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  • Cowen oration better value than Palin-Biden debate

    October 3, 2008 @ 12:34 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    RTE very kindly repeated the vice-presidential debate at 8.30 this morning for the benefit of Irish political nerds who still like to get a  night’s sleep. A friend of  mine in the US texted me earlier, just when the debate was over. That was about 3.30 a.m. Irish time. “What do  you think? Who won?” my friend asked. (more…)

  • How to become US President: smile, stay away from specifics

    September 29, 2008 @ 12:01 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    It looks like John McCain’s intervention in the bailout crisis – when he suspended his  campaign and made a dash to Washington - hasn’t  had the desired effect. Latest opinion poll evidence shows Obama ahead by eight points.  Sometimes in politics masterly inactivity is the best approach.

    In fact, Obama has a very good line in looking good, smiling broadly (he has a marvellous warm smile, a great advantage in American or indeed any politics) and not saying anything very specific. His candidacy is in some ways a cultural rather than political phenomenon.

    Firstly, given the state of the economy and the whole subprime-bailout mess, any candidate for the Democrats has a natural advantage. You can get votes just by being there.

    Secondly, entering into specifics might win over one constituency but it will alienate another. Keep on keeping on and talking in vague generalities. It’s about winning and, as broadcaster George Hook said in his private briefing (well, it was supposed to be private until we journos heard about it) to the recent Fine Gael think-in, coming second is irrelevant. Sorry if it sounds cynical but these are the hard facts of political life.

     The appeal of Obama is that he is a new face with a new style. He gives us to  understand that he would be more conciliatory than his predecessor in international affairs. The assumption is there would be no more adventures like the Iraq invasion.

    As with JFK, if Obama wins it will be said that “the torch has been passed to a new generation”. But every political leader has to contend with what Macmillan called “events, dear boy” and it was Kennedy who got the US embroiled in Vietnam. And who would  have thought Blair would be the one to get Britain caught up in the former Mesopotamia again?

    A friend of mine who was recently in Iraq reports that the country is settling down. The “surge” seems to have worked. But at what cost. One would still find it very hard to argue that the invasion was justified in the first place. Sure, it would be painful for the Americans to have to listen to loudmouth Saddam and see him strutting the stage if he were still around but was it worth all that blood and treasure to get rid of him?

    The enthusiasm for Obama in Ireland is almost universal, stretching from the right in the form of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to the near-left in the Labour Party and the Greens, not to mention innumerable dinner-parties in South Dublin and other parts.

    The Democrats have suggested that US firms opting to set up in places like Ireland which offer low corporate tax rates should be penalised because of the consequent job-losses back home. Speaking on RTE’s Questions and Answers, US Ambassador Thomas Foley said this was unlikely but, if it did, the effect could be “dramatic”. It also looks as if McCain would be better for the undocumented Irish in the US, judging from the comments of lobbyist Ciarán Staunton. 

    Apart from Iraq — where the disagreement is becoming more and more historical — and abortion, there don’t seem to be any massive divergences of policy between the two candidates. No doubt the race will have further ups and downs before polling day and the result cannot be safely predicted as yet. Meanwhile, if you want a smile check out the Sarah Palin take-off on Saturday Night Live

    Deaglán de Bréadún, Political Correspondent, The Irish Times

  • McCain risks all on campaign gamble

    September 26, 2008 @ 10:33 am | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    issues-mccain1.jpg

    Any sentient and half-decent human being who grew up during the era of Martin Luther King and the American civil rights movement would have to look kindly on the prospect of an African-American as President of the US. But John McCain is doing his best to ensure that doesn’t happen on this occasion.  (more…)

  • Obama shoots himself in the foot

    September 10, 2008 @ 6:38 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    Does Barack Obama have what the playwright Sean O’Casey called  ”a titther of sense”? Having initially shown sensitivity and gentlemanly instincts by holding back when Alaska Governor Sarah Palin came under vicious personal attack by some of his supporters, the Illinois Senator has now shot himself in the foot with his “lipstick on a pig” remark. (more…)

  • Pendulum swings towards McCain

    September 8, 2008 @ 12:07 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    Only a couple of weeks ago I would have said Barack Obama was going to win the US presidency in November. John McCain by contrast looked old, tired and very much  yesterday’s man. But since the two conventions I have changed my mind and I’m putting my money on McCain at this stage. (more…)

  • Sarah Palin

    September 4, 2008 @ 2:15 pm | by Harry McGee

    The Alaskan Governor apparently gave a barnstorming and electrifying speech in St Paul last night after a rocky couple of days.

    The saying ‘events dear boy, events’ may be cliché bit it’s also true. (more…)


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