Bilan Obama: Et nous qui croyions qu’Obama avait inventé le soft power! (Art can also serve to win wars: the CIA had its own useful idiots, too!)

9 novembre, 2010
C’est dur de ne pas sembler distant à la Maison-Blanche. Certaines lettres que je lis le soir me brisent le coeur, d’autres me motivent, mais les caméras ne sont pas là pour le filmer. Obama
Dans l’imaginaire de ma génération, il y a la conquête de l’Ouest et Hollywood. Il y a Elvis Presley, qu’on n’a peut-être pas l’habitude de citer dans ces murs, mais, pour ma génération, il est universel ! Il y a Duke Ellington, il y a Hemingway. Il y a John Wayne, il y a Charlton Heston. Il y a Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth. Il y a aussi Armstrong, Aldrin, Collins réalisant le plus vieux rêve de l’Homme le jour où des Américains ont marché sur la lune, l’Amérique était universelle et chacun voulait être de cette aventure. Nicolas Sarkozy (devant le Congrès americain, novembre 2007)
As I have said before, it is difficult to think of any single act that would do more to restore America’s soft power than the election of Obama to the presidency.Joseph Nye (June  2008)
Mais au fait qu’est-ce que le soft power ? On peut trouver des ancêtres à l’idée formulée dans les années Clinton : la guerre « pour le cœur et l’esprit » de toutes les Nations engagée par Woodrow Wilson, ou la « diplomatie publique » chère à Eisenhower, cette action internationale de promotion des États-Unis et de l’idéologie occidentale libérale par médias interposés qui fut si typique de la guerre froide. Mais quand le doyen Joseph Nye formule pour la première fois le concept de soft power en 1991 dans un livre au titre significatif (Bound to lead), il a quelque chose de plus précis en tête et qui suppose le rayonnement du modèle politique, économique, culturel et technologique des U.S.A. Il s’agit d’amener le reste du monde à partager leur point de vue, sans recourir à la carotte ni au bâton. Par un savant dosage de l’attraction (l’image des USA et notamment sa culture), de la persuasion (par la conversion à ses valeurs politiques) et enfin d’une action diplomatique où la recherche de la légitimité et du soutien des autres États tient une grande part. Cette politique s’appuie sur la capacité de doser aide et négociation, incitation et coopération jusqu’à amener d’autres États à coopérer avec les USA, moitié sous la pression de leur opinion convertie aux valeurs US moitié sous l’incitation d’une diplomatie US soucieuse des formes et des susceptibilités. Dans son esprit, le tout coïncide peu ou prou avec le sens de l’histoire où les USA jouent une fonction avant-gardiste.
Soyons clairs : dans soft power, il y a pouvoir (au sens le plus classique : la probabilité d’obtenir d’autrui un comportement conforme à vos désirs). Sa pratique consiste moins à être sympathique et « respectueux » (des diversités, de l’écologie, des sensibilités, des cultures…) qu’à être efficace en économisant les moyens de la puissance. Ce pourrait bien être l’art de faire coïncider les intérêts des USA avec les désirs des autres, au sens où l’idéologie est la représentation mentale d’une position et d’intérêts particuliers sous forme de vérités universelles. François-Bernard Huyghe
In order to encourage openness we had to be secret. Tom Braden
If that’s art, then I’m a Hottentot. President Truman
I am just a dumb American who pays taxes for this kind of trash. Congressman
They joked that it was like a Wurlitzer jukebox: when the CIA pushed a button it could hear whatever tune it wanted playing across the world. The Independent
Regarding Abstract Expressionism, I’d love to be able to say that the CIA invented it just to see what happens in New York and downtown SoHo tomorrow! (…) But I think that what we did really was to recognise the difference. It was recognised that Abstract Expression- ism was the kind of art that made Socialist Realism look even more stylised and more rigid and confined than it was. And that relationship was exploited in some of the exhibitions. (…) In a way our understanding was helped because Moscow in those days was very vicious in its denunciation of any kind of non-conformity to its own very rigid patterns. And so one could quite adequately and accurately reason that anything they criticised that much and that heavy- handedly was worth support one way or another.
Matters of this sort could only have been done at two or three removes, so that there wouldn’t be any question of having to clear Jackson Pollock, for example, or do anything that would involve these people in the organisation. And it couldn’t have been any closer, because most of them were people who had very little respect for the government, in particular, and certainly none for the CIA. If you had to use people who considered themselves one way or another to be closer to Moscow than to Washington, well, so much the better perhaps. The US government now faced a dilemma. This philistinism, combined with Joseph McCarthy’s hysterical denunciations of all that was avant-garde or unorthodox, was deeply embarrassing. It discredited the idea that America was a sophisticated, culturally rich democracy. It also prevented the US government from consolidating the shift in cultural supremacy from Paris to New York since the 1930s. To resolve this dilemma, the CIA was brought in. Donald Jameson (former CIA case officer)
We wanted to unite all the people who were writers, who were musicians, who were artists, to demonstrate that the West and the United States was devoted to freedom of expression and to intellectual achievement, without any rigid barriers as to what you must write, and what you must say, and what you must do, and what you must paint, which was what was going on in the Soviet Union. I think it was the most important division that the agency had, and I think that it played an enormous role in the Cold War.
It was very difficult to get Congress to go along with some of the things we wanted to do – send art abroad, send symphonies abroad, publish magazines abroad. That’s one of the reasons it had to be done covertly. It had to be a secret. In order to encourage openness we had to be secret.
If this meant playing pope to this century’s Michelangelos, well, all the better: "It takes a pope or somebody with a lot of money to recognise art and to support it. And after many centuries people say, ‘Oh look! the Sistine Chapel, the most beautiful creation on Earth!’ It’s a problem that civilisation has faced ever since the first artist and the first millionaire or pope who supported him. And yet if it hadn’t been for the multi-millionaires or the popes, we wouldn’t have had the art. We would go to somebody in New York who was a well-known rich person and we would say, ‘We want to set up a foundation.’ We would tell him what we were trying to do and pledge him to secrecy, and he would say, ‘Of course I’ll do it,’ and then you would publish a letterhead and his name would be on it and there would be a foundation. It was really a pretty simple device. Tom Braden (former CIA man)

Et nous qui croyions qu’Obama avait inventé le soft power!

Pollock, Motherwell, de Kooning, Rothko, Encounter, plus  de  800 journaux, magazines et organismes d’information publique, l’Animal Farm de George Orwell, jazzmen americains, recitals d’opera, le Boston Symphony Orchestra, Hollywood, l’edition, les auteurs des celebres guides touristiques Fodor, the Congress for Cultural Freedom, tournees internationales d’expositions ("Advancing American Art", the State Department, 1947) …

Nouvelle déception et consternation dans la blogosphere progressiste

Au lendemain de la déroute du siecle de leur poulain …

Et a l’heure ou nos pilleurs d’archives militaires en pleine guerre se mettent a présent a dédouaner le cowboy Bush lui-meme de ses "mensonges" sur les ADM de Saddam et meme a denoncer les chiffres bidonnés de nos torchonnistes (109 000 au lieu de 650 000 pour l’Irak, soit pas moins de 600%!)…

Cette reconfirmation, retrouvée dans un article de the Independent d’il y a 15 ans :

Non seulement l’art, ca sert ausi a faire la guerre

Mais Obama n’aurait pas inventé le soft power!

Qui daterait en fait du tout début de la Guerre froide en 1947 …

Et aurait été inventé par … la CIA!

Qui, non contente d’espionner et de fomenter des troubles dans la patrie du socialisme en soutenant ou exfiltrant des dissidents, allait jusqu’a se meler d’art et d’art d’avant-garde !

Et pas seulement de littérature ou d’art soviétique (comme la publication du roman ayant permis a Boris Pasternak d’obtenir son prix Nobel).

Mais aussi, sans compter nos propres syndicats et centres de recherches, d’art américain dont les anciens Ivy-leaguers dont elle était truffée organisaient et financaient, via l’équivalent américain du Komintern et de musées et millionnaires comme Nelson Rockefeller, expositions et tournées mondiales.

Y compris, contre l’inculture du président Truman lui-meme et le farouche antiaméricanisme et prosovietisme  des artistes en question (ses propres "idiots utiles" en quelque sorte – mais pour la bonne cause), secretement …

Et tout ca pour démontrer la prétendue superiorité, sur la patrie du social-réalisme qui elle financait nos Picasso, d’un soi-disant Monde libre et de son auto-proclamée "free enterprise painting"….

Modern art was CIA ‘weapon’

Revealed: how the spy agency used unwitting artists such as Pollock and de Kooning in a cultural Cold War

Frances Stonor Saunders

The Independent

22 October 1995

For decades in art circles it was either a rumour or a joke, but now it is confirmed as a fact. The Central Intelligence Agency used American modern art – including the works of such artists as Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko – as a weapon in the Cold War. In the manner of a Renaissance prince – except that it acted secretly – the CIA fostered and promoted American Abstract Expressionist painting around the world for more than 20 years.

The connection is improbable. This was a period, in the 1950s and 1960s, when the great majority of Americans disliked or even despised modern art – President Truman summed up the popular view when he said: "If that’s art, then I’m a Hottentot." As for the artists themselves, many were ex- com- munists barely acceptable in the America of the McCarthyite era, and certainly not the sort of people normally likely to receive US government backing.

Why did the CIA support them? Because in the propaganda war with the Soviet Union, this new artistic movement could be held up as proof of the creativity, the intellectual freedom, and the cultural power of the US. Russian art, strapped into the communist ideological straitjacket, could not compete.

The existence of this policy, rumoured and disputed for many years, has now been confirmed for the first time by former CIA officials. Unknown to the artists, the new American art was secretly promoted under a policy known as the "long leash" – arrangements similar in some ways to the indirect CIA backing of the journal Encounter, edited by Stephen Spender.

The decision to include culture and art in the US Cold War arsenal was taken as soon as the CIA was founded in 1947. Dismayed at the appeal communism still had for many intellectuals and artists in the West, the new agency set up a division, the Propaganda Assets Inventory, which at its peak could influence more than 800 newspapers, magazines and public information organisations. They joked that it was like a Wurlitzer jukebox: when the CIA pushed a button it could hear whatever tune it wanted playing across the world.

The next key step came in 1950, when the International Organisations Division (IOD) was set up under Tom Braden. It was this office which subsidised the animated version of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, which sponsored American jazz artists, opera recitals, the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s international touring programme. Its agents were placed in the film industry, in publishing houses, even as travel writers for the celebrated Fodor guides. And, we now know, it promoted America’s anarchic avant-garde movement, Abstract Expressionism.

Initially, more open attempts were made to support the new American art. In 1947 the State Department organised and paid for a touring international exhibition entitled "Advancing American Art", with the aim of rebutting Soviet suggestions that America was a cultural desert. But the show caused outrage at home, prompting Truman to make his Hottentot remark and one bitter congressman to declare: "I am just a dumb American who pays taxes for this kind of trash." The tour had to be cancelled.

The US government now faced a dilemma. This philistinism, combined with Joseph McCarthy’s hysterical denunciations of all that was avant-garde or unorthodox, was deeply embarrassing. It discredited the idea that America was a sophisticated, culturally rich democracy. It also prevented the US government from consolidating the shift in cultural supremacy from Paris to New York since the 1930s. To resolve this dilemma, the CIA was brought in.

The connection is not quite as odd as it might appear. At this time the new agency, staffed mainly by Yale and Harvard graduates, many of whom collected art and wrote novels in their spare time, was a haven of liberalism when compared with a political world dominated by McCarthy or with J Edgar Hoover’s FBI. If any official institution was in a position to celebrate the collection of Leninists, Trotskyites and heavy drinkers that made up the New York School, it was the CIA.

Until now there has been no first-hand evidence to prove that this connection was made, but for the first time a former case officer, Donald Jameson, has broken the silence. Yes, he says, the agency saw Abstract Expressionism as an opportunity, and yes, it ran with it.

"Regarding Abstract Expressionism, I’d love to be able to say that the CIA invented it just to see what happens in New York and downtown SoHo tomorrow!" he joked. "But I think that what we did really was to recognise the difference. It was recognised that Abstract Expression- ism was the kind of art that made Socialist Realism look even more stylised and more rigid and confined than it was. And that relationship was exploited in some of the exhibitions.

"In a way our understanding was helped because Moscow in those days was very vicious in its denunciation of any kind of non-conformity to its own very rigid patterns. And so one could quite adequately and accurately reason that anything they criticised that much and that heavy- handedly was worth support one way or another."

To pursue its underground interest in America’s lefty avant-garde, the CIA had to be sure its patronage could not be discovered. "Matters of this sort could only have been done at two or three removes," Mr Jameson explained, "so that there wouldn’t be any question of having to clear Jackson Pollock, for example, or do anything that would involve these people in the organisation. And it couldn’t have been any closer, because most of them were people who had very little respect for the government, in particular, and certainly none for the CIA. If you had to use people who considered themselves one way or another to be closer to Moscow than to Washington, well, so much the better perhaps."

This was the "long leash". The centrepiece of the CIA campaign became the Congress for Cultural Freedom, a vast jamboree of intellectuals, writers, historians, poets, and artists which was set up with CIA funds in 1950 and run by a CIA agent. It was the beach-head from which culture could be defended against the attacks of Moscow and its "fellow travellers" in the West. At its height, it had offices in 35 countries and published more than two dozen magazines, including Encounter.

The Congress for Cultural Freedom also gave the CIA the ideal front to promote its covert interest in Abstract Expressionism. It would be the official sponsor of touring exhibitions; its magazines would provide useful platforms for critics favourable to the new American painting; and no one, the artists included, would be any the wiser.

This organisation put together several exhibitions of Abstract Expressionism during the 1950s. One of the most significant, "The New American Painting", visited every big European city in 1958-59. Other influential shows included "Modern Art in the United States" (1955) and "Masterpieces of the Twentieth Century" (1952).

Because Abstract Expressionism was expensive to move around and exhibit, millionaires and museums were called into play. Pre-eminent among these was Nelson Rockefeller, whose mother had co-founded the Museum of Modern Art in New York. As president of what he called "Mummy’s museum", Rockefeller was one of the biggest backers of Abstract Expressionism (which he called "free enterprise painting"). His museum was contracted to the Congress for Cultural Freedom to organise and curate most of its important art shows.

The museum was also linked to the CIA by several other bridges. William Paley, the president of CBS broadcasting and a founding father of the CIA, sat on the members’ board of the museum’s International Programme. John Hay Whitney, who had served in the agency’s wartime predecessor, the OSS, was its chairman. And Tom Braden, first chief of the CIA’s International Organisations Division, was executive secretary of the museum in 1949.

Now in his eighties, Mr Braden lives in Woodbridge, Virginia, in a house packed with Abstract Expressionist works and guarded by enormous Alsatians. He explained the purpose of the IOD.

"We wanted to unite all the people who were writers, who were musicians, who were artists, to demonstrate that the West and the United States was devoted to freedom of expression and to intellectual achievement, without any rigid barriers as to what you must write, and what you must say, and what you must do, and what you must paint, which was what was going on in the Soviet Union. I think it was the most important division that the agency had, and I think that it played an enormous role in the Cold War."

He confirmed that his division had acted secretly because of the public hostility to the avant-garde: "It was very difficult to get Congress to go along with some of the things we wanted to do – send art abroad, send symphonies abroad, publish magazines abroad. That’s one of the reasons it had to be done covertly. It had to be a secret. In order to encourage openness we had to be secret."

If this meant playing pope to this century’s Michelangelos, well, all the better: "It takes a pope or somebody with a lot of money to recognise art and to support it," Mr Braden said. "And after many centuries people say, ‘Oh look! the Sistine Chapel, the most beautiful creation on Earth!’ It’s a problem that civilisation has faced ever since the first artist and the first millionaire or pope who supported him. And yet if it hadn’t been for the multi-millionaires or the popes, we wouldn’t have had the art."

Would Abstract Expressionism have been the dominant art movement of the post-war years without this patronage? The answer is probably yes. Equally, it would be wrong to suggest that when you look at an Abstract Expressionist painting you are being duped by the CIA.

But look where this art ended up: in the marble halls of banks, in airports, in city halls, boardrooms and great galleries. For the Cold Warriors who promoted them, these paintings were a logo, a signature for their culture and system which they wanted to display everywhere that counted. They succeeded.

* The full story of the CIA and modern art is told in ‘Hidden Hands’ on Channel 4 next Sunday at 8pm. The first programme in the series is screened tonight. Frances Stonor Saunders is writing a book on the cultural Cold War.

Covert Operation

In 1958 the touring exhibition "The New American Painting", including works by Pollock, de Kooning, Motherwell and others, was on show in Paris. The Tate Gallery was keen to have it next, but could not afford to bring it over. Late in the day, an American millionaire and art lover, Julius Fleischmann, stepped in with the cash and the show was brought to London.

The money that Fleischmann provided, however, was not his but the CIA’s. It came through a body called the Farfield Foundation, of which Fleischmann was president, but far from being a millionaire’s charitable arm, the foundation was a secret conduit for CIA funds.

So, unknown to the Tate, the public or the artists, the exhibition was transferred to London at American taxpayers’ expense to serve subtle Cold War propaganda purposes. A former CIA man, Tom Braden, described how such conduits as the Farfield Foundation were set up. "We would go to somebody in New York who was a well-known rich person and we would say, ‘We want to set up a foundation.’ We would tell him what we were trying to do and pledge him to secrecy, and he would say, ‘Of course I’ll do it,’ and then you would publish a letterhead and his name would be on it and there would be a foundation. It was really a pretty simple device."

Julius Fleischmann was well placed for such a role. He sat on the board of the International Programme of the Museum of Modern Art in New York – as did several powerful figures close to the CIA.

Voir aussi:

Les défis diplomatiques de Barack Obama

Election d’Obama : le retour du soft power ?

François-Bernard Huyghe

Affaires strategiques info

1er novembre 2008

Si un lexicographe analysait les millions de mots qui déferlent sur les médias en plein orgasme obamaniaque, il classerait sans doute comme les plus fréquents et significatifs : espoir, changement, diversité, modernité, rêve américain… De leur côté, les Américains qui font la fête, des ghettos jusqu’à Wall Street, sont sincèrement persuadés que « le monde va de nouveau nous aimer », comme si leur choix leur restituait une innocence perdue et rendait au pays l’attraction qu’il n’aurait jamais dû perdre.

Ils auront d’ailleurs raison pendant quelques semaines ou quelques mois, le temps d’un état de grâce planétaire que pourraient entretenir déclarations ou gestes symboliques, comme la fermeture de la prison de Guantanamo ou le retour de quelques boys.

Parmi les admirateurs européens d’Obama, il en est sans doute qui découvriront à propos du Moyen-Orient, de la présence de l’Otan en Afghanistan ou de l’Iran, que l’élu de leur cœur n’est pas tout à fait sur la ligne qu’ils espéraient. Et qu’il demandera beaucoup à des alliés qui n’auront plus à lui opposer la litanie des fautes originelles de Bush (guerre d’Irak, refus de signer le protocole de Kyoto, unilatéralisme…).

Pour le dire en termes plus galants, les politologues s’interrogent sur le retour du « soft power » américain (les méthodes « hard » chères aux néo-conservateurs ayant échoué avec une évidence difficile à contester). Mais au fait qu’est-ce que le soft power ? On peut trouver des ancêtres à l’idée formulée dans les années Clinton : la guerre « pour le cœur et l’esprit » de toutes les Nations engagée par Woodrow Wilson, ou la « diplomatie publique » chère à Eisenhower, cette action internationale de promotion des États-Unis et de l’idéologie occidentale libérale par médias interposés qui fut si typique de la guerre froide. Mais quand le doyen Joseph Nye formule pour la première fois le concept de soft power en 1991 dans un livre au titre significatif (Bound to lead), il a quelque chose de plus précis en tête et qui suppose le rayonnement du modèle politique, économique, culturel et technologique des U.S.A. Il s’agit d’amener le reste du monde à partager leur point de vue, sans recourir à la carotte ni au bâton. Par un savant dosage de l’attraction (l’image des USA et notamment sa culture), de la persuasion (par la conversion à ses valeurs politiques) et enfin d’une action diplomatique où la recherche de la légitimité et du soutien des autres États tient une grande part.

Cette politique s’appuie sur la capacité de doser aide et négociation, incitation et coopération jusqu’à amener d’autres États à coopérer avec les USA, moitié sous la pression de leur opinion convertie aux valeurs US moitié sous l’incitation d’une diplomatie US soucieuse des formes et des susceptibilités. Dans son esprit, le tout coïncide peu ou prou avec le sens de l’histoire où les USA jouent une fonction avant-gardiste. Ainsi pour Nye « La bonne nouvelle est que les tendances sociales de l’âge de l’information globale contribuent à façonner un monde qui sera davantage en sympathie avec les valeurs américaines à long terme. » . En somme, être moderne, branché et « global » impliquait d’être proaméricain.

Depuis, la façon de penser la politique extérieure comme un dosage entre soft et hard power, entre l’attractif et le coercitif, est depuis devenue un lieu commun du débat politique outre-Atlantique. Il serait, du reste, caricatural d’assimiler soft à démocrate et hard à républicain : Nye lui-même insiste sur le fait que les nécessités du temps exigent un mélange des deux, et il baptise « smart power » l’heureux mélange. Et sur ce point, Obama pourrait être son disciple.

Soyons clairs : dans soft power, il y a pouvoir (au sens le plus classique : la probabilité d’obtenir d’autrui un comportement conforme à vos désirs). Sa pratique consiste moins à être sympathique et « respectueux » (des diversités, de l’écologie, des sensibilités, des cultures…) qu’à être efficace en économisant les moyens de la puissance. Ce pourrait bien être l’art de faire coïncider les intérêts des USA avec les désirs des autres, au sens où l’idéologie est la représentation mentale d’une position et d’intérêts particuliers sous forme de vérités universelles.. Cela marche souvent. Rappelons-nous le discours du président Sarkozy devant le Congrès US le 7 novembre 2007 : « Dans l’imaginaire de ma génération, il y a la conquête de l’Ouest et Hollywood. Il y a Elvis Presley, qu’on n’a peut-être pas l’habitude de citer dans ces murs, mais, pour ma génération, il est universel ! Il y a Duke Ellington, il y a Hemingway. Il y a John Wayne, il y a Charlton Heston. Il y a Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth. Il y a aussi Armstrong, Aldrin, Collins réalisant le plus vieux rêve de l’Homme le jour où des Américains ont marché sur la lune, l’Amérique était universelle et chacun voulait être de cette aventure. »

Notre président qui a lui-même présenté Obama comme « son copain » pourrait donc être un des plus réceptifs à cette politique. Et il ne sera pas le seul.

Obama le grand communicateur s’est montré exceptionnellement brillant pour incarner et attirer. Mais la politique étrangère ne consiste pas seulement à conquérir des « territoires mentaux », elle suppose aussi de trancher et d’agir contre. Il se pourrait que les temps soient un peu durs pour une politique soft.

François-Bernard Huyghe, chercheur associé à l’IRIS et auteur de "Maîtres du faire croire. De la propagande à l’influence" (Vuibert). Il anime par ailleurs le blog http://www.huyghe.fr

Voir enfin:

Donald F.B. Jameson; Handled Russian Defectors for CIA

Adam Bernstein

Washington Post

September 11, 2007

Donald F.B. "Jamie" Jameson, 82, a branch chief in the Central Intelligence Agency’s directorate of operations who was highly regarded for his work handling Russian defectors and other Soviet covert operations, died Sept. 5 at Holy Cross Hospital. He had complications of a stroke in March.

Until retiring in 1973, Mr. Jameson spent more than 20 years working for the CIA. He was "one of the most experienced defector recruiters and handlers within the agency," according to journalist Tom Mangold’s 1991 book, "Cold Warrior," about the CIA under James J. Angleton, the much-discredited chief of counterintelligence.

In Mangold’s account, Mr. Jameson criticized Angleton’s handling of KGB defector Anatoly M. Golitsin, who in the early 1960s was considered a major CIA asset. Golitsin eventually sent the agency on a highly destructive hunt for an alleged Soviet mole within its own ranks.

Mr. Jameson suggested Golitsin "needed to be stepped on," to rein in his requests for money and access to Washington’s power elite. Angleton and his staff blocked that judgment and soon removed Mr. Jameson as Golitsin’s case officer.

From 1962 to 1969, Mr. Jameson headed the branch in charge of Soviet bloc covert action. His branch encouraged dissidents behind the Iron Curtain and helped smuggle banned books to and from the Soviet Union and its satellite countries.

He also helped arrange for the defection of Svetlana Alliluyeva, daughter of former Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, and the English-language publication of her book "Twenty Letters to a Friend" (1967).

Mr. Jameson retired as special adviser to the Soviet bloc division chief and became a writer and consultant on international finance and politics.

Donald Fenton Booth Jameson, whose great-uncle was Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Booth Tarkington, was an Indianapolis native. He graduated in 1945 from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis and spent the end of World War II in the Pacific.

He received a master’s degree in international relations from Columbia University, and, fluent in Russian, he was recruited to the CIA to enlist and train agents to infiltrate the Soviet Union.

In 1999, he told U.S. News & World Report that many of his recruits were used as observers to watch troop movements. Still others had assignments to collect leaves and frogs near plutonium processing centers so U.S. scientists could test the samples for chemicals.

Most of the agents failed to work at all, he said. Some were caught and sent to the gulag, and others disappeared. In retrospect, he told the magazine, "Ours was a very large effort that produced virtually no results useful to intelligence."

In 1955, Mr. Jameson interrogated an East German defector whom he later suspected of carrying the polio virus. Mr. Jameson received treatment at polio centers, but his limbs weakened substantially by the 1980s, and he was effectively a paraplegic.

He was an Ashburn resident, and his memberships included the Cosmos Club and the Army and Navy Club. He also belonged to Le Cercle, a foreign policy think tank established during the Cold War that reportedly included senior politicians, diplomats and intelligence agents worldwide.

His marriage to Barbara Nixon Jameson ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife of 38 years, Lisa Rodman Jameson of Ashburn; a son from his first marriage, Jeremy Jameson of Houston; three children from his second marriage, Margaret Jameson and Thomas Jameson, both of New York City, and Alexander Jameson of Washington; and a sister.


Bilan Bush: Les vrais mensonges de Bush (Bush’s true lies)

8 novembre, 2010
L’armée polonaise a découvert des obus au sarin en Irak. (…) "Il est important de constater que ces munitions avaient été transportées hors de leur dépôt et enterrées afin de ne pas être trouvées par les inspecteurs de l’Onu", a estimé le chef du WSI. (…) Le ministre polonais de la Défense Jerzy Szmajdzinski a affirmé que la découverte de ces missiles démontrait que Saddam Hussein avait menti et ne s’était pas débarrassé des armes détenues illégalement par l’Irak. (…) "Il ne fait aucun doute qu’il s’agit d’obus datant de la période 1980-88, du genre de ceux utilisés contre les Kurdes et dans la guerre Iran-Irak", ont affirmé les forces polonaises dans un communiqué. Cette information a été confirmée par l’armée américaine. L’Irak a reconnu avoir produit des munitions au cyclo-sarin dans les années 1980 dans le cadre de son conflit avec l’Iran, mais avait promis de détruire ses stocks et de cesser de produire ces armes comme l’exigent les résolutions adoptées par l’Onu après la guerre du Golfe, en 1991. Wojciech Moskwa (2 juillet 2004)
Les inspecteurs en désarmement des Nations unies ont découvert 20 moteurs utilisés pour les missiles irakiens A Samoud 2 dans un dépôt de ferraille en Jordanie, en compagnie d’autre matériel pouvant être utilisé pour produire des armes de destruction massive, a annoncé mercredi le chef des inspecteurs. Le Nouvel Observateur (2004)
The United Nations has determined that Saddam Hussein shipped weapons of mass destruction components as well as medium-range ballistic missiles before, during and after the U.S.-led war against Iraq in 2003. The UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission briefed the Security Council on new findings that could help trace the whereabouts of Saddam’s missile and WMD program. The briefing contained satellite photographs that demonstrated the speed with which Saddam dismantled his missile and WMD sites before and during the war. He said the Iraqi facilities were dismantled and sent both to Europe and around the Middle East. at the rate of about 1,000 tons of metal a month. Destinations included Jordan, the Netherlands and Turkey. (…) In the Dutch city of Rotterdam, an SA-2 surface-to-air missile, one of at least 12, was discovered in a junk yard, replete with UN tags. In Jordan, UN inspectors found 20 SA-2 engines as well as components for solid-fuel for missiles. East West services (2004)
Que nous disent en effet aussi bien lord Butler que les membres de la commission sénatoriale d’enquêtes à Washington ? Que ni Bush ni Blair n’ont jamais menti à leur opinion de manière consciente et délibérée. Ils ont pensé jusqu’au bout (la diplomatie française aussi, d’ailleurs) que Saddam Hussein disposait de capacités de destruction massive bien réelles et dont l’emploi était devenu de plus en plus incertain. (…) Enfin, il faut verser au dossier le témoignage de l’ancien chef des services secrets roumains Ion Pacepa, qui a souvent été fiable, selon lequel les forces armées du pacte de Varsovie, soviétiques mais aussi roumaines, avaient mis au point un plan de liquidation des armes chimiques et bactériologiques en cas d’arrivée imminente des Américains. Cette opération, dont Pacepa donne le nom de code, aurait déjà été réalisée dans les années 80 avec la Libye de Kadhafi. La crainte, en effet, qu’une utilisation décentralisée et erratique du chimique, pour ne pas parler du bactériologique, n’entraîne une force conventionnelle américaine à des représailles très massives, était dominante à l’époque à Moscou. On va ajouter qu’à partir de l’avènement d’Andropov en 1982, l’Union soviétique avait commencé sans trop le dire à reprendre un à un les jouets les plus dangereux que Brejnev et les siens avaient laissé filer vers le tiers-monde. Mais il n’y a rien d’invraisemblable à ce que ces protocoles, élaborés en leur temps par l’Armée rouge et le KGB, aient tout simplement servi à Saddam pour supprimer au dernier moment les armes chimiques et bactériologiques les plus dangereuses dont il disposait, dans le but d’éviter tout incident dès lors qu’il venait d’accepter à l’automne 2002 la reprise des inspections de l’agence de Vienne. Manifestement, les services secrets anglais et américains n’ont pas compris cette manoeuvre de «maskirovska» (feinte, en russe) si typiquement soviétique que le lieutenant-colonel des services, Vladimir Poutine, ne puisse empêcher de signaler le premier avec une ironie triomphale mal contenue à Washington en faisant remarquer, dès les premiers jours de l’occupation de l’Irak, que les armes de destruction massive ne seraient jamais trouvées. Il en savait quelque chose. L’autre erreur, la plus grossière qui ait été commise, provient d’un analyste en chef de la CIA chargé du dossier nucléaire et qui a continué à prétendre pendant un an et demi que le matériel de centrifugeuses acheté illégalement par l’Irak en l’an 2000 avait pour but de produire de l’uranium militaire enrichi. Or, quelques semaines seulement après cette assertion, une contre-expertise tout à la fois interne à la CIA et provenant du service rival et militaire la DIA avait montré de façon convaincante que ces centrifugeuses ne pouvaient servir qu’à fabriquer des réacteurs de rockets. (…) En revanche, dans la seconde affaire souvent invoquée à charge, qui concerne le nucléaire irakien, c’est l’Administration, et non ses détracteurs, qui avait raison. Le dénommé Joseph Wilson, ancien ambassadeur au Niger et militant du Parti démocrate, avait été envoyé à Niamey pour enquêter sur les possibles contacts, voire les contrats secrets qui auraient été noués entre le gouvernement nigérien et les services secrets irakiens aux fins d’acheter de l’uranium brut des mines d’Arlit qui fournirent longtemps notre propre force de frappe. Après un entretien assez naïf avec le président Tandja – qui fit tout de même assassiner son prédécesseur, lequel fut mon ancien élève -, le sagace Wilson avait conclu qu’il n’en était rien. Lorsque l’on découvrit que le soi-disant contrat était un faux fabriqué dans une officine, on décida partout que le compte des Anglais et des Américains était bon. Un nouveau mensonge intéressé. Et lorsque, pour se défendre, des émissaires de Cheney et de Rumsfeld communiquèrent en sous-main à la presse le fait que le dénommé Wilson – qui les incendiait dans cette même presse – était marié à un officier supérieur de la CIA, le concert se fit accablant. Or Wilson est bien celui qui a menti le plus ouvertement en prétendant avoir été choisi pour sa mission par le département d’État, alors que la commission sénatoriale a tout simplement révélé que c’est sa femme, à la CIA, qui a insisté auprès de Tenet pour qu’on envoie son mari. Et pour cause, Wilson ne voulait pas davantage apparaître dans ses liens personnels avec le service de renseignements américains, qu’il ne voulait reconnaître qu’il partait avec la mission de ridiculiser l’enquête britannique qui faisait une nouvelle fois apparaître l’incompétence de Langley. Or c’est bien le MI 6 qui a eu vent de ce trafic d’uranium et fabriqué le faux comme il est courant dans le renseignement, pour masquer l’origine de sa source – sans doute un membre du gouvernement du Niger et sans doute aussi un pays ami et voisin, peut-être ancien, le Nigeria, peut-être très nouvel ami, la Libye. On peut donc considérer que, si Saddam a eu bien du mal à reconstituer le potentiel industriel nucléaire que l’agence de Vienne – grâce surtout à l’excellent travail du professeur Kelly qui s’est depuis suicidé – avait réussi à démanteler, ces services secrets dopés par le produit fabuleux de la contrebande pétrolière continuaient, eux, à faire leur marché de matières fissiles, sans doute en attendant des jours meilleurs. Alexandre Adler
L’Irak aurait bien cherché à prendre des contacts en Afrique pour se procurer de l’uranium: c’est ce qui ressort du rapport de la commission du renseignement du Sénat américain rendu public vendredi et qui met en cause les informations de la CIA sur la possession par l’Irak d’armes de destruction massive. Le rapport du Sénat vient ainsi paradoxalement appuyer une assertion de la présidence, sur laquelle la Maison Blanche était ensuite revenue. Dans son discours de 2003 sur l’état de l’Union, le président Bush avait en effet fait état d’informations britanniques sur des tentatives irakiennes pour se procure de l’uranium en Afrique. La Maison Blanche avait ensuite déclaré que les informations étaient trop peu solides et n’auraient pas dû être mentionnées dans un discours de cette importance. L’ancien directeur de la CIA George Tenet avait pris le blâme sur lui, affirmant qu’il aurait dû supprimer cette mention dans le discours présidentiel. Pourtant, selon le rapport publié vendredi, des renseignements britanniques et aussi français avaient averti, de manière séparée, les Etats-Unis de possibles tentatives irakiennes pour se procurer de l’uranium au Niger, ancienne colonie française où les ressources en uranium sont exploitées par des sociétés françaises. L’ancien Premier ministre nigérien Ibrahim Mayaki aurait ainsi déclaré avoir rencontré en 1999 des responsables irakiens intéressés par «une extension des liens commerciaux» entre les deux pays. Ibrahim Mayaki avait interprété ce "commerce" comme signifiant une offre d’achat d’uranium. La rencontre a eu lieu mais l’ancien Premier ministre du Niger affirme avoir détourné la conversation de l’uranium, peu désireux qu’il était de conclure un marché avec un Etat se trouvant sous embargo de l’ONU. Associated Press
Even when viewed through a post-war lens, documentary evidence of messages are consistent with the Iraqi Survey Group’s conclusion that Saddam was at least keeping a WMD program primed for a quick re-start the moment the UN Security Council lifted sanctions. Iraqi Perpectives Project (March 2006)
Captured Iraqi documents have uncovered evidence that links the regime of Saddam Hussein to regional and global terrorism, including a variety of revolutionary, liberation, nationalist, and Islamic terrorist organizations. While these documents do not reveal direct coordination and assistance between the Saddam regime and the al Qaeda network, they do indicate that Saddam was willing to use, albeit cautiously, operatives affiliated with al Qaeda as long as Saddam could have these terrorist operatives monitored closely. Because Saddam’s security organizations and Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network operated with similar aims (at least in the short term), considerable overlap was inevitable when monitoring, contacting, financing, and training the same outside groups. This created both the appearance of and, in some ways, a de facto link between the organizations. At times, these organizations would work together in pursuit of shared goals but still maintain their autonomy and independence because of innate caution and mutual distrust. Though the execution of Iraqi terror plots was not always successful, evidence shows that Saddam’s use of terrorist tactics and his support for terrorist groups remained strong up until the collapse of the regime.  Iraqi Perspectives Project (Saddam and Terrorism, Nov. 2007, released Mar. 2008)
Beginning in 1994, the Fedayeen Saddam opened its own paramilitary training camps for volunteers, graduating more than 7,200 "good men racing full with courage and enthusiasm" in the first year. Beginning in 1998, these camps began hosting "Arab volunteers from Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, ‘the Gulf,’ and Syria." It is not clear from available evidence where all of these non-Iraqi volunteers who were "sacrificing for the cause" went to ply their newfound skills. Before the summer of 2002, most volunteers went home upon the completion of training. But these camps were humming with frenzied activity in the months immediately prior to the war. As late as January 2003, the volunteers participated in a special training event called the "Heroes Attack." This training event was designed in part to prepare regional Fedayeen Saddam commands to "obstruct the enemy from achieving his goal and to support keeping peace and stability in the province. " Study (Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Virginia)
The information that the Russians have collected from their sources inside the American Central Command in Doha is that the United States is convinced that occupying Iraqi cities are impossible, and that they have changed their tactic. Captured Iraqi document  ("Letter from Russian Official to Presidential Secretary Concerning American Intentions in Iraq", March 25, 2003)
La raison pour laquelle je continue de dire qu’il y a un lien entre l’Irak, Saddam et Al-Qaida est parce qu’il y a un lien entre l’Irak et Al-Qaida. (…) Cette administration n’a jamais dit que les attentats du 11/9 ont été orchestrés entre Saddam et Al Qaeda. Nous avons dit qu’il y avait de nombreux contacts entre Saddam Hussein et Al Qaeda. George W. Bush (Washington Post, 2004)
Once children are in Texas, Texans know it is in our best interest and their interest to educate them, regardless of the nationality of their parents. GW Bush (1995)
Bush was born in New Haven, Conn., and his family moved to West Texas seeking to establish an economic beachhead in the region’s oil industry. With a grandfather who served as a U.S. senator from Connecticut and a father who worked as an oil executive before leading the CIA and eventually becoming president, Bush had plenty of blue in his blood. (The Andover-Yale-Harvard trifecta didn’t hurt, either.)
In his gubernatorial reelection victory in 1998, Bush won 49 percent of the Hispanic vote and 27 percent of the black vote – a strong showing for a Republican in Texas.
In many ways, Bush’s commitment to nation-building was primarily a rhetorical tool to build domestic support for military operations. In the minds of key foreign policy players on Bush’s team, regime change, not rebuilding civil societies, was the real goal. Memories of the fall of the Soviet Union made officials such as Vice President Dick Cheney optimistic that such transformations were possible on the cheap. This lack of commitment became clear when U.S. resources were hastily diverted from Afghanistan toward Iraq, and when then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld emphasized in the spring of 2002 that the Afghan people would have to handle most of the reconstruction themselves. Ironically, President Obama now finds himself deeply involved in nation-building projects in Afghanistan and Iraq, despite the ambivalence of the president who launched those wars.
Cheney opposed Bush’s decision to fire Rumsfeld and resented the fact that the president would not pardon "Scooter" Libby, a Cheney aide who was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice. Bush rejected the vice president’s preference for a hard-line stance toward North Korea and Iran, and it was Bush, not Cheney, who pushed for the troop surge in Iraq in 2007 as well as the TARP bailouts in 2008. And according to reports on Bush’s memoir, the president even considered removing Cheney from the 2004 presidential ticket, given the vice president’s "Darth Vader" reputation. Julian E. Zelizer

Attention: des mensonges peuvent en cacher d’autres!

Cowboy ignorant, raciste impitoyable, obsédé du nation-building, marionnette de Cheney, démolisseur du conservatisme …

Ou l’on redécouvre

A l’heure ou, après la raclée électorale que l’on sait, nos obamalatres de service rivalisent d’ingéniosité pour tenter de sauver le soldat Obama

Et ou un ancien président Bush, jusqu’a present particulierement silencieux (penser a Carter ou Bush) malgre la férocité des attaques contre lui y compris par son successeur et sa claque médiatique, sort ses mémoires

Derriere les véritables mythes que continuent a colporter nos désormais si susceptibles medias et rappelés par l’historien de Princeton Julian E. Zelizer …

(étrangement discret toutefois sur les évidents mensonges sur les prétendus mensonges sur les ADM de Saddam – sur un total de… 935, s’il vous plait! -, le débat n’ayant jamais porté sur l’existence, a laquelle croyait l’ensemble de la communauté du renseignement = et reconfirmé tout récemment comme il se doit par… Wikileaks! -, mais sur leur dangerosité et les moyens d’y faire face ?) …

Notamment son bilan largement pro-immigration, ses désaccords avec Cheney (qu’il pensera un moment remplacer), ses doutes sur le nation building et, comme vient de le confirmer le raz-de-maree des elections de mi-mandat, l’héritage d’un conservatisme américain en aucun cas diminué

Que Bush avait délibérémment joue, ce qui se retournera comme on le sait contre lui (comme quoi le crime ne paie pas !), la carte du tant du plouc et du cowboy que de l’autodérision systématique sur ses capacités intellectuelles

Le tout pour faire oublier, face a la notoire tete d’oeuf Gore ou l’indécrottable patricien francophone Kerry et pendant que d’autres ou les memes en rajoutaient sur leur CV ou, perdus sans leur prompteur, se réécrivaient a 33 ans a peine des vies entieres), sa réelle position de petit-fils de sénateur du Connecticut  et fils de président ex-millionnaire du ptrole et patron du renseignement …

Comme son score le placant dans les 16% supérieurs pour le SAT (soit 1206 contre un  Kennedy terminant le lycée 65e sur 110), sa licence d’histoire de Yale et sa maitrise de gestion de Harvard !

A challenge to everything you think you know

5 myths about George W. Bush

Julian E. Zelizer

The Washington Post

Sunday, November 7, 2010

1. George W. Bush was an uninformed Texas cowboy.

Nobody loved this myth more than Bush himself. During his 2000 campaign against Vice President Al Gore, then-Gov. Bush went to great lengths to depict himself as a down-home Texan whom voters could relate to. Even on a weekend when he was considering as momentous a choice as his running mate, reporters watched as Bush climbed into his SUV and drove down the dirt roads of his Crawford ranch.

But that image was at odds with his upbringing. Bush was born in New Haven, Conn., and his family moved to West Texas seeking to establish an economic beachhead in the region’s oil industry. With a grandfather who served as a U.S. senator from Connecticut and a father who worked as an oil executive before leading the CIA and eventually becoming president, Bush had plenty of blue in his blood. (The Andover-Yale-Harvard trifecta didn’t hurt, either.)

Again in 2004, Republicans deployed the president’s folksy image and manner of speech, contrasting Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry (the elitist who windsurfs off Nantucket) with Bush (the guy you’d rather have a beer with – even if he doesn’t drink).

Bush’s image backfired later, of course. As the administration stumbled in crises from Katrina to Iraq, the reputation that had helped Bush win office turned into a huge liability as Americans increasingly questioned his competence.

2. "Compassionate conservatism" was just a campaign slogan.

Many critics dismiss Bush’s talk about "compassionate conservatism" as nothing more than a cynical ploy to win over moderate voters in 2000. Liberals never believed that Bush truly wanted to bring racial and ethnic diversity to the Republican Party or that he accepted the need for the federal government to deal with entrenched social problems. The administration’s bungled response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster, along with regressive fiscal policies that disproportionately benefited wealthier Americans, also seemed to contradict the promise of compassion.

Yet, as Vanderbilt University historian Gary Gerstle has shown, Bush was personally invested in compassionate conservatism. While growing up in Texas and later serving as governor, Bush constantly befriended and worked with members of his state’s Hispanic community and fought for the rights of immigrants. "Once children are in Texas," he said in 1995, "Texans know it is in our best interest and their interest to educate them, regardless of the nationality of their parents." In his gubernatorial reelection victory in 1998, Bush won 49 percent of the Hispanic vote and 27 percent of the black vote – a strong showing for a Republican in Texas. (It is unsurprising that, in his memoir, Bush reportedly describes the accusations of racism he experienced in the aftermath of Katrina as "the worst moment of my presidency.")

Bush’s experience as a born-again Christian led him to empathize with individuals’ personal struggles and to respect the role of religion in civic life. As president, he insisted that the war on terrorism must not become a war against Muslims. And his signature legislative accomplishments included expansive domestic programs, such as the No Child Left Behind Act (a huge extension of the federal government into primary education) and the Medicare prescription drug benefit (the biggest expansion of the system since its creation 40 years earlier).

Compassionate conservatism struggled not because Bush lacked conviction but because the GOP turned against it. Hard-line congressional Republicans stifled his efforts to liberalize immigration policy, for example. By 2006 and 2007, with his political capital rapidly diminishing because of the war in Iraq, Bush had little ability to fight back.

3. Bush committed America to nation-building in Iraq and Afghanistan.

After the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush appeared to commit the United States to remaking enemy nations into pro-Western democracies. In Afghanistan and Iraq, the United States destroyed the governments in power and touted an ambitious "freedom agenda" far exceeding anything even Woodrow Wilson ever conceived. "Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe – because in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty," Bush said in November 2003.

Yet in many ways, Bush’s commitment to nation-building was primarily a rhetorical tool to build domestic support for military operations. In the minds of key foreign policy players on Bush’s team, regime change, not rebuilding civil societies, was the real goal. Memories of the fall of the Soviet Union made officials such as Vice President Dick Cheney optimistic that such transformations were possible on the cheap. This lack of commitment became clear when U.S. resources were hastily diverted from Afghanistan toward Iraq, and when then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld emphasized in the spring of 2002 that the Afghan people would have to handle most of the reconstruction themselves.

Ironically, President Obama now finds himself deeply involved in nation-building projects in Afghanistan and Iraq, despite the ambivalence of the president who launched those wars.

4. Dick Cheney ran the Bush White House.

The Bush era produced a stream of good books examining the vice president’s hidden influence. We learned how this crafty insider expanded executive power and shaped foreign policy by relying on a network of loyal advisers. In these accounts, Bush appears as a puppet to the real leader, Cheney, who lurked in the shadows.

However, much of the subsequent writing about the Bush presidency – including works by journalists such as The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward – challenges this portrait. We have begun to see instead that Bush, surrounded by political advisers such as Karl Rove, didn’t allow power to move too far away from his control.

Cheney opposed Bush’s decision to fire Rumsfeld and resented the fact that the president would not pardon "Scooter" Libby, a Cheney aide who was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice. Bush rejected the vice president’s preference for a hard-line stance toward North Korea and Iran, and it was Bush, not Cheney, who pushed for the troop surge in Iraq in 2007 as well as the TARP bailouts in 2008. And according to reports on Bush’s memoir, the president even considered removing Cheney from the 2004 presidential ticket, given the vice president’s "Darth Vader" reputation.

5. Bush left conservatism in ruins.

On election night in 2008, the conservative era appeared to be over, and the age of Obama seemed set to begin.

Except it didn’t happen that way. From the early months of the Obama administration, congressional Republicans proved remarkably disciplined. Only a few broke ranks by voting for the stimulus bill, and frustration over the economy and health-care reform – together with effective lobbying by conservative organizations – contributed to the strength and reach of the tea party movement. A recent poll by The Post, the Kaiser Foundation and Harvard University found that Americans dislike government more now than they did 10 years ago (though they support many specific programs).

A powerful network of conservative donors and political operators, ranging from the Koch brothers to Dick Armey, have offered organizational and financial support to conservative activists and politicians, while conservative media outlets have given the right a powerful base from which to attack Obama. The Republican victories in the midterm elections suggest that, for all the problems that still face the GOP, conservatism is alive and well – even if it is a far different brand of conservatism than the kind Bush championed when he took office in 2001.

Julian E. Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, is the editor of "The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment."

Voir aussi:

Bush gets bad rap on intelligence

Aubrey Immelman

Times columnist

January 14, 2001

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed …

— W. B. Yeats, "The Second Coming"

A week from today, the sun will rise on the second Bush presidency in a generation, in what for some may be a day of trepidation. Does Bush the Younger have what it takes to lead the nation in the new millennium?

It’s a question that transcends concerns about George W. Bush’s conservatism or a path to power marred by youthful indiscretions. It’s not about ideology or character; it’s a question of cognitive capacity.

The Spanish physician Juan Huarte in 1575 proposed one of the earliest recorded definitions of intelligence: learning ability, imaginativeness and good judgment. Undoubtedly, the mantle of the modern U.S. presidency imposes a steep learning curve and demands vision, wisdom and discretion.

Equally clear is this: Sheer intellectual brilliance does not cut it in the Oval Office.

In terms of brute brainpower, the smartest postwar presidents were Richard Nixon, a Duke Law School graduate with a reported IQ of 143; Jimmy Carter, who graduated in the top 10 percent of his Naval Academy class; and Rhodes scholar Bill Clinton, a graduate of Georgetown University and Yale Law School. Deeply flawed presidencies all, despite their potential.

In contrast, take high school graduate Harry Truman — railroad worker, clerk, bookkeeper, farmer, road inspector and small-town postmaster — or Ronald Reagan, sports announcer and B-list actor with mediocre college credentials.

Despite their intellectual limitations, both achieved substantial political success as president. And, to press home the point, there is Franklin D. Roosevelt, a top-tier president in rankings of historical greatness, whom the late Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes branded "a second-rate intellect but a first-class temperament."

Huarte’s notion of intelligence comprises a mix of mental acumen and emotional discernment that provides a sound foundation for modern-day presidential success.

To put it bluntly, the president need not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but he does need a full deck of cards. He must be comfortable in his own skin, free of emotional demons, and surround himself with competent people. With apologies to Saturday Night Live’s Stuart Smalley, the successful president need not be a towering giant, he just needs to be good enough, smart enough — and, doggone-it, people must like him.

George W. Bush can be likable and charming. But, as the New York Times pondered in a front-page article on June 19, 2000, "is he smart enough to be president?"

Unlike John F. Kennedy, who obtained an IQ score of 119, or Al Gore, who achieved scores of 133 and 134 on intelligence tests taken at the beginning of his high school freshman and senior years, no IQ data are available for George W. Bush. But we do know that the young Bush registered a score of 1206 on the SAT, the most widely used test of college aptitude. (The more cerebral Al Gore obtained 1355.)

Statistically, Bush’s test performance places him in the top 16 percent of prospective college students — hardly the mark of a dimwit. Of course, the SAT is not designed as an IQ test. But it is highly correlated with general intelligence, to the tune of .80. In plain language, the SAT is two parts a measure of general intelligence and one part a measure of specific scholastic reasoning skills and abilities.

If Bush could score in the top 16 percent of college applicants on the SAT, he would almost certainly rank higher on tests of general intelligence, which are normed with reference to the general population. But even if his rank remained constant at the 84th-percentile level of his SAT score, it would translate to an IQ score of 115.

It’s tempting to employ Al Gore’s IQ:SAT ratio of 134:1355 as a formula for estimating Bush’s probable intelligence quotient — an exercise in fuzzy statistics that predicts a score of 119. If the number sounds familiar, it’s precisely the IQ score attributed to Kennedy, whom Princeton political scientist Fred Greenstein, in "The Presidential Difference," commended as "a quick study, whose wit was an indication of a subtle mind."

As a final clue to Bush’s cognitive capacity, consider data from Joseph Matarazzo’s leading text on intelligence and the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth: The average IQ is about 105 for high school graduates, 115 for college graduates and 125 for people with advanced professional degrees. With his MBA from Harvard Business School, it’s not unreasonable to assume that Bush’s IQ surpasses the 115 of the average bachelor’s-degree-only college graduate.

George W. Bush has often been underestimated. Almost certainly, he’s received a bad rap on the count of cognitive capacity. Indications are that, in the arena of mental ability, Bush is in the same league as John F. Kennedy, who graduated 65th in his high-school class of 110 and, in the words of one biographer, "stumbled through Latin, French, mathematics, and English but made respectable marks in physics and history."

The feisty, sometimes-irreverent Bush’s mental acuity may lack a little of the sharpness of his tongue, but plainly it is sharp enough. The real test for the president-elect will be whether he possesses the emotional intelligence — the triumph of reason over rigidity and restraint over impulse — to steer the course.

Aubrey Immelman is a political psychologist and an associate professor of psychology at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University. You may write to him in care of the St. Cloud Times, P.O. Box 768, St. Cloud, MN 56302.

Voir enfin:

Bush’s "16 Words" on Iraq & Uranium: He May Have Been Wrong But He Wasn’t Lying

Factcheck.org

July 26, 2004

Updated: August 23, 2004

Two intelligence investigations show Bush had plenty of reason to believe what he said in his 2003 State of the Union Address.

Summary

The famous “16 words” in President Bush’s Jan. 28, 2003 State of the Union address turn out to have a basis in fact after all, according to two recently released investigations in the US and Britain.

Bush said then, “The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa .” Some of his critics called that a lie, but the new evidence shows Bush had reason to say what he did.

A British intelligence review released July 14 calls Bush’s 16 words “well founded.”

A separate report by the US Senate Intelligence Committee said July 7 that the US also had similar information from “a number of intelligence reports,” a fact that was classified at the time Bush spoke.

Ironically, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who later called Bush’s 16 words a “lie”, supplied information that the Central Intelligence Agency took as confirmation that Iraq may indeed have been seeking uranium from Niger.

Both the US and British investigations make clear that some forged Italian documents, exposed as fakes soon after Bush spoke, were not the basis for the British intelligence Bush cited, or the CIA’s conclusion that Iraq was trying to get uranium.

None of the new information suggests Iraq ever nailed down a deal to buy uranium, and the Senate report makes clear that US intelligence analysts have come to doubt whether Iraq was even trying to buy the stuff. In fact, both the White House and the CIA long ago conceded that the 16 words shouldn’t have been part of Bush’s speech.

But what he said – that Iraq sought uranium – is just what both British and US intelligence were telling him at the time. So Bush may indeed have been misinformed, but that’s not the same as lying.

Analysis

The "16 words" in Bush’s State of the Union Address on Jan. 28, 2003 have been offered as evidence that the President led the US into war using false information intentionally. The new reports show Bush accurately stated what British intelligence was saying, and that CIA analysts believed the same thing.

The "16 Words"

During the State the Union Address on January 28, 2003, President Bush said:

Bush: The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

The Butler Report

After nearly a six-month investigation, a special panel reported to the British Parliament July 14 that British intelligence had indeed concluded back in 2002 that Saddam Hussein was seeking to buy uranium. The review panel was headed by Lord Butler of Brockwell, who had been a cabinet secretary under five different Prime Ministers and who is currently master of University College, Oxford.

The Butler report said British intelligence had "credible" information — from several sources — that a 1999 visit by Iraqi officials to Niger was for the purpose of buying uranium:

Butler Report: It is accepted by all parties that Iraqi officials visited Niger in 1999. The British Government had intelligence from several different sources indicating that this visit was for the purpose of acquiring uranium. Since uranium constitutes almost three-quarters of Niger’s exports, the intelligence was credible.

The Butler Report affirmed what the British government had said about the Niger uranium story back in 2003, and specifically endorsed what Bush said as well.

Butler Report: By extension, we conclude also that the statement in President Bush’s State of the Union Address of 28 January 2003 that “The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa” was well-founded.

The Senate Intelligence Committee Report

The U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence reported July 7, 2004 that the CIA had received reports from a foreign government (not named, but probably Britain) that Iraq had actually concluded a deal with Niger to supply 500 tons a year of partially processed uranium ore, or "yellowcake." That is potentially enough to produce 50 nuclear warheads.

Wilson: Bush’s Words "The Lie"

(From a web chat sponsored by Kerry for President Oct. 29, 2003)

*** Joe Wilson (Oct 29, 2003 11:24:53 AM)

I would remind you that had Mr. Cheney taken into consideration my report as well as 2 others submitted on this subject, rather than the forgeries

*** Joe Wilson (Oct 29, 2003 11:25:06 AM)

the lie would never have been in President Bush’s State of the Union address

*** Joe Wilson (Oct 29, 2003 11:25:14 AM)

so when they ask, "Who betrayed the President?"

*** Joe Wilson (Oct 29, 2003 11:25:30 AM)

They need to point the finger at the person who inserted the 16 words, not at the person who found the truth of the matter.

The Senate report said the CIA then asked a "former ambassador" to go to Niger and report. That is a reference to Joseph Wilson — who later became a vocal critic of the President’s 16 words. The Senate report said Wilson brought back denials of any Niger-Iraq uranium sale, and argued that such a sale wasn’t likely to happen. But the Intelligence Committee report also reveals that Wilson brought back something else as well — evidence that Iraq may well have wanted to buy uranium.

Wilson reported that he had met with Niger’s former Prime Minister Ibrahim Mayaki, who said that in June 1999 he was asked to meet with a delegation from Iraq to discuss "expanding commercial relations" between the two countries.

Based on what Wilson told them, CIA analysts wrote an intelligence report saying former Prime Minister Mayki "interpreted ‘expanding commercial relations’ to mean that the (Iraqi) delegation wanted to discuss uranium yellowcake sales." In fact, the Intelligence Committee report said that "for most analysts" Wilson’s trip to Niger "lent more credibility to the original Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports on the uranium deal."

The subject of uranium sales never actually came up in the meeting, according to what Wilson later told the Senate Intelligence Committee staff. He quoted Mayaki as saying that when he met with the Iraqis he was wary of discussing any trade issues at all because Iraq remained under United Nations sanctions. According to Wilson, Mayaki steered the conversation away from any discussion of trade.

For that reason, Wilson himself has publicly dismissed the significance of the 1999 meeting. He said on NBC’s Meet the Press May 2, 2004:

Wilson: …At that meeting, uranium was not discussed. It would be a tragedy to think that we went to war over a conversation in which uranium was not discussed because the Niger official was sufficiently sophisticated to think that perhaps he might have wanted to discuss uranium at some later date.

But that’s not the way the CIA saw it at the time. In the CIA’s view, Wilson’s report bolstered suspicions that Iraq was indeed seeking uranium in Africa. The Senate report cited an intelligence officer who reviewed Wilson’s report upon his return from Niger:

Committee Report: He (the intelligence officer) said he judged that the most important fact in the report was that the Nigerian officials admitted that the Iraqi delegation had traveled there in 1999, and that the Nigerian Prime Minister believed the Iraqis were interested in purchasing uranium, because this provided some confirmation of foreign government service reporting.

"Reasonable to Assess"

At this point the CIA also had received "several intelligence reports" alleging that Iraq wanted to buy uranium from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and from Somalia, as well as from Niger. The Intelligence Committee concluded that "it was reasonable for analysts to assess that Iraq may have been seeking uranium from Africa based on Central Intelligence Agency reporting and other available intelligence."

Reasonable, that is, until documents from an Italian magazine journalist showed up that seemed to prove an Iraq-Niger deal had actually been signed. The Intelligence Committee said the CIA should have been quicker to investigate the authenticity of those documents, which had "obvious problems" and were soon exposed as fakes by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

"We No Longer Believe"

Both the Butler report and the Senate Intelligence Committee report make clear that Bush’s 16 words weren’t based on the fake documents. The British didn’t even see them until after issuing the reports — based on other sources — that Bush quoted in his 16 words. But discovery of the Italian fraud did trigger a belated reassessment of the Iraq/Niger story by the CIA.

Once the CIA was certain that the Italian documents were forgeries, it said in an internal memorandum that "we no longer believe that there is sufficient other reporting to conclude that Iraq pursued uranium from abroad." But that wasn’t until June 17, 2003 — nearly five months after Bush’s 16 words.

Soon after, on July 6, 2003, former ambassador Wilson went public in a New York Times opinion piece with his rebuttal of Bush’s 16 words, saying that if the President was referring to Niger "his conclusion was not borne out by the facts as I understood them," and that "I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq’s nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat." Wilson has since used much stronger language, calling Bush’s 16 words a "lie" in an Internet chat sponsored by the Kerry campaign.

On July 7, the day after Wilson’s original Times article, White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer took back the 16 words, calling them "incorrect:"

Fleischer: Now, we’ve long acknowledged — and this is old news, we’ve said this repeatedly — that the information on yellow cake did, indeed, turn out to be incorrect.

And soon after, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice acknowledged that the 16 words were, in retrospect, a mistake. She said during a July 11, 2003 White House press briefing:

Rice: What we’ve said subsequently is, knowing what we now know, that some of the Niger documents were apparently forged, we wouldn’t have put this in the President’s speech — but that’s knowing what we know now.

That same day, CIA Director George Tenet took personal responsibility for the appearance of the 16 words in Bush’s speech:

Tenet: These 16 words should never have been included in the text written

for the President.

Tenet said the CIA had viewed the original British intelligence reports as "inconclusive," and had "expressed reservations" to the British.

The Senate report doesn’t make clear why discovery of the forged documents changed the CIA’s thinking. Logically, that discovery should have made little difference since the documents weren’t the basis for the CIA’s original belief that Saddam was seeking uranium. However, the Senate report did note that even within the CIA the comments and assessments were "inconsistent and at times contradictory" on the Niger story.

Even after Tenet tried to take the blame, Bush’s critics persisted in saying he lied with his 16 words — for example, in an opinion column July 16, 2003 by Michael Kinsley in the Washington Post:

Kinsley: Who was the arch-fiend who told a lie in President Bush’s State of the Union speech? . . .Linguists note that the question "Who lied in George Bush’s State of the Union speech" bears a certain resemblance to the famous conundrum "Who is buried in Grant’s Tomb?"

However, the Senate report confirmed that the CIA had reviewed Bush’s State of the Union address, and — whatever doubts it may have harbored — cleared it for him.

Senate Report: When coordinating the State of the Union, no Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) analysts or officials told the National Security Council (NSC) to remove the "16 words" or that there were concerns about the credibility of the Iraq-Niger uranium reporting.

The final word on the 16 words may have to await history’s judgment. The Butler report’s conclusion that British intelligence was "credible" clearly doesn’t square with what US intelligence now believes. But these new reports show Bush had plenty of reason to believe what he said, even if British intelligence is eventually shown to be mistaken.

Sources

President George W. Bush, “ State of the Union ,” 28 January 2003.

Chairman Lord Butler of Brockwell, “Review of Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction,” 14 July 2004.

“Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community’s Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq,” Select Committee on Intelligence United States Senate, 7 July 2004.

Walter Pincus, “ CIA Did Not Share Doubt on Iraq Data; Bush Used Report Of Uranium Bid ,” Washington Post, 12 June 2003.

Mohamed ElBaradei, “ The Status of Nuclear Inspections in Iraq: An Update ,” Statement to the United Nations Security Council by International Atomic Energy Agency Director General, 7 March 2003.

Joseph Wilson, “What I Didn’t Find in Africa,” New York Times, 6 July 2003.

Joseph Wilson,The Official Kerry-Edwards BLOG: "Transcript of Chat with Ambassador Joe Wilson," 29 Oct 2003.

Michael Kinsley, "…Or More Lies From The Usual Suspects?," Washington Post, 16 July 2003: A23.

Ari Fleischer, “ Press Gaggle ,” 7 July 2003.

Ari Fleischer and Dr. Condoleeza Rice, “ Press Gaggle ,” 11 July 2003.

George Tenet, "Statement by George J. Tenet Director of Central Intelligence," Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), 11 July 2003.

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Présidence Obama: Strip-tease tragique à la Maison Blanche (The philosopher president’s new clothes: every left-wing platitude he encountered in college)

8 novembre, 2010
Même dénigré, son bilan est historique. L’Hebdo (magazine suisse, 21.10.10)
Avertissement sans frais pour Obama. Courrier international
Cela signifie que, comme d’autres présidents avant lui, Obama cherchera sans doute à se faire réélire grâce à des réalisations sur la scène étrangère. Il se rendra cette semaine en Asie pour visiter les grandes démocraties de la région – Inde, Indonésie, Japon et Corée du Sud –, qui ont exprimé de l’inquiétude au cours des derniers mois face à l’agressivité montante de la Chine. Ce contexte pourrait permettre au président de réaffirmer le rôle des Etats-Unis comme défenseur des démocraties contre l’autocratie belliqueuse au pouvoir à Pékin. Le Washington Post.
D’Souza, like Kloppenberg, imputes to Obama a coherent philosophy, in D’Souza’s case "anticolonialism." It is a needlessly elaborate explanation for an unremarkable set of facts. Occam’s razor suggests that Obama is a mere conformist–someone who absorbed every left-wing platitude he encountered in college and never seems to have seriously questioned any of them. Kloppenberg characterizes Obama as a skeptic, not a true believer. We’re not sure he has an active enough mind to be either one. James Taranto
Theorists of deliberative democracy typically denigrate the messy give-and-take among actual flesh-and-blood citizens and dismiss it as the outcome of flawed procedures for conversation. They prefer the conclusions that derive from abstract and sometimes intricate theories. Meanwhile, in the guise of rejecting absolutes, the adherents of philosophical pragmatism absolutize partisan progressive goals and reconceive "moderation" as merely exercising patience and flexibility in the pursuit of progressive ends. To read Mr. Obama accurately and to grasp fully the connection between his ideas and his politics, one must examine not merely the dreams and hopes that inspire deliberative democracy and philosophical pragmatism but also the intellectual vices that these doctrines foster and the illiberal and antidemocratic tendencies that they spawn. A lot of voters this week, intuitively, did grasp the connection. Peter Berkowitz
Barack Obama is not an "other" so much as he is a child of the 1960s. His coming of age paralleled exactly the unfolding of a new "counterculture" American identity. And this new American identity—and the post-1960s liberalism it spawned—is grounded in a remarkable irony: bad faith in America as virtue itself, bad faith in the classic American identity of constitutional freedom and capitalism as the way to a better America. So Mr. Obama is very definitely an American, and he has a broad American constituency. He is simply the first president we have seen grounded in this counterculture American identity.
Many Americans are afraid of this because a mandate as grandiose as redemption justifies a vast expansion of government. A redeemer can’t just tweak and guide a faltering economy; he will need a trillion- dollar stimulus package. He can’t take on health care a step at a time; he must do it all at once, finally mandating that every citizen buy in. Shelby Steele

Le président-philosophe serait-il nu?

La question, à voir le nombre et la qualité de nos obamalatres au chevet d’une présidence américaine en pleine déroute, est en tout cas posée.

Alors qu’apres la raclée électorale que l’on sait, le président philosophe et intellectuel (caché pour ne pas effrayer le bon peuple mais pret a risquer son 2e mandat pour racheter l’Amérique de ses péchés originels) …

Pourrait se voir contraint de quitter la compagnie de la "race rare" des Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Lincoln et Wilson ainsi que la longue tradition du pragmatisme philosophique pour le pragmatisme vulgaire a la Clinton …

Retour, avec Shelby Steele et Peter Berkowitz, sur les incroyables ressources actuellement déployées par nos dits obamalatres, notamment la derniere hagiographie en date de l’historien de Harvard James T. Kloppenberg ("Reading Obama: Dreams, Hopes and the American Political Tradition), pour tenter de sauver le premier président américain issu de la contreculture des années 60.

Mais aussi sur cet étrange monde inversé ou la critique de l’Amérique tient lieu de vertu …

Et ou, via le rejet des absolus et au nom des fins les plus progressistes, la démocratie délibeéative et le pragmatisme philosophique peuvent produire les plus illibérales et antidémocratiques des tendances …

A Referendum on the Redeemer

Barack Obama put the Democrats in the position of forever redeeming a fallen nation rather than leading a great one.

Shelby Steele

The WSJ

October 28, 2010

Whether or not the Republicans win big next week, it is already clear that the "transformative" aspirations of the Obama presidency—the special promise of this first black president to "change" us into a better society—are much less likely to materialize. There will be enough Republican gains to make the "no" in the "party of no" even more formidable, if not definitive.

But apart from this politics of numbers, there is also now a deepening disenchantment with Barack Obama himself. (He has a meager 37% approval rating by the latest Harris poll.) His embarrassed supporters console themselves that their intentions were good; their vote helped make history. But for Mr. Obama himself there is no road back to the charisma and political capital he enjoyed on his inauguration day.

How is it that Barack Obama could step into the presidency with an air of inevitability and then, in less than two years, find himself unwelcome at the campaign rallies of many of his fellow Democrats?

The first answer is well-known: His policymaking has been grandiose, thoughtless and bullying. His health-care bill was ambitious to the point of destructiveness and, finally, so chaotic that today no citizen knows where they stand in relation to it. His financial-reform bill seems little more than a short-sighted scapegoating of Wall Street. In foreign policy he has failed to articulate a role for America in the world. We don’t know why we do what we do in foreign affairs. George W. Bush at least made a valiant stab at an American rationale—democratization—but with Mr. Obama there is nothing.

All this would be enough to explain the disillusionment with this president—and with the Democratic Party that he leads. But there is also a deeper disjunction. There is an "otherness" about Mr. Obama, the sense that he is somehow not truly American. "Birthers" doubt that he was born on American soil. Others believe that he is secretly a Muslim, or in quiet simpatico with his old friends, Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers, now icons of American radicalism.

But Barack Obama is not an "other" so much as he is a child of the 1960s. His coming of age paralleled exactly the unfolding of a new "counterculture" American identity. And this new American identity—and the post-1960s liberalism it spawned—is grounded in a remarkable irony: bad faith in America as virtue itself, bad faith in the classic American identity of constitutional freedom and capitalism as the way to a better America. So Mr. Obama is very definitely an American, and he has a broad American constituency. He is simply the first president we have seen grounded in this counterculture American identity. When he bows to foreign leaders, he is not displaying "otherness" but the counterculture Americanism of honorable self-effacement in which America acknowledges its own capacity for evil as prelude to engagement.

Bad faith in America became virtuous in the ’60s when America finally acknowledged so many of its flagrant hypocrisies: the segregation of blacks, the suppression of women, the exploitation of other minorities, the "imperialism" of the Vietnam War, the indifference to the environment, the hypocrisy of puritanical sexual mores and so on. The compounding of all these hypocrisies added up to the crowning idea of the ’60s: that America was characterologically evil. Thus the only way back to decency and moral authority was through bad faith in America and its institutions, through the presumption that evil was America’s natural default position.

Among today’s liberal elite, bad faith in America is a sophistication, a kind of hipness. More importantly, it is the perfect formula for political and governmental power. It rationalizes power in the name of intervening against evil—I will use the government to intervene against the evil tendencies of American life (economic inequality, structural racism and sexism, corporate greed, neglect of the environment and so on), so I need your vote.

"Hope and Change" positioned Mr. Obama as a conduit between an old America worn down by its evil inclinations and a new America redeemed of those inclinations. There was no vision of the future in "Hope and Change." It is an expression of bad faith in America, but its great ingenuity was to turn that bad faith into political motivation, into votes.

But there is a limit to bad faith as power, and Mr. Obama and the Democratic Party may have now reached that limit. The great weakness of bad faith is that it disallows American exceptionalism as a rationale for power. It puts Mr. Obama and the Democrats in the position of forever redeeming a fallen nation, rather than leading a great nation. They bet on America’s characterological evil and not on her sense of fairness, generosity or ingenuity.

When bad faith is your framework (Michelle Obama never being proud of her country until it supported her husband), then you become more a national scold than a real leader. You lead out of a feeling that your opposition is really only the latest incarnation of that old characterological evil that you always knew was there. Thus the tea party—despite all the evidence to the contrary—is seen as racist and bigoted.

But isn’t the tea party, on some level, a reaction to a president who seems not to fully trust the fundamental decency of the American people? Doesn’t the tea party fill a void left open by Mr. Obama’s ethos of bad faith? Aren’t tea partiers, and their many fellow travelers, simply saying that American exceptionalism isn’t racism? And if the mainstream media see tea partiers as bumpkins and racists, isn’t this just more bad faith—characterizing people as ignorant or evil so as to dismiss them?

Our great presidents have been stewards, men who broadly identified with the whole of America. Stewardship meant responsibility even for those segments of America where one might be reviled. Surely Mr. Obama would claim such stewardship. But he has functioned more as a redeemer than a steward, a leader who sees a badness in us from which we must be redeemed. Many Americans are afraid of this because a mandate as grandiose as redemption justifies a vast expansion of government. A redeemer can’t just tweak and guide a faltering economy; he will need a trillion- dollar stimulus package. He can’t take on health care a step at a time; he must do it all at once, finally mandating that every citizen buy in.

Next week’s election is, among other things, a referendum on the idea of president-as- redeemer. We have a president so determined to transform and redeem us from what we are that, by his own words, he is willing to risk being a one-term president. People now wonder if Barack Obama can pivot back to the center like Bill Clinton did after his set-back in ’94. But Mr. Clinton was already a steward, a policy wonk, a man of the center. Mr. Obama has to change archetypes.

Mr. Steele is a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

Voir aussi:

The Thinker

The president as intellectual and political philosopher.

Peter Berkowitz

The WSJ

November 5, 2010

In mid-October, by which time it had become evident that the November midterm elections would deliver a rebuke of historic proportions, President Barack Obama stated in a New York Times Magazine interview that his mistake had been to neglect "marketing and P.R. and public opinion." His problem, in other words, was a failure to communicate.

This claim is difficult to reconcile with the extraordinary rise in 2009 of an energized grass-roots movement combining disaffected Republicans, libertarians and independents. They seemed to grasp the president’s goal: to enact a sweeping progressive agenda. In the best traditions of democracy in America—and by means of town-hall meetings, tea-party rallies and the marvels of social networking—people organized to elect representatives and block the transformative ambitions with which they disagreed.

The president’s self-assessment is also difficult to reconcile with James Kloppenberg’s thesis in "Reading Obama." Mr. Kloppenberg argues that, thanks to the ideas to which Obama was exposed and the moral and intellectual virtues he cultivated during his journey through the American academy—he was a student at Occidental, Columbia and Harvard Law School and a faculty member at the University of Chicago Law School—he became an exemplar, in word and deed, of moderation, balance and accommodation.

Mr. Kloppenberg is certainly right to call attention to the effect on Mr. Obama’s sensibility of "the developments in American academic culture since the 1960′s." And he convincingly shows that Mr. Obama’s two books, shorter writings and speeches contain thoughtful and sometimes eloquent variations on "a surprising number of the central themes in the American political tradition, particularly as it has come to be understood in the last half century."

But "Reading Obama" does not explain Mr. Obama’s failure, in his first 22 months in office, to find common ground with conservatives and independents; his refusal to slow down and win over a majority before proceeding with large-scale reforms; and his readiness, as president, to vilify those who disagree with his policies and purposes.

According to Mr. Kloppenberg, Mr. Obama’s uncommon experience—being the son of a white American woman and black African man, living abroad in Indonesia with his mother and her second husband, spending his teenage years in Hawaii in his white grandparents’ home—nurtured a gift for seeing the world from a multiplicity of perspectives and for feeling empathy for a diversity of people. So, contends Mr. Kloppenberg, Mr. Obama was well prepared to absorb the best of what was being taught in philosophy, political theory and law at American universities in the 1980s and 1990s—above all, deliberative democracy and philosophical pragmatism.

Deliberative democracy has its roots in the writings of the philosopher John Rawls and in the recovery of the civic-republican tradition in America by, among others, the historian Gordon Wood. It emphasizes the benefits that come from citizens discussing opinions about politics and crafting compromises to achieve the common good. Philosophical pragmatism, for its part, was elaborated by William James and John Dewey. It was revived in the period in which Mr. Obama came of intellectual age, most notably by the philosopher Richard Rorty. It rejects absolutes and instead, as Mr. Kloppenberg writes, "embraces uncertainty, provisionality, and the continuous testing of hypotheses through experimentation." Both deliberative democracy and philosophical pragmatism celebrate open-ended conversation as the animating principle of constitutional democracy.

Mr. Obama, Mr. Kloppenberg explains, brings a "supple understanding," "tenacious hope" and the " ‘Christian virtue’ of humility" to bear on these ideas. The results, in the author’s estimation, are nothing short of spectacular. To the extent possible, Mr. Obama reconciles the claims of the individual and community, of personal freedom and majority rule, of rights and responsibilities. All the while Mr. Obama recognizes that progress is provisional and fragile and appreciates the imperfections of man, the limitations of reason and the tragic necessity, at times, to use force to advance the cause of liberty and equality.

In short, Mr. Kloppenberg’s brief intellectual biography of Mr. Obama provides an excellent portrait of the shining self-image of the progressive intellectual. But it proves a poor guide to understanding the connection between Mr. Obama’s ideas and his conduct in the White House, because Mr. Kloppenberg fails to take into account the dark side of deliberate democracy and the perversity of pragmatism.

Theorists of deliberative democracy typically denigrate the messy give-and-take among actual flesh-and-blood citizens and dismiss it as the outcome of flawed procedures for conversation. They prefer the conclusions that derive from abstract and sometimes intricate theories. Meanwhile, in the guise of rejecting absolutes, the adherents of philosophical pragmatism absolutize partisan progressive goals and reconceive "moderation" as merely exercising patience and flexibility in the pursuit of progressive ends.

To read Mr. Obama accurately and to grasp fully the connection between his ideas and his politics, one must examine not merely the dreams and hopes that inspire deliberative democracy and philosophical pragmatism but also the intellectual vices that these doctrines foster and the illiberal and antidemocratic tendencies that they spawn. A lot of voters this week, intuitively, did grasp the connection.

Mr. Berkowitz is a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution.

Reading Obama

James T. Kloppenberg

(Princeton, 302 pages, $24.95)

Voir egalement:

Obama the Thinker?

Meet James Kloppenberg, the left’s Dinesh D’Souza.

James Taranto

Hest of the web

The WSJ

October 28, 2010

Barack Obama is a pragmatist, James Kloppenberg tells the New York Times. No, he doesn’t mean Obama is practical-minded; no one thinks that anymore. In fact, Kloppenberg, a Harvard historian, disparages the "vulgar pragmatism" of Bill Clinton while praising Obama’s "philosophical pragmatism":

It is a philosophy that grew up after Darwin published his theory of evolution and the Civil War reached its bloody end. More and more people were coming to believe that chance rather than providence guided human affairs, and that dogged certainty led to violence.

Pragmatism maintains that people are constantly devising and updating ideas to navigate the world in which they live; it embraces open-minded experimentation and continuing debate. "It is a philosophy for skeptics, not true believers," Mr. Kloppenberg said.

Kloppenberg has a new book coming out, "Reading Obama: Dreams, Hopes and the American Political Tradition." According to the Times, Kloppenberg "sees Mr. Obama as a kind of philosopher president," a "true intellectual." Such philosophers are a "rare breed": the Adamses, Jefferson, Madison, Lincoln, Wilson and now Obama.

"Imagine the Republicans driving the economy into a ditch," the philosopher president said the other day. "And it’s a deep ditch. It’s a big ditch. And somehow they walked away from the accident, and we put on our boots and we rappelled down into the ditch–me and Jack and Sheldon and Jim and Patrick. We’ve been pushing, pushing, trying to get that car out of the ditch. And meanwhile, the Republicans are standing there, sipping on a Slurpee." John Dewey had nothing on this guy!

If the president does not seem to be the intellectual heavyweight Kloppenberg makes him out to be, the Harvard historian has an explanation: Obama is a sort of secret-agent philosopher. "He would have had to deny every word," Kloppenberg tells the Times, which helpfully explains that "intellectual" is "a word that is frequently considered an epithet among populists with a robust suspicion of Ivy League elites."

When Sarah Palin called Obama a "professor," some professors accused her of racism. What she really meant, they claimed, was "uppity." Kloppenberg’s similar characterization, however, draws a quite different response:

Those who heard Mr. Kloppenberg present his argument at a conference on intellectual history at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center responded with prolonged applause. "The way he traced Obama’s intellectual influences was fascinating for us, given that Obama’s academic background seems so similar to ours," said Andrew Hartman, a historian at Illinois State University who helped organize the conference.

One assumes that Andrew Hartman is a serious scholar, although one doesn’t know for sure because one has never heard of him. Barack Obama, by contrast, is a scholarly dilettante, a professional politician who has moonlighted as a university instructor.

Yet Hartman’s remark about Obama’s "academic background" is revealing. Professors imagine Obama is one of them because he shares their attitudes: their politically correct opinions, their condescending view of ordinary Americans, their belief in their own authority as an intellectual elite. He is the ideal product of the homogeneous world of contemporary academia. In his importance, they see a reflection of their self-importance.

Kloppenberg’s thesis reminds us of another elaborate attempt at explaining Obama: Dinesh D’Souza’s "The Roots of Obama’s Rage." D’Souza, like Kloppenberg, imputes to Obama a coherent philosophy, in D’Souza’s case "anticolonialism." It is a needlessly elaborate explanation for an unremarkable set of facts.

Occam’s razor suggests that Obama is a mere conformist–someone who absorbed every left-wing platitude he encountered in college and never seems to have seriously questioned any of them. Kloppenberg characterizes Obama as a skeptic, not a true believer. We’re not sure he has an active enough mind to be either one.

Keep Hope Alive

"The very bad day Democrats are expecting next Tuesday might not be as terrible as feared, according to some analysts not known for wishful thinking," writes Errol Louis, a liberal columnist for New York’s Daily News. That "not known for wishful thinking" is a nice touch, a protestation that conveys its opposite.

Here’s Louis, wishing:

Another big story that hasn’t drawn much notice is the role black voters will play. "There are more than a dozen Senate races and more than a dozen governor’s races where the black vote could make a difference," says David Bositis, senior research associate at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a Washington-based think tank.

"If they turn out in large numbers, I think it’s going to surprise a lot of people," Bositis says. "I think the Democrats could conceivably hold on to the House." . . .

Another potential shot in the arm for Dems could come from Latino voters turned off by the harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric championed by many Republican candidates.

"I think that the Latino vote is going to be the October surprise," says Maria Teresa Kumar, executive director of Voto Latino, a nonprofit advocacy organization

Some mischievous Republican must have misinformed Maria Teresa Kumar as to which month the election is in. The trouble, of course, is that Democrats are almost always able to count on large margins among Hispanics and near-Soviet-size ones among blacks. Turnout among these ethnic blocs can make a difference in a close election, but it cannot provide enough of a margin to avert a landslide. A New York Times news story makes clear why people are expecting a blowout for the Democrats:

Critical parts of the coalition that delivered President Obama to the White House in 2008 and gave Democrats control of Congress in 2006 are switching their allegiance to the Republicans in the final phase of the midterm Congressional elections, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

Republicans have wiped out the advantage held by Democrats in recent election cycles among women, Roman Catholics, less affluent Americans and independents. All of those groups broke for Mr. Obama in 2008 and for Congressional Democrats when they grabbed both chambers from the Republicans four years ago, according to exit polls.

Strong black and Latino support is a necessary condition for a Democratic victory nationwide and in most states and districts. Outside of a few cities and urban districts, it is far from a sufficient one.

Two Papers in One!

* "The incident was one of two stompings reported to Lexington police outside the debate, where scores of supporters of both candidates had gathered in the parking lot for a rally. [Rand] Paul supporter Marsha Foster, 49, reported that earlier in the night a person had intentionally stomped on her broken foot, causing "minor visible injuries," according to a police report."–news story, Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader, Oct. 27

* "The Paul campaign condemned the attack, disassociated itself from the volunteer who stomped the woman’s head and called on activists ‘on both sides’ to avoid ‘physical altercations of any kind.’ The problem with the Paul statement is that only one side, his side, resorted to violence."–editorial, Lexington Herald-Leader, Oct. 27

Excuses, Excuses

Blogger Jim Hoft has a clip of President Obama yesterday, answering a question from a radio talk-show host:

Host: Mr. President, why is no one who supported the health-care bill running on it?

Obama: Well, I think that you’ve seen a couple of hundred million dollars worth of negative TV ads that make it very difficult to do so. I mean, the fact of the matter is, is that, you know, there was a [sic] awful lot of misinformation about this health-care bill while we were debating it, and that has continued after we’ve finished debating it.

He’s the World’s Greatest Orator, and he’s got the truth on his side, yet no one will listen because all these other people are spreading misinformation and negativity! No wonder he doesn’t like the First Amendment.

Paying for Granny’s Tuition

From the New York Times:

As their state financing dwindled, four-year public universities increased their published tuition and fees almost 8 percent this year, to an average of $7,605, according to the College Board’s annual reports. When room and board are included, the average in-state student at a public university now pays $16,140 a year.

At private nonprofit colleges and universities, tuition rose 4.5 percent to an average of $27,293, or $36,993 with room and board.

The good news in the 2010 "Trends in College Pricing" and "Trends in Student Aid" reports is that fast-rising tuition costs have been accompanied by a huge increase in financial aid, which helped keep down the actual amount students and families pay.

"In 2009-2010, students got $28 billion in Pell grants, and that’s $10 billion more than the year before," said Sandy Baum, the economist who is the lead author of the reports. "When you look at how much students are actually paying, on average, it is lower, after adjusting for inflation, than five years earlier."

So the "good news" is that "students and families" don’t have to pay all that extra tuition. That nice Mr. Pell will do it!

Actually, that’s not quite how it works. Mr. Pell–you can call him Claiborne–is no longer with us, having died last year. A senator from Rhode Island from 1961 through 1997, he doesn’t actually pay for Pell grants. All he had to do to get his name on them is sponsor the legislation establishing them.

Who pays then? Why, students and families, along with other taxpayers. And since the country is deep in debt, their grandchildren will pay too. Let’s hope they can afford it!

Voir enfin:

In Writings of Obama, a Philosophy Is Unearthed

Patricia Cohen

The NYT

October 27, 2010

When the Harvard historian James T. Kloppenberg decided to write about the influences that shaped President Obama’s view of the world, he interviewed the president’s former professors and classmates, combed through his books, essays, and speeches, and even read every article published during the three years Mr. Obama was involved with the Harvard Law Review (“a superb cure for insomnia,” Mr. Kloppenberg said). What he did not do was speak to President Obama.

“He would have had to deny every word,” Mr. Kloppenberg said with a smile. The reason, he explained, is his conclusion that President Obama is a true intellectual — a word that is frequently considered an epithet among populists with a robust suspicion of Ivy League elites.

In New York City last week to give a standing-room-only lecture about his forthcoming intellectual biography, “Reading Obama: Dreams, Hopes, and the American Political Tradition,” Mr. Kloppenberg explained that he sees Mr. Obama as a kind of philosopher president, a rare breed that can be found only a handful of times in American history.

“There’s John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and John Quincy Adams, then Abraham Lincoln and in the 20th century just Woodrow Wilson,” he said.

To Mr. Kloppenberg the philosophy that has guided President Obama most consistently is pragmatism, a uniquely American system of thought developed at the end of the 19th century by William James, John Dewey and Charles Sanders Peirce. It is a philosophy that grew up after Darwin published his theory of evolution and the Civil War reached its bloody end. More and more people were coming to believe that chance rather than providence guided human affairs, and that dogged certainty led to violence.

Pragmatism maintains that people are constantly devising and updating ideas to navigate the world in which they live; it embraces open-minded experimentation and continuing debate. “It is a philosophy for skeptics, not true believers,” Mr. Kloppenberg said.

Those who heard Mr. Kloppenberg present his argument at a conference on intellectual history at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center responded with prolonged applause. “The way he traced Obama’s intellectual influences was fascinating for us, given that Obama’s academic background seems so similar to ours,” said Andrew Hartman, a historian at Illinois State University who helped organize the conference.

Mr. Kloppenberg’s interest in the education of Barack Obama began from a distance. He spent 2008, the election year, at the University of Cambridge in England and found himself in lecture halls and at dinner tables trying to explain who this man was.

Race, temperament and family history are all crucial to understanding the White House’s current occupant, but Mr. Kloppenberg said he chose to focus on one slice of the president’s makeup: his ideas.

In the professor’s analysis the president’s worldview is the product of the country’s long history of extending democracy to disenfranchised groups, as well as the specific ideological upheavals that struck campuses in the 1980s and 1990s. He mentions, for example, that Mr. Obama was at Harvard during “the greatest intellectual ferment in law schools in the 20th century,” when competing theories about race, feminism, realism and constitutional original intent were all battling for ground.

Mr. Obama was ultimately drawn to a cluster of ideas known as civic republicanism or deliberative democracy, Mr. Kloppenberg argues in the book, which Princeton University Press will publish on Sunday. In this view the founding fathers cared as much about continuing a discussion over how to advance the common good as they did about ensuring freedom.

Taking his cue from Madison, Mr. Obama writes in his 2006 book “The Audacity of Hope” that the constitutional framework is “designed to force us into a conversation,” that it offers “a way by which we argue about our future.” This notion of a living document is directly at odds with the conception of Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court, who has spoken of “the good, old dead Constitution.”

Mr. Kloppenberg compiled a long list of people who he said helped shape Mr. Obama’s thinking and writing, including Weber and Nietzsche, Thoreau and Emerson, Langston Hughes and Ralph Ellison. Contemporary scholars like the historian Gordon Wood, the philosophers John Rawls and Hilary Putnam, the anthropologist Clifford Geertz and the legal theorists Martha Minow and Cass Sunstein (who is now working at the White House) also have a place.

Despite the detailed examination, Mr. Kloppenberg concedes that President Obama remains something of a mystery.

“To critics on the left he seems a tragic failure, a man with so much potential who has not fulfilled the promise of change that partisans predicted for his presidency,” he said. “To the right he is a frightening success, a man who has transformed the federal government and ruined the economy.”

He finds both assessments flawed. Conservatives who argue that Mr. Obama is a socialist or an anti-colonialist (as Dinesh D’Souza does in his book “The Roots of Obama’s Rage”) are far off the mark, he said.

“Adams and Jefferson were the only anti-colonialists whom Obama has been affected by,” he told the audience in New York. “He has a profound love of America.”

And his opposition to inequality stems from Puritan preachers and the social gospel rather than socialism.

As for liberal critics, Mr. Kloppenberg took pains to differentiate the president’s philosophical pragmatism, which assumes that change emerges over decades, from the kind of “vulgar pragmatism” practiced by politicians looking only for expedient compromise. (He gave former President Bill Clinton’s strategy of “triangulation” as an example.)

Not all of the disappointed liberals who attended the lecture in New York were convinced that that distinction can be made so easily. T. J. Jackson Lears, a historian at Rutgers University, wrote in an e-mail that by “showing that Obama comes out of a tradition of philosophical pragmatism, he actually provided a basis for criticizing Obama’s slide into vulgar pragmatism.”

And despite Mr. Kloppenberg’s focus on the president’s intellectual evolution, most listeners wanted to talk about his political record.

“There seemed to be skepticism regarding whether Obama’s intellectual background actually translated into policies that the mostly left-leaning audience could get behind,” Mr. Hartman said. “Several audience members, myself included, probably view Obama the president as a centrist like Clinton rather than a progressive intellectual as painted by Kloppenberg.”


Présidence Obama: Et si Obama était tout simplement un mauvais président ? (How far will our media go to deny the obvious ?)

5 novembre, 2010
Et si la vraie raison était tout simplement que la majorité des Américains trouvent que Barack Obama est un mauvais président ? (…) Et si Obama était definitely, comme on dit là-bas, trop liberal, à gauche pour diriger un pays dont les valeurs de gauche ne sont pas ancrées dans les profondeurs du peuple ? Les préjugés dont il a pu être victime au cours de ses deux premières années de mandat tiennent d’ailleurs plus à son image d’intello, prof à Harvard qu’à la couleur de sa peau. Luc Rosenzweig

Et si, au grand désespoir de nos obamalatres, Obama venait de faire au monde l’éclatante démonstration qu’un président noir pouvait etre aussi mauvais qu’un blanc?

Rappel farfelu de l’histoire américaine, extrémistes, opinions délirantes, risée des médias, conceptions pour le moins bizarres de l’histoire des Etats-Unis, hystérique, sinistre Coluche, parodie du mouvement des droits civiques, discours insipide, travesti,  ultraconservatisme, faction radicale, l’ultralibéralisme – droitisation, discours répressif, maladie infantile de l’ultraconservatisme, « style paranoïaque en politique américaine », poujadisme à l’américaine

Dans l’incroyable retour de fiel de nos medias contre cette « Amérique que nous haïssons » digne des plus beaux jours des annees Bush qui a accompagne la campagne des elections de mi-mandat americaines et continue a servir de modèle explicatif a une cette défaite depuis longtemps annoncée …

Comment ne pas voir, comme le rappelle brillamment Luc Rosenzweig sur le site de nos amis de Mondes francophones, la recherche pathetique de responsables (Fox News, les Tea Party) avec les inevitables soupcons de racisme de la part de nos obamaniaques pour l’impensable deboulonnage de leur icône post-raciale, postmoderne, post-tout ?

Comme la continuation du deni de realite pour ne pas voir, derriere les naivetes et les  indeniables exces de certains de ses adversaires, une exasperation et une reelle inquietude devant un president non seulement pas a la hauteur mais bien trop à gauche pour diriger l’Amérique ?

Et qu’entre les reticences de sa base progressiste qui lui ont d’ailleurs bien manque cette fois-ci et son notoire manque de souplesse ideologique, ses chances pour 2012 sont, sauf bien sur evenement imprevu ou grosse erreur de ses adversaires republicains, plus que compromises ?

Salauds d’Américains ! Ils votent comme des cochons

Luc Rosenzweig

Mondes francophones

05/11/2010

Pendant longtemps, nos observateurs habituels n’avaient pas voulu y croire : leur icône post-raciale, postmoderne, post-tout, Barack Obama, allait se ramasser une raclée majeure aux élections de midterm. Jusqu’à ce que les sondages, dans une lassante répétition, restent bloqués sur le vert pour les Républicains et sur le rouge pour les Démocrates, on avait espéré, dans les principales rédactions françaises que la « magie Obama » allait transformer à nouveau la citrouille en carrosse. Lorsqu’il s’est avéré que cela ne serait pas le cas, il fallait trouver un responsable à cet incroyable comportement de l’électorat d’outre-Atlantique.

Comme il était inconcevable, pour les obamaniaques officiant chez nous dans la politique et les médias, de formuler la moindre critique de l’action du président des Etats-Unis, il fallait trouver d’autres coupables. « Obama dans la bouse, c’est la faute à Fox News. Le peuple n’a rien compris, à cause du Tea Party ! ».

Le modèle explicatif de cette défaite annoncée a pris le ton, en France d’une virulente dénonciation de cette « Amérique que nous haïssons », que l’on avait cru balayée en novembre 2008 avec la déroute des Républicains à l’issue de deux mandats de George W. Bush. Obama n’allait pas perdre, on allait « l’abattre », comme le titrait dramatiquement Libération à la veille du scrutin.

C’est tout juste si on ne suggérait pas qu’on allait assister à une nouvelle forme de lynchage dont les meneurs seraient Glen Beck, le pittbull conservateur de Fox News, et Sarah Palin, la mama grizzly de l’Alaska. On laisse également entendre que le vieux fond de racisme de la société américaine est à l’œuvre dans cette entreprise de démolition du premier président noir de l’Union…

Obama, trop à gauche pour diriger l’Amérique ?

Et si la vraie raison était tout simplement que la majorité des Américains trouvent que Barack Obama est un mauvais président ? Si on a une lecture « européenne » de ses deux premières années de mandat, on ne comprend pas que les électeurs ne lui tiennent pas gré d’avoir étendu la couverture sociale à plus de trente millions de leurs concitoyens, et d’avoir rétabli l’image des Etats-Unis dans le monde.

Sauf que la classe moyenne a découvert que cette extension de la sécu aux plus pauvres augmentait considérablement les tarifs des mutuelles-santé, puisque ce sont les assurances privées qui sont maintenant contraintes, par la loi, d’offrir leurs services à des gens qui ne peuvent pas en payer le prix. Cela vaut particulièrement pour les gens actifs dans le small business ou les travailleurs indépendants qui estiment, en cette période de crise, n’avoir aucunement besoin de ce surcroît de charges. Le plan de relance, dit « stimulus » n’a pas donné les résultats escomptés en termes d’emplois, en dépit d’une injection de 800 milliards de dollars dans l’économie. Quant à la politique étrangère, dont on a fait dans ces colonnes un examen sans concessions, elle n’a pratiquement joué aucun rôle dans ces élections.

Et si Obama était definitely, comme on dit là-bas, trop liberal, à gauche pour diriger un pays dont les valeurs de gauche ne sont pas ancrées dans les profondeurs du peuple ? Les préjugés dont il a pu être victime au cours de ses deux premières années de mandat tiennent d’ailleurs plus à son image d’intello, prof à Harvard qu’à la couleur de sa peau.

L’échec du Tea Party, un succès pour les Républicains

Et maintenant que va-t-il faire ? Que sera sa vie ? Ses amis démocrates se plaisent à évoquer le scénario de Clinton, étrillé aux midterm de 1994 et réélu triomphalement en 1996.

Peut-être, mais peu probable, à moins que l’on assiste à une rapide amélioration de la situation économique. Tout d’abord une nécessaire lapalissade : Obama n’est pas Clinton, et ne dispose pas de la souplesse idéologique de l’ancien président. Ensuite, son « recentrage » nécessaire pour cogérer le pays avec une Chambre hostile et un Sénat dont il faudra ménager les Démocrates conservateurs peut brouiller définitivement son image et lui aliéner les liberals. Ce sont eux, d’ailleurs qui on causé la défaite d’Al Gore en 2000, en dispersant leurs voix sur le candidat « de gauche » Ralph Nader. Enfin, quoi que puissent penser nos commentateurs patentés, les Républicains ne sont pas des buses. Ils ont tiré les leçons de l’élection de 1996, et ne laisseront pas Obama leur faire porter le chapeau des décisions politiques impopulaires comme Clinton le fit avec succès aux dépens de Newt Gringrich, le président républicain de la Chambre.

Dans la perspective de l’élection présidentielle de 2012, l’état-major républicain peut aussi se réjouir de l’échec relatif des candidats étiquetés Tea Party, qui est la cause du maintien d’une courte majorité démocrate au Sénat. Tous les analystes sont d’accord pour estimer que la défaite de Sharron Angle au Nevada et de Christine O’Donnell dans le Delaware, toutes deux pasionarias du Tea Party a privé les Républicains de ces deux sièges cruciaux, qui n’auraient pas échappé aux candidats plus modérés battus lors des primaires. Il ne reste plus à Obama et ses amis à rêver que sa concurrente en 2012 soit Sarah Palin, jugée plus facile à battre qu’un Républicain mainstream. Un pari risqué, car la dame en question a beaucoup, beaucoup appris ces derniers mois. Les paris sont ouverts, aux commentateurs d’établir la cote…

Voir aussi:

Tea Party, une vague de fond

Denis Lacorne

Le Monde

19.10.10

Le populisme, hostile à Washington et aux impôts fédéraux, secoue la droite américaine. Il va peut-être coûter à Barack Obama les prochaines élections législatives, non sans bouleverser, en même temps, le Parti républicain

L’origine du mouvement ultraconservateur de la Tea Party est surprenante parce que improvisée : Rick Santelli, journaliste spécialisé dans l’analyse de l’évolution des cours de la Bourse de Chicago sur la chaîne de télévision CNBC, exprimait sa colère, le 19 février 2009, contre les profiteurs des politiques fédérales.

Ceux-ci, assurait-il, achetaient des maisons grâce à des crédits immobiliers subventionnés par l’Etat ; ils abusaient du système sans subir la moindre sanction, au détriment des citoyens honnêtes qui payaient leurs impôts et remboursaient à temps leurs prêts hypothécaires. Il était donc temps de réagir de la façon la plus vigoureuse contre le président américain, Barack Obama, et sa politique d’accès facile à la propriété. Pourquoi, alors, ne pas organiser, à Chicago, une protestation du style de la Tea Party au mois de juillet ?

Les mots étaient lâchés : Rick Santelli proposait de faire revivre, au XXIe siècle, une émeute comparable à celle qu’avaient organisée les révolutionnaires américains, en 1773, pour protester contre les taxes imposées par la monarchie anglaise sur les exportations de thé destinées aux colonies d’Amérique du Nord. Cette émeute, appelée ironiquement Tea Party, consistait, alors, à vider, dans le port de Boston, des sacs de thé saisis par les insurgés américains sur des navires britanniques.

Rébellion patriotique

L’appel à la Tea Party symbolisait, en 2010, une rébellion patriotique contre les excès de l’Etat fédéral, contre le « Big Government », la réincarnation moderne d’une monarchie abusive et dépensière.

Ce rappel farfelu de l’histoire américaine, cette réappropriation d’un passé lointain lancée à tout hasard par un journaliste passablement énervé, fut habilement saisi par des militants conservateurs, proches du Parti républicain, qui décidèrent d’utiliser le label de la Tea Party pour signaler leur colère contre l’establishment washingtonien. Très décentralisé, privé de ténors politiques, composé d’amateurs qui voulaient faire de la politique autrement, le mouvement apparaissait éphémère et voué à l’échec à cause de ses incohérences.

Pourtant, en six mois, cette organisation a acquis une légitimité, fondée sur de surprenants succès électoraux dans six Etats, lors des primaires sénatoriales, en août. La crédibilité du mouvement fut renforcée par le ralliement de personnalités conservatrices comme Sarah Palin, l’ex-gouverneure de l’Alaska, ou Jim DeMint, le sénateur républicain de la Caroline du Sud, qui ont cru se reconnaître dans un courant qui leur était au départ étranger.

« Sortez les sortants » ; « Affamez la bête », tels sont les slogans clés d’une révolte qui s’inscrit plus directement encore dans la tradition historique de l’« antifédéralisme » – tradition défendue par les adversaires du projet de Constitution fédérale, rédigé à Philadelphie, en 1787. La crainte des antifédéralistes était qu’un Etat central trop puissant ne porte atteinte aux libertés individuelles des citoyens, menacés de ruine par de nouveaux impôts fédéraux destinés à maintenir au pouvoir des parasites, imbus de grandeur et dévorés de prétentions aristocratiques.

« Ce nouveau pouvoir fédéral, écrivait « Brutus », le pseudonyme de l’un des leaders du mouvement antifédéraliste, s’introduira dans tous les coins de la ville et de la société… et son langage sera toujours le même, quelle que soit la classe d’hommes ou les circonstances. Il leur dira «PAYER, PAYER» » (27 décembre 1787).

Les militants de la Tea Party, comme leurs ancêtres antifédéralistes et les partisans de Ronald Reagan, dans les années 1980, ou ceux de Ross Perot (le candidat indépendant à l’élection présidentielle de 1992), veulent moins d’Etat, moins d’impôts et le retour à l’équilibre budgétaire. Ils dénoncent le coûteux plan de sauvetage des banques, le plan de relance de l’économie de 787 milliards de dollars (556,7 milliards d’euros), les dépenses induites par le programme de réforme de l’assurance-maladie, les hausses d’impôts prévues pour les plus riches, dont les revenus dépassent 250 000 dollars par an. Le programme politique des « insurgés » est manifestement démagogique et contradictoire, car il prône en même temps la baisse des impôts, l’abolition des droits de succession et la réduction du déficit budgétaire, tout en préservant un seuil élevé de dépenses militaires et les principaux acquis sociaux.

Les plus extrémistes prônent la privatisation du retrait des aides aux chômeurs, la suppression de toute progressivité fiscale, l’abandon du plan de relance voté par le Congrès, la fermeture des ministères de l’éducation et de l’énergie, bref, un chacun pour soi généralisé, sans la moindre considération pour les sujets les plus vulnérables de la société : les enfants, les chômeurs, les malades, les personnes âgées, les nouveaux immigrés… Reagan dénonçait jadis les « welfare queens », ces « reines de l’aide sociale » qui abusaient des subventions de l’Etat dans les ghettos noirs en conduisant, prétendait-il, des Cadillac.

Les militants de la Tea Party s’imaginent entourés de « welfare queens » partout et tout le temps ; ils vivent dans la hantise d’un « Big Government » omniprésent qui ruinera bientôt l’Amérique. Mais ils n’offrent pas de modèle de sortie de crise, bien au contraire : freiner brutalement les dépenses de l’Etat, dès cet automne, serait le meilleur moyen de prolonger la récession.

Les candidats de la Tea Party sont des amateurs qui ignorent tout de la langue de bois, à leurs risques et périls. Quelques exemples significatifs : Christine O’Donnell, du Delaware, qui l’emporta dans les primaires sénatoriales républicaines contre un homme chevronné de la politique, Mike Castle, soutenu par les modérés du parti de l’éléphant [animal emblème des républicains].

Opinions délirantes

Christine O’Donnell, comme Sarah Palin, s’exprime avec spontanéité sur tout et n’importe quoi, sans faire preuve du moindre recul critique. D’où ces affirmations recueillies par la presse : il faut interdire la masturbation parce que c’est une forme d’adultère ; la preuve que Darwin a tort : on ne voit pas de singes se transformer en êtres humains ; les préservatifs sont inutiles : ils ne protègent pas contre les maladies sexuellement transmissibles ; des scientifiques ont créé des souris qui fonctionnent avec des cerveaux humains…

A force de trop en dire ou de démentir des propos réellement tenus dans le passé, Mme O’Donnell devient la risée des médias, ce qui diminue ses chances de succès lors des élections de novembre. Sharron Angle, la candidate victorieuse de la Tea Party lors des primaires sénatoriales du Nevada, espère l’emporter contre Harry Reid, le leader de la majorité démocrate au Sénat.

Comme Mme O’Donnell, c’est une néophyte de la politique. Féroce critique de l’establishment républicain « aussi dépensier que le camp démocrate », elle souhaite abolir la plupart des régimes d’assistance sociale. Elle s’oppose aussi à toute couverture médicale obligatoire pour les enfants autistes ou les femmes enceintes au prétexte que ces conditions ne sont pas des maladies. Enfin, elle est convaincue qu’Obama est un dangereux « socialiste », dont le seul objectif est d’instaurer un Etat-providence de style européen.

Bien sûr, les héros de la Tea Party ne défendent pas tous des opinions aussi délirantes. Des candidats très conservateurs au poste de gouverneur comme Joe Miller, en Alaska, Rand Paul, dans le Kentucky, Marco Rubio, en Floride, et Rob Portman, dans l’Ohio, ont de bonnes chances de réussir. En fait, la vague de fond du mouvement de la Tea Party est si forte que les républicains peuvent espérer emporter la majorité des sièges à la Chambre des représentants, d’après les derniers sondages du mois d’octobre. Une telle victoire conduirait à une complète paralysie législative, et elle compromettrait les chances de réélection de Barack Obama, en 2012.

Certains journalistes influents utilisent le flambeau de la Tea Party pour donner une nouvelle légitimité à leurs conceptions pour le moins bizarres de l’histoire des Etats-Unis. Le plus visible aujourd’hui est Glenn Beck, un collaborateur de Fox News, qui anime notamment une émission didactique intitulée les « Vendredi des fondateurs ». Lors de ces émissions, Glenn Beck reconstruit, de façon hystérique, l’histoire des Etats-Unis en utilisant tous les rapprochements possibles et imaginables pour « détruire » ses adversaires politiques.

Barack Obama est ainsi décrit comme le traître par excellence, celui qui a rompu avec les Pères fondateurs. Ses origines, disait Glenn Beck, le 28 août sur Fox News, sont celles de tous les progressistes de gauche : « C’est 1848, Karl Marx, le socialisme ! » Sinistre Coluche, Glenn Beck laissait entendre, en 2009, d’après l’enquête menée par Dana Milbank pour le Washington Post, le 3 octobre, qu’Obama était un partisan de l’eugénisme, comme Woodrow Wilson et comme Hitler, puisqu’il était prêt à mettre en place, avec sa réforme du système d’assurance-maladie, des « tribunaux de la mort » : des médecins bureaucrates qui décideraient du droit de vie et de mort en fonction des fonds disponibles.

Le même Glenn Beck se réappropriait la grande marche sur Washington de Martin Luther King, pour en faire, quarante-sept ans plus tard, le 28 août, une manifestation dédiée aux militaires, aux patriotes et à tous les conservateurs de la Tea Party. Cette parodie du mouvement des droits civiques avait pour titre : « Restaurer l’honneur de l’Amérique ».

Le grand discours de King, « I have a dream », devenait, dans le remake de Beck, un discours insipide consacré « aux bonnes choses qui ont été réalisées en Amérique ». Pas question d’évoquer les « blessures de l’histoire », précisait Glenn Beck ; il fallait se concentrer sur l’avenir, sur « l’histoire de l’Amérique qui est l’histoire de l’humanité » tout entière. Et surtout, expliquait-il, évitons de transformer nos enfants en « esclaves des dettes de l’Etat fédéral ». On ne pouvait mieux travestir la pensée de Martin Luther King.

Ultraconservatisme

Quel a été l’effet du mouvement de la Tea Party sur le Parti républicain ? Les stratèges du Grand Old Party pouvaient craindre la scission d’un parti entre une aile modérée, composée de la majorité des sortants, et une faction radicale dominée par les tea partiers (partisans de la Tea Party). Il n’en est rien, parce que les élites du parti et leurs conseillers ont su coopter l’énergie du mouvement en l’insérant dans des réseaux militants et financiers préexistants.

Les militants de la Tea Party sont ainsi incités à se former à la bonne gestion des campagnes électorales dans des milliers de séminaires de cadres, organisés par des fondations privées comme Citizens for a Private Economy, Americans for Tax Reform, Regular Folks United, Americans for Prosperity ou FreedomWorks.

Ces fondations, financées par des partisans de l’ultralibéralisme – comme les milliardaires du Kansas, les frères David et Charles Koch -, utilisent tout le savoir-faire de vieux professionnels de la politique. FreedomWorks, la plus influente de ces fondations, est ainsi dirigée par Dick Armey, l’ancien chef de la majorité républicaine à la Chambre des représentants. Mais l’intégration réussie des militants de la Tea Party au sein du Grand Old Party a un coût : la droitisation de l’idéologie républicaine et la marginalisation des candidats les plus modérés, obligés d’adopter un discours répressif pour rester dans la course, ou de quitter un parti qui a cessé de les apprécier.

A terme, la droitisation du Parti républicain aura un effet probable sur les candidatures déjà officieusement annoncées pour l’élection présidentielle de 2012. Un modéré comme Mitt Romney sera sérieusement concurrencé par des candidats qui recevront l’aval ou revendiqueront l’appui du mouvement de la Tea Party. Les plus conservateurs, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee et Sarah Palin, sont désormais les « étoiles montantes » du Parti républicain.

L’issue des élections du 2 novembre dépendra, en bonne partie, du degré de mobilisation des électeurs les plus motivés du Parti démocrate : les jeunes, les Hispaniques, les Afro-Américains. Seront-ils plus nombreux à voter que les tea partiers, estimés à plus du tiers des électeurs du Parti républicain ?

Les partisans de l’Etat-providence l’emporteront-ils contre les nouveaux anti-fédéralistes ? L’enjeu est de taille, car il s’agit de savoir si la majorité des électeurs américains sera capable de surmonter cette maladie infantile de l’ultraconservatisme que le grand historien Richard Hofstadter qualifiait jadis de « style paranoïaque en politique américaine ».

Voir egalement:

Le Tea Party dans le texte

Liberation

02/11/2010

«Dieu», «Hitler», «sorcière» : lexique des candidats de la nouvelle droite américaine.

Lorraine Millot (à Washington), Fabrice Rousselot (à Los Angeles)

Ce n’est pas un parti, mais il pourrait faire basculer l’équilibre des pouvoirs à Washington. Populaire et populiste, ultraconservateur, nourri par la crise économique, le Tea Party est né d’une colère revendiquée contre les élites et d’une haine absolue pour les dépenses publiques. Le mouvement a ses têtes d’affiche, comme le commentateur de Fox News Glenn Beck ou l’ex-gouverneure de l’Alaska Sarah Palin, et soutient plus de 100 candidats pour ce scrutin à mi-mandat. Si son programme reste flou, le Tea Party a son propre vocabulaire, révélateur du message qu’il entend porter dans la capitale américaine.

Constitution

Revenir à l’Amérique des Pères fondateurs. Tous les candidats en appellent notamment au deuxième amendement, qui garantit à chaque citoyen le droit de porter des armes. «Il faut leur dire, à Washington, on ne lâchera pas notre Constitution, nos armes et notre dieu», martèle Sarah Palin à chacune de ses interventions.

DeathPanel

Le terme, que l’on peut traduire par «commission de la mort», a été lancé par Sarah Palin en 2009 et il a beaucoup contribué à faire dérailler le débat autour de la réforme de la santé. «Mes parents ou mon bébé qui est trisomique devront comparaître devant la commission de la mort d’Obama pour que des bureaucrates puissent décider s’ils méritent d’être soignés», avait assuré Palin.

Déficit

Ces militants ultraconservateurs ne supportent pas les dépenses gouvernementales et la dette publique. Durant leurs manifestations, ils prennent généralement pour cible le fameux Stimulus Package d’Obama. Pour eux, les 800 milliards dépensés n’ont pas servi à sauver l’économie, mais à creuser la dette et à sauver des banques «qui auraient dû subir la loi du marché».

Dieu

«Je crois que les gens se tournent vers Dieu car ils réalisent que c’est notre sauveur et que le gouvernement ne peut pas nous sauver. Plus le gouvernement est grand et plus Dieu est petit et vice-versa», a un jour déclaré le sénateur de Caroline du Sud Jim DeMint. Les candidats du Tea Party militent pour le retour de la prière à l’école.

Fox News

La chaîne de Rupert Murdoch est la référence du Tea Party. Pour lui, la presse américaine dans son ensemble est une presse «libérale» (au sens américain, du terme, donc de gauche), qui passe son temps à proférer des «mensonges». La plupart des candidats refusent d’accorder des interviews, notamment Sharron Angle, qui postule au siège de sénatrice du Nevada, et qui avait dit un jour : «On voudrait que les journaux soient nos amis, qu’ils posent uniquement les questions auxquelles nous voudrions répondre.»

Grand Old Party

Le Grand Old Party est à la fois un ancrage et un repoussoir. Beaucoup des animateurs, nationaux et locaux, du Tea Party sont issus du Parti républicain. Mais le Tea Party se veut indépendant et souvent critique du parti, jugé trop dispendieux de l’argent des contribuables durant les années Bush. «Les républicains ont perdu leurs références, ils ont perdu leurs principes», a ainsi attaqué Sharron Angle.

Hitler

Ne reculant devant aucune outrance, certains porte-voix du Tea Party invoquent aussi régulièrement le Führer… pour assurer que Barack Obama serait un de ses disciples. Le commentateur de Fox News Glenn Beck est particulièrement obsédé par ce personnage, sans être le seul. En avril 2009, il comparait par exemple le renflouement des compagnies automobiles américaines aux débuts du nazisme en Allemagne : «Je ne dis pas que Barack Obama est un fasciste. Si je ne me trompe pas, aux premiers jours d’Adolf Hitler, les gens étaient aussi très contents de faire la queue pour être aidés.»

Impôts

Il suffit de parler de taxes à un représentant du Tea Party pour qu’il voie rouge. Plusieurs candidats proposent par exemple «d’abolir l’école publique», ce qui à leurs yeux permettrait d’alléger les impôts locaux. Dans le Kentucky, Rand Paul, qui concourt pour le poste de sénateur, veut mettre fin à l’impôt sur le revenu et le remplacer par une sorte de TVA.

Man up!

La virilité est aussi une des valeurs revendiquées par le Tea Party… et notamment par ses candidates. Leur expression clé : «Man up!» que l’on peut traduire par : «Sois un homme, un vrai !» Sarah Palin est coutumière de l’expression (et de bien pires encore, puisqu’elle a aussi reproché à Barack Obama de manquer de «cojones», de couilles, en espagnol). Dans le Colorado, le candidat Ken Buck met aussi sa virilité en avant. Pourquoi voter pour lui ? «Je porte des bottes de cowboy, avec de la vraie merde de taureau dessus, a-t-il dit. Et c’est de la merde du comté de Weld, pas de la merde de Washington !»

Mur de Berlin

L’idée vient de Joe Miller, le candidat au Sénat en Alaska. «La première chose que nous devons faire est de sécuriser nos frontières. L’Allemagne de l’Est a été très efficace à réduire le flux [d’immigration]», a-t-il déclaré à l’un de ses meetings. L’immigration est l’une des obsessions des militants, qui estiment par exemple que la réforme du système de santé sert surtout «à payer les soins de tous les immigrants illégaux».

Barack

«Nous n’avons rien contre sa personne, c’est sa politique qui nous hérisse», expliquent souvent les militants. A voir. Les leaders du Tea Party ne cessent de traiter le Président de «socialiste», de «communiste» ou de «musulman». Parmi les millions d’attaques, voici ce que disait Glenn Beck, en février: «Barack Obama a choisi d’utiliser ce nom de Barack pour s’identifier, mais pas à l’Amérique. On ne prend pas le nom de Barack pour s’identifier à l’Amérique. On prend le nom de Barack pour s’identifier à quoi ? A ses ancêtres ? A son père au Kenya peut-être, qui est un extrémiste ?»

Peuple

Mais aussi «rébellion» et «révolution». Le mouvement est unanime : le Tea Party représente la «révolte du peuple» contre Washington et l’establishment politique. Tous ceux qui font campagne avec l’étiquette Tea Party se présentent comme des «outsiders» face aux «politiciens professionnels». Carl Paladino, le candidat haut en couleur au poste de gouverneur de New York, a même proposé «d’aller nettoyer Albany [la capitale de l’Etat, NDLR]» avec sa batte de base-ball.

Socialisme

Un autre grand épouvantail des Tea Parties. A les écouter, le socialisme serait en train de ruiner les Etats-Unis et d’anéantir toutes les libertés conquises depuis la révolution américaine. Tous les programmes sociaux du pays, même ceux en place bien avant Obama, sont ainsi qualifiés de «socialistes». «L’Amérique est maintenant une économie socialiste», explique par exemple Christine O’Donnell, candidate dans le Delaware.

Sorcière

Il s’agit là d’une particularité de Christine O’Donnell. Dans ses folles années 1990, alors qu’elle était déjà très appréciée sur les plateaux de télévision pour ses positions contre la masturbation, la future candidate avait raconté avoir un peu tâté de la sorcellerie. Pour tenter de retourner cette idiotie en sa faveur, elle en a fait un spot de campagne : «Je ne suis pas une sorcière… Je suis vous.»

Voir enfin:

The Tea Party Last Time

ROBERT ZARETSKY

The NYT

February 3, 2010

Houston

MORE than 100,000 angry citizens united in the nation’s capital to take their country back: back from the tax collector and the political and financial elites, back from bureaucrats and backroom wheelers and dealers and, more elusively and alarmingly, back from those who, well, were not like them.

These weren’t the incensed Americans who helped elect Scott Brown in the Massachusetts Senate race and who rallied around conservative candidates in the Illinois primary on Tuesday; this scene didn’t take place at the Tea Party demonstration in Washington last year. These protesters were gathered in France a half-century ago: Last week was the 55th anniversary of the mass demonstration in Paris of the Poujadist movement, a phenomenon that bears a close resemblance to our own Tea Party. For a brief moment, the movement threatened the very foundations of the French Republic. A comparison between France then and America now may be instructive.

In the 1950s, postwar reconstruction and the Marshall Plan transformed France, which had been largely rural and agricultural, into a rapidly urbanizing and industrializing nation. While many welcomed these sweeping social and economic changes — it was the era of Formica and frigos (refrigerators) — many others feared and resented them.

Ever since the nation’s liberation in 1945, a deep division had run down the middle of the French ideological spectrum: the Gaullists and Catholics on the one side, the Communists and their fellow travelers on the other. The political center had evaporated in the crucible of the cold war. The parliamentary system became ever more dysfunctional, lurching from one crisis to another as the competing parties accused one another of working against the interests of the man in the street.

The man (and woman) in the street had a different take. Neither the traditional right nor left seemed interested in his plight. Inflation dogged his heels and the influx of consumer and cultural goods from America breathed ever more warmly on his neck. Yet in the face of this widespread anxiety, the professional political class seemed indifferent. At this critical moment, Pierre Poujade leapt onto the national stage.

A stationer in Saint-Céré, a small town in southwestern France, Poujade mobilized his fellow shopkeepers against government tax inspectors in 1953. He found a ready audience: le petit commerçant was increasingly squeezed between the spread of chain stores and a heavy-handed state bureaucracy.

Poujade (who was, of course, the satisfied recipient of many state benefits, from retirement pensions to health insurance) channeled the swelling of popular resentment by creating the Union for the Defense of Shopkeepers and Artisans. By the end of the year, membership had rocketed, transforming the group from a provincial curiosity to a real and present danger to politics as usual.

Short and barrel-chested — he had once been a dockworker — Poujade had a booming voice that amplified the anxiety of his populist followers. France’s woes, he declared, were due to an urbane and urban professional class that had “lost all contact with the real world.” In his autobiography, titled “I’ve Chosen to Fight,” Poujade styled himself as a simple man of the people who had entered politics for selfless and patriotic reasons.

The real France, he insisted, was found not in Paris, but in small towns and on farms. It was certainly not found in the person of France’s most promising politician, Pierre Mendès-France, who as prime minister had acted on many of his campaign promises for meaningful economic and political change. For Poujade, the young and cerebral Mendès-France, a Sephardic Jew whose family had lived in France for several generations, was and would always be a foreigner.

By Jan. 24, 1955, when the shopkeepers’ group staged its huge rally in Paris, the movement’s nostalgic longing for a simpler time had veered toward violent anti-parliamentarianism. There were also overtones of anti-Americanism (rumors flew that Coca-Cola had bought Notre-Dame with the intention of turning its western façade into a billboard) and anti-Semitism. The group’s rallying cry — Sortez les sortants! (“Throw the bums out!”) — challenged the right as well as the left.

During the subsequent national elections, the Poujadists bulldozed their way into town meetings, shouting down opposing candidates and threatening violence: a grim rehearsal for Tea Party tactics during last year’s health care debates. Their tactics, if not their platform — they did not, in fact, have one — worked. Poujade’s party won more than 10 percent of the votes, taking more than 50 seats in the National Assembly.

The election, though, proved to be Poujade’s swan song. He had demanded the nation’s ear, but once he and his fellow deputies had it, they had nothing substantive to say. Slogans and placards were poor preparation for governance, and the group’s rank and file soon either retreated from the political arena or joined the traditional right.

By 1958, most Poujadists were ready to throw their support behind a far more impressive opponent of the Fourth Republic, Charles de Gaulle. When de Gaulle assumed power and held a referendum that replaced the parliamentary system with an authoritarian executive, Poujade’s former adherents overwhelmingly voted yes. As for Poujade himself, he had already become a footnote to French history.

Historical parallelism is the duct tape of my profession: we apply it to the most disparate things. Sooner or later the tape frays, revealing unique fissures that require individual attention. Perhaps this is the case with the Poujadists and the Tea Partiers. Saint-Céré is far from Wasilla, Alaska; questioning Mendès-France’s origins is not quite the same as demanding President Obama’s birth certificate; the mendacity in the claim of France’s imminent coca-colonization is of a different order from that concerning the misinformation about death panels in the United States. In both instances, however, the despair and disconnect with politics seem similarly great and real, as does the common tendency to grasp for simple solutions to complex problems.

Tea Party activists might find it infuriating ever to be compared to the nation they consider the anti-America. But French observers of our country may be forgiven if they feel a certain déjà vu when they see a movement that brings nothing to the ballot box except anger.

Robert Zaretsky, a professor of French history at the University of Houston Honors College, is the author of “Albert Camus: Elements of a Life.”


Désinformation: J’ai commis bien des fois l’adultère dans mon coeur (What did Christine O’Donnell really say?)

4 novembre, 2010
Pelagie
Vous avez appris qu’il a été dit: Tu ne commettras point d’adultère. Mais moi, je vous dis que quiconque regarde une femme pour la convoiter a déjà commis un adultère avec elle dans son cœur. Jesus (Matthieu 5.27-28)
Alors les scribes et les pharisiens amenèrent une femme surprise en adultère; et, la plaçant au milieu du peuple, ils dirent à Jésus: Maître, cette femme a été surprise en flagrant délit d’adultère. Moïse, dans la loi, nous a ordonné de lapider de telles femmes: toi donc, que dis-tu? Ils disaient cela pour l’éprouver, afin de pouvoir l’accuser. Mais Jésus, s’étant baissé, écrivait avec le doigt sur la terre. Comme ils continuaient à l’interroger, il se releva et leur dit: Que celui de vous qui est sans péché jette le premier la pierre contre elle. Et s’étant de nouveau baissé, il écrivait sur la terre. Quand ils entendirent cela, accusés par leur conscience, ils se retirèrent un à un, depuis les plus âgés jusqu’aux derniers; et Jésus resta seul avec la femme qui était là au milieu. Alors s’étant relevé, et ne voyant plus que la femme, Jésus lui dit: Femme, où sont ceux qui t’accusaient? Personne ne t’a-t-il condamnée? Elle répondit: Non, Seigneur. Et Jésus lui dit: Je ne te condamne pas non plus: va, et ne pèche plus. Jesus (Jean 8: 3-11)
J’ai commis bien des fois l’adultère dans mon coeur. Jimmy Carter (Playboy, nov. 1976)
La Bible dit que quiconque a le cœur plein de luxure commet l’adultère. Et on ne peut pratiquer la masturbation sans luxure. Christine O’Donnell (1996)
I know many physical virgins who are not sexually pure. I know many virgins who are into pornography or who are "doing everything but" with their boyfriends. On the flip side, I know many non-virgins who live beautiful, holy, pure lives through the power of Christ’s blood. (…)When a married person uses pornography, or is unfaithful, it compromises not just his (or her) purity, but also compromises the spouse’s purity. Christine O’Donnell (1998)
La pornographie consiste à retirer les actes sexuels, réels ou simulés, de l’intimité des partenaires pour les exhiber à des tierces personnes de manière délibérée. Elle offense la chasteté parce qu’elle dénature l’acte conjugal, don intime des époux l’un à l’autre. Elle porte gravement atteinte à la dignité de ceux qui s’y livrent (acteurs, commerçants, public), puisque chacun devient pour l’autre l’objet d’un plaisir rudimentaire et d’un profit illicite. Elle plonge les uns et les autres dans l’illusion d’un monde factice. Catechisme catholique
Dans la ligne d’une tradition constante, tant le magistère de l’Église que le sens moral des fidèles ont affirmé sans hésitation que la masturbation est un acte intrinsèquement et gravement désordonné ". " Quel qu’en soit le motif, l’usage délibéré de la faculté sexuelle en dehors des rapports conjugaux normaux en contredit la finalité ". La jouissance sexuelle y est recherchée en dehors de " la relation sexuelle requise par l’ordre moral, celle qui réalise, dans le contexte d’un amour vrai, le sens intégral de la donation mutuelle et de la procréation humaine. Pour former un jugement équitable sur la responsabilité morale des sujets et pour orienter l’action pastorale, on tiendra compte de l’immaturité affective, de la force des habitudes contractées, de l’état d’angoisse ou des autres facteurs psychiques ou sociaux qui peuvent atténuer, voire même réduire au minimum la culpabilité morale. Catechisme catholique
Qu’en est-il de celui qui regarde sa propre femme avec concupiscence ? La logique semble affirmer que puisque l’adultère ne peut être qu’en relation avec une autre femme, il n’a pas lieu ici. Le Pape reprend ce premier raisonnement12 pour en montrer les limites. Ainsi, selon lui, “l’adultère ‘dans le coeur’ n’est pas commis par qu’un homme regarde une autre femme de cette manière, mais parce qu’il regarde une femme de cette manière. Même s’il regardait de cette manière sa propre femme, il commettrait l’adultère. (…) endre adultère une relation conjugale signifie simplement la distordre par rapport à sa signification originelle, ce dont conviennent même les adversaires du mariage : “N’a t-il pas été dit et écrit en toutes lettres récemment que le mariage devient souvent une forme d’esclavage pour la femme ; qu’elle est réduite au rang d’objet sexuel ou même que dans certains cas la relation conjugale n’est qu’une prostitution cachée ?” Si les sexes sont créés l’un pour l’autre, la convoitise change radicalement la manière dont l’un existe pour l’autre. Un homme qui verrait sa femme comme un objet de satisfaction de son propre désir est adultère. Incarnare
Si le Décalogue consacre son commandement ultime à interdire le désir des biens du prochain, c’est parce qu’il reconnaît lucidement dans ce désir le responsable des violences interdites dans les quatre commandements qui le précèdent. Si on cessait de désirer les biens du prochain, on ne se rendrait jamais coupable ni de meurtre, ni d’adultère, ni de vol, ni de faux témoignage. Si le dixième commandement était respecté, il rendrait superflus les quatre commandements qui le précèdent. Au lieu de commencer par la cause et de poursuivre par les conséquences, comme ferait un exposé philosophique, le Décalogue suit l’ordre inverse. Il pare d’abord au plus pressé: pour écarter la violence, il interdit les actions violentes. Il se retourne ensuite vers la cause et découvre le désir inspiré par le prochain.René Girard
Pornography affects people’s belief in rape myths. So for example if a woman says ‘I didn’t consent’ and people have been viewing pornography, they believe rape myths and believe the woman did consent no matter what she said. That when she said no, she meant yes. When she said she didn’t want to, that meant more beer. When she said she would prefer to go home, that means she’s a lesbian who needs to be given a good corrective experience. Pornography promotes these rape myths and desensitises people to violence against women so that you need more violence to become sexually aroused if you’re a pornography consumer. This is very well documented.
The fact is that the materials themselves in general are about the use of women for sex and when women are being used for sex that is about a male-dominant model of sex, whether men are doing it or not. It’s not biological. It’s about sex roles. Anyone can play them. Katherine McKinnon
Dans le passé, le mouvement féministe comprenait que le choix d’être battue par un homme pour assurer sa survie économique n’était pas un vrai choix, malgré l’apparence de consentement fournie par un contrat de mariage. Et pourtant, actuellement, nous sommes censées croire, au nom du féminisme, que le choix d’être baisée par des centaines d’hommes pour assurer sa survie économique doit être considéré comme un vrai choix et que si la femme y consent, c’est sans qu’il y ait aucune coercition à l’œuvre. Katherine McKinnon
Tout rapport sexuel, même s’il est consensuel, entre un couple marié, est un acte de violence perpétré contre la femme. Katherine MacKinnon
A l’écran, un homme et une femme. L’homme seul prend l’initiative de la parole : il s’adresse à la femme à l’impératif («lève-toi», «tourne-toi»), fait lui-même les questions et les réponses («tu aimes ça ?», «ouiiiii»), l’insulte («chienne», «salope»). Le corps de la femme est systématiquement plus exposé à la caméra que celui de l’homme, ce qui oblige parfois les acteurs à copuler dans des positions invraisemblables, mais qu’importe : la femme doit être VUE ! Au cours d’un acte sexuel qui commence avec l’érection… de l’homme, et qui prend fin par l’orgasme… de l’homme. Le personnage féminin est évidemment censé avoir eu du plaisir – on l’entend assez crier – mais on se demande bien comment…Ruwen  Ogien
Il faut donc se demander en quoi l’échange sexuel est plus problématique que d’autres formes d’échange économique dans le monde du travail. D’autant qu’il y a bien d’autres situations où les femmes ne retirent guère de plaisir de leur sexualité : pourquoi pas une étude comparant l’aliénation de la sexualité dans le mariage et dans la prostitution ? La prostituée peut dire : « 50 dollars la pipe », ou bien : « on monte une demi-heure ». Dans le mariage, on ne pose pas des conditions de la sorte. Et il faut en plus se lever, lui préparer le petit déjeuner, et faire comme s’il avait été merveilleux. Au moins, dans la prostitution, la femme peut demander au souteneur de garantir son temps et son prix. Judith Butler (2003)
D’abord enfant martyr, puis prostituée et enfin actrice pornographique, c’est par hasard et sans l’avoir voulu que Linda Boreman est entrée dans l’histoire en devenant un symbole de la révolution sexuelle aux États-Unis. Forcée par un mari proxénète à tourner dans un film financé par la mafia, elle devient célèbre grâce à une technique de fellation, inspirée des avaleurs de sabres, dont la prouesse suffit à assurer la notoriété d’un petit film. Wikipedia
Les valeurs reflétées dans la pornographie contrastent violemment avec le concept de la famille. De fait, elles ébranlent les valeurs traditionnelles du mariage, de la famille et des enfants […]. Les scénarios pornographiques sont basés sur des relations sexuelles entre des personnes qui viennent de se rencontrer, qui ne sont ni attachées ni engagées l’une envers l’autre et qui se quitteront rapidement pour ne plus jamais se revoir […]. La gratification sexuelle dans la pornographie ne relève aucunement d’un attachement émotionnel particulier, ni d’un acte de gentillesse ou de compassion, ni d’un désir que cette relation se poursuive. Une telle prolongation impliquerait alors des responsabilités; elle imposerait des limites; elle aurait un prix. Dolf Zillmann (Report of the Surgeon General’s Workshop on Pornography and Public Health, 1986)
La pornographie, c’est l’érotisme des autres. André Breton
L’érotisme est une pornographie de classe. Robert Escarpit

Mais qu’a bien pu dire Christine O’Donnell?

Ultraconservatisme, ultradroite, positions extrémistes, racisme, violence, campagne antimasturbation, pasionaria de la chasteté, prude du Delaware …

Y a-t-il, après les années d’insanités et de mensonges de nos prétendus journalistes sur le président Bush puis les flagorneries les plus ridicules sur son successeur, des  mots assez durs pour qualifier ceux qui ont osé et réussi à porter un coup d’arrêt à l’ordre du jour radical de celui-ci qui est sur le point de prouver au monde qu’un président noir pouvait être aussi mauvais qu’un blanc?

Qui rappelera, contre les accusations de racisme et le constat de la disparition des noirs au  seul Sénat, leur nombre record à  la Chambre, les 14 candidats noirs républicains, la première représentante noire d’Alabama (démocrate) ou les élus soutenus par le Tea Party d’origine cubaine ou indienne?

Qui aura l’honnêteté de rappeler à nos distraits torchonnistes que les prises de position (sur l’adultère, la pornographie ou la masturbation) reprochées à leur nouvelle tête de turc après Sarah  Palin, la candidate malheureuse du Tea Party pour le Delaware Christine O’Donnell, datent d’une quinzaine d’années pour quelqu’un qui a à peine 40 ans et qui les a d’ailleurs depuis largement modérées ?

Qui prendra la peine de rappeler que celles-ci ne font en fait que reprendre les positions officielles de l’Eglise catholique dans laquelle elle est née et a grandi?

Qui, contre la crasse ignorance et l’esprit moutonnier, aura le courage de rappeler enfin que lesdites positions reprennent presque terme à terme celles d’un certain ex-président démocrate?

Et que, se contentant de dénoncer la réduction de l’autre (y compris dans le mariage) au rang de simple objet sexuel et non toute relation hétérosexuelle comme nécessairement oppressive pour les femmes, elles apparaissent finalement des plus modérées face à certaines déclarations de nos féministes les plus en pointe?

Take the Christine O’Donnell/Jimmy Carter Quiz!

Zombie

Instapundit

17 Sep 2010

Each of the following ten quotes is by either Christine O’Donnell (candidate for the Delaware Senate seat) or Jimmy Carter (39th President of the United States). Can you guess which quote is by which politician?

Write down your guesses (no peeking!), and then check out the answers on page 2.

The Christine O’Donnell/Jimmy Carter Quiz

Who said each of the following quotes: Christine O’Donnell, or Jimmy Carter?

1. “To my amazement, I was besieged with questions about my sex life. At first I thought this was just a passing joke, but I was wrong. It became the dominant news story of my candidacy, and my popularity dropped precipitously. Any attempt to explain the Christian theology behind my answer only served to keep the issue alive.”

2. “I have an absolute, total commitment as a human being, as an American, as a religious person to Israel … Israel is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy.”

3. “Feeling a bit presumptuous, I wrote to [an evolutionary scientist] diasagreeing with this premise and asserting that there were factors other than pure happenstance that influenced the course of evolution.”

4. “Because I’m just human and I’m tempted and Christ set some almost impossible standards for us. The Bible says, ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery.’ Christ said, ‘I tell you that anyone who looks on a woman with lust has in his heart already committed adultery.’ I’ve looked on a lot of women with lust. I’ve committed adultery in my heart many times…. This is something that God recognizes, that I will do and have done, and God forgives me for it. But that doesn’t mean that I condemn someone who not only looks on a woman with lust but who leaves his wife and shacks up with somebody out of wedlock. Christ says, don’t consider yourself better than someone else because one guy screws a whole bunch of women while the other guy is loyal to his wife. The guy who’s loyal to his wife ought not to be condescending or proud because of the relative degree of sinfulness.”

5. “This set of principles, rooted in my Christian faith, has both shaped me and been shaped by my personal experiences, and it remains to this day a central element of my identity.”

6. (Quote from someone commenting about the candidate running for office) “It is not presumptuous to say, as there is enough evidence already, that a vast number of [O'Donnell or Carter] supporters consist of aggressive evangelicals whose main goal is to ‘Christianize’ our country; that is to say, to convert Americans to a particular brand of religious obscurantism. Needless to say, most, or many [O'Donnell/Carter]-fundamentalists despise complete intellectual and religious liberty.”

7. “Being born again is a new life, not of perfection but of striving, stretching, and searching — a life of intimacy with God through the Holy Spirit.”

8. “But if we aspire to grow as human beings, we should struggle to close the gap by making our inner selves truer reflections of our own highest values, which, for me, grow from my Christian faith.”

9. “…There are basic principles that, for me, have never changed. For a Christian, the life and teachings of Jesus offer a sound moral foundation that includes all the most basic elements that should guide us.”

10. “Yes, I have my personal beliefs, and these questions come from statements I made over fifteen years ago. I was in my twenties, and very excited and passionate about my new-found faith. But I assure you my faith has matured, and when I go to Washington, D.C., it’ll be the Constitution on which I base all of my decisions, not my personal beliefs.”

ANSWERS

1: Jimmy Carter (Source: Living Faith, page 128-9)

2: Jimmy Carter (Source: Interview with the B’nai Brith, 1976)

3: Jimmy Carter (Source: Living Faith, page 30)

4: Jimmy Carter (Source: Playboy interview, November, 1976)

5: Jimmy Carter (Source: Living Faith, page 46)

6: Jimmy Carter (Source: Carl Shapiro, cited by Robert Christgau, 1976)

7: Jimmy Carter (Source: Living Faith, page 20)

Voir aussi:

The Case for Chastity

Christine O’Donnell

the Cultural Dissident

November 9, 1998

Adolph Hitler once said that to engineer a society you must first engineer its language. Starting with the youth, he set in motion a design to erode the power of words, to steal the significance and beauty of a single word.

We can see the unfolding of that plan in our society. Society’s " sexual liberation" has unleashed an entirely new lexicon. For example, "gay" has always meant joyful and gleeful. Yet, today, when we say that Ellen is gay, we’re certainly not talking about her emotional well being.

In the same way, even Christians have become caught up in the new uses for old words, often in an effort to remain competitive in the public debate. Words like abstinence and phrases such as secondary virginity are now commonplace in the marketplace of ideas put forth to counter the sexual ideology of the 90s.

I don’t encourage anyone to seek " abstinence." I cringe at terms like "secondary virginity" or "recycled virgin." One of my goals is to get the body of Christ to stop proclaiming these words. I would rejoice if I never heard "abstinence" from a pulpit again.

Yes, I am a Christian. Yes, I do seek to surrender my entire life to the will of our Father. That is precisely why I don’t talk about abstinence or secondary virginity when I am asked to speak about sex. Abstinence is a physical discipline, not a calling. It makes our physical condition the goal.

As Christians, virginity is not even our goal. Purity and holiness are our calling in Christ. In Philippians 3:14 when the apostle Paul urges us to "press toward the goal" he is not calling us to push the limits as long as we don’t cross the line. He continues to assure us that it is a prize, a great reward, to live as Christ calls us to live.

I don’t like the term "secondary virginity" because it, too, makes virginity the goal and seems to classify certain people as second-rate Christians. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says that "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new." It does not say "all things except our virginity." When Christ heals people from cancer, there is no doubt that the physical body has been restored. Yet sometimes our own shame can cause us to doubt His ability to restore our purity. Christ promises to cleanse us from all of our sins.

Someone may challenge this idea by pointing to the fact that many Christians may have contracted AIDS in a promiscuous past. Sexually transmitted diseases or a pregnancy are consequences set apart from our healing. God may choose to heal someone from cancer, yet that person still has a great deal of medical bills. The outstanding bills do not determine whether or not the patient has been healed by God.

I know many physical virgins who are not sexually pure. I know many virgins who are into pornography or who are "doing everything but" with their boyfriends. On the flip side, I know many non-virgins who live beautiful, holy, pure lives through the power of Christ’s blood.

Another disagreeable point about abstinence is that it does not transcend into marriage, yet our call to purity does. Married couples, especially, are called to sexual purity. When a married person uses pornography, or is unfaithful, it compromises not just his (or her) purity, but also compromises the spouse’s purity. As a church, we need to teach a higher standard than abstinence. We need to preach a righteous lifestyle.

So what word do we preach? I struggled with that for a while. I was continually being asked to do media interviews or give speeches about sex. I would talk about this concept of holy living, yet had no word for this idea. I prayed for God to give me a word that applied to all people; married, single, virgins and non-virgins. This word would encompass our entire lives, not just our sexuality.

About a year ago, I was talking to a crowd about my thoughts on abstinence and the need for a higher standard. After my talk, a woman approached me and suggested that I use the word chastity. I politely thanked her but quietly thought how sad it was that she missed my point.

The whole purpose of the Savior’s Alliance for Lifting the Truth was to restore Biblical values in a way that is relevant to this extreme generation. It was not to bring back, what at the time, I thought were Victorian, puritanical ideas about sex. So, I continued to search for a word. God was probably laughing at my refusal to see His answer to my prayer.

This past summer I was invited to speak at a large Christian rock festival. I wanted a powerful word to drive home this concept to the crowd. I begged God to give me a word, but He continually reminded me of that woman’s face and her love for the word chastity. Then, just days before the festival, I recalled a speech that I had given about strategy of engineering language. I instantly felt embarrassed that I was blind to my own point! So I researched the word chastity.

When I heard the word chastity it would conjure up uptight images of chastity belts. I was succumbing to a meaning of Chastity that robbed the beauty of the word as well as its true definition. Chastity comes from the Greek word hagnos, which means clean, pure and holy. It is synonymous with the Greek word hagios, which means consecrated and sacred.

God wants us to live chaste lives. The dictionary listed words like integrity, honesty and purity as synonyms. It did not mention our sexuality. Surrendering our sexuality to God before and after marriage is a by-product of living chaste.

We can proudly, with honor, proclaim that we are consecrated to God. Yet there seems to be a stigma attached to proclaiming that we live chaste lives.

We should just as proudly proclaim our chastity. When God looks at His people, He looks at the integrity with which we live our lives. He searches our hearts and distinguishes between who has surrendered every crevice of their hearts to Him and who has not.

God does not distinguish between who is a virgin and who is not. Christians tend to ask each other whether or not we’re virgins. The real question is whether or not we are chaste.

Christine O’Donnell is the founder and president of SALT-Savior’s Alliance for Lifting the Truth)

Voir enfin:

Commandements et ethos

Incarnare

Theologie du corps

26/08/2009

Le Pape divise ensuite ce texte en trois parties :

1. il a été dit : Tu ne commettras pas d’adultère

2. Tout homme qui regarde une femme et la désire

3. a déjà commis l’adultère avec elle dans son coeur

La loi et les prophètes

Le Christ commence son enseignement par une référence à la loi de Moïse. "Vous avez entendu qu’il a été dit" : ses interlocuteurs sont familiers de cette loi. "Moi je vous dis" montre que la norme ne se suffisait pas à elle même : une norme ne peut changer le coeur plein de convoitise.1

Ainsi, David et Salomon étaient polygames, par convoitise, à n’en pas douter. Le fait que le commandement sur l’adultère ait pour conséquence essentielle le monogamie n’a pas effleuré leur esprit – ou leur conscience… Moins le coeur des hommes se conforme à la vérité, plus la société a besoin d’une norme objective pour limiter les dérives2.

Certaines lois, cependant, en voulant protéger l’ordre social, protègent en réalité la dimension sociale du péché. Quand les prophètes dénoncent l’infidélité d’Israel3 au Seigneur, ils pointent du doigt le vrai sens de la loi. Dans la loi de Moïse, l’adultère est rangé dans la catégorie des atteintes au droit de propriété (sous-entendu, du mari ou du père) : toutefois les prophètes dénoncent l’adultère non pas comme une violation d’un droit sur le corps de l’autre, mais comme rupture de l’alliance entre l’homme et la femme.

Le Pape essaie de nous amener à voir que l’enseignement catholique sur la sexualité n’est pas une législation arbitraire, ni la compilation de droits et devoirs juridiques4. La question "jusqu’où puis-je aller ?" n’est vraiment pas la bonne question…

L’accomplissement de la Sagesse

En transférant l’origine de l’adultère du corps au coeur, le Christ appelle à un regard renouvelé.

Ainsi, si le Siracide dit "Détourne ton regard d’une jolie femme [...] Beaucoup ont été égarés par la beauté d’une femme et l’amour s’y enflamme comme un feu"5, le Christ appelle non pas à détourner les yeux, mais à poser un regard renouvelé, à recevoir la pureté du regard.

Le Christ n’est pas mort sur une croix et ressuscité des morts uniquement pour nous donner des moyens de faire des compromis avec le péché (on ne l’a pas attendu pour ça…) Il est mort et ressuscité pour nous rendre Libres6.

Le Pape appelle à développer la chasteté. Celle-ci ne consiste pas "à annihiler le corps et la sexualité de l’esprit conscient en en refoulant les réactions dans le subconscient. La chasteté pratiquée ainsi [...] conduit à l’explosion. [...] Mais le coeur de la chasteté, c’est la promptitude à affirmer dans toute situation la valeur de la personne et à amener au niveau de la personne nos réactions que suscitent en nous le corps et la sexualité.7

L’expérience de l’homme historique

Même si le Christ n’est pas venu apporter un compromis avec le péché, nous vivons toujours cette tension historique du "déjà, mais pas encore". L’histoire suivante illustre bien à quoi ressemble la pureté chrétienne vécue dans sa maturité :

Deux évêques sortent d’une cathédrale. Au moment où sortent, une prostituée passe par là, très légèrement vêtue.. L’un des évêques détourne immédiatement le regard ; l’autre au contraire pose délibérément son regard sur elle.

Le premier évêque, celui qui a détourné les yeux, s’exclame : "Frère Evêque, que fais-tu ? détourne les yeux !" mais quand il regarde son frère évêque, celui-ci a les larmes aux yeux : "comment se fait-il qu’une telle beauté soit jetée en pâture à la convoitise des hommes ?"

Lequel de ces évêques est vivifié par l’ethos de la rédemption ? Lequel est bien au-delà de l’exigence de la loi pour l’accomplir dans son coeur ?

Il est important de comprendre que l’évêque qui détourne les yeux a également fait ce qu’il fallait, car il se savait incapable à cet instant de regarder cette femme sans éprouver de la convoitise, il sait que la concupiscence habite encore son coeur. Cela s’appelle éviter les occasions de pécher et cela constitue une première étape vers la chasteté. Mais ce n’est que la première étape. Nous sommes appelés à plus.

Si la majorité des hommes en est à cette première étape, ajoutons, pour ceux qui douteraient qu’atteindre une pureté comparable à celle de l’évêque qui regarde délibérément est possible et même souhaitable, que ce récit n’est pas fictif : l’histoire est inspirée de la conversion de Ste Pélagie par Nonnus d’Edesse.8 Parce que Nonnus a su la regarder avec un regard d’amour et d’émerveillement, Pélagie y a vu le regard du Christ et s’est convertie.9

L’état intérieur de l’homme de concupiscence

Le Siracide décrit très bien l’état de l’âme de l’homme de concupiscence : "la passion brûlante comme un brasier elle ne s’éteindra pas qu’elle ne soit assouvie; l’homme qui convoite sa propre chair il n’aura de cesse que le feu ne le consume".

L’homme n’est pas appelé à se consumer mais à être à l’image de Dieu : le désir ainsi purifié ne consume pas la personne comme le feu de Dieu ne consume pas le buisson ardent10.

Sans cette transformation radicale, nous ne pouvons qu’exhiber une modestie extérieure. Celle-ci vient d’une crainte des conséquences de l’indécence plus que du rejet du mal lui-même. En d’autres termes, le coeur n’est pas changé : seule la peur de "se faire surprendre en train de convoiter" nous retient alors. Dès que le regard de l’autre s’éloigne, nous nous autorisons à convoiter.

Selon une traduction différente de Mt 5, ce faisant, nous faisons de cette femme une adultère dans notre coeur : la personne de cette femme ne change (grâce à Dieu !) pas mais nous la changeons dans notre regard, imaginant des scènes adultères avec elle, devenant ainsi incapables de l’aimer vraiment.

Le Christ n’explique pas vraiment en Mt 5 ce que signifie convoiter. Il suppose que c’est une expérience que nous connaissons tous (et toutes). Si la concupiscence n’est pas un péché, le regard concupiscent en est un. Jean-Paul II nous dit "que le Christ veut nous montrer que l’homme regarde conformément à ce qu’il est"11

La concupiscence en psychologie

Pour le psychologue, la concupiscence – souvent alors appelée désir – n’a pas le même sens que dans la bible ou en théologie. Elle est neutre moralement.

En effet, la psychologie n’a pas le contexte ni le cadre de référence nécessaires pour en percevoir la dimension éthique, car elle analyse l’homme historique sans le lier à l’innocence originelle. La concupiscence semble ainsi simplement "normale" puisque tout le monde en fait l’expérience.

De la même manière que la concupiscence réduit la personne a sa dimension sexuelle (et même à la dimension physiologique de sa sexualité), cette vision est réductrice car elle ne prend pas en compte la réalité de notre vocation à vivre à la ressemblance de Dieu.

La concupiscence dans le mariage

Celui qui regarde une autre femme avec concupiscence a déjà commis l’adultère dans son coeur. Jean-Paul II va plus loin : qu’en est-il de celui qui regarde sa propre femme avec concupiscence ?

La logique semble affirmer que puisque l’adultère ne peut être qu’en relation avec une autre femme, il n’a pas lieu ici. Le Pape reprend ce premier raisonnement12 pour en montrer les limites. Ainsi, selon lui, "l’adultère ‘dans le coeur’ n’est pas commis par qu’un homme regarde une autre femme de cette manière, mais parce qu’il regarde une femme de cette manière. Même s’il regardait de cette manière sa propre femme, il commettrait l’adultère."13

Cette déclaration a suscité de nombreuses réactions de médias internationaux14, certains accusant Jean-Paul II d’avoir tellement peur de la sexualité qu’il voudrait la restreindre au sein-même du mariage.

Au contraire ! Jean-Paul II est très attaché à la préservation de la sexualité des époux, dans toute sa dimension. Rendre adultère une relation conjugale signifie simplement la distordre par rapport à sa signification originelle, ce dont conviennent même les adversaires du mariage : "N’a t-il pas été dit et écrit en toutes lettres récemment que le mariage devient souvent une forme d’esclavage pour la femme ; qu’elle est réduite au rang d’objet sexuel ou même que dans certains cas la relation conjugale n’est qu’une prostitution cachée ?"15

Si les sexes sont créés l’un pour l’autre, la convoitise change radicalement la manière dont l’un existe pour l’autre. Un homme qui verrait sa femme comme un objet de satisfaction de son propre désir est adultère. En conséquence, l’union sexuelle n’est justifiée (c’est à dire rendue juste, belle et sainte) que lorsqu’elle est inspirée par l’amour de Dieu (qui vient de Dieu, et tourné vers Dieu).

Remedium Concupiscentiae ?

L’Eglise enseigne traditionnellement que le mariage est le remedium concupiscentiae16. Certains ont interprété cette expression en pensant que le mariage est un exhutoire de la concupiscence, ce qui donne carte aux blanche aux hommes pour utiliser leur femmes pour leur satisfaction égoïste dans le cadre du mariage.

Cette interprétation manque complètement l’appel du Christ à l’intelligence du coeur dans le Sermon sur la Montagne. Elle a malheusement conduit à ce que des femmes s’entendent dire par leur confesseur ou leur directeur spirituel qu’elles devaient se donner à leur mari "à la demande". Il va sans dire (mais mieux en le disant) que la Pape abhore une telle vision.

Remedium Concupiscentiae est bien mieux traduit par le remède à la concupiscence. Le mariage permet de soigner la concupiscence (et non pas de l’exprimer) car chacun des époux essaie d’y aimer son conjoint de plus en plus, dans la totalité de sa personne. C’est le caractère prophétique du mariage qui est montré ici et pas l’expérience de la chute. "Déjà, mais pas encore".

La pureté de coeur, objectif réaliste ?

Parmi les reproches faits au Pape, celui de prêcher une morale irréaliste est le plus fréquent. Citons ainsi un article paru à l’époque17:

Les Européens peuvent peut-être contourner ce problème en faisant appel à leur fibre romantique lorsqu’ils regardent une femme18, mais les Américains ne s’encombrent pas d’une telle étiquette. Chez eux, grattez le vernis de romantisme, et vous trouverez à coup sûr la convoitise. [...]

Il est clair que le Pape a les meilleures intentions. [...] Mais il ne sait probablement pas le rôle central que joue la convoitise dans la famille américaine : [...] il sait que le désir des choses matérielles comme une voiture rapide nous pousse à travailler dur ; mais ce n’est pas seulement de ça qu’il s’agit : dès l’adolescence, la convoitise est notre force vitale. Nous ne voulons pas des voitures rapides pour elles-mêmes, mais pour satisfaire vous-savez-quoi. [...]

A mon époque, la première chose que vous appreniez sur les genoux de votre mère était que les garçons avaient une seule chose en tête – vous-savez-quoi – et que la route du mariage était pavée de déni. [...]

Aucune d’entre nous ne veut être un objet sexuel – le Pape a bien compris ça – [...] et il était un temps où nous cherchions la communion des personnes. [...] Mais cette époque est belle et bien révolue :  [L'ancien président] Jimmy Carter a donné à la convoitise ses lettres de noblesse dans son interview à Playboy [...] il a compris une chose sur le mariage : si l’homme convoite sa femme, au moins n’en convoitera t-il pas une autre.

On sent dans le ton de Judy Mann une amertume : elle aurait souhaité que les choses soient différentes et a conscience qu’elles sont censées être différentes. Mais elle a choisi le cynisme, la résignation : elle a accepté que la convoitise soit une donnée de l’humain.

Ce cynisme n’est pas qu’une posture conceptuelle : elle a des conséquences bien réelles, incarnées. Le dernier paragraphe en est un exempe flagrant : il témoigne d’un pari sur notre incapacité à dépasser la convoitise et fait entrer dans une spirale destructrice, en encourageant la convoitise pour mieux la contrôler.

Ce regard en manque d’espérance est typique de l’humanité amputée par le péché. Le Pape le crie : "nous devons retrouver la plénitude perdue de notre humanité et la revendiquer [face à l'adversaire]"19

Nul ne proclame que la route est facile.. dans la suite de son Sermon, le Christ ne parle t-il pas d’arracher son oeil, s’il nous pousse au péché ?20 Pourquoi les mots de Jésus sont-ils si forts ? Remarquons que la convoitise et l’enfer tiennent dans la même définition : l’absence de l’amour de Dieu. C’est pourquoi la convoitise est chose sérieuse : si l’amour de Dieu est à l’origine de l’homme alors la convoitise est l’antithèse de son existence.

Zoom…

Nous devons réaliser que les conséquences de la convoitise dépassent de loin le lit conjugal21 mais atteignent également la société dans son ensemble, la vie sociale et économique22 : bref, créent une culture de mort. En fait connaissant bien pourtant le verdict de Dieu qui déclare dignes de mort les auteurs de pareilles actions, non seulement ils les font, mais ils approuvent encore ceux qui les commettent.2324

* 1. cf. CEC 1963

* 2. Cela mène a des exemples de lois assez surprenants… cf. Lv 18 ; Dt 22,13-30 ; Dt 25,11-12

* 3. et Israel constitue ici le prototype des peuples : il ne s’agit pas de condamner Israel per se, pour qui l’amour du Seigneur dure à toujours.

* 4. malgré des textes au vocable très mal choisi, comme le droit sur le corps du code de Droit Canon de 1917, qui a heureusement disparu dans le Code de 1983.

* 5. Si 9,8

* 6. CEC 2764 : Dans le Sermon sur la Montagne [...] l’Esprit du Seigneur donne forme nouvelle à nos désirs, ces mouvements intérieurs qui animent notre vie.

* 7. cf. Amour et Responsabilité

* 8. Nonnus s’est en réalité exclamé "Malheur à nous, paresseux et négligents, car nous devrons rendre compte au jour du jugement, pour ne pas avoir mis à plaire à Dieu le zèle et le soin que met cette pauvre femme à orner son corps pour un plaisir passager"

* 9. Pensons à Nathanaël sous le figuier…

* 10. cf. Ex 3

* 11. TDC 39,4

* 12. TDC 25,4

* 13. TDC 43,2

* 14. Au point que l’Osservatore Romano a publié une réponse le 12 octobre 1980

* 15. Sorgi, L’Osservatore Romano, 12 octobre 1980

* 16. S’appuyant sur le verset de Saint-Paul en 1Co 7,9 : "Mais s’ils ne peuvent pas se maîtriser, qu’ils se marient, car mieux vaut se marier que brûler de désir."

* 17. A Lesson on Lust for the Vatican, "Une leçon sur la convoitise pour le Vatican", par Judy Mann, Washington Post du 10 octobre 1980

* 18. on appréciera le cliché..

* 19. TDC 43,7

* 20. Mt 5,29-30

* 21. Rm 1, 24-27 : Aussi Dieu les a-t-il livrés selon les convoitises de leur cœur à une impureté où ils avilissent eux-mêmes leurs propres corps eux qui ont échangé la vérité de Dieu contre le mensonge, adoré et servi la créature de préférence au Créateur [...]: car leurs femmes ont échangé les rapports naturels pour des rapports contre nature ; pareillement les hommes, délaissant [...] la femme, ont brûlé de désir les uns pour les autres, perpétrant l’infamie d’homme à homme et recevant en leurs personnes l’inévitable salaire de leur égarement.

* 22. Rm 1,29-31: remplis de toute injustice, de perversité, de cupidité, de malice ; ne respirant qu’envie, meurtre, dispute, fourberie, malignité ; diffamateurs, détracteurs, ennemis de Dieu, insulteurs, orgueilleux, fanfarons, ingénieux au mal, rebelles à leurs parents, insensés, déloyaux, sans cœur, sans pitié

* 23. Rm 1,32

* 24. TDC 51,1(3)

8 L’idée de McKinnon est alors plus claire : on doit condamner la pornographie car, de par son existence même, elle définit l’identité sexuelle des femmes qu’elle réduit par là à des objets sexuels. Mais l’affirmation est particulièrement forte (ce pourquoi je parle de « conception forte »), et amène deux questions, deux faces d’une seule et même en fait : la pornographie a-t-elle ce pouvoir de définir les femmes ? les femmes sont-elles considérées comme des objets sexuels (d’une part) à cause de la pornographie (d’autre part) ?

A l’instar de l’imbecile proverbial qui voit le doigt quand le sage lui montre la lune,

http://homepage.mac.com/rouses/good-guys/Voice/case%20for%20chastity.html

The Case for Chastity

Christine O’Donnell

the Cultural Dissident

November 9, 1998

Adolph Hitler once said that to engineer a society you must first engineer its language. Starting with the youth, he set in motion a design to erode the power of words, to steal the significance and beauty of a single word.

We can see the unfolding of that plan in our society. Society’s " sexual liberation" has unleashed an entirely new lexicon. For example, "gay" has always meant joyful and gleeful. Yet, today, when we say that Ellen is gay, we’re certainly not talking about her emotional well being.

In the same way, even Christians have become caught up in the new uses for old words, often in an effort to remain competitive in the public debate. Words like abstinence and phrases such as secondary virginity are now commonplace in the marketplace of ideas put forth to counter the sexual ideology of the 90s.

I don’t encourage anyone to seek " abstinence." I cringe at terms like "secondary virginity" or "recycled virgin." One of my goals is to get the body of Christ to stop proclaiming these words. I would rejoice if I never heard "abstinence" from a pulpit again.

Yes, I am a Christian. Yes, I do seek to surrender my entire life to the will of our Father. That is precisely why I don’t talk about abstinence or secondary virginity when I am asked to speak about sex. Abstinence is a physical discipline, not a calling. It makes our physical condition the goal.

As Christians, virginity is not even our goal. Purity and holiness are our calling in Christ. In Philippians 3:14 when the apostle Paul urges us to "press toward the goal" he is not calling us to push the limits as long as we don’t cross the line. He continues to assure us that it is a prize, a great reward, to live as Christ calls us to live.

I don’t like the term "secondary virginity" because it, too, makes virginity the goal and seems to classify certain people as second-rate Christians. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says that "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new." It does not say "all things except our virginity." When Christ heals people from cancer, there is no doubt that the physical body has been restored. Yet sometimes our own shame can cause us to doubt His ability to restore our purity. Christ promises to cleanse us from all of our sins.

Someone may challenge this idea by pointing to the fact that many Christians may have contracted AIDS in a promiscuous past. Sexually transmitted diseases or a pregnancy are consequences set apart from our healing. God may choose to heal someone from cancer, yet that person still has a great deal of medical bills. The outstanding bills do not determine whether or not the patient has been healed by God.

I know many physical virgins who are not sexually pure. I know many virgins who are into pornography or who are "doing everything but" with their boyfriends. On the flip side, I know many non-virgins who live beautiful, holy, pure lives through the power of Christ’s blood.

Another disagreeable point about abstinence is that it does not transcend into marriage, yet our call to purity does. Married couples, especially, are called to sexual purity. When a married person uses pornography, or is unfaithful, it compromises not just his (or her) purity, but also compromises the spouse’s purity. As a church, we need to teach a higher standard than abstinence. We need to preach a righteous lifestyle.

So what word do we preach? I struggled with that for a while. I was continually being asked to do media interviews or give speeches about sex. I would talk about this concept of holy living, yet had no word for this idea. I prayed for God to give me a word that applied to all people; married, single, virgins and non-virgins. This word would encompass our entire lives, not just our sexuality.

About a year ago, I was talking to a crowd about my thoughts on abstinence and the need for a higher standard. After my talk, a woman approached me and suggested that I use the word chastity. I politely thanked her but quietly thought how sad it was that she missed my point.

The whole purpose of the Savior’s Alliance for Lifting the Truth was to restore Biblical values in a way that is relevant to this extreme generation. It was not to bring back, what at the time, I thought were Victorian, puritanical ideas about sex. So, I continued to search for a word. God was probably laughing at my refusal to see His answer to my prayer.

This past summer I was invited to speak at a large Christian rock festival. I wanted a powerful word to drive home this concept to the crowd. I begged God to give me a word, but He continually reminded me of that woman’s face and her love for the word chastity. Then, just days before the festival, I recalled a speech that I had given about strategy of engineering language. I instantly felt embarrassed that I was blind to my own point! So I researched the word chastity.

When I heard the word chastity it would conjure up uptight images of chastity belts. I was succumbing to a meaning of Chastity that robbed the beauty of the word as well as its true definition. Chastity comes from the Greek word hagnos, which means clean, pure and holy. It is synonymous with the Greek word hagios, which means consecrated and sacred.

God wants us to live chaste lives. The dictionary listed words like integrity, honesty and purity as synonyms. It did not mention our sexuality. Surrendering our sexuality to God before and after marriage is a by-product of living chaste.

We can proudly, with honor, proclaim that we are consecrated to God. Yet there seems to be a stigma attached to proclaiming that we live chaste lives.

We should just as proudly proclaim our chastity. When God looks at His people, He looks at the integrity with which we live our lives. He searches our hearts and distinguishes between who has surrendered every crevice of their hearts to Him and who has not.

God does not distinguish between who is a virgin and who is not. Christians tend to ask each other whether or not we’re virgins. The real question is whether or not we are chaste.

Christine O’Donnell is the founder and president of SALT-Savior’s Alliance for Lifting the Truth)


Présidence Obama: Vous avez dit élitiste? (Tea party takes on new cognitive elite)

3 novembre, 2010
C’est dur de ne pas sembler distant à la Maison-Blanche. Certaines lettres que je lis le soir me brisent le coeur, d’autres me motivent, mais les caméras ne sont pas là pour le filmer. Obama
Les tea party ne se résument pas à des positions pro life et anti-masturbatoires, la révolte est bien plus large et profonde (…), elle est sans doute à rapprocher aux mouvements souterrains résilients depuis des années qui se font désormais jour en Hollande, en Allemagne, en Suède maintenant, en Italie et en France depuis quelques temps, à savoir le refus, hétérogène, de se voir imposer d’en haut une vision idéaliste, désincarnée, réduisant le vivre ensemble au "care", comparant toute volonté de conserver un certain art de vivre comme réactionnaire, analysant enfin tout refus de confondre ouverture et disparition comme raciste. (…) Les tea party sont évidemment dénoncées par les idéologues de Hollywood, de New York, de Washington DC, et aussi de st Germain des Prés puisqu’ils incarnent tous le nihilisme étatiste dénoncé par les tea party en ce qu’il parasite l’espace public, l’idéal public, la volonté commune, et très pratiquement les fonds publics pour fabriquer leur gloire par la victimisation (du "care") c’est-à-dire par la transformation du peuple en assistés scotchés aux frasques de leur ego supposé artistique (…). Il ne s’agit donc pas de populisme, mais de se libérer de chaînes installées à nos poignets pour notre bien alors que ces bienfaiteurs sont en réalité le principal obstacle pour réellement faire de l’espace commun un bien au service de toutes et de tous. Lucien SA Oulahbib (16/9/2010)
Comme si le fait d’avoir été un étudiant brillant et d’être intéressé par les idées et le débat intellectuel était en soi une tare. Jean-Sébastien Stehli
Vous allez dans certaines petites villes de Pennsylvanie où, comme dans beaucoup de petites villes du Middle West, les emplois ont disparu depuis maintenant 25 ans et n’ont été remplacés par rien d’autre (…) Et il n’est pas surprenant qu’ils deviennent pleins d’amertume, qu’ils s’accrochent aux armes à feu ou à la religion, ou à leur antipathie pour ceux qui ne sont pas comme eux, ou encore à un sentiment d’hostilité envers les immigrants.Barack Obama
Part of the reason that our politics seems so tough right now, and facts and science and argument does not seem to be winning the day all the time, is because we’re hard-wired not to always think clearly when we’re scared. Barack Obama
Nous qui vivons dans les régions côtières des villes bleues, nous lisons plus de livres et nous allons plus souvent au théâtre que ceux qui vivent au fin fond du pays. Nous sommes à la fois plus sophistiqués et plus cosmopolites – parlez-nous de nos voyages scolaires en Chine et en Provence ou, par exemple, de notre intérêt pour le bouddhisme. Mais par pitié, ne nous demandez pas à quoi ressemble la vie dans l’Amérique rouge. Nous n’en savons rien. Nous ne savons pas qui sont Tim LaHaye et Jerry B. Jenkins. […] Nous ne savons pas ce que peut bien dire James Dobson dans son émission de radio écoutée par des millions d’auditeurs. Nous ne savons rien de Reba et Travis. […] Nous sommes très peu nombreux à savoir ce qu’il se passe à Branson dans le Missouri, même si cette ville reçoit quelque sept millions de touristes par an; pas plus que nous ne pouvons nommer ne serait-ce que cinq pilotes de stock-car. […] Nous ne savons pas tirer au fusil ni même en nettoyer un, ni reconnaître le grade d’un officier rien qu’à son insigne. Quant à savoir à quoi ressemble une graine de soja poussée dans un champ… David Brooks
Tout ce que demande aujourd’hui le Kansas, c’est qu’on lui donne un petit coup de main pour se clouer à sa croix d’or.(…) Votez pour interdire l’avortement et vous aurez une bonne réduction de l’impôt sur le capital (…). Votez pour faire la nique à ces universitaires politiquement corrects et vous aurez la déréglementation de l’électricité (…). Votez pour résister au terrorisme et vous aurez la privatisation de la sécurité sociale. Thomas Frank
The elites are no longer in touch with what the country is really thinking. Sharron Angle (Nevada Senate candidate)
I didn’t go to Yale. Christine O’Donnell (Delaware Senate, campaign ad)
Take that climate change legislation! I’ll take "dead aim" at the policy, because it’s "bad for West Virginia. Joe Manchin (candidat democrate victorieux de Virginie occidentale)
When the rich former CEO of one of America’s largest companies casts herself as a victim of elitism, we have surely strayed far from any literal definition of the term.
Because they can offer full scholarships, the wealthier Ivy League schools in particular are far more diverse, racially and economically, than they were a few decades ago. Once upon a time, you got into Harvard or Yale solely because of your alumnus grandfather. Nowadays, your alumnus grandfather still helps, but only as long as you did well on the SAT, captained your ice hockey team and, in your senior year, raised a million dollars for charity (the last was not a requirement when I got into Yale, but it seems to be now). If you did all that and come from a broken home in Nevada, so much the better.
I suspect the "anti-elite-educationism" that Bell predicted is growing now not despite the rise of meritocracy but because of it. The old Establishment was resented, but only because its wealth and power were perceived as undeserved. Those outside could at least feel they were cleverer and savvier, and they could blame their failures on "the system." Nowadays, successful Americans, however ridiculously lucky they have been, often smugly see themselves as "deserving." Meanwhile, the less successful are more likely to feel it’s their own fault — or to feel that others feel it’s their fault — even if they have simply been unlucky. Anne Applebaum
Now another famous beauty with glowing skin and a powerful current, Sarah Palin, has made ignorance fashionable. You struggle to name Supreme Court cases, newspapers you read and even founding fathers you admire? No problem. You endorse a candidate for the Pennsylvania Senate seat who is the nominee in West Virginia? Oh, well. At least you’re not one of those “spineless” elites with an Ivy League education, like President Obama, who can’t feel anything. It’s news to Christine O’Donnell that the Constitution guarantees separation of church and state. It’s news to Joe Miller, whose guards handcuffed a journalist, and to Carl Paladino, who threatened The New York Post’s Fred Dicker, that the First Amendment exists, even in Tea Party Land. Michele Bachmann calls Smoot-Hawley Hoot-Smalley. Sharron Angle sank to new lows of obliviousness when she told a classroom of Hispanic kids in Las Vegas: “Some of you look a little more Asian to me.” As Palin tweeted in July about her own special language adding examples from W. and Obama: “ ‘Refudiate,’ ‘misunderestimate,’ ‘wee-wee’d up.’ English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!” On Saturday, at a G.O.P. rally in Anaheim, Calif., Palin mockingly noted that you won’t find her invoking Mao or Saul Alinsky. She says she believes in American exceptionalism. But when it comes to the people running the country, exceptionalism is suspect; leaders should be — as Palin, O’Donnell and Angle keep saying — just like you. In Marilyn’s America, there were aspirations. The studios tackled literary novels rather than one-liners like “He’s Just Not That Into You” and navel-gazing drivel like “Eat Pray Love.” Walt Disney’s “Fantasia” paired cartoon characters with famous composers. Even Bugs Bunny did Wagner. But in Sarah’s America, we’ve refudiated all that. Maureen Dowd (NYT, October 19, 2010)
There have been movements like this before — the Civil Rights movement, the anti-war movement, the pro-life movement, the Second Amendment rights movement. All of them popped up, insistent, loud, and relatively unsophisticated. They wanted everything now and for politicians to be with them 100 percent of the time. And after an election or two, people wake up saying, our system produces mostly incremental progress and takes time and compromise. That’s exactly what’s going to happen here. I meet a lot of Tea Partiers as I go around the country, and they are amazing people. Most have never been involved in politics before. This is their first experience, and they have the enthusiasm of people who have never done it before. Karl Rove
About four out of five students in the top tier of colleges have parents whose income, education and occupations put them in the top quarter of American families. Only about one out of 20 such students come from the bottom half of families. Joseph Soares
Over the past several decades, elite schools have indeed sought out academically talented students from all backgrounds. But the skyrocketing test scores of the freshman classes at Harvard, Yale, Stanford and other elite schools in the 1950s and 1960s were not accompanied by socioeconomic democratization.On the surface, it looks as if things have changed. Compared with 50 years ago, the proportion of students coming from old-money families and exclusive prep schools has dropped. The representation of African Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans has increased. Yet the student bodies of the elite colleges are still drawn overwhelmingly from the upper middle class.
When educational and professional opportunities first opened up, we saw social churning galore, as youngsters benefited from opportunities that their parents had been denied. But that phase lasted only a generation or two, slowed by this inescapable paradox: The more efficiently a society identifies the most able young people of both sexes, sends them to the best colleges, unleashes them into an economy that is tailor-made for people with their abilities and lets proximity take its course, the sooner a New Elite — the "cognitive elite" that Herrnstein and I described — becomes a class unto itself. It is by no means a closed club, as Barack Obama’s example proves. But the credentials for admission are increasingly held by the children of those who are already members. An elite that passes only money to the next generation is evanescent ("Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations," as the adage has it). An elite that also passes on ability is more tenacious, and the chasm between it and the rest of society widens.
Get into a conversation about television with members of the New Elite, and they can probably talk about a few trendy shows — "Mad Men" now, "The Sopranos" a few years ago. But they haven’t any idea who replaced Bob Barker on "The Price Is Right." They know who Oprah is, but they’ve never watched one of her shows from beginning to end. Talk to them about sports, and you may get an animated discussion of yoga, pilates, skiing or mountain biking, but they are unlikely to know who Jimmie Johnson is (the really famous Jimmie Johnson, not the former Dallas Cowboys coach), and the acronym MMA means nothing to them. They can talk about books endlessly, but they’ve never read a "Left Behind" novel (65 million copies sold) or a Harlequin romance (part of a genre with a core readership of 29 million Americans). They take interesting vacations and can tell you all about a great backpacking spot in the Sierra Nevada or an exquisite B&B overlooking Boothbay Harbor, but they wouldn’t be caught dead in an RV or on a cruise ship (unless it was a small one going to the Galapagos). They have never heard of Branson, Mo.There are so many quintessentially American things that few members of the New Elite have experienced. They probably haven’t ever attended a meeting of a Kiwanis Club or Rotary Club, or lived for at least a year in a small town (college doesn’t count) or in an urban neighborhood in which most of their neighbors did not have college degrees (gentrifying neighborhoods don’t count). They are unlikely to have spent at least a year with a family income less than twice the poverty line (graduate school doesn’t count) or to have a close friend who is an evangelical Christian. They are unlikely to have even visited a factory floor, let alone worked on one.
But the politics of the New Elite are not the main point. When it comes to the schools where they were educated, the degrees they hold, the Zip codes where they reside and the television shows they watch, I doubt if there is much to differentiate the staff of the conservative Weekly Standard from that of the liberal New Republic, or the scholars at the American Enterprise Institute from those of the Brookings Institution, or Republican senators from Democratic ones. The bubble that encases the New Elite crosses ideological lines and includes far too many of the people who have influence, great or small, on the course of the nation. They are not defective in their patriotism or lacking a generous spirit toward their fellow citizens. They are merely isolated and ignorant. The members of the New Elite may love America, but, increasingly, they are not of it. Charles Murray

Vous avez dit élitiste?

87 % des meilleurs résultats au SAT pour 55 % des candidats ayant un parent diplomé du supérieur, appartenance majoritaire à la classe moyenne supérieure, origine et résidence depuis la naissance dans les meilleures banlieues loin des petites villes ou campagnes ou vivent encore un tiers des Américains, concentration dans les établissements d’élite pour leurs études post-graduées, fuite des professions ordinaires (seulement 1,7 % des étudiants de Harvard ayant choisi de travailler tout de suite), très forte endogamie géographique, sociale et professionnelle (choix du partenaire à l’intérieur du groupe), concentration résidentielle dans un petit nombre de quartiers favorisés de certaines villes (Washington, New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Silicon Valley et San Francisco, mais aussi  de villes universitaires comme Austin et le triangle Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill), loisirs et sports d’élite, positionnement politique préferentiellement orienté à gauche (72 % des étudiants de dernière année de Harvard contre  10 % plutot à droite)  …

Au lendemain de la gifle électorale du siècle pour le parti d’un président plus que jamais désavoué

Qui, sous l’impulsion d’une vague de fond largement impulsée par le mouvement dit du Tea party, voit les Démocrates perdre largement leur controle de la Chambre des représentants et retenir de justesse (du fait en partie de l’inexpérience de certains candidats du Tea party) celui du Sénat …

Retour, avec Charles Murray, sur l’un des arguments de campagne principaux dudit Tea party …

A savoir, comme l’ont encore exemplairement démontré les sommets de condescendance et de suffisance du  Woodstock du bon sens de samedi dernier, l’isolement croissant des nouvelles élites par rapport à l’Amérique profonde et leur ignorance profonde des modes de vie de la majorité de leurs concitoyens  ..

Qui, outre les surréactions défensives des intéressés eux-mêmes, se révèle largement confirmée par les faits et les données sociales aux niveaux à la fois géographique, résidentiel, professionnel, social et culturel voire religieux

Mais, effet induit du système méritocratique lui-même (car issue plutot cette fois des meilleures écoles et non plus de la seule richesse ou position sociale, d’où le terme de "stratification cognitive" de Murray), probablement inévitable

Et ce, au-delà même – ce qui devrait empêcher les Républicains de se réjouir trop vite – des différences idéologiques

The tea party warns of a New Elite. They’re right.

Charles Murray

The Washington Post

October 24, 2010

The tea party appears to be of one mind on at least one thing: America has been taken over by a New Elite.

"On one side, we have the elites," Fox News host Glenn Beck explained last month, "and the other side, we have the regular people." The elites are "no longer in touch with what the country is really thinking," Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle complained this summer. And when Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell recently began a campaign ad by saying, "I didn’t go to Yale," she could be confident that her supporters would approve.

All this has made the New Elite distinctly touchy (see Maureen Dowd’s "Making Ignorance Chic"), dismissive (see Jacob Weisberg’s "Elitist Nonsense") and defensive (see Anne Applebaum’s "The Rise of the ‘Ordinary’ Elite").

"Elite?" they seem to be saying. "Who? Us?"

Why are the members of the New Elite feeling so put upon? They didn’t object back in 1991, when Robert Reich said we had a new class of symbolic analysts in his book "The Work of Nations." They didn’t raise a fuss in 2000 when David Brooks took an anthropologist’s eye to their exotic tribe and labeled them bourgeois bohemians in "Bobos in Paradise." And they were surely pleased when Richard Florida celebrated their wonderfulness in his 2002 work, "The Rise of the Creative Class."

That a New Elite has emerged over the past 30 years is not really controversial. That its members differ from former elites is not controversial. What sets the tea party apart from other observers of the New Elite is its hostility, rooted in the charge that elites are isolated from mainstream America and ignorant about the lives of ordinary Americans.

Let me propose that those allegations have merit.

One of the easiest ways to make the point is to start with the principal gateway to membership in the New Elite, the nation’s most prestigious colleges and universities. In the idealized view of the meritocrats, those schools were once the bastion of the Northeastern Establishment, favoring bluebloods and the wealthy, but now they are peopled by youth from all backgrounds who have gained admittance through talent, pluck and hard work.

That idealized view is only half-right. Over the past several decades, elite schools have indeed sought out academically talented students from all backgrounds. But the skyrocketing test scores of the freshman classes at Harvard, Yale, Stanford and other elite schools in the 1950s and 1960s were not accompanied by socioeconomic democratization.

On the surface, it looks as if things have changed. Compared with 50 years ago, the proportion of students coming from old-money families and exclusive prep schools has dropped. The representation of African Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans has increased. Yet the student bodies of the elite colleges are still drawn overwhelmingly from the upper middle class. According to sociologist Joseph Soares’s book "The Power of Privilege: Yale and America’s Elite Colleges," about four out of five students in the top tier of colleges have parents whose income, education and occupations put them in the top quarter of American families, according to Soares’s measure of socioeconomic status. Only about one out of 20 such students come from the bottom half of families.

The discomfiting explanation is that despite need-blind admissions policies, the stellar applicants still hail overwhelmingly from the upper middle class and above. Students who have a parent with a college degree accounted for only 55 percent of SAT-takers this year but got 87 percent of all the verbal and math scores above 700, according to unpublished data provided to me by the College Board. This is not a function of SAT prep courses available to the affluent — such coaching buys only a few dozen points — but of the ability of these students to do well in a challenging academic setting.

Far from spending their college years in a meritocratic melting pot, the New Elite spend school with people who are mostly just like them — which might not be so bad, except that so many of them have been ensconced in affluent suburbs from birth and have never been outside the bubble of privilege. Few of them grew up in the small cities, towns or rural areas where more than a third of all Americans still live.

When they leave college, the New Elite remain in the bubble. Harvard seniors surveyed in 2007 were headed toward a small number of elite graduate schools (Harvard and Cambridge in the lead) and a small number of elite professional fields (finance and consulting were tied for top choice). Jobs in businesses that provide bread-and-butter goods and services to individual Americans, which make up the overwhelming majority of entry-level openings for aspiring managers, attracted just 1.7 percent of the Harvard students who went to work right after graduation.

When the New Elite get around to marrying, they don’t marry just anybody. One of the funniest and most bitingly accurate parts of "Bobos in Paradise" was Brooks’s analysis of the New York Times’s wedding announcements. Go back to 1960, and the page was filled with brides and grooms who grew up wealthy but whose educations and occupations did not offer much indication that they were going to set the world on fire. Look at the page today, and it is studded with the mergers of fabulous résumés.

Three examples lifted from last Sunday’s Times: a director of marketing at a biotech company (Stanford undergrad, Harvard MBA) married a consultant to the aerospace industry (Stanford undergrad, Harvard MPP); a vice president at Goldman Sachs (Yale) married a director of retail development for a financial software firm (Hofstra); and a third-year resident in cardiology (Yale undergrad) married a third-year resident in pathology (Columbia undergrad, summa cum laude).

The New Elite marry each other, combining their large incomes and genius genes, and then produce offspring who get the benefit of both.

We are watching the maturation of the cognitive stratification that Richard J. Herrnstein and I described in "The Bell Curve" back in 1994. When educational and professional opportunities first opened up, we saw social churning galore, as youngsters benefited from opportunities that their parents had been denied. But that phase lasted only a generation or two, slowed by this inescapable paradox:

The more efficiently a society identifies the most able young people of both sexes, sends them to the best colleges, unleashes them into an economy that is tailor-made for people with their abilities and lets proximity take its course, the sooner a New Elite — the "cognitive elite" that Herrnstein and I described — becomes a class unto itself. It is by no means a closed club, as Barack Obama’s example proves. But the credentials for admission are increasingly held by the children of those who are already members. An elite that passes only money to the next generation is evanescent ("Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations," as the adage has it). An elite that also passes on ability is more tenacious, and the chasm between it and the rest of society widens.

What Herrnstein and I did not fully appreciate 16 years ago was how relentless this segregation would be. It is hard to get numbers — no survey has samples large enough to calibrate precisely what’s going on with the top percentiles of the population that I’m talking about — but the numbers we do have, combined with qualitative data provided by observers such as Brooks, Florida and Bill Bishop, in his book "The Big Sort," are persuasive.

We know, for one thing, that the New Elite clusters in a comparatively small number of cities and in selected neighborhoods in those cities. This concentration isn’t limited to the elite neighborhoods of Washington, New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Silicon Valley and San Francisco. It extends to university cities with ancillary high-tech jobs, such as Austin and the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill triangle.

With geographical clustering goes cultural clustering. Get into a conversation about television with members of the New Elite, and they can probably talk about a few trendy shows — "Mad Men" now, "The Sopranos" a few years ago. But they haven’t any idea who replaced Bob Barker on "The Price Is Right." They know who Oprah is, but they’ve never watched one of her shows from beginning to end.

Talk to them about sports, and you may get an animated discussion of yoga, pilates, skiing or mountain biking, but they are unlikely to know who Jimmie Johnson is (the really famous Jimmie Johnson, not the former Dallas Cowboys coach), and the acronym MMA means nothing to them.

They can talk about books endlessly, but they’ve never read a "Left Behind" novel (65 million copies sold) or a Harlequin romance (part of a genre with a core readership of 29 million Americans).

They take interesting vacations and can tell you all about a great backpacking spot in the Sierra Nevada or an exquisite B&B overlooking Boothbay Harbor, but they wouldn’t be caught dead in an RV or on a cruise ship (unless it was a small one going to the Galapagos). They have never heard of Branson, Mo.

There are so many quintessentially American things that few members of the New Elite have experienced. They probably haven’t ever attended a meeting of a Kiwanis Club or Rotary Club, or lived for at least a year in a small town (college doesn’t count) or in an urban neighborhood in which most of their neighbors did not have college degrees (gentrifying neighborhoods don’t count). They are unlikely to have spent at least a year with a family income less than twice the poverty line (graduate school doesn’t count) or to have a close friend who is an evangelical Christian. They are unlikely to have even visited a factory floor, let alone worked on one.

Taken individually, members of the New Elite are isolated from mainstream America as a result of lifestyle choices that are nobody’s business but their own. But add them all up, and they mean that the New Elite lives in a world that doesn’t intersect with mainstream America in many important ways. When the tea party says the New Elite doesn’t get America, there is some truth in the accusation.

Part of the isolation is political. In that Harvard survey I mentioned, 72 percent of Harvard seniors said their beliefs were to the left of the nation as a whole, compared with 10 percent who said theirs were to the right of it. The political preferences of academics and journalists among the New Elite also conform to the suspicions of the tea party.

But the politics of the New Elite are not the main point. When it comes to the schools where they were educated, the degrees they hold, the Zip codes where they reside and the television shows they watch, I doubt if there is much to differentiate the staff of the conservative Weekly Standard from that of the liberal New Republic, or the scholars at the American Enterprise Institute from those of the Brookings Institution, or Republican senators from Democratic ones

The bubble that encases the New Elite crosses ideological lines and includes far too many of the people who have influence, great or small, on the course of the nation. They are not defective in their patriotism or lacking a generous spirit toward their fellow citizens. They are merely isolated and ignorant. The members of the New Elite may love America, but, increasingly, they are not of it.

Charles Murray is the W.H. Brady scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and the author of "Real Education: Four Simple Truths for Bringing America’s Schools Back to Reality."

Voir aussi:

Making Ignorance Chic

Maureen Dowd

October 19, 2010

HOLLYWOOD

Casanova’s rule for seduction was to tell a beautiful woman she was intelligent and an intelligent woman she was beautiful.

The false choice between intellectualism and sexuality in women has persisted through the ages. There was no more poignant victim of it than Marilyn Monroe.

She was smart enough to become the most famous Dumb Blonde in history. Photographers loved to get her to pose in tight shorts, a silk robe or a swimsuit with a come-hither look and a weighty book — a history of Goya or James Joyce’s “Ulysses” or Heinrich Heine’s poems. A high-brow bunny picture, a variation on the sexy librarian trope. Men who were nervous about her erotic intensity could feel superior by making fun of her intellectually.

Marilyn was not completely in on the joke. Scarred by her schizophrenic mother and dislocated upbringing, she was happy to have the classics put in her hand. What’s more, she read some of them, from Proust to Dostoyevsky to Freud to Carl Sandburg’s six-volume biography of Lincoln (given to her by husband Arthur Miller), collecting a library of 400 books.

Miller once called Marilyn “a poet on a street corner trying to recite to a crowd pulling at her clothes.”

“Fragments,” a new book of her poems, letters and musings, some written in her childlike hand with misspellings in leather books and others on stationery from the Waldorf-Astoria and the Beverly Hills Hotel, is affecting. The world’s most coveted woman, a picture of luminescence, was lonely and dark. Thinking herself happily married, she was crushed to discover an open journal in which Miller had written that she disappointed him and embarrassed him in front of his intellectual peers.

“I guess I have always been deeply terrified to really be someone’s wife since I know from life one cannot love another, ever, really.”

Her friend Saul Bellow wrote in a letter that Marilyn “conducts herself like a philosopher.” He observed: “She was connected with a very powerful current but she couldn’t disconnect herself from it,” adding: “She had a kind of curious incandescence under the skin.”

The sad sex symbol is still a candle in the wind. There’s a hit novel in Britain narrated by the Maltese terrier Frank Sinatra gave her, which she named “Maf,” for Mafia, and three movies in the works about her. Naomi Watts is planning to star in a biopic based on the novel, “Blonde,” by Joyce Carol Oates; Michelle Williams is shooting “My Week With Marilyn,” and another movie is planned based on an account by Lionel Grandison, a former deputy Los Angeles coroner who claims he was forced to change the star’s death certificate to read suicide instead of murder.

At least, unlike Paris Hilton and her ilk, the Dumb Blonde of ’50s cinema had a firm grasp on one thing: It was cool to be smart. She aspired to read good books and be friends with intellectuals, even going so far as to marry one. But now another famous beauty with glowing skin and a powerful current, Sarah Palin, has made ignorance fashionable.

You struggle to name Supreme Court cases, newspapers you read and even founding fathers you admire? No problem. You endorse a candidate for the Pennsylvania Senate seat who is the nominee in West Virginia? Oh, well.

At least you’re not one of those “spineless” elites with an Ivy League education, like President Obama, who can’t feel anything. It’s news to Christine O’Donnell that the Constitution guarantees separation of church and state. It’s news to Joe Miller, whose guards handcuffed a journalist, and to Carl Paladino, who threatened The New York Post’s Fred Dicker, that the First Amendment exists, even in Tea Party Land. Michele Bachmann calls Smoot-Hawley Hoot-Smalley.

Sharron Angle sank to new lows of obliviousness when she told a classroom of Hispanic kids in Las Vegas: “Some of you look a little more Asian to me.”

As Palin tweeted in July about her own special language adding examples from W. and Obama: “ ‘Refudiate,’ ‘misunderestimate,’ ‘wee-wee’d up.’ English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!”

On Saturday, at a G.O.P. rally in Anaheim, Calif., Palin mockingly noted that you won’t find her invoking Mao or Saul Alinsky. She says she believes in American exceptionalism. But when it comes to the people running the country, exceptionalism is suspect; leaders should be — as Palin, O’Donnell and Angle keep saying — just like you.

In Marilyn’s America, there were aspirations. The studios tackled literary novels rather than one-liners like “He’s Just Not That Into You” and navel-gazing drivel like “Eat Pray Love.” Walt Disney’s “Fantasia” paired cartoon characters with famous composers. Even Bugs Bunny did Wagner.

But in Sarah’s America, we’ve refudiated all that.

Voir egalement:

Elitist Nonsense

The right’s favorite scare word is "elitism." What does it mean?

Jacob Weisberg

Slate

Oct. 2, 2010

If there’s one epithet the right never tires of, it’s "elitism." Republicans are constantly accusing Democrats of it this campaign season, as when Kentucky Senate nominee Rand Paul attacked President Obama as "a liberal elitist … [who] believes that he knows what is best for people." With the Tea Party’s rise, conservatives have even begun accusing each other of it, as Sharron Angle, the Nevada GOP nominee did when she charged that Robert Bennett, the outgoing senator from Utah, "has become one of the elitists that is no longer in touch." Other days, they simply lament that the entire country is falling prey to it, as California Senate nominee Carly Fiorina recently did in asserting that "the American Dream is in danger" because of the "elitists" in charge of the government.

When the rich former CEO of one of America’s largest companies casts herself as a victim of elitism, we have surely strayed far from any literal definition of the term. So what do Republicans mean by this French word? Unlike the radical sociologist C. Wright Mills, who popularized the term to describe shared identity based on economic interests, Republicans use it with connotations of education, geography, ideology, taste, and lifestyle—such that a millionaire investment banker who works for Goldman Sachs, went to Harvard, and reads the New York Times is an elitist but a billionaire CEO who grew up in Houston, went to a state university, and contributes to Republicans, is not.

Brian Williams picked up on this blurriness when he interviewed John McCain and Sarah Palin together on NBC in 2008 and posed a brilliantly simple question. "Who," he asked the Republican running mates, "is a member of the elite?"

Palin responded first. "I guess just people who think that they’re better than everyone else," she said.

McCain then elaborated. "I know where a lot of them live—in our nation’s capital and New York City—the ones [Palin] never went to a cocktail party with in Georgetown—who think that they can dictate what they believe to America rather than let Americans decide for themselves."

Thus did the son and grandson of admirals, a millionaire who couldn’t remember how many houses he owned, accuse his mixed-race opponent, raised by a single-mother and only a few years past paying off his student loans, of being the real elite candidate in the campaign.

Though they sound nearly identical, there’s a significant distinction between the Palin and the McCain definitions. Palin’s definition says elitists are those who think they’re better than other people—a category in which by Election Day, on the evidence of her autobiography, included many of the people working for her own campaign. Palin is raw with the disrespect she feels and takes offense at being condescended to by people who, she thinks, think they are better than she is. Her anti-elitism takes the part of all Americans who feel similarly snubbed, and not necessarily in the context of politics. This version is a synonym for social snobbery, with the wrinkle that it’s not based on family, ethnicity, or wealth, but rather on the status that in contemporary American society is largely conferred by academic institutions.

McCain, by contrast, defined elitism not as believing you are better than other people but believing that you know better than other people. This is Rand Paul’s point about liberals: "They think they can tell us what to do and that most Americans aren’t smart enough to take care of themselves," he said in his recent rant against the lower-Manhattan mosque. (So much for libertarianism.) "And I think that’s a really arrogant approach to the American people." It also seems to be what Newt Gingrich has in mind when he pops off about "government of the elites by the elites for the elites." In the McCain-Paul-Gingrich usage, an elitist is someone who thinks the opinion of a minority should sometimes prevail over the opinion of a majority.

It is easy to grasp the political resonance of both definitions. Palin’s umbrage at liberals who act superior to conservatives plays upon the American ideal of social equality. In a meritocratic society, rejection can bring an even worse sting than under an aristocratic or hereditary one, because those who are less successful can’t blame outcomes on the arbitrariness of the system. Palin’s posture of victimization is a response to this sense of exclusion. The irony is that she assumes this posture in the service of policies whose effect is to deepen the inequalities of American life.

McCain’s protest against anti-majoritarianism likewise strikes a deep popular chord. It has the further advantage of providing an escape hatch from the substance of issues by reframing them in cultural terms. Arguments for raising taxes, expanding health insurance, and fighting climate change are all met with by the rejoinder that some people should quit telling the rest of us how to live our lives. The irony of this position is that this sort of automatic populism is the least conservative of political philosophies. It was Edmund Burke who most famously articulated the principle that elected legislators owe their constituents their best judgments rather than acting as conduits for majority opinion. In fact, it’s both valuable and necessary to have experts guide decision-making on complex subjects. I’d rather have a nuclear-energy policy set by Nobel Laureate Steven Chu of Berkeley than by a plebiscite—or have military procurement rules led by John McCain, for that matter.

The problem with the GOP’s elite-bashing is not their definition but their contradictions. In practice, conservatives are no less inclined than liberals to adopt superior stances or to tell people how to live their lives. Palin’s counter-snobbery holds those who live in the middle of the country, own guns, and go to church are more authentic, more the "real America," than those who live in coastal cities, profess atheism, or prefer a less demonstrative style of patriotism. But the insistence that gay people not be married, or that some go without health insurance, or that gas be lightly taxed, reflect choices about "how other people should live" no less than the opposite positions. Gingrich and others cast democratic decisions as illegitimate only when they conflict with right-wing ideology. If an unelected judge upholds gay marriage, he’s practicing liberal elitism. But if the same unelected judge were to invalidate Obama’s health care legislation, he would be defending the Constitution. Such hypocrisy is based on the construct of a pre-political state of nature, where we lived in abstract freedom until government arrived to limit and control us.

In the real world, we suffer from self-righteous conservatives as well as smug liberals, from as many Republicans as Democrats who think they know best. Arrogance and paternalism remain bipartisan attitudes. Elitism, it seems, is in the eye of the beholder.

Jacob Weisberg is chairman and editor-in-chief of the Slate Group and author of The Bush Tragedy.

Voir enfin:

The rise of the ‘ordinary’ elite

Anne Applebaum

The Washington Post

October 12, 2010

In 1958, an English sociologist and Labor Party politician named Michael Young imagined a future in which the British establishment dissolved itself, abolished all forms of hereditary power and created instead a meritocracy (a word Young invented) based on IQ. In Young’s fable, the academically talented from the working class happily join the elite. But the less-talented resent them even more than they did the old dukes and duchesses. By 2034, this resentment leads to a violent populist revolution that sweeps the meritocracy away.

To some, this story has always seemed like a warning to America. In 1972, the American sociologist Daniel Bell cited it and predicted, with amazing prescience, the rise of an anti-elite-education populism. Bell got one thing wrong, however: He thought the coming attack on universities would take the form of enforced quotas and lowered standards. In fact, American universities staved off that particular populist wave in the 1970s by expanding their admissions to include women and minorities, while keeping standards high.

The result of that expansion is now with us: Barack Obama, brought up by a single mother, graduate of Columbia and Harvard Law School, is president. Michelle Obama, daughter of a black municipal employee, graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law School, is first lady. They brought with them to Washington dozens more people, also from modest backgrounds, mostly not with inherited wealth, who have entered high government office thanks in part to their education. Not that Washington wasn’t stuffed with such people already: Think of Clarence Thomas, son of a domestic servant and a farm worker, graduate of Yale Law School, Supreme Court justice.

Despite pushing aside the old WASP establishment — not a single member of it remains on the Supreme Court — these modern meritocrats are clearly not admired, or at least not for their upward mobility, by many Americans. On the contrary — and as Bell might have predicted — they are resented as "elitist." Which is at some level strange: To study hard, to do well, to improve yourself — isn’t that the American dream? The backlash against graduates of "elite" universities seems particularly odd given that the most elite American universities have in the past two decades made the greatest effort to broaden their student bodies.

Because they can offer full scholarships, the wealthier Ivy League schools in particular are far more diverse, racially and economically, than they were a few decades ago. Once upon a time, you got into Harvard or Yale solely because of your alumnus grandfather. Nowadays, your alumnus grandfather still helps, but only as long as you did well on the SAT, captained your ice hockey team and, in your senior year, raised a million dollars for charity (the last was not a requirement when I got into Yale, but it seems to be now). If you did all that and come from a broken home in Nevada, so much the better.

At one level, the use of "elite" to describe the new meritocrats simply means that the word has lost its meaning. As Jacob Weisberg points out, when Sarah Palin, Christine O’Donnell or — bizarrely — Justice Thomas’s wife fling the word "elitist" at opponents, it often means nothing more than "a person whose politics I don’t like" or even "a person who is snobby." But after listening to O’Donnell’s latest campaign ads — in which the Senate candidate declares proudly, "I didn’t go to Yale . . . I am YOU" — I think something deeper must be going on as well.

I suspect the "anti-elite-educationism" that Bell predicted is growing now not despite the rise of meritocracy but because of it. The old Establishment was resented, but only because its wealth and power were perceived as undeserved. Those outside could at least feel they were cleverer and savvier, and they could blame their failures on "the system." Nowadays, successful Americans, however ridiculously lucky they have been, often smugly see themselves as "deserving." Meanwhile, the less successful are more likely to feel it’s their own fault — or to feel that others feel it’s their fault — even if they have simply been unlucky.

I can see how this is irritating, even painful. But I don’t quite see what comes next. When Ginni Thomas tells a cheering crowd of Virginia Tea Partyers that "we are ruled by an elite that thinks it knows better than we know" who, or what, does she want to put in its place? Young imagined a revolution (led, interestingly, by the wives of the high-IQ elites) and a classless society to follow. Unfortunately, this idea has been tried before, and let’s just agree that it wasn’t an overwhelming success.

In America, the end of the meritocracy will probably come about slowly: If working hard, climbing the education ladder and graduating from a good university only wins you opprobrium, then you might not bother. Or if you do bother, then you certainly won’t go into politics, where your kind is no longer welcome. We will then have a different sort of elite in charge of the country — and a different set of reasons to dislike them, too.


Présidence Obama: Pourquoi le trick or treating géant de samedi ne devrait pas suffire (Tea partier: I just feel he’s getting away from what America is)

1 novembre, 2010
Qu’est-ce que c’était exactement que ce rassemblement? Aucun de nous ne sait exactement pourquoi nous sommes là. En fait, vous vouliez aller à l’Air and Space Museum et vous vous êtes fait avoir. Jon Stewart
I just feel he’s getting away from what America is. Kathy Mayhugh (retired medical transcriber, Jacksonville, Florida)
It is absolutely critical that you go out and vote. This election is not just going to set the stage for the next two years. It’s going to set the stage for the next 10, the next 20. Obama
Sam Waterston, Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Father Guido Sarducci. What do these three people have in common? Sanity! Topbusinessplan.co.cc
Sara Palin (…)  was the chief executive of a state. She wasn’t simply a newly elected senator from the state of Illinois who had absolutely no accomplishments whatsoever. (…) There have been movements like this before — the Civil Rights movement, the anti-war movement, the pro-life movement, the Second Amendment rights movement. All of them popped up, insistent, loud, and relatively unsophisticated. They wanted everything now and for politicians to be with them 100 percent of the time. And after an election or two, people wake up saying, our system produces mostly incremental progress and takes time and compromise. That’s exactly what’s going to happen here. I meet a lot of Tea Partiers as I go around the country, and they are amazing people. Most have never been involved in politics before. This is their first experience, and they have the enthusiasm of people who have never done it before. Karl Rove
The reality is that voters in 2010 are doing the same thing they did in 2006 and 2008: They are voting against the party in power. This is the continuation of a trend that began nearly 20 years ago. (…) More precisely, it is a rejection of a bipartisan political elite that’s lost touch with the people they are supposed to serve. Based on our polling, 51% now see Democrats as the party of big government and nearly as many see Republicans as the party of big business. Elected politicians also should leave their ideological baggage behind because voters don’t want to be governed from the left, the right, or even the center. They want someone in Washington who understands that the American people want to govern themselves. Scott Rasmussen
We are, it is true, in some sense a rejection of Europe’s class system that predetermines one’s slot in life, inasmuch as status is predicated there, even in a socialist state, on birth, parentage, accent, family tribal connections, and education — not mostly on money that is a far more fluid way of bestowing influence and rank. (…) So it is no wonder that we are quickly tiring of Obama’s European experiment, and no wonder Europeans are shocked that we are. They should be hurt; Tuesday’s election should be a loud, “please do not turn us into those folks” message. Expect after the election even more European outrage stories about Tea Party “zealots,” “racists,” and “fanatics” who questioned our first and only chance to embrace the European socialist/technocratic model. Victor Davis Hanson
En France, nous retenons du Tea Party les slogans les plus véhéments. Des "ultras" mettant en cause les origines d’Obama (les birthers). Des extrémistes attaquant l’immigration (les nativists). Des intégristes militant contre l’avortement… Cette dimension idéologique existe, portée par des militants radicaux qui réussissent à profiter de la relative ouverture de ce mouvement décentralisé. Mais elle ne doit pas occulter les motivations financières, la contestation fiscale.
Si la France et les Etats-Unis sont deux Républiques, et entendent toutes deux défendre l’égalité, elles le font de manière opposée. Historiquement, en France, c’est la société, héritée de l’Ancien Régime, qui est inégalitaire, et c’est l’Etat républicain qui intervient pour établir l’égalité. Outre-Atlantique, la perception inverse prévaut : l’intervention de l’Etat fédéral briserait une égalité qui est perçue comme naturelle, dans une société qui n’a pas connu le féodalisme. Pour les Français, l’égalité est le résultat d’une action politique ; pour les Américains, elle est une donnée sociale. Aux Etats-Unis, l’Etat fédéral, né dans la méfiance et le rejet, devient facilement le bouc émissaire. François Vergniolle de Chantal

Pour ceux qui semblent oublier, la veille d’une élection de mi-mandat de tous les dangers (totalité de la Chambre des représentants, un tiers du Sénat, sans compter les 2/3 des gouverneurs et des milliers de responsables locaux), que le chantage déguisé d’Halloween ne marche que le soir du 31 octobre …

Au lendemain du trick or treating géant anticipé organisé devant le Capitole par le duo d’humoristes actuellement en vogue John Stewart et Steven Colbert (même Yusuf Islam et ex-Cat Stevens était là !) …

Et qui, derrière sa facade de contre-manifestation parodique de celle de l’animateur-vedette de Fox news Glenn Beck d’il y a un mois censée ‘"dénoncer le climat de violence qui empoisonne les élections de mi-mandat" et "critiquer le radicalisme des républicains des Tea Party" (dixit Le Monde), en dit long en fait sur la véritable panique d’un président largement désavoué et de l’état-major démocrate face à la perte annoncée de leur majorité au Congrès …

Retour, avec un entretien du spécialiste des institutions politiques américaines François Vergniolle de Chantal dans Le Monde magazine, sur le mouvement Tea Party.

Qui a le mérite de rappeler la difficulté particulière de Francais traditionnellement dirigistes (et souvent  incapables par exemple de saisir que, comme le rappelle Karl Rove, un démocrate américain sera toujours plus à droite qu’un social-démocrate européen ou qu’un Obama est philosophiquement et politiquement nettement à gauche du père du Medicare américain Johnson) pour comprendre la méfiance historique des Américains face à l’intervention étatique.

Mais aussi que, contrairement au cliché de demeurés et de fous furieux largement diffusé par nos medias et nos humoristes dans leur propre stratégie d’instrumentalisation de la peur, la poignée d’excités (birthers, nativists et autres anti-avortement) qui profitent de l’occasion cachent en réalité un mouvement de sympathisants plutot plus riches et plus éduqués que la moyenne des Américains.

Et surtout qu’au-dela du risque qu’ils peuvent ponctuellement constituer pour les Républicains eux-mêmes (en les forcant à droitiser leur position ou à choisir des candidats moins surs), ils répresentent un véritable mouvement de fond contre l’étatisme rampant et l’irresponsabilité fiscale des élites au pouvoir, démocrates comme républicains se voyant renvoyés dos à dos comme partis respectivement de "Big government" et de "Big business".

Et ce, même s’il ne peut s’empêcher au passage de les débiner sur leur financement, oubliant commodément les milliardaires à la Soros et la notoire opacité du financement qui ont permis l’ascension du prétendu candidat de la base Obama

Ou, faisant tout aussi commodément l’impasse sur les insanités et les suspicions qui ont accompagné les deux mandats du "cowboy Bush" sur les circonstances de son élection comme sur le 11/9, ne peut s’empêcher de ressortir la tarte à la crème de leur prétendue plus grande susceptibilité à la paranoia et aux théories du complot …

L’inconnue "Tea Party"

François Vergniolle de Chantal, docteur en sciences politiques

Le Monde Magazine

31.10.10

Qui sont-ils, ces Américains en colère contre l’Etat fédéral ? Faut-il les réduire à une poignée d’"ultras" galvanisés par les sermons de l’animateur de télévision Glenn Beck, spécialiste de l’outrance ? Où se situent-ils sur l’échiquier politique ? Ont-ils seulement leurs chances lors des élections de mi-mandat ? A quelques jours du scrutin du 2 novembre, où se jouera l’avenir des réformes entreprises par l’administration Obama, nous avons demandé à François Vergniolle de Chantal, spécialiste des institutions politiques américaines, de décrypter le Tea Party.

Un mouvement, un parti, une organisation… Comment définir le Tea Party ?

François Vergniolle de Chantal : Les mots qui me viennent spontanément à l’esprit pour qualifier le Tea Party, apparu il y a dix-huit mois, sont ceux de mouvance, ou de réseau. Il n’a ni le fonctionnement ni la structure hiérarchique d’un parti.

Durant sa première année d’existence, entre la fin du mandat de George Bush et les débuts de Barack Obama à la Maison Blanche, il s’est développé en dehors de tout cadre. Une sorte de mouvement d’humeur, "spontané", insistent ses partisans, attaquant l’Etat fédéral et celui qui l’incarne : Barack Obama.

En 2010, le Tea Party a gagné en cohérence : il s’est doté d’un programme en dix points, le Contract From America, clin d’œil au Contract With America du Parti républicain en 1994. Mais il reste insaisissable, revendiquant d’ailleurs son caractère hétéroclite, décentralisé et mouvant. Le politologue peut l’utiliser comme un révélateur des tendances de la vie politique américaine, mais il n’a pas encore le recul nécessaire pour en faire la synthèse.

Historiquement, d’où vient-il ? Pourquoi cette référence à la Boston Tea Party ?

La Boston Tea Party est considérée comme l’épisode fondateur de la guerre d’Indépendance américaine. Le premier acte, explicite, de désobéissance civile : le 16 décembre 1773, soixante Bostoniens prenaient d’assaut trois navires marchands, jetant par-dessus bord leurs cargaisons pour protester contre les taxes imposées par la monarchie britannique sur les exportations de thé destinées aux colonies d’Amérique du Nord (Tea Act).

L’adversaire était la Couronne ; aujourd’hui, pour le Tea Party, c’est l’administration, les élites… A deux siècles et demi d’intervalle, l’ennemi est le même : l’autorité centrale. Et la réaction similaire : un geste de protestation politique fort, spontané ou presque. C’est ce que le Tea Party veut, en premier lieu, souligner.

Après la Boston Tea Party et la guerre d’Indépendance (1775-1783), la culture politique américaine a conservé des bases populistes. Pensez aux premiers mots de la Constitution (1787) : "We the People", "Nous, le Peuple". La rhétorique utilisée pendant la période de la fondation s’est perpétuée jusqu’à nos jours. C’est de ce populisme-là dont on parle, un populisme commun aux républicains et aux démocrates, à la droite comme à la gauche – même s’il s’est déplacé vers la droite au cours des quatre dernières décennies –, et qu’exprime aujourd’hui, haut et fort, le Tea Party.

La méfiance envers le pouvoir central est l’un des grands thèmes du populisme à l’américaine.

Quelles sont les spécificités de ce populisme américain ?

Il est très différent de celui qui s’est manifesté et se manifeste toujours en Europe. Jusqu’à la première guerre mondiale, il est ancré à gauche. Dans le sillage de la révolution américaine se répand l’idée qu’il existe une division fondamentale entre le colon petit fermier d’une part, et les élites urbaines d’autre part. Le président Andrew Jackson (1829-1837) est l’un des visages de ce populisme de gauche.

Après la première guerre mondiale, la rhétorique populiste entame son virage à droite. L’impact de la révolution bolchevique n’y est pas étranger. Avec les années 1930 et le New Deal du président Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945), le populisme évolue encore plus à droite, passant dans le camp conservateur. Plus que des visages, ce sont alors des associations (American Liberty League), des institutions privées, des journaux comme le Chicago Tribune qui l’incarnent. Ce populisme américain, de droite ou de gauche, a tendance à se méfier de l’intervention de l’Etat fédéral.

Comment le Tea Party a-t-il fait irruption sur la scène publique et politique ?

La mobilisation du Tea Party s’est catalysée sur quelques mois, entre l’automne 2008 et l’hiver 2009, avec des rassemblements à Seattle, Chicago, Washington, une convention à Nashville… Le 15 avril 2009, date limite à laquelle les Américains devaient payer leurs impôts, quelque 750 réunions ont eu lieu un peu partout dans le pays.

Que conteste-t-on ?

Les déficits publics, le plan de sauvetage des banques, le plan de relance de l’économie (le fameux stimulus de 787 milliards de dollars) et la réforme de l’assurance-maladie. Ce sont les éléments les plus fréquemment cités par nos analystes. Tous renvoient au problème plus général de la politique fiscale, particulièrement mobilisatrice dans un pays où l’ensemble de l’économie fonctionne à crédit.

En France, nous retenons du Tea Party les slogans les plus véhéments. Des "ultras" mettant en cause les origines d’Obama (les birthers). Des extrémistes attaquant l’immigration (les nativists). Des intégristes militant contre l’avortement… Cette dimension idéologique existe, portée par des militants radicaux qui réussissent à profiter de la relative ouverture de ce mouvement décentralisé. Mais elle ne doit pas occulter les motivations financières, la contestation fiscale.

Vous laissez entendre que notre analyse du Tea Party est, sinon fausse, du moins faussée. Pour quelle raison ?

Il faut prendre du recul pour comprendre les difficultés que nous éprouvons, en France, à analyser le mouvement Tea Party. Ces difficultés viennent essentiellement de la vision différente que nous avons du rôle de l’Etat. Si la France et les Etats-Unis sont deux Républiques, et entendent toutes deux défendre l’égalité, elles le font de manière opposée.

Historiquement, en France, c’est la société, héritée de l’Ancien Régime, qui est inégalitaire, et c’est l’Etat républicain qui intervient pour établir l’égalité. Outre-Atlantique, la perception inverse prévaut : l’intervention de l’Etat fédéral briserait une égalité qui est perçue comme naturelle, dans une société qui n’a pas connu le féodalisme. Pour les Français, l’égalité est le résultat d’une action politique ; pour les Américains, elle est une donnée sociale.

Aux Etats-Unis, l’Etat fédéral, né dans la méfiance et le rejet, devient facilement le bouc émissaire. C’est aussi pourquoi les théories du complot trouvent un tel écho outre-Atlantique. C’est l’Etat fédéral lui-même qui comploterait : il serait impliqué dans les attentats du 11-Septembre, il aurait inventé le réchauffement climatique… Comploteurs également, le G7, le G20, l’ONU, les universitaires… Cette tendance paranoïaque semble avoir trouvé une nouvelle illustration avec le Tea Party. Au sein de la mouvance, les rumeurs les plus folles ont été relayées, comme par exemple les "death panels", censés décider de l’euthanasie des personnes les plus âgées dans le cadre de la réforme de l’assurance-santé ! Et les peurs, fédératrices, restent nombreuses : peur d’être sans pouvoir, sans statut, sans travail alors que le taux de chômage atteint 10 %…

Le Tea Party revendique son caractère "non partisan". Où se situe-t-il exactement sur l’échiquier politique ?

En théorie, il se réclame du "ni-ni", ni républicain ni démocrate. Une neutralité, une "pureté", un apolitisme de façade. Dans la pratique, c’est différent : plus l’échéance des élections de mi-mandat se précise, plus le Tea Party se rapproche du Parti républicain.

Les thèmes moraux ont pris de l’ampleur. Ce sont aussi ceux que l’on retient le mieux. Pensez à la campagne de Christine O’Donnell, qui a remporté la primaire du 14 septembre dans le Delaware. Une novice, mais elle milite en faveur de l’abstinence sexuelle, avec à son actif une campagne contre la masturbation, dans sa jeunesse : ça ne s’oublie pas !

On entend dire que le Tea Party est le renouveau de la droite américaine. Je dirais plutôt qu’il est le symptôme de la crise de la droite américaine, de son manque de diversité raciale et donc des limites de sa représentativité: ce mouvement, qui veut exprimer "l’Amérique d’en bas", est presque exclusivement blanc et assez aisé, alors que la population américaine dans son ensemble est bien plus contrastée.

Le Tea Party illustre le danger que court aussi le Parti républicain, surtout depuis 2008. Ce dernier se radicalise vers la droite et devient plus homogène idéologiquement et d’un point de vue racial. Il se replie sur sa base géographique, le Sud, et a plus de mal à percer dans d’autres parties du pays. En bref, cette droite américaine est enfermée dans un cycle de surenchères qui risque de la marginaliser.

Que dire de la base militante ?

Il ne faut pas la réduire aux éléments les plus extrémistes – ces excités brandissant des pancartes délirantes, hurlant des slogans xénophobes. Je pense qu’ils ne représentent qu’eux-mêmes. En revanche, il est intéressant de noter qu’au fur et à mesure que le Tea Party s’est "droitisé", durant ces derniers mois, les éléments les plus radicaux se sont tus, ou presque.

La base militante reste hétéroclite : on compte une Tea Party Nation à Nashville, des Tea Party Patriots à Chicago, un Tea Party Express en Californie… En leur sein, des "ultras", mais aussi des conservateurs, beaucoup d’indépendants, des "libertariens"… Tous (ou presque) se retrouvent autour d’une poignée de valeurs – patriotisme, respect de la constitution – et d’une devise : "Moins d’impôts, moins de gouvernement".

En avril, le New York Times a publié un "portrait démographique" des partisans du Tea Party contrecarrant les idées reçues : ce sont des Américains plus riches et plus éduqués que la moyenne, et majoritairement républicains. Des hommes, blancs, mariés, de plus de 45 ans, gagnant bien leur vie. Une minorité : ils représenteraient 18 % de l’électorat.

Pourtant, on a le sentiment, au moins parmi les candidats vedettes du Tea Party, que les femmes tiennent le haut du pavé. L’effet d’un coup de projecteur médiatique ?

A première vue, le Tea Party semble porté par les femmes. Il peut paraître paradoxal que, dans un pays sans parité (rien, dans la Constitution américaine, ne la garantit), autant de figures politiques féminines émergent. Christine O’Donnell, victorieuse dans la primaire du Delaware, n’est pas la seule égérie du Tea Party.

Sharron Angle s’est imposée dans le Nevada et cherche maintenant à battre Harry Reid, chef de la majorité démocrate au Sénat. Carly Fiorina et Meg Whitman, respectivement ancienne patronne de Hewlett-Packard et ex-PDG d’eBay, ont remporté les primaires républicaines de Californie pour les postes de gouverneur et de sénatrice.

Nikki Haley, une Indo-Américaine de 38 ans, est candidate au poste de gouverneur de Caroline du Sud. La forme de la mouvance, décentralisée, communautaire, contournant les structures traditionnelles d’activisme, semble favoriser l’émergence des femmes, au contraire d’une structure aussi hiérarchisée que le Parti républicain.

Mais la place des hommes reste prépondérante. Joe Miller a battu la sénatrice républicaine Lisa Murkowski en Alaska. Marco Rubio, jeune avocat d’origine cubaine, s’est imposé en Floride, avec le soutien des barons du Parti républicain, tel l’ancien vice-président Dick Cheney. Carl Paladino s’est distingué dans l’Etat de New York, en prenant notamment position contre la construction d’une mosquée près de Ground Zero. Rand Paul, fils de Ron Paul, l’ancien candidat à la Maison Blanche en 1988, s’est imposé dans le Kentucky, donnant un visage à la composante libertarienne du Tea Party.

Et Sarah Palin?

Je ne pense pas qu’on puisse étiqueter Sarah Palin comme leader du Tea Party. L’ancienne gouverneur de l’Alaska, quasiment inconnue avant d’être la colistière de John McCain à l’élection présidentielle de 2008, multiplie simplement les occasions d’apparaître en public et cherche à conserver son autonomie.

Elle joue sans vergogne la carte du populisme, de la simplicité, sinon de la rusticité. Avec succès : les sondages en font l’une des figures républicaines les plus populaires auprès de la base militante. Le Tea Party est sans doute, à ses yeux, davantage une aubaine en termes d’image qu’un mouvement dans lequel elle s’investit.

Mais le principal défi pour le Tea Party est de se trouver un leadership. Aucun ne semble se dégager, ce qui est problématique pour la pérennité du mouvement.

Le mouvement semble avoir trouvé un large écho à la télévision, dans la presse, sur Internet. High-tech, le Tea Party ?

Le caractère spectaculaire de la mobilisation tient beaucoup aux relais trouvés dans les médias, et d’abord auprès de la très conservatrice chaîne de télévision Fox News et de son présentateur vedette, Glenn Beck. Sans compter les diverses associations et groupes de soutien présents sur Internet (Freedom Works, The 912 Project…), les blogs, les vidéos, etc.

Posté sur Youtube en février 2009, le "coup de gueule" de Rick Santelli, journaliste de la chaîne CNBC, reprochant au gouvernement de dilapider l’argent du contribuable, est à l’origine de la mobilisation Tea Party à Chicago.

Mais n’allez pas croire que le Tea Party a innové en misant sur les nouvelles technologies. Dès la fin des années 1990, les démocrates avaient saisi le double intérêt d’Internet : abaisser spectaculairement le coût d’entrée sur la scène publique, et modifier en profondeur l’organisation d’une campagne politique en facilitant la mobilisation. Les campagnes se font "bottom up", du " bas vers le haut ", pour reprendre l’expression de Joe Trippi, architecte de la campagne du candidat démocrate Howard Dean aux primaires de 2004.

Qui finance la mouvance ?

Le paradoxe a été maintes fois soulevé dans la presse : la mouvance populiste du Tea Party est financée… par des milliardaires ! L’argent vient de deux principaux groupes : FreedomWorks, dirigé par l’ancien numéro deux des républicains à la Chambre des représentants, Dick Armey, groupe lui-même "alimenté" par plusieurs sociétés, dont Verizon, AT&T, Philip Morris…

Le second groupe, baptisé Americans for Prosperity, est financé par les frères David et Charles Koch. Le New Yorker a consacré une enquête à ces deux septuagénaires, " milliardaires du thé " : ces libertariens de toujours, magnats du pétrole, sont classés juste derrière Bill Gates et Warren Buffett dans la liste des grandes fortunes américaines.

Ces révélations ont éclipsé les contributions de salariés – dix dollars, vingt dollars –, dont on ignore le poids, vu qu’on ne dispose pas de comptes complets, encore moins de comptes communs. La décentralisation du mouvement favorise l’opacité financière.

Les élections de mi-mandat, le 2 novembre, constituent le premier test électoral pour le Tea Party. A-t-il sa chance ?

La mouvance est à la jonction de deux courants importants de la vie politique américaine récente : le conservatisme façon Reagan, qui attaque l’interventionnisme de l’Etat fédéral, et le populisme qui exalte l’Américain moyen contre les élites. En cela, elle ratisse large.

Elle nuit déjà au Parti républicain en le forçant à se radicaliser sur de nombreux sujets : avortement, santé, retraites… Pour le Parti démocrate, qui aborde ces élections en position fragilisée, cette radicalisation serait plutôt une bonne nouvelle : elle a toutes les chances d’être rejetée par l’électorat indépendant, les plus jeunes, la " majorité silencieuse ".

Qui peut prédire les résultats du 2 novembre ?

L’écart s’est réduit entre démocrates et républicains. Il est possible que les démocrates conservent une courte majorité au Sénat et à la Chambre. J’imagine assez mal un raz-de-marée Tea Party. L’héritage politique américain montre que les tiers partis ne durent pas : aucun ne s’est imposé comme une force autonome. Je vois mal les Américains, bien qu’insatisfaits de leur " duopole ", faire du Tea Party leur troisième voie, surtout en l’absence de leader pour l’ensemble du mouvement.

Propos recueillis par Mattea BattagliaVoir aussi :

Voir aussi:

Interview with Karl Rove

‘Obama Has Turned Out to Be an Utter Disaster’

SPIEGEL ONLINE

10/19/2010

Karl Rove was one of President George W. Bush’s closest advisers. SPIEGEL spoke with the political analyst about the widespread anger against Barack Obama and the prospects of Tea Party success in the coming midterm elections.

SPIEGEL: In the approaching midterm elections, the Republican Party is putting forward several unusually radical candidates, some of whom are not even "qualified to be a dog catcher," as one Republican said. What has happened with your party?

Rove: That’s nothing unusual. In campaigns from both parties, people get nominated who are not typical, particularly in times of rapid change. For example, the Democrats in 1974, at the height of the Vietnam War, had a lot of very kooky candidates that they nominated.

SPIEGEL: Still, it’s hard to imagine a major European party featuring a candidate like Christine O’Donnell, the Republican candidate in Delaware. She was forced to admit that she has experimented with witchcraft.

Rove: I know enough about European politics to know you’ve got a lot of crazy people who make their way onto the ballot.

SPIEGEL: You don’t want to admit that O’Donnell isn’t exactly a candidate that the Republicans can be proud of?

Rove: In Europe and the United States, you’ve got different systems to select candidates, and no system is perfect. In Germany you have a parliamentary system in which political parties weed out people. And the fact of the matter is that in Germany, on both sides of the aisle, particularly on the Social Democratic side, you have seen lousy leadership of the political parties that have allowed subpar candidates to emerge through the parliamentary system.

SPIEGEL: In what way?

Rove: You have had candidates that the country rejected in a pretty profound way. Our primary system prevents this from happening as often.

SPIEGEL: Nobody is forced to vote for the party’s list.

Rove: But the advantage of our system is that it is able to react to changes in public opinion better than the European system generally is able to. And, we tend to have broadly representative parties rather than sort of multiple parties that represent more narrow slices of the electorate and lead to coalition politics.

SPIEGEL: The Republican Party used to have a broad center. All of a sudden, we have this completely new phenomenon in which outsiders like Sarah Palin play a very large role in the party. She almost seems to dominate the party.

Rove: What’s unusual about that? She’s a rambunctious reformist former governor from the state of Alaska. Both parties have seen relative newcomers like this emerge before.

SPIEGEL: She wasn’t, though, part of the Republican Party establishment.

Rove: Ronald Reagan wasn’t in the establishment of the Republican Party either, nor was Richard Nixon.

SPIEGEL: It is nevertheless striking how little experience she has. That’s new.

Rove: Oh really? I believe she was the chief executive of a state. She wasn’t simply a newly elected senator from the state of Illinois who had absolutely no accomplishments whatsoever.

SPIEGEL: The inexperience of President Barack Obama was a major issue during his presidential campaign. His Democratic rival Hillary Clinton attacked him for it as well. It would seem that inexperience has turned into an asset in politics.

Rove: You may be right that people say: "You know what, we had Obama. He was inexperienced. The guy had great rhetoric, sounded good, looked good, but has turned out to be an utter disaster. I want someone where I have confidence and credibility that they’re up to the job and that I can trust what they tell me."

SPIEGEL: So is Palin the right person to succeed Obama?

Rove: I don’t know. That’s what the coming presidential campaign will be about. It will be fought out over two sorts of broad baskets. One is the way in which somebody governs, and the other is the things on which they act; if you will, their persona and their agenda. Last time around, it was very much about the persona.

SPIEGEL: Many would say that the Republican Party has moved continually further to the right. Now, the Tea Party is pulling the party even further in that direction. How much is too much?

Rove: I disagree with your assumption. It looks like it’s moved because the Democrats have gone so far left. Name me one other instance in which the federal government increased discretionary domestic spending 25 percent in less than one year. There has been a bipartisan consensus since World War II that the size of the federal government would be roughly between 18 to 21 percent of GDP, floating around 20 percent. Obama is the first president to cross that line so dramatically.

SPIEGEL: Europeans see Obama as a middle of the road Democrat and don’t understand the unending criticism.

Rove: He probably is a middle of the road social democrat, but remember America does not have a history of social democracy. We have been a country in which even the Democrats have been to the right of the left in Europe, and that’s one of our strengths. A lot of people call him a socialist. I don’t. He is a social democrat, though. He is somebody who says, "Okay, the state will regulate, the state will dictate. We will take an ever larger share of the GDP into the hands of government, and we will dictate to the private sector, but maintain ownership in private hands, subject to the regulatory state."

SPIEGEL: But is he so different from other Democratic presidents? Take Lyndon B. Johnson. He introduced Medicare.

Rove: Even LBJ in Medicare insisted upon a robust private role. Obama is culturally and philosophically to the left of Johnson.

SPIEGEL: Are you convinced, then, that the Republican Party will be able to integrate the Tea Party without drifting too far to the right?

Rove: Sure. There have been movements like this before — the Civil Rights movement, the anti-war movement, the pro-life movement, the Second Amendment rights movement. All of them popped up, insistent, loud, and relatively unsophisticated. They wanted everything now and for politicians to be with them 100 percent of the time. And after an election or two, people wake up saying, our system produces mostly incremental progress and takes time and compromise. That’s exactly what’s going to happen here. I meet a lot of Tea Partiers as I go around the country, and they are amazing people. Most have never been involved in politics before. This is their first experience, and they have the enthusiasm of people who have never done it before.

SPIEGEL: Is the Tea Party movement a repeat of the Reagan Revolution?

Rove: It’s a little bit different because the Reagan Revolution was driven a lot by the persona of one man, Ronald Reagan, who had an optimistic and sunny view of what the nation could be. It was also a well-organized, coherent, ideologically motivated and conservative revolution. If you look underneath the surface of the Tea Party movement, on the other hand, you will find that it is not sophisticated. It’s not like these people have read the economist Friedrich August von Hayek. Rather, these are people who are deeply concerned about what they see happening to their country, particularly when it comes to spending, deficits, debt and health care.

SPIEGEL: It is, however, difficult to understand the smear campaigns against Obama, claiming that he falsified his birth certificate and is not the legitimate president.

Rove: Please, with all due respect. That’s what happened for eight years with Bush. Just before George W. Bush was sworn into office, on "Meet the Press," Dick Gephardt, the Democratic leader of the House of Representatives, was asked by Tim Russert twice if he believed George W. Bush was the legitimately elected president of the United States. And twice, the leader of the Democrats refused to answer the question. I was shocked, and that was what we had to deal with for eight years.

SPIEGEL: It has become fashionable for Republicans to blame everything on Barack Obama. But the Bush administration has also been criticized for massive government spending. John McCain describes the current anger as the "Bush hangover."

Rove: There is some anger about the bank bailout, which was the right thing to do and which Bush will defend.

SPIEGEL: Nobody really disputes that

Rove: Some people in the Tea Party movement do, but not all. What really got them was Obama’s mortgage bailout. Remember the Tea Party movement didn’t get started in September of 2008 when the bank bailout was passed. It really began on Feb. 19th, 2009 when a television commentator named Rick Santelli stood up and said what the hell are we doing bailing out people who couldn’t afford a mortgage by taking money from people like me who are prudent?

Interview conducted by Hans Hoyng and Marc Hujer

Voir également:

A Vote Against Dems, Not for the GOP

Voters don’t want to be governed from the left, right or center. They want Washington to recognize that Americans want to govern themselves.

Scott Rasmussen

The Wall Street Journal

November 1, 2010

In the first week of January 2010, Rasmussen Reports showed Republicans with a nine-point lead on the generic congressional ballot. Scott Brown delivered a stunning upset in the Massachusetts special U.S. Senate election a couple of weeks later.

In the last week of October 2010, Rasmussen Reports again showed Republicans with a nine-point lead on the generic ballot. And tomorrow Republicans will send more Republicans to Congress than at any time in the past 80 years.

This isn’t a wave, it’s a tidal shift—and we’ve seen it coming for a long time. Remarkably, there have been plenty of warning signs over the past two years, but Democratic leaders ignored them. At least the captain of the Titanic tried to miss the iceberg. Congressional Democrats aimed right for it.

While most voters now believe that cutting government spending is good for the economy, congressional Democrats have convinced them that they want to increase government spending. After the president proposed a $50 billion infrastructure plan in September, for example, Rasmussen Reports polling found that 61% of voters believed cutting spending would create more jobs than the president’s plan.

Central to the Democrats’ electoral woes was the debate on health-care reform. From the moment in May 2009 when the Congressional Budget Office announced that the president’s plan would cost a trillion dollars, most voters opposed it. Today 53% want to repeal it. Opposition was always more intense than support, and opposition was especially high among senior citizens, who vote in high numbers in midterm elections.

Rather than acknowledging the public concern by passing a smaller and more popular plan, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Obama insisted on passing the proposed legislation by any means possible.

As a result, Democrats face massive losses in tomorrow’s midterm election. Based upon our generic ballot polling and an analysis of individual races, we project that Nancy Pelosi’s party will likely lose 55 or more seats in the House, putting the GOP firmly in the majority. Republicans will also win at least 25 of the 37 Senate elections. While the most likely outcome is that Republicans end up with 48 or 49 Senate seats, Democrats will need to win close races in West Virginia, Washington and California to protect their majority.

There will also be a lot more Republican governors in office come January. It looks like six heartland states stretching from Pennsylvania to Iowa will trade a Democratic governor for a Republican one. A common theme in all the races is that white, working-class Democrats who tended to vote for Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama in 2008 are prepared to vote for Republicans.

But none of this means that Republicans are winning. The reality is that voters in 2010 are doing the same thing they did in 2006 and 2008: They are voting against the party in power.

This is the continuation of a trend that began nearly 20 years ago. In 1992, Bill Clinton was elected president and his party had control of Congress. Before he left office, his party lost control. Then, in 2000, George W. Bush came to power, and his party controlled Congress. But like Mr. Clinton before him, Mr. Bush saw his party lose control.

That’s never happened before in back-to-back administrations. The Obama administration appears poised to make it three in a row. This reflects a fundamental rejection of both political parties.

More precisely, it is a rejection of a bipartisan political elite that’s lost touch with the people they are supposed to serve. Based on our polling, 51% now see Democrats as the party of big government and nearly as many see Republicans as the party of big business. That leaves no party left to represent the American people.

Voters today want hope and change every bit as much as in 2008. But most have come to recognize that if we have to rely on politicians for the change, there is no hope. At the same time, Americans instinctively understand that if we can unleash the collective wisdom and entrepreneurial spirit of the American people, there are no limits to what we can accomplish.

In this environment, it would be wise for all Republicans to remember that their team didn’t win, the other team lost. Heading into 2012, voters will remain ready to vote against the party in power unless they are given a reason not to do so.

Elected politicians also should leave their ideological baggage behind because voters don’t want to be governed from the left, the right, or even the center. They want someone in Washington who understands that the American people want to govern themselves.

Mr. Rasmussen is president of Rasmussen Reports and co-author of "Mad as Hell: How the Tea Party Movement is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System" (HarperCollins, 2010).

Voir enfin:

Poll Finds Tea Party Backers Wealthier and More Educated

Kate Zernike and Megan Thee-Brenan

The New York Times

April 14, 2010

Tea Party supporters are wealthier and more well-educated than the general public, and are no more or less afraid of falling into a lower socioeconomic class, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

The 18 percent of Americans who identify themselves as Tea Party supporters tend to be Republican, white, male, married and older than 45.

They hold more conservative views on a range of issues than Republicans generally. They are also more likely to describe themselves as “very conservative” and President Obama as “very liberal.”

And while most Republicans say they are “dissatisfied” with Washington, Tea Party supporters are more likely to classify themselves as “angry.”

The Tea Party movement burst onto the scene a year ago in protest of the economic stimulus package, and its supporters have vowed to purge the Republican Party of officials they consider not sufficiently conservative and to block the Democratic agenda on the economy, the environment and health care. But the demographics and attitudes of those in the movement have been known largely anecdotally. The Times/CBS poll offers a detailed look at the profile and attitudes of those supporters.

Their responses are like the general public’s in many ways. Most describe the amount they paid in taxes this year as “fair.” Most send their children to public schools. A plurality do not think Sarah Palin is qualified to be president, and, despite their push for smaller government, they think that Social Security and Medicare are worth the cost to taxpayers. They actually are just as likely as Americans as a whole to have returned their census forms, though some conservative leaders have urged a boycott.

Tea Party supporters’ fierce animosity toward Washington, and the president in particular, is rooted in deep pessimism about the direction of the country and the conviction that the policies of the Obama administration are disproportionately directed at helping the poor rather than the middle class or the rich.

The overwhelming majority of supporters say Mr. Obama does not share the values most Americans live by and that he does not understand the problems of people like themselves. More than half say the policies of the administration favor the poor, and 25 percent think that the administration favors blacks over whites — compared with 11 percent of the general public.

They are more likely than the general public, and Republicans, to say that too much has been made of the problems facing black people.

Asked what they are angry about, Tea Party supporters offered three main concerns: the recent health care overhaul, government spending and a feeling that their opinions are not represented in Washington.

“The only way they will stop the spending is to have a revolt on their hands,” Elwin Thrasher, a 66-year-old semiretired lawyer in Florida, said in an interview after the poll. “I’m sick and tired of them wasting money and doing what our founders never intended to be done with the federal government.”

They are far more pessimistic than Americans in general about the economy. More than 90 percent of Tea Party supporters think the country is headed in the wrong direction, compared with about 60 percent of the general public. About 6 in 10 say “America’s best years are behind us” when it comes to the availability of good jobs for American workers.

Nearly 9 in 10 disapprove of the job Mr. Obama is doing over all, and about the same percentage fault his handling of major issues: health care, the economy and the federal budget deficit. Ninety-two percent believe Mr. Obama is moving the country toward socialism, an opinion shared by more than half of the general public.

“I just feel he’s getting away from what America is,” said Kathy Mayhugh, 67, a retired medical transcriber in Jacksonville. “He’s a socialist. And to tell you the truth, I think he’s a Muslim and trying to head us in that direction, I don’t care what he says. He’s been in office over a year and can’t find a church to go to. That doesn’t say much for him.”

The nationwide telephone poll was conducted April 5 through April 12 with 1,580 adults. For the purposes of analysis, Tea Party supporters were oversampled, for a total of 881, and then weighted to their proper proportion in the poll. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points for all adults and for Tea Party supporters.

Of the 18 percent of Americans who identified themselves as supporters, 20 percent, or 4 percent of the general public, said they had given money or attended a Tea Party event, or both. These activists were more likely than supporters generally to describe themselves as very conservative and had more negative views about the economy and Mr. Obama. They were more angry with Washington and intense in their desires for a smaller federal government and deficit.

Tea Party supporters over all are more likely than the general public to say their personal financial situation is fairly good or very good. But 55 percent are concerned that someone in their household will be out of a job in the next year. And more than two-thirds say the recession has been difficult or caused hardship and major life changes. Like most Americans, they think the most pressing problems facing the country today are the economy and jobs.

But while most Americans blame the Bush administration or Wall Street for the current state of the American economy, the greatest number of Tea Party supporters blame Congress.

They do not want a third party and say they usually or almost always vote Republican. The percentage holding a favorable opinion of former President George W. Bush, at 57 percent, almost exactly matches the percentage in the general public that holds an unfavorable view of him.

Dee Close, a 47-year-old homemaker in Memphis, said she was worried about a “drift” in the country. “Over the last three or four years, I’ve realized how immense that drift has been away from what made this country great,” Ms. Close said.

Yet while the Tea Party supporters are more conservative than Republicans on some social issues, they do not want to focus on those issues: about 8 in 10 say that they are more concerned with economic issues, as is the general public.

When talking about the Tea Party movement, the largest number of respondents said that the movement’s goal should be reducing the size of government, more than cutting the budget deficit or lowering taxes.

And nearly three-quarters of those who favor smaller government said they would prefer it even if it meant spending on domestic programs would be cut.

But in follow-up interviews, Tea Party supporters said they did not want to cut Medicare or Social Security — the biggest domestic programs, suggesting instead a focus on “waste.”

Some defended being on Social Security while fighting big government by saying that since they had paid into the system, they deserved the benefits.

Others could not explain the contradiction.

“That’s a conundrum, isn’t it?” asked Jodine White, 62, of Rocklin, Calif. “I don’t know what to say. Maybe I don’t want smaller government. I guess I want smaller government and my Social Security.” She added, “I didn’t look at it from the perspective of losing things I need. I think I’ve changed my mind.”

Marjorie Connelly, Dalia Sussman and Marina Stefan contributed reporting.


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