Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Establishment Mavericks

By Ben Trott

There’s an interesting article in this week’s
New Yorker. It details the recent history of ‘outsider’ Republican VP Candidate, Sarah Palin, and her connection to (the very-much-inside of) US conservativism. The piece focuses on the favourable impression she is said to have made on a number of leading figures at two of the tradition’s most important publications, the National Review (describing itself as ‘America's most widely read and influential magazine and web site for Republican/conservative news, commentary, and opinion’) and the Weekly Standard. After a series of meetings between Palin and editors and writers from the publications, on cruise visits to Alaska in the summer of 2007, support for her as a potential VP candidate is said to have galvanised. McCain himself was in fact said to favour Independent (and ex-Democratic) Senator Joe Liebermann as a running mate, but this was apparently ruled out due to his pro-choice stance on abortion.

And if you’re going to take a look at the
New Yorker’s website anyway, there’s a long piece which was published back in July by Ryan Lizza, the magazine’s Chief Political Correspondent, on the history of Obama’s own career which is well worth a read. It charts the path from the early days of his political career in Chicago to the day on which he delivered his much lauded speech to the Democratic National Convention in 2004. Towards the end of the piece Lizza argues, ‘Perhaps the greatest misconception about Barack Obama is that he is some sort of anti-establishment revolutionary. Rather, every stage of his political career has been marked by an eagerness to accommodate himself to existing institutions rather than tear them down or replace them’. The article was originally accompanied by the controversial cartoon illustration of Michelle and Barack Obama as terrorists in the White House. The choice of illustration always struck me as somewhat bizarre, not only because it doesn’t really work as a piece of political satire (which is what the New Yorker claimed it to be), but also because it bore no substantive relation to the content of the cover article it was accompanying.

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