominee in 2008, was utterly unknown in the US.

Research found that 53% of people held a strong view of Palin, that’s second only to the President Barack Obama. Silver asks what drives this fascination with Palin? Is it her? The media? Or the American public? Probably a combination of all three.

Is Barack Obama keeping his promises? – An interesting fact check of President Obama’s 2008 campaign pledges weighing up how many he has managed to keep, how many he has broken, and how many he has compromised on or are still in the works since he entered the White House.

The results show he has kept 26% of his pledges, most notably health care (although this was laden with compromises). In total he has broken 33 promises but most pledges (44%) are described as in the works with at least two years left in office.

Christine O’Donnell – she’s back! – Remember the Republican nominee for Senator in Delaware who had to fight of accusations of being a witch? Well she lost, unsurprisingly, but that doesn’t appear to have dented her political ambitions. O’Donnell has announced the formation of a Political Action Committee (PAC), a way of staying involved in the political process and a vehicle for raising money. Sarah Palin utilises it to great effect. O’Donnell is hoping to do the same.

Phone hacking

What are the other papers up to? – The News of the World continues to be mired in controversy over phone hacking allegations and questions about just how high up in the organisation they went. The Guardian has been doggedly pursuing it’s perceived rivals, who are part of Rupert Murdoch’s News International stable, for years now.

But are they keeping their own house in order? The Press Gazette had asked it and other national media, including the Daily Mail, Trinity Mirror, Telegraph Media Group and the BBC, about phone hacking. So far only Guardian News and Media have responded to their questions.

Ireland

Cowen wins confidence vote but victory could yet be Martin’s – Unsurprisingly, Taoiseach Brian Cowen won the vote of confidence in his leadership of Ireland’s governing party, Fianna Fail, late last night and has been crowing about it in the Dail (Parliament) today.

But the learned Irish political writer Harry McGee suggests that victory may, in the long run, be that of last night’s failed challenger Michael Martin who has emerged from this “pantomime” (as one opposition Labour Party member put it) with the best chance of leading Fianna Fail post general election wipeout.

Cowen apparently won the confidence vote by 2-1 which reflects rather badly on the majority of Fianna Fail TDs who claim to represent their constituents despite polls showing only ten per cent of the Irish population actually approve of Cowen.

 

Advertisements

Sarah Palin – President of the United States?

If the above scares you then you’re not alone.

One the many reasons why the majority of Europeans have had such favourable view of Barack Obama is likely to be because the alternative involved Sarah Palin being a heartbeat away from the presidency.

Right from the moment she literally came from nowhere to be Republican vice presidential candidate in 2008 stories have emerged that have been laughable, disturbing and downright scary.

Any politician subject to as much ridicule as she has been should surely be kept well away from the White House.

If Sarah Palin can’t even tell you what newspapers or magazines she reads, would you really trust her with the nuclear launch codes?

But the US is a strange and wonderful place and Palin commands a strong support base aided by the influential but disjointed Tea Party movement.

Much of it and Palin’s supports stems from the growing and in some cases justifiable disillusionment with President Obama two years into his presidency.

The hope and rhetoric that catapulted him into the White House after a historic election has drained away as Obama has found himself immersed in the same old Washington game he promised to change.

The result is that next week Republicans are likely to have taken control of the House of Representatives. They could even take the Senate although this is unlikely.

In the same way that the Democrats taking control of both houses in 2006 turned George W. Bush’s final two years into a “lame duck” presidency next week’s changes could harm Obama’s next two years as well as his re-election chances.

This is where Palin enters the overcrowded field of 2012 Republican presidential candidates. Some argue she won’t run but she has taken the steps normally associated with a presidential bid such as forming a political action committee, meaning its worth considering the possibility she might.

In this week’s New York magazine, political author John Heilemann, does just that as well going further and outlining the way in which Palin becomes president.

It relies heavily on the idea that Michael Bloomberg, the independent but fabulously wealthy mayor of New York, makes a run as an independent in 2012, splitting the vote three ways, meaning no candidate takes the magic 270 electoral college votes needed to win the presidential election.

In such situations, the decision falls to the House of Representatives as to who becomes the next president. With this likely to pass into the control of Republicans after the November 2 mid terms that would open the door to a President Sarah Palin.

And suddenly the fate of the world rests in the hands of a woman who cites an example of her foreign policy experience as having once governed a state that’s quite close to Russia.

A worrying thought.