Friday 22 Oct 2021 | 22:10 | SYDNEY
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The 2016 US Presidential Election

Hit first, and then just keep hitting

Once upon a time, people running for office worked on making people like them. Not anymore, at least not in this presidential campaign. This one is all about making people hate the other side, or, more precisely, making sure those who dislike the other major party's nominee don't stop doing so

Roger Ailes and the dark arts

Five years ago in Rolling Stone, Tim Dickinson described Roger Ailes as 'one of the most skilled and fearsome' operatives in the history of the Republican Party. As a political consultant, Ailes repackaged Richard Nixon for television in 1968, papered over Ronald Reagan’s budding Alzheimer&

Manafort exit unlikely to end Trump's Russian fetish

At the start of this strange US presidential election cycle only a hubristic Vladimir Putin might have expected that he and the Russian-influenced world would play such a prominent role, beyond that is the usual Reaganesque invocations of the former Soviet Union’s inherently evil nature. Yet

How Trump is playing to lose in Pennsylvania

To be the resident of a swing state is to be enormously popular in an election year. In the last week, Pennsylvania, one of the nation's 13 founding states, has had both presidential candidates drop by. Vice President Joe Biden was by turns folksy and dramatic (gesturing to a military aide carrying

Trump is not a politician, and that matters

A couple of times now I have alerted readers to the work of cartoonist Scott Adams, an unusual political observer who dismisses the idea that Trump can be usefully evaluated on conventional political lines (ie. as a politician with qualifications and policy positions), and who insist that we must

Let's get to know the swing states: Florida

The internet is groaning with maps of the US that paint a heap of states Democratic blue, another pile Republican red and the remainder in any colour but blue or red. This last category are the ones that are tough to call: these are the swing states whose US Electoral College votes decide

Trump's disastrous week: The beginning of the end?

The 2016 US presidential campaign has not lent itself to the making of definitive pronouncements or predictions about the fates of candidates. Yet we can say with some degree of confidence that this has not at all been a good week for Donald Trump. Could it also have been fateful for the future of

The hack that keeps on giving

Until a little over a week ago, Julian Assange was probably suffering from relevancy deprivation syndrome after being holed up in London's Ecuadorian Embassy for years. But not anymore. As debate continues over Russian involvement in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee network, the one

Clinton pits togetherness against exclusion and negativity

Often marked by division between supporters of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, this week’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia ended on a note of conciliation and inclusion. In her nomination acceptance speech, Clinton, the first female presidential candidate of a major American

Democrats can't blame Putin for spectacular own goal

On 14 June the Washington Post reported a security breach of the Democratic National Committee's computer network. Citing committee officials and security experts, reporter Ellen Nakashima wrote Russian government hackers were responsible, specifically two groups known as Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear

Stage is set for Trump, but can he unite the GOP?

There's a good reason that potential US first lady Melania Trump's plagiarism scandal became one of the defining moments of the Republic National Convention now concluding in Cleveland: original thought of any nature has been in critically short supply throughout the four-day event. Were it not

Jumping the shark at the RNC

Can a devout Christian make Donald Trump more likeable? Trump's campaign manager Paul Manafort seems to think so. Speaking soon after the revelation that Mike Pence will be Trump's running mate, Manafort said Pence will appeal to supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders. That was news to many Bernie

Paul Ryan's annus horribilis

A Republican in favour of the Trans-Pacific Partnership? No wonder his poll numbers are plummeting. Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, is a free trader who not so long ago was a fairly typical Republican, so much so he was Mitt Romney's choice for vice president in the 2012 race

There is a possibility this won't be a two horse race

There is a lot to say about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump which explains why Gary Johnson (the Libertarian Party's candidate for president) hasn't attracted much attention. This state of affairs could change. Since the former governor of New Mexico was confirmed as his party's candidate a month

Polls no guide to populist contagion

The Clinton camp is taking heart from new polls that place their candidate ahead in national polls. Trump had a terrible June, we've been told. But, after the shock of last week's Brexit vote, we have all learnt to be a lot more careful about reading the public mood. On the National Review,

The surprising State of Utah

As we move beyond the primaries, everything we thought we knew about voting patterns in presidential elections is under scrutiny, particularly the accepted wisdom about swing states: those states which have shown a propensity to shift from Republican red to Democrat blue or vice versa. Each of these

Trump and the year of wishful thinking

As Donald Trump's tirade against Federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel has once more underlined, this presidential candidate has no limits when it comes to snap — and instantly amplified — racist judgements. Most public figures are careful about what they say, especially when their words could be used

Calling BS on Donald Trump

My apologies for lowering the tone, but would it help if I told you that the term 'bullshit' has some academic pedigree, primarily thanks to a famous essay by the philosopher Harry Frankfurt? Here he is on the important distinction between bullshitting and lying: The liar is inescapably concerned

Trump's minority and gender problem: Courting black women

Pundits and scholars alike have decried Trump's failure to court ethnic and racial minorities as well as women. The presumed Republican presidential nominee has a tremendous women and minority problem. Trump's campaign has alienated African Americans by originally refusing to repudiate David Duke,

Trump is not like Reagan (except when Reagan was wrong)

In August two men who knew President Ronald Reagan well posted a piece on RealClearPolitics headlined 'Trump is no Reagan'. Since his campaign began, Trump has claimed the Reagan mantle but, argued one-time Reagan campaign manager (Stu Spencer) and speechwriter (Ken Khachigian), Trump has no right

Quick comment: Michael Fullilove on the US election

Lowy Institute Executive Director Michael Fullilove remembers the 2008 US presidential election campaign, when he was living in Washington, as a time of hope and promise. This year's race? Not so much. Fresh from a trip to the US, in this quick comment Dr Fullilove compares the two election

GOP unites, Dems looking shaky

So, with less than two months to go until the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees are crowned at their respective party conventions, the GOP is uniting around its candidate while the bitter rivalry between the two Democratic camps has many questioning if the party will be back able to

Elizabeth Warren: Be still those beating hearts

Nothing like a good Twitter war to attract attention. For most of this year Senator Elizabeth Warren has been taking pot shots at Donald Trump. Since he became the presumptive Republican nominee, she has upped the ante, telling Trump 'Your policies are dangerous. Your words are reckless. Your

Donald Trump's reality-show campaign

Given how often we're now hearing about the parallels between Donald Trump's campaign and reality television (even President Obama is discussing it), it's worth highlighting this brilliant two-and-a-half minute evisceration of The Apprentice, the show Trump fronted for 14 seasons. It's a 2009 sketch

Is Sanders' race just about done?

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are both the most strongly disliked presidential candidates for decades, according to this analysis by It helps to explain why Bernie Sanders seems like such a nice guy. Soon we are likely to see if he is a nice guy who will be graceful in defeat

Fallows on Trump: America hits peak crazy

Those wondering how Donald Trump became the presumptive  Republican party presidential nominee should have a look at this video, and listen to the short comment below. In a case of remarkably fortunate timing,  the Lowy Institute, publisher of The Interpreter, today hosted a lunchtime lecture

What's funny and what's not in this election campaign

With the outcome of this week's primary in Indiana generally expected to be a key indicator in the GOP nomination (The Hill suggests a win for Donald Trump would  put him on 'a glide path'), perhaps it's time for a bit light of relief. Here some jokes about the election from White House

Yes, the US is at a fork in the road: Please bear with us

Easy, Australia. Don’t let some bombast and uncivil language from Donald Trump change your view of the United States and its intentions. We share a language, a set of values and too many common interests to be anything but friends and allies. Cover your ears and bear with us for another six

Ted Cruz: The walking ghost

Ted Cruz is a walking ghost. In deadly radiation poisoning, this term describes the symptomless period that may follow immediate nausea, right before the immune system shuts down. Cruz has already lost the nomination, it's just that he and the so-called 'Never-Trumps' are yet to realise it.

Sanders goes down in Brooklyn

Walking home from the subway tonight, my passage was blocked by a tangle of yellow police tape strewn across the wide avenue bisecting the two main grounds of Brooklyn’s large Farragut public housing complex. Bystanders told me ‘a cop shot someone; they’re killing all of us’. Even casual

Trump to take New York: Republicans a step closer to revolt

It's all eyes on New York where everyone has an opinion on this week's primary, including former world chess champion and big-time Ronald Reagan fan Garry Kasparov. While the Russian-born Kasparov took a nicely placed swipe at Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders ('I'm sorry Bernie fans, but I lived

Donald Trump, a Nixon-Kissinger realist (part 1)

In my previous post I labelled the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, Donald Trump, a 'Nixon-Kissinger realist'. Since then, Trump has provided a detailed account of his worldview in an interview with David Sanger and Maggie Haberman from the New York Times. It affirms my

Trump tears down free trade orthodoxy

The photos of Xi and Obama meeting in Washington last week reminded the world that, in nine months' time, there will be a new face sitting down with China's president for such tête-à-têtes. And what if that new face is Donald Trump?   This week, while ruminating on what a Trump administration

Clinton trumps Trump. For now.

One of the unexpected joys of watching the primary season unfold is discovering the nicknames of the US states. Possibly my favourite to date is the Badger State, aka Wisconsin, where Democratic and Republican primaries will take place in a week's time.  Right now, Ted Cruz appears to have a lead

The US presidency, on screen

The US president is seemingly everywhere as a fictional character these days, but let's bring together some more recent developments in the sub-genre. First, a trailer for Bryan Cranston's depiction of LBJ in All The Way: The latest season of House of Cards started screening on Netflix this month

Why Sanders isn't giving up

Okay, so it a different kind of slugfest to that seen at recent Trump rallies but the verbal fisticuffs over whether Bernie Sanders could still win the Democratic Party nomination are getting pretty lively. First, the story so far. 270towin (named after the number of Electoral College votes it

Clinton vs Sanders: Black women decide

African American women have had a long history of political activism in the United States. Before women’s suffrage, the 15th amendment, and even as bondswomen they admonished racism, sexism and classism as tenets of America’s founding ideals. So it not surprising black women today  carry on

What does Trump really think about women?

On International Women's Day let's look at what women are saying about Republican front runner Donald Trump. Quite a large part of his appeal is that he is a political neophyte, an outsider who owes no-one anything, so he doesn't have to play for favours. On the campaign trail with daughter Ivanka

Trump's success: Uncomfortable but completely compelling

Back in 1999 the world was scared. The source of that fear was Y2K, aka the millennium bug; a programming glitch that, it was thought, would render many computer systems useless when the clocked clicked over into the new century. The Reserve Bank of Australia even held a press conference on 2am on 1

Video: What a Trump rally is like

I confess I didn't sit through the whole 20 minutes of this film, all filmed with shaky phone cameras, though nicely edited. But I did find parts of it revealing: You sense from his supporters that Trump's campaign is almost pure emotion. Most of those interviewed in this film cite not a single

As you were after New Hampshire, but disruption looms

Avowed 'democratic' socialist Bernie Sanders and unashamed arch-capitalist Donald Trump were the big winners in today's New Hampshire presidential primary. The Sanders win will lead to a huge, albeit probably temporary, loss of confidence for the Hillary Clinton campaign while there is now even