Trump’s poll ratings lift after he lowers the economy on his Covid-19 list of priorities

Across the United States the concert halls and theatres are silent. Broadway has shut down. The mighty 3800-seat Metropolitan Opera House is in lock-down. Actors, opera stars and choruses, musicians are on furlough if they are lucky.

But the best shows in town remain: the midday news conference by News York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the late afternoon White House press conference by President Donald Trump.

Both draw massive audiences – 12 million for the president – but both are as different as could be.  Andrew Cuomo, the 62-year-old 56th Governor the State of New York has become famous.  With his gravelly Brooklyn voice, he barks out facts, tells New Yorkers exactly what is going, is precise with statistics, even-handed with praise and brickbats. Importantly, he repeats again and again the blame stops with him.

Now a growing number of Democrats want to draft him  as their candidate in the November election against Trump. So far he is staying put. His place, he says, is with his state, with his 88-year-old mother and the city he loves. Maybe as candidate in 2024? Continue reading “Trump’s poll ratings lift after he lowers the economy on his Covid-19 list of priorities”

Conundrum for the Democrats is whether left-wing Sanders can beat Trump – and if not, who can?

US politics ain’t for the faint-of-heart.  Signs of desperation are emerging in the Democratic Party as Senator Bernie Sanders surges to the lead after three key polls – and party grandees worry whether mainstream United States is ready to elect a “socialist”.

Then, Republicans fear the US intelligence agencies, labelled “deep state” by President Donald Trump, are interfering in the election campaign. Intelligence officials briefed Congress this week on indications that the Russians are once again dabbling in US politics.

This caught Trump by surprise because his own officials hadn’t briefed him on what the lawmakers would be told – and led to a blitz of weekend TV on the news that maybe, possibly, the intelligence community had passed on the right “nuance”. Continue reading “Conundrum for the Democrats is whether left-wing Sanders can beat Trump – and if not, who can?”

And McConnell shows how Republicans are likely to play the post-impeachment game

There’s been good coverage of the impeachment case against Donald Trump.  If you found it a little harder to get a sense of why the Republican-leaning half of America has seemed less impressed by it, listen to Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell’s statement of the case for dismissing the charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress (despite the old saw that the latter is one of President’s main duties).

McConnell cast the impeachment exercise as a case of partisan fever in the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives – with the Senate’s job being to break the fever, before it breaks the country. Continue reading “And McConnell shows how Republicans are likely to play the post-impeachment game”

Bruised Democrats can now reflect on how they managed Iowa vote and (more important) the impeachment process

President Donald Trump has ended the week on the highest note since his election in 2016.  Although impeached by the House of Representatives, the Senate saved his bacon by voting down the two issues of impeachment – abuse of power and obstructing Congress. This followed on a bullish address in his annual State of the Union.

On the other side of the political divide, the Democrats’ first caucus of election year descended into farce when the Iowa Democratic Party machine couldn’t get a new app to work. Two days after the caucus, only 62% of the vote was available, with Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg ahead of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders by a whisker.  Joe Biden trailed a distant fourth.

No wonder Trump was chortling.

With regard to the impeachment, did the Dems call it right and what about their tactics?

In both the Nixon and Clinton cases, the lower House used a special investigator to conduct inquiries, with the powers to call witnesses under oath. Continue reading “Bruised Democrats can now reflect on how they managed Iowa vote and (more important) the impeachment process”

Bill Clinton’s nemesis is now defending Donald Trump

One of the more compelling moments in the Trump impeachment proceedings was Monday’s defence statement by former Solicitor General and federal Court of Appeals judge, Ken Starr.  That is Ken Starr, the court-appointed special prosecutor who investigated former President Bill Clinton when he was in office, and whose report provided the basis for the unsuccessful attempt to impeach him.

Starr’s role in the current trial – for which he is perhaps uniquely qualified – was to provide a judicial historical perspective.

Nearing the end of what, in less partisan circumstances, would be termed a long and distinguished career, his presentation was more academic colloquium than rigorous interrogation of the facts.  One might almost think that he sees his role as an officer of the court, rather than an advocate. Continue reading “Bill Clinton’s nemesis is now defending Donald Trump”

How centre right parties win and lose elections these days

As New Zealand’s politicians contemplate a September election, are there lessons for them from the successes of right of centre parties in Australia, the US and UK – and their failure in Canada?

Caution is needed in drawing conclusions, given a few well-placed ballots can be the margin between radiant success and crushing failure.  Reference the election of Donald Trump with fewer votes than Hilary Clinton in 2016, and last year’s defeat of Andrew Scheer’s Canadian Conservatives despite winning more votes than Justin Trudeau’s Liberal party.

But one thing to reflect on is what right of centre parties stand for – and what the median voter thinks they stand for. Continue reading “How centre right parties win and lose elections these days”

End of the Golden Weather

It’s probably just as well we are still on holiday and Wellington, aka the NZ Government, remains on the beach until Tuesday, January 22, the day after Wellington Anniversary Day. Even then, the mighty organs of government  don’t really stir until the following Tuesday, after Auckland’s anniversary weekend when the great and good disport themselves on the waters of the Waitemata Harbour.

A few ministers mustered the energy to post congratulatory press statements after the New Year honours list was published.

And Winston Peters has been on call- huzzah! – to deal with  happenings in the rest of the world.

Among the benefits of the government being on holiday, we’ve missed some fairly high-level dramas, sufficient to otherwise distract us from the Black Caps’ Australian debacle and tinted skies, thanks to the Australian bushfires .  Then there’s the risk that the Australians might exercise  a reverse deportation process, detaining PM Jacinda Adern and her to-be husband along with Baby Neve to install them in the Lodge, the Canberra residence of the Aussie prime minister.


Enough of the levity. These past days have been trying internationally. Continue reading “End of the Golden Weather”