Who is now going to be the Republicans’ savior?

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said no, so who will now be the Republican Party’s savior in the presidential election in 2012?

The attempts to persuade Christie to run point to a large degree of desperation among the Republican voters, which, in turn, springs from a deep despair that any of the current eight candidates could beat President Obama next year. This despair can be seen in the many recent polls, with large swings with each new measurement – up and down.

Right now, it’s like this:

Romney remains steadily but uninspiringly in the front group; Perry, until recently the new star, has lost a lot of support; Bachmann, who still hopes on Iowa, has lost even more of Perry; Paul has his solid support among libertarians, but little else; Gingrich, the old Fox, looks a little brighter to the future; Santorum and Huntsman are still last.

Remains: pizza magnate Herman Cain, the field’s only Black candidate, the non-politician, who has suddenly rushed to the lead. Cain – the new savior. His success stems from the growing support among the party’s right wing, the most conservative voters, according to Public Policy Polling.

“This most conservative group of Republican voters has been shopping for a candidate all year. They’ve gone from Huckabee to Trump back to Huckabee to Bachmann to Perry and now to Cain. I would expect their support for Cain to be pretty temporary. One thing that’s been very clear through all these twists and turns though — they’re not going to support Romney.”

I don’t think that the savior of the moment – Herman Cain – stands a chance in the long run. But the anti-Romney sentiments remain strong among Republican voters, and that does not bode well for Romney ahead of the primary elections, where the most conservative are also the most active and largely control the election process.

John Dickerson in Slate:

“There is an unresolved feeling about Romney. He is atop the polls again, but three-quarters of the voters say they want someone else. Even the majority of his supporters say that they could still change their mind.”

The hunt for the Republican savior continues, but there are not many names left. Only Sarah Palin, and I want to say again that I don’t think she will run. It now seems the Republican voters don’t want Palin to run, judging by the latest Washington Post/ABC poll, where 63 per cent say they do not want her to be a candidate.

So, in the end, the Republican voters will have to settle for the eight candidates they now have. It is among them that they will have to find their savior.

WARHOL – On The Mall

Popartist Andy Warhol (1928 – 1987) has two new exhibits that just opened in two of the Smithsonian Institution’s 19 museums – the world’s largest and most prestigious collection of museums – all with free admission – on The Mall in Washington, DC.

The exhibits are called “Warhol: Headlines” at the National Gallery and “Andy Warhol: Shadows” at the Hirshhorn Museum.

The former is about Warhol’s fascination with news and newspapers, especially New York’s tabloid press. It’s a fun show, and I like Warhol’s quote at the entrance:

“I’m confused about who the news belongs to. I always have it in my head that if your name’s in the news, then the news should be paying you. Because it’s your news and they’re taking it and selling it as their product…If people didn’t give the news their news, and if everybody kept their news to themselves, the news wouldn’t have any news.”

“Shadows” is the most interesting of the two exhibits, a collection of 102 silk screens and hand-painted pictures, all in different colors on the same theme, exhibited together for the first time. Warhol made “Shadows” 1978-79, when he was 50 years old. They hang close together, in a long, long line, on the Hirshhorn’s circular showroom wall.  It’s perfect. Take a look!

Was it a “justifiable killing?”

The war against terror is seen by many observers as a foreign policy success for President Obama. But was it legal to kill the Yemeni al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki and his companion Samir Khan, both American citizens?

A Washington Post editorial today calls the killing “justifiable” and a news story in the paper quotes an Obama Administration official saying that “what constitutes due process in this case is a due process in war.”

Andrew Sullivan on his blog, The Dish, is of a similar view:

“My own position is that we are at war, and that avowed enemies and traitors in active warfare against the U.S. cannot suddenly invoke legal protections from a society they have decided to help destroy.”

I tend to agree, but the issue is not simple, it’s not black and white.

And many are concerned, like Glenn Greenwald at the web site Salon, who condemns the killing. It now appears, he writes, that American citizens can be killed without due process of the law.

Yale law Professor Stephen L. Carter writes on the Daily Beast that the attack raises important ethical questions.

“Obama should tell us, clearly and simply, what the goal of the drone war is; what ethical rules guide him in deciding whom to target; and how we will know when the war is won.”

IKEA: comfy or creepy, asks The New Yorker

America and much of the rest of the world continue to be fascinated by IKEA — you all know of it, right! — the symbol of Sweden for so many…

As a Swede, I don’t know whether to be proud over its world-wide success, but I can’t ignore it, as I think back to May of 1985, when IKEA opened its first store in a Philadelphia suburb.

In its latest issue, The New Yorker devotes quite a bit of space to the Swedish phenomenon under the headline “House Perfect — Is the IKEA ethos comfy or creepy?”

It is, indeed, a fascinating story.

“Another Obama Foreign Policy Success”

That’s the headline on Taegan Goddard’s blog Political Wire in the aftermath of the reports that the al-Qaeda leader in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki, has been killed in a drone attack, and Goddard cites two other blogs, MSNBC’s First Read and ABC TV’s Jake Tapper.

Tapper lists the many names of suspected terrorist leaders killed during Obama’s now almost three years in the White House. If this is defense, I wonder what offense looks like, writes Tapper, referring to former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani’s statement that an Obama presidency would mean that the U.S. would play defense rather than offense in the war against terrorism.

But First Read says that Obama does not get much credit for this success.

Some good news: Elizabeth Warren to the lead

Some really good news:

Elizabeth Warren has taken a surprising lead in the Senate race in Massachusetts.

In the first poll since launching her candidacy a few days ago, the Harvard law professor and consumer advocate, leads Republican Scott Brown 46 to 44, according to Public Policy Polling.

Warren, who should have been the permanent head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau had it not been for the scandalous behavior of the Republicans in the Senate, surprised everyone by her strong showing.

Although November is far off, and she must first beat the other four Democratic hopefuls who all are beaten by Brown in the same poll, Warren now looks to have a real chance to take the nomination and then recapture that old Ted Kennedy seat for the Democrats.

Indeed, som really good news!

A new Obama, and the good fight is on, finally…

Are we seeing a new President Obama? Yes, I hope and believe so. And it’s uplifting, even liberating. Finally.

Republican commentators like David Brooks regards himself in his column today in the new York Times a “sap” for believing that Obama wanted to move beyond the ideological stalemates. I don’t know Brooks, he might be a sap, but what he fails to point out is that the party of “no” is the reason for this new and more fighting, partisan tone from the White House. Obama has tried the reasonable, bipartisan approach for three years, in vain.  So…

As Steve Benen writes on his Washington Monthly blog:

“What the columnist (Brooks) refuses to understand is that Obama still believes in the governing style Obama talked about in 2008. But I desperately want Brooks to answer one question: what happens when the president is the only one willing to adopt this posture, and his ostensible partners in governing — congressional Republicans — refuse to even consider compromise? In all sincerity, what choice has the GOP left for Obama?”

Another Republican commentator, Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard, writes that Obama has now entered a “pathetic phase.” But isn’t it so, that the Republicans in Congress are the pathetic ones, locked in, as they are, in their stubborn, repetitive denial of the necessity of a balanced approach, with both cuts and new taxes, in order to get America out of this deep and painful economic mess.

The fact that Obama’s approach is also fair, lends it even more credence. It’s extremely difficult for me to understand the anti-tax sentiments of the Republicans, which have been so bad for America, as Michael Tomasky writes today in the Daily Beast. No one loves to pay taxes, but they are needed. Americans are not over taxed, and some, certainly, are under taxed. It’s time to remedy this this matter.

So, the big fight is on, and it’s a good fight. As Tomasky writes:

“This tax fight will be the great test of the Obama presidency. All else—stimulus, bailouts, financial reform, even health care—was prelude. The tax debate is the money shot. If he wins this one, all the failures, even the calamitous debt-ceiling agreement, can be forgiven. Mr. President: Show us the money.”

A morning in lower Manhattan always remembered

Today, as 9/11 and its nearly three thousand victims are remembered, lower Manhattan has changed but much also remains the same. Where the twin towers used to stand is still a huge construction site and will continue to be for years.  But the view out over the water with the Statue of Liberty in the distance is as stunning as always. The marina over in Battery Park City is full of sailing boats, kids are playing, and people are enjoying the sun set. The dark and narrow streets around Wall Street are full of people as lower Manhattan today has many new residents.

That morning, ten years ago, our world at 80 John Street, where we then lived three blocks from what would become known as Ground Zero, came crashing down.

The morning had begun so brilliantly beautiful as my wife, our daughter and I were preparing us for an ordinary day in New York. Suddenly there was a big explosion, much larger than the usual noise on lower Manhattan. I rushed down and out on the street where people had gathered and stood and looked up at the sky up to the north twin tower that stood in the fire. A plane had run straight into the North Tower. How could it happen?

Chaos, confusion. Then another big explosion when the south tower was hit. This was no accident. Then, the unthinkable – the gigantic south tower simply fell, like a deck of cards, straight from the top down in a roar. A huge, dark mass of debris and smoke and dust rushed towards me like a dark wall on our narrow street. It got pitch-black . Coughing and shocked people filled our foyer. We couldn’t see and we could hardly breathe.

It did brighten somewhat before the north tower – again in an incredibly, almost simple way. We were swept back into the dust and smoke and complete darkness. Out on the street more and more people appeared. They came out of the smoke and dust and darkness from Ground Zero as from another world. Employees from the shops and residents provided protective masks and water bottles. Many had no idea where they were and how they could get away. Go north, north, we said and pointed.

By now, we had no electricity, no telephone. We started to pack the essentials and headed out on the street, covered with many inches dust and debris, away from Ground Zero and walked north. Soon we were out in the sun and the clear blue sky, but behind us, where the twin towers once stood, there was now emptiness.

It took over a week before we could return home. Life on John Street in lower Manhattan had changed. Several months after September 11, we walked around nervously, watching intently aircraft that flew over the town a little too low, flinching with any loud noise. A foul odor from the smoldering hole at Ground Zero followed us constantly.

In June, we moved up to the West Side of Manhattan, near the greenery of Central Park. It was no easy decision, but we needed to get away from the daily reminders of Ground Zero and a neighborhood that was going to be a gigantic construction site for years to come.

It’s been said that after 9/11, life will never be the same again. For us, that is certainly true.

A somber Labor Day and thoughts of Jimmy Carter

Labor Day today – America’s First of May – but it is somber and gloomy, no music orchestras and no marches, no resounding speeches and appeals, like in the Stockholm of my youth.

At dinners recently here in Washington, old journalist friends, lawyers, lobbyists, all of them passionately interested in politics and in the future of America, are worried — zero job growth, unemployment stuck at 9.1 percent, which means 14 million unemployed plus 9 million who have had to settle for part-time jobs, and over 6 million who are no longer looking job. “Not since World War II,” writes Robert J. Samuelson in today’s Washington Post.

Like most people of Greater Washington, my friends are Democrats and voted for Barack Obama in 2008. They still like him, but they are troubled, even disappointed, in his leadership and his willingness to compromise with the Republicans. They want him to stand up and fight for what he believes in and for what is right. Obama should know by now that it is futile to try to work with Republicans and the tea party movement, for they hate him. Their goal is to ensure that Obama is not re-elected next year, and any compromise that might help him must be avoided.

My friends hope that in his speech on Thursday before Congress Obama will be bold and grand and revive their enthusiasm for him and bring optimism back to this country. But they are not sure, burned by last year’s budget deal and last summer’s debt crisis. They don’t know if Obama has it in him.

And so the dreaded name Jimmy Carter comes up in our conversations, an intelligent and Democratic president, just like Obama, who in 1980 became a one-term president. Obama a new Jimmy Carter? One almost dares not say it. But Jimmy Carter’s famous, or infamous, “malaise” speech in July 1979 contained some things that ring true today:

“The threat is nearly invisible in ordinary ways. It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our nation. The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America.”

Carter’s speech was no hit. On the contrary, it contained little of what the American voters wanted to hear, and they didn’t even think it was true. And so they elected the eternal optimist Ronald Reagan President the following year.

Thursday is an important day for President Obama, and for America.  And I still have hope.

Goodnight Irene!

It’s getting close to midnight and the wind and the rain from Hurricane Irene pound the house and the windows. So far, we have fared better than we expected. Electricity is still on, to our great surprise, since power cuts are legion every time it blows a bit in Washington. Lots of trees are down. The streets are empty. People are home. All the TV channels are covering the big weather story.

Out on the Atlantic coast and around the Chesapeake Bay, about an hour east of Washington, it is worse. Irene passed right over there and up along the coast, towards Atlantic City and New York. The lovely beach resorts are practically empty, at the height of the summer season, since everyone has been told to leave.

We’ll see tomorrow when we wake up what damage Irene has caused. And we will see tomorrow how New York fared when Irene hits the Big Apple early in the morning.

So, for now, goodnight Irene!