Donald Trump says Ted Cruz ‘fraud’ in Monday’s Iowa caucuses warrants ‘a new election’ [Image: Joe Raedle/Getty Images].
Donald Trump – described by the Huffington Post as a “liar” and “racist” – has called “foul” against a rival in the race to be the Republican candidate in the US presidential election.
He reckons Ted Cruz spread a false rumour that a third candidate, Ben Carson, was dropping out of the race – and this skewed the results.
The Guardian reckons this is par for the course: “To beat John McCain in South Carolina in 2000, the George W Bush campaign used a Bible professor to spread a rumor that ‘McCain chose to sire children without marriage’.
“Lee Atwater helped George HW Bush beat Michael Dukakis in 1988 by cutting a racist commercial tying Dukakis to a rape and stabbing by convicted murderer Willie Horton while on furlough.”
Would Trump have acted similarly if he’d had the chance? Will he, in the future?
Donald Trump, who finished second in the Iowa caucuses after leading in the polls for weeks, has taken to Twitter to accuse Ted Cruz, the victor, of stealing the race.
Trump’s reasoning is that the Cruz campaign spread a false rumour that Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon, was dropping out of the race (Carson returned to Florida after the vote instead of proceeding to New Hampshire) in order to snap up a share of Carson’s values voters.
Cruz issued an apology of sorts to the Carson campaign for spreading the rumor on election night that Carson was dropping out of the race, which Cruz characterized as an honest “mistake”.
One focus group member said Mr Corbyn’s appearance would make the UK a laughing-stock abroad. Does he look bad to you?
He is a man who has just won an election – overwhelmingly – with no tie and with his vest showing. Putting on a suit is the last thing Jeremy Corbyn needs to do.
But already, only two weeks into his leadership of the Labour Party, people are trying to change him. They voiced concern about his unwillingness to sing the National Anthem or bend the knee to the Queen, for example.
He’s a Republican and an Atheist, so these things are against his principles. We all knew this before he was elected, and he was elected anyway. It’s a little late to complain about them now!
His attitude to terrorist organisations has also been called into question, even though it is the same attitude that brought peace to Northern Ireland when Tony Blair tried it out.
And then there’s the question of his dress sense. The Graun had a go in an article today: “‘I find him exciting in some ways but then I have other thoughts on the national anthem and not dressing appropriately. There is a time and a place to fight those fights,’ said a woman, not the only one to link notions of being ‘scruffy’ with credibility (‘We’d be a laughing stock abroad,’ said another).”
Is Yanis Varoufakis a laughing stock around here? Of course not. But his dress sense is far from conventional.
Yanis Varoufakis (left) with George Osborne. The trustworthy one isn’t wearing a tie.
What we’re seeing is the typical hypocrisy of the Middle Class, which can be summed up as: “He can do the job but we don’t want him if he won’t keep up appearances.” These are the people who want Hyacinth Bucket (remember her?) running the country.
But what people in these focus groups say isn’t nearly as influential as what is said by those who organise them and interpret their comments – usually in line with the wishes of whoever is paying.
So Deborah Mattinson of Britain Thinks, the organiser of the focus groups quoted in the Graun, tells us: “They already know quite a bit about him and they are worried about what they regard as ‘extreme’ policies.
“They’re worried, for example, that he does not speak to their concerns about the economy and immigration, that he won’t unite the Labour party and that under his leadership it will become divided and weak.”
That is not what the people themselves said. You can feel the influence of the paymasters bleeding through – or so it seems to This Writer.
Mrs Mike feels the same way. A few days ago, she asked me to write an article supporting Mr Corbyn’s position on clothing, the economy (anti-austerity), foreign affairs (negotiation rather than aggression), and – very strongly – his own personal beliefs.
Her belief – and I agree with it – is that it is these unique qualities that lifted Jeremy Corbyn to the leadership of the Labour Party.
The voters who put him there will be angry if he lets the spads and focus groups mould him into something they don’t support – and rightly so.
The message could not be clearer: Sack the spads, Jeremy. Put away the focus groups. They’re not focusing on anything you need to worry about.
Farage’s most recent cosying up to the militant Tea Party comes just a year after Nigel had some very friendly meetings with Rand Paul’s father – US presidential candidate Ron Paul – who is known as the ‘Godfather of the Tea Party Movement’:
It’s back to the White House and business as usual for Barack Obama after his shock victory against opponents the Meadow Party, headed by campaigning veteran Bill the Cat.
Political commentators expressed amazement at the shock turn of events, having predicted a much tighter result after Bill’s slogan, “Give me all your change”, struck a chord with voters in these straitened economic times.
Critics who had been dismissed for claiming a dead cat could not be a serious candidate as leader of the Free World said they were “vindicated” by the result.
Rumours were flying that there was a third candidate in the race, and the BBC – ever vigilant, assembled a photofit picture of his name.
But “Ritt M’money”, whoever he may be, failed to make an impression, possibly due to an economic policy that, on the face of it, was slightly more crazy than flushing all the country’s cash down a toilet.
(Bloom County by Berke Breathed (c) The Washington Post Company – or it was when I read it back in the 1980s)
You may recall a while ago I was one of the many who took issue with Mr Eastwood for his bizarre interview with a chair during a Republican convention in the United States. I wrote an article asking why celebrities have to belittle themselves by declaring their support for political parties, and basically said that it can’t do their reputation any good at all.
Well, it seems I misjudged the great man.
Collared by an interviewer who demanded to know what possessed him, Eastwood’s response was the stuff of legends. “If they’re stupid enough to ask me to a political convention,” he said, “they have to take whatever they get.”
One person for whom I doubt this response would work is David Cameron, who was outed as a dunce on David Letterman’s US chat show last week.
It isn’t stupid to ask what “Magna Carta” means. After all, my next-door-neighbour’s four-year-old can work it out.
Perhaps Letterman could have started him off with something easier, though – like maybe, when his party didn’t win the election and never stated that it planned to do so, why has he sold off so much of the NHS in England to private companies, and why does he have plans to sell off so much more of it?
The old argument that it creates more choice is clearly nonsense because people were, reasonably, expecting the choice to be theirs. Instead, they have been presented with the company that has bought the contract and told, “This is your choice of NHS supplier. Don’t catch anything too serious or you’ll be paying it off for the rest of your life.”
Or, in the words of an iconic Eastwood character: “Do you feel lucky?”
Celebrity endorsement is always a bit “hit and miss”, isn’t it?
How many times have you seen a big name pimping themselves out in a sponsorship deal that has left you cringing with embarrassment for them? How many times have the deals gone sour because of events in the celeb’s personal life (think of Tiger Woods, or Kate Moss, for example).
The unpredictability of the endorsement effect is magnified in politics. Will you still respect a celeb if they are exhorting you to vote for a party you despise? What if it’s a person you don’t like, asking you to support your own choice? What if it’s someone you do actually rate, but they’re soliciting your vote in an unpalatable, tasteless way?
I remember my 13-year-old self turning his nose up at the late Kenny Everett when, supporting the Thatcher government in 1983, he said “We’re going to kick Michael Foot’s walking stick away!” (Mr Foot, also now deceased, was the leader of the Labour Party at the time).
On the other hand, when Sir Michael Caine supported the Conservatives in 2010, it didn’t bother me at all. I’m a fan of this prolific actor and will continue to enjoy his work, despite his unfortunate choice of allegiance. But then, I was never persuaded by Sir Michael to vote for the worst government in living memory. I wonder how many moviegoers were.
All of the above brings me to the announcement by Clint Eastwood that he is backing Mitt Romney’s US presidential election campaign.
Mr Romney’s plans involve tax cuts for the very rich, but he won’t offset their effect by closing other tax loopholes or creating other revenue streams. He’ll use the increased debt this creates as an excuse to strip social security and medicare down to nothing.
Put yourself in Mr Eastwood’s position. He’s a very rich man, and would probably benefit from Romney’s planned tax cuts. He has served as Republican mayor of the town of Carmel, in California. Also, he’s on record as saying that Barack Obama is a “greenhorn”, without the necessary experience to run the US government.
That’s fine for him. Now ask yourself: What effect will his endorsement of Romney have on an Eastwood fan of meagre means, whose life is enhanced by social security and medicare and who would suffer if these were dismantled?
They’d probably vote for Romney because their idol told them to do it – and then, if he gets in, repent at leisure.
Now that the Olympics are over and everybody’s having a rest from medal-counting (don’t forget the Paralympics will be starting soon, though, providing the opportunity to do it all over again), may I just take this opportunity to ask readers in the USA, just what the blazes is going on with your Presidential candidates?
A few years ago, your economy was devastated by comedy president George W Bush, with a policy known as ‘starving the beast’. For those with short memories, this involved tax breaks for the very rich, creating a deficit in the US Treasury, which made it possible for him to claim public services were costing too much – and then cut public services.
Bush left the White House in 2009 to pursue his career in stand-up comedy (and sank without a trace) but his ideas were taken up on my side of the Atlantic by one David Cameron and his bestie, George Osborne.
They realised that, after the credit crunch of 2008, there wasn’t enough money coming into the British Treasury to pay for public services and launched their policy of fiscal austerity on the UK’s already-depressed economy. The tax breaks for the very rich arrived a few years later.
Now, back in the States, you have a new Republican Presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, who – and please, correct me if I’m wrong – wants to starve the beast all over again.
Mr Romney wants to impose tax cuts for the very rich, but has no plan to offset the effect of these cuts by closing other tax loopholes or the like.
As one influential commentator has it: “Romney is just intending to blow up the deficit to lavish favours on the wealthy, then use it as an excuse to savage Social Security and Medicare.”
He claims there will be fabulous growth effects.
Seeing as Mr Romney’s policy seems so similar to Mr Osborne’s, lets look at what’s happened here in Blighty since fiscal austerity started biting, shall we?
From the moment Osborne’s first spending review (a mini-budget in late 2010) took effect, the economy flatlined. Since the beginning of 2012 it went back into recession in a big way, knocking a whole one per cent off GDP.
Meanwhile, the Coalition (Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties) has cut taxes for the very rich but also raised the amount people can earn without being taxed. This inevitably means less revenue for the Treasury. Services are already being cut and they’re discussing ways to cut further than previously planned.
Does anybody really think those poor people who’ve been lifted out of tax are going to be better off for the loss of the public services they need?
Do any US citizens reading this seriously think that lower and middle-class people in your country are going to benefit from the loss of public services that will be required to make your ultra-rich even richer?
And what’s the incumbent, President Obama, going to do? Are his budget plans any better?
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