Monday 27 May 2019 | 17:58 | SYDNEY
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The Americas

Donald Trump: Straight from Plato's nightmares

Ross Douthat at the New York Times and others have raised the notion of ‘pundit accountability’: at turning points or on crucial issues, commentators should make plain their preferences and predictions, and why. US presidential elections are obviously such a moment, and this one more than any in

Trump looks the part in final days of campaign

The really scary thing about the Donald Trump rally in Cabarrus County in North Carolina last Thursday afternoon is that he looked almost presidential. With election day looming, gone was the bombastic Trump from the primaries, the lecturing Trump from the Republican National Conference, and the

Should Australia be more like Canada?

The Economist recently promoted Canada as a beacon of tolerance and openness in a world of ‘wall-builders, door-slammers and drawbridge raisers’. It claims Canada has lessons for other countries – particularly in its openness to immigration, support for trade liberalisation and knowing when

The gloves are well and truly off in North Carolina

US Vice President Joe Biden is sick of foreign leaders looking him in the eye and asking whether he can deliver. In a speech delivered to keep the party faithful knocking on doors, checking on friends and family and generally doing whatever they can to get out the vote ahead of polls closing

US-Russia rivalry takes the stage

Recent developments in the US Presidential race should put to rest any lingering doubt that one nation’s information warfare capabilities can fundamentally affect the politics of another. At the third US presidential debate in Las Vegas, Hillary Clinton accused the Russian government of aiding

Don't count on the Russians backing down this time

Happily, Russia and the US seem to have pulled back from some of the bitterness, outrage and disappointment that set the tone between them 10 days ago.  But the stakes in Syria remain incredibly high. There's a real danger that both sides, which had appeared to be on the verge of

Trump: The GOP's wrecking ball

In Utah the independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin - who only entered the race in August - is polling well enough to make both Democrats and Republicans sit up and take notice. He is now a real chance to win the State and, in a remote but still possible outcome, the White House. McMullin

Republicans play risky game down ballot

Would you jump off a roller coaster ride as the car picked up speed downhill? Probably not. But that's just what dozens of Republican candidates did over the weekend as Donald Trump's presidential campaign seemingly imploded over a decade-old audio tape. The details of Trump's 'locker room'

What next for the US in Syria: The known versus the unknown

This week the Lowy Institute published a new Analysis by Thomas Wright: The 2016 Presidential Campaign and the Crisis of US Foreign Policy. In this, Wright drills down into Donald Trump's world view and how the world might react to a Trump presidency. Importantly, given the GOP candidate's slide in

The debate that made losers of us all

A good pitch for the next Hillary Clinton advertising campaign might be to highlight the relative ease with which she could approach negotiations with Washington’s fiercest political opponents. She has certainly gained valuable experience from taking on the combative and wildly unconventional

Some Americans already looking forward to 2020

It’s hard to imagine either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump made many converts with their performances Monday evening at Hofstra University, despite over 80 million Americans tuning in. But the debate did its job in getting Americans talking about the candidates and the issues.  By most

The first debate: The loser is the electorate

    The first of three presidential debates offered a lot of fireworks, but little to change the state of the race. Trump trounced Clinton during the first third of the debate when discussing the economy and trade. Had this continued it would have become a rout. As it was, Clinton'

First thoughts on the presidential debate

The first thing to note is that, despite the avalanche of media coverage and articles such as this one, presidential debates may not matter very much. At the very least, the evidence is mixed. The second thing is that what the candidates say is probably secondary to how they look, and how they react

What they're thinking in Ohio as the polls tighten

When Donald Trump ran a distant second to Ohio governor John Kasich in the Republican primary, few would have imagined that six months on Trump looks an even chance to win the Buckeye State in the presidential election. Sure, Kasich lost his bid to be the GOP presidential nominee but it's not as if

Powell not taking the rap for Clinton email saga

So what do we take away from the leaked emails of former US Secretary of State Colin Powell? Leaving aside the fact the emails were leaked on a site linked to the Russian government, and the consequences (don't type anything you don't want on Twitter), the revelations fall into two camps: what we

Clinton rests, the world waits

Not sure how much rest she is going to get. As we all now know, Hillary Clinton, diagnosed with pneumonia, is taking two days off the campaign trail after having a spell at a 9/11 ceremony that was captured by onlookers and broadcast to the world. While Clinton attempts to recuperate at home, the

Two months to go: It's Trump's to lose

Yes, you read that correctly. Among the political cognoscenti a tendency has emerged to discuss a 'post-Trump United States', as if the election is already over and a Clinton presidency is a forgone conclusion. This sentiment, while partly a self-protecting delusion, at least has a defendable

Why the media is getting antsy about Clinton

With Hillary Clinton's lead narrowing, there is plenty of discussion going on about media tactics in particular. The Clinton campaign has invested heavily in direct communication with voters via social media, podcasts and posting its own news stories. Not surprisingly, all of this has left

Labor Day reckoning: Soon it will be time to choose

The nightly Olympic Games distraction is over. The hamburgers and macaroni salad are on order for the Labor Day weekend cookout. Soon, the old school political scientists tell us, it will be time for undecided American voters to really tune in to the presidential campaigns and weigh the issues

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

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