31 January 2012
...we know our stuff here at the US Studies Centre.
This past Saturday, the Sydney Morning Herald asked four people whether politics has "finally moved beyond the personal." The evidence of this purported cultural shift? Newt Gingrich's victory in the South Carolina Republican primary, where he won over a socially conservative electorate despite his multiple marriages and reports that he'd asked an ex-wife for an open relationship.
"Politcians tax us too much, spend our money wastefully and regulate our lives," demagogued "The Libertarian," a.k.a. the Instittute of Public Affairs's James Paterson. "So why do we spend so much time worrying about their personal lives instead of the things that really matter?" Gingrich's success, he posited, was "one piece of evidence that American voters have moved beyond the personal." Voters have moved on, even if the media hasn't.
"The Feminist," Kate Gleeson pointed out, not unreasonably, that the public is more forgiving of the male and heterosexual Gingrich's indiscretions than they might be of a woman or gay man. "The Former Politician" Cheryl Kernot used the forum to urge legislators to restrict free speech by enhancing privacy laws, and and applauded one of Gingrich's self-serving attacks on the media.
Fortunately, "The Academic" — also known as the USSC's David Smith — was on hand to straighten things out:
The triumph of Newt Gingrich in South Carolina reminds us that the politics of the personal is as strategic as any other politics.
Moral outrage is not a natural phenomenon that occurs automatically in response to revelations about politicians' personal lives. It is a political weapon to be exploited or neutralised by those who best understand how to use it. No one understands better than Gingrich how outrage works in South Carolina.
America's "Red" states (conservative, Republican-voting) have higher average rates of divorce and birth out of wedlock than the supposedly more permissive "Blue" states. While conservatives insist on strict moral rules, they know they live in a morally complicated world. Everybody knows and loves people who have "fallen" at least once. Gingrich wants to appear as someone who has sinned and repented, and deserves the forgiveness everyone sometimes needs.
Moreover, he has successfully turned himself into a victim. When CNN's John King opened a debate with a question about Marianne Gingrich's claims that Newt had asked for an open marriage, he called the accusations "tawdry" and expressed outrage that the "elite media" would try to protect Barack Obama by attacking a leading Republican this way. This earned him a standing ovation; he had masterfully implied that an attack on him by his ex-wife was an attack on all conservatives by the vindictive liberal media. During the Obama presidency, Republicans have found no emotion more satisfying than victimhood.
Quite. Gingrich is a benefactor of circumstance and cultural affinity. Let us not forget that personal indiscretions recently claimed the careers of Demcoratic Congressmen Anthony Weiner and Mark Sanford, a Republican and the former governor of South Carolina. (Sanford, you may recall, went missing in the middle of 2009 when he was supposed to be hiking the Appalachian Trail. It turns out he had skipped off to Argentina to have an affair. Until then, he was expected to be competitive in this year's presidential primaries.)
After the jump, the rest of David's response.
If conservative Christians understand that moral rules are difficult to follow and transgressions must sometimes be forgiven, they have less tolerance for people who want to overturn the rules. This may make Gingrich a more acceptable candidate than Mitt Romney, who has a spotless family life but signed gay marriage into law as governor of Massachusetts. Brad Atkins, the leader of South Carolina's 700,000 Southern Baptists, has also claimed "Romney's Mormonism will be more of a concern than Gingrich's infidelity'', because Christians can forgive infidelity but Mormonism is a continuing affront to Christianity.
"The personal" is a lot more than sex. Gingrich's well-known past infidelities may have lost the power to hurt him, but that does not mean "character" has ceased to be an issue. Testimony from former colleagues could hurt him more than testimony from ex-wives. Grandiosity might be less forgivable than infidelity.
30 January 2012
Five days ago Newt Gingrich held a 10 point lead in Florida and looked poised to carry his momentum from South Carolina down into the Sunshine State. Alas, five days is a lifetime when it comes to campaigns. Over the last several days, Mitt Romney has surged back ahead and now is the clear favourite to win the January 31 Florida primary.
This is obviously bad news for Gingrich, but it’s especially damaging given the campaign schedule. The four upcoming states (Nevada, Maine, Colorado, and Minnesota) were all carried by Romney in the 2008 Republican primary. If Gingrich stalls in Florida, it will be exceptionally difficult to regain momentum.
And, as the support dries up, so do the campaign contributions. Money is always important in the primary, but in the earlier, smaller states like Iowa and New Hampshire, a candidate can somewhat compensate for a lack of resources by campaigning aggressively across the state, and holding face to face meetings with voters. However, as the campaign drags on, this becomes an increasingly difficult task. The number of days between each state primary shrinks, and a number of states begin holding their elections on the same day. A candidate simply doesn’t have the time to personally visit all the counties in each state. Under these circumstances, having the resources to blanket the airwaves with advertisements is an enormous advantage.
Of course, if we’ve learned one thing during the campaign, it’s not to count out Gingrich. Every time he’s been left for dead, he’s managed to rise from the ashes in a blaze of populist rhetoric. And the creation of Super PACs means that Gingrich can potentially rely on advertising campaigns financed by wealthy individuals, even if his own direct campaign contributions begin to dry up.
Still, given the unfavourable upcoming primary schedule and increasingly harsh attacks from other Republicans, Gingrich is facing an uphill battle going forward. South Carolina was critical for Gingrich, but it was also essential for him to build from that performance by winning Florida as well. Now, he needs to find a way to recapture momentum — and hold on to it for more than a week — if he wants to stop the Republican primary from becoming a Romney blowout.
22 January 2012
I daresay we'll hear it said a lot over the next few days: No Republican has won his party's nomination without winning South Carolina since 1980. In fact, here's a New York Times report on Saturday's South Carolina contest, won resoundingly by Newt Gingrich, saying exactly that:
And after being so confident just 10 days ago, the Romney campaign is now fighting not only the perception that Mr. Romney cannot consolidate broad support among conservative voters, but also at least one troubling fact: No Republican has gone on to win the party’s nomination without winning South Carolina since before 1980.
Meaningless statistic is meaningless! We're talking about five races in which an incumbent Republican president was not running — hardly a decisive precedent. (Make it six if you consider Pat Buchanan's challenge against President George H.W. Bush in 1992 to have actually stood a chance.) And remember a week ago, when Mitt Romney was thought to have won Iowa and been all but a sure thing for the nomination, how commentators were fond of saying that, in the modern primary era, no Republican challenger had won both Iowa and New Hampshire? It was as if the eight votes by which Romney had been thought to have won by actually indicated some exceptional electoral strength that proved his competitiveness.
South Carolina's track record in picking winners is aptly explained by Jamelle Bouie at The American Prospect:
After defecting from the Democratic Party over civil rights, Senator Strom Thurmond argued that the state’s whites should direct their political activities toward amassing as much influence as possible in the national GOP. “That notion, that you wanted to have maximum influence on what the national Republicans believed, tended to produce a kind of caution in supporting an insurgent nominee for president,” says Lacy Ford Jr., a historian of the South and Southern politics at the University of South Carolina. “A lot of people outside of South Carolina thought that Bob Dole would be vulnerable in 1996 to such a candidate, but that wasn’t the case at all—he took out Pat Buchanan decisively by beating him in South Carolina.”
This year, however, says Bouie, South Carolina Republicans were looking to buck the trend and follow their political instincts to a hard right conservative:
[Tea Party Republicans] see this contest as an opportunity for finding a more ideological nominee. “I go to a lot of party meetings and party functions, and it seems like voters are looking for people who match up with their values first and can win last,” says Edward Cousar, second vice chair to the state GOP and head of the Black Republican PAC, a group devoted to supporting Afri-can American candidates in South Carolina and across the country. Karen Floyd, a former state Republican Party chair, agrees. “I think the grassroots effort is crucial in the state of South Carolina, and I think some consultants can help deliver that, but really, it’s all about message. Most people are looking for the person who is most authentic and can help us get out of the situation we’re in.”
Gingrich had been assidiously courting such voters all week, and his efforts bore fruit today. But not too much has changed. Gingrich is still a severely flawed candidate, and though his rival Mitt Romney might have had a truly awful week, Romney is still better organised, better funded, and, with Florida, Michigan, and Nevada set to vote in coming weeks, looking at a more friendly electoral calendar. South Carolina might well have lengthened the GOP race today, but Romney is still the favourite, and Gingrich is still as non-viable as ever.
- Developments in Global Oceans Governance and Conservation
- Advanced Biofuels Industry Day at PACIFIC 2013
- Delivering a Sustainable Future City – Part 2
- Minimal. Conceptual. Pop: A symposium on American Art from 1960-80
- The green visitor economy: Sustainability through innovation and strategic partnerships
- Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan
- Farewell reception for US Ambassador to Australia Jeffrey Bleich
- What MOOCs mean for universities — revolution or evolution?
- The technology enabled higher education revolution
- Agriculture, Soil Health and Climate Change Forum
- Evidence based policy-making: Meeting the challenges
- Food and nutrition labelling: Can information promote healthier choices among consumers?
- Trans-Pacific Partnership and Beyond: Obama's Trade Policy
- US-China relations: Student roundtable with Bonnie Glaser
- US-China relations: Implications for US partners in Asia
- Todd Malan: The impact of US elections on business priorities
- Delivering a Sustainable Future City: Roundtable lunch
- The US Electoral College: An 18th Century Relic in the 21st Century
- Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Edgard Kagan meets US Studies Centre students
- William H. Janeway student roundtable
- Book Launch: Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy
- Investing to promote innovation and sustainability
- Delivering a Sustainable Future City
- Reinventing Fire: Changing the energy rules for a growing economy
- Andrew Hoffman meets with Centre students
- The climate challenge: New business opportunities
- Student roundtable with US Senior Official for APEC Atul Keshap
- Roundtable lunch with US Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Kerri-Ann Jones
- The US, Australia and China with Kurt M Campbell
- Alliance 21 Education & Innovation: Australia-US Policy Exchange
- G'Day USA 2013: Defence and Security Workshop
- Reception for G'Day USA 2013
- Low carbon jet fuel: The industry flight path
- AIRSHOW 2013 - Reception at Government House
- New South Wales Advanced Biofuels Industry Roundtable
- Evidence-Based Policymaking
- Australia/US Dialogue on Energy Security
- Dynamics of 21st Century Trade and Investment in the Asia-Pacific: An Australia-US Perspective
- Perth USAsia Centre launch
- Election Day Spectacular
- US Election: America at a crossroad
- The Impact of the US Presidential Election on Australia & the Asia-Pacific
- Green Growth/Advanced Manufacturing
- The Problem with America's Job Market
- Intelligent Strategy
- Republican National Convention speeches live!
- Debate the future of America 2012
- Dr Esther Brimmer: The future of multilateralism
- Prospects for peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region
- International Innovation in Higher Education Workshop
- City Revitalisation: Lessons for Sydney and its suburbs
- UPE10 Symposium - Dinner
- 2012 Agriculture and Environment Research Symposium: Soil Security
- Why aren't we talking about soil?
- The role of the media in US Presidential Elections
- Paul Keating: Reflections on the Shift of Economic Gravity from the Atlantic to the Pacific United States Studies Centre
- UN Rio+20 Side Event - Responding to the Global Soil Crisis
- NASA: A Presentation
- Entrepreneurship and human rights: Knights Apparel’s ethical business model
- Roundtable Lunch with Kurt Campbell
- Super Tuesday Live!
- Pacific 2012 International Maritime Conference
- Karl and Ching Eikenberry
- US in the World Lecture - with guest Shanto Iyengar
- Bob Carr: Postgraduate Information Evening
- US In the World Lecture with guest Peter Hartcher
- Roundtable Event - Two Perspectives of Sustainable City Development
- Bill Chafe and Ray Nagin: Global America Lecture
- Washington Soil Security meeting
- John Howard: US in the World Lecture
- James Fallows in the US World lecture theatre
- Roundtable with U.S Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides
- Graduation Ceremony America: Rebels, Heroes & Renegades
- Jeffrey Bleich: US in the World Lecture
- 2011 United States Studies Debates
- Fault-lines in Immigration Policy: The Harvard-Sydney Immigration Summit 2011
- 2011 National Summit: The 9/11 Decade - The Decade Ahead
- 2011 National Summit: The 9/11 Decade - Keynote Address by Robert McClelland
- 2011 National Summit: The 9/11 Decade - Breakout Sessions Day 2
- 2011 National Summit: The 9/11 Decade - 9/11 at Home
- 2011 National Summit: The 9/11 Decade - The US and Asia-Pacific Century
- 2011 National Summit: The 9/11 Decade - Roundtable on the 9/11 Decade
- 2011 National Summit: The 9/11 Decade - The Freedom Agenda and the Arab Spring
- 2011 National Summit: The 9/11 Decade - Breakout Sessions Day 1
- 2011 National Summit: The 9/11 Decade - Keynote Address by Allan Gyngell
- 2011 National Summit: The 9/11 Decade - Rethinking American Power
- 2011 National Summit: The 9/11 Decade - The War(s) on Terrorism
- 2011 National Summit: The 9/11 Decade - Australian and American Perspectives
- 2011 National Summit: The 9/11 Decade - Welcome
- 2011 National Summit: The 9/11 Decade - Cocktail Reception
- Bob Hawke: Reflections on the Australia-United States Alliance
- Washington DC Internship Program
- American Grace: How religion divides and unites America
- John Howard: Reflections on the Australia-United States Alliance
- Soil Carbon Stakeholder Workshop
- Reception for US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia
- City of the Future
- The Midterm Referendum on Obama
- Welcome reception for United States Consul General
- Jack Miles at the Centre for Independent Studies
- Waiting for the Preacher: Obama’s America in World Religious Context
- The Icarus Syndrome: A History of American Hubris
- Intelligence reform in the United States
- Book Launch: Financial Fraud and Guerrilla Violence in Missouri's Civil War, 1861-1865
- Ethical supply chains: An executive roundtable
- Jeffrey Schott: Trade policy in the Obama administration and the outlook for Asia- Pacific economic integration
- Race in America, race in Australia: A public forum featuring Glenn Loury, Waleed Aly and Bob Carr
- Workshop on Inequality
- China-US relations: Partners or rivals
- Mark Tushnet: Current issues and controversies in the US
- Gail Fosler: What the financial crisis tells us about ourselves - A US perspective on economic and governance challenges
- Jonathan Greenblatt delivers lecture to undergraduate students
- Peter Katzenstein: Why the clash of civilizations is wrong
- Henry Cisneros on housing and sustainability
- James Hansen: What Australia should do about climate change
- War correspondent Mark Danner in conversation with Geoffrey Garrett
- Launch of the Dow Sustainability Program
- Sustainable supply chains
- David Brady: The Obama Presidency and the outlook for the coming year
- US Ambassador meets students at the US Studies Centre
- US Business Leadership Forum with Rupert Murdoch
- Celebrating the launch of American Review
- One year of Obama: A discussion with James Fallows, Paul Kelly, Robert Hill and Geoffrey Garrett
- James Fallows: One year of Obama
- Obama: One year in the making
- Meeting of the US Studies Centre Council of Advisors
- Costello discusses post-GFC financial reform
- Jim Johnson: How is Obama responding to the financial crisis?
- Jim Johnson seminar with US Studies students
- US Politics in the Pub: The rebirth of the Republican right?
- Dennis Richardson discusses the state of Australia-US relations
- "US in the World" High school lecture
- 2009 National Summit: Dinner
- 2009 National Summit: John Micklethwait Keynote Speech
- 2009 National Summit: Human health and sustainability - What are the challenges for globalisation?
- 2009 National Summit: Expert Sessions 2
- 2009 National Summit: Business solves poverty - The new approach to corporate social responsibility
- 2009 National Summit: Corporate social responsibility - How should business behave in the GFC?
- 2009 National Summit: Climate change and energy security - Looking towards the Copenhagen Conference
- 2009 National Summit: Breakfast
- 2009 National Summit: Public Forum
- 2009 National Summit: Expert Sessions 1
- 2009 National Summit: Labour and human rights - Can we afford them in a global financial crisis?
- 2009 National Summit: Malcolm Turnbull Keynote Speech
- 2009 National Summit: Governing the global economy - Economic nationalism vs. Bretton Woods 2.0
- 2009 National Summit: Obama's America - Globalisation headaches and protectionist impulses
- 2009 National Summit: Peter Garrett Opening Address
- 2009 National Summit: Welcome Address
- 2009 National Summit: Welcome Reception
- 2009 National Summit: Masterclass
- Thomas Mann: The Obama Administration and its Outlook on the Asia Pacific
- Thomas Mann: The First 100 Days of the Obama Administration
- Robert Burgelman: Leading Strategically in a Turbulent Environment
- Robert Thomson: The Obama Administration and the Actions Shaping the Global Financial Crisis
- Barry Jackson: Evaluating the Obama Stimulus Package
- The Great American Recession: What Does It Mean For You?
- Edward Leamer: The Financial Crisis and the Outlook for the US
- Inauguration Watch: Manning Bar
- Inauguration Watch: Breakfast
- Harry Harding: China in the 21st Century and Policy Implications for Australia, the US and the World
- Christmas Function
- fdgdfsg sdf sdfg
- The President-Elect: What Can We Expect?
- David Brady: The US Under the New President
- Election Day Spectacular
- Michael Parks and Simon Jackman: America at the Crossroads
- 'US in the World' High School Lecture
- Foreign Policy of Obama and McCain: Which is Australia's Gain?
- Mike Chinoy: Global Crisis Points - The War on Terror, Loose Nukes and American Foreign Policy
- James Gibbons: Replicating Silicon Valley - Lessons for Australia
- Vice Presidential Debate Screening
- Visit by the Australian Political Exchange Council’s 25th US Delegation
- Derek Shearer: Obama v McCain - Who Will Win, Does it Matter?
- John Howard Dinner
- McCain's Acceptance Speech: Republican National Convention
- New Horizons: Breaking into the US market
- Sydney Uni Live!
- Obama's Acceptance Speech: Democratic National Convention
- Hedley Bull Book Launch: Address by Bob Hawke
- Great White Fleet Centenary Ball
- Dick McCormack: Global Financial Risk and the Role of Central Banks and Regulators
- Jonathan Pollack: US-North Asia Relations
- Jeffrey Sachs Dinner
- ANZASA Conference
- Peter Scher: Will US Trade Policy Change After the 2008 Elections?
- Peter Scher: The Next President's Challenge - Global Trade and the 2008 Elections
- Matt Bai: US Political Journalism - The Next Generation
- Bob Pisano: Positioning Australian Screen Content in the US Marketplace
- Marvin Goodfriend: The Outlook for the US Economy and the State of the Financial Institutions
- American Foreign Policy After Bush: Frank Fukuyama in Conversation with Geoffrey Garrett
- Frank Fukuyama Meets US Studies Students
- Frank Fukuyama: Contemporary Issues Facing America
- Super Tuesday screening at the Manning Bar
- 2007 National Summit: Public Forum
- 2007 National Summit: Networking and Research Forum
- 2007 National Summit: America Then, America Now
- 2007 National Summit: Climate Change or Islamofascism
- 2007 National Summit: Dinner
- 2007 National Summit: How Countries Compete
- 2007 National Summit: Will the Next US Foreign Policy Look Surprisingly Like the Current One?
- 2007 National Opinion Survey: Australian Attitudes Towards the US (Part 2)
- 2007 National Summit: Opening
- 2007 National Summit: Welcome Reception
- Role of Arts and Humanities in Building International Understanding: Harriet Mayor Fulbright
- 2007 National Opinion Survey: Australian Attitudes Towards the US (Part 1)
- November 2013
- October 2013
- September 2013
- August 2013
- July 2013
- June 2013
- May 2013
- April 2013
- March 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- August 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- January 2012
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- February 2011
- November 2010
- September 2010
- August 2010
- July 2010
- June 2010
- May 2010
- April 2010
- March 2010
- February 2010
- December 2009
- November 2009
- October 2009
- September 2009
- August 2009
- June 2009
- May 2009
- April 2009
- March 2009
- January 2009
- December 2008
- November 2008
- October 2008
- September 2008
- August 2008
- July 2008
- June 2008
- May 2008
- March 2008
- December 2007
- October 2007