Miss America/92e: Attention: un racisme peut en cacher un autre ! (No Kansas guns and religion, please, we’re New Yorkers: Has Miss America betrayed the American dream ?)

2 octobre, 2013
http://images.fineartamerica.com/images-medium-large/1-margaret-gorman-1921-granger.jpghttp://www.historybyzim.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Miss-America-1921-Margaret-Gorman.jpghttp://images.fineartamerica.com/images-medium-large/my-favorite-brunette-dorothy-lamour-everett.jpghttp://jcdurbant.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/a69ce-bessmyersoncollage.gif?w=450&h=409http://31.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m9acqcRGQF1qjkeqso1_400.jpghttp://www.vfa.us/MISS%20AMERICA%2009%2007%20196803.jpghttp://img.timeinc.net/time/photoessays/2009/10_beauty/beauty_williams.jpghttp://www.alleewillis.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/Vanessa-Williams-cornflakes-box_2350.jpgVanessaWilliamshttp://covers.openlibrary.org/w/id/169318-M.jpghttp://www.orangejuiceblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Miss-America-2014-dancing.jpg
 
http://media.philly.com/images/526*395/theresa_vail_Miss_Kansas_600.jpghttp://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/About/General/2013/9/19/1379575928829/Obabiyi-Aishah-Ajibola-010.jpghttp://www.pewsocialtrends.org/files/2012/06/2012-sdt-asian-americans-0232.pnghttp://familyinequality.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pew-asian-income.jpg?w=450&h=691http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/files/2012/06/2012-sdt-asian-americans-0261.pngCar on donnera à celui qui a; mais à celui qui n’a pas on ôtera même ce qu’il a. Jésus (Marc 4: 25)
Je rêve que mes quatre petits enfants vivront un jour dans un pays où on ne les jugera pas à la couleur de leur peau mais à la nature de leur caractère. Martin Luther King
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
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
Mon Dieu,donnez-moi la sérénité d’accepter les choses que je ne puis changer, le courage de changer les choses que je peux, dt la sagesse d’en connaître la différence. Prière de la sérénité (tatouage de Miss Kansas)
Il y a autant de racismes qu’il y a de groupes qui ont besoin de se justifier d’exister comme ils existent, ce qui constitue la fonction invariante des racismes. Il me semble très important de porter l’analyse sur les formes du racisme qui sont sans doute les plus subtiles, les plus méconnaissables, donc les plus rarement dénoncées, peut-être parce que les dénonciateurs ordinaires du racisme possèdent certaines des propriétés qui inclinent à cette forme de racisme. Je pense au racisme de l’intelligence. (…) Ce racisme est propre à une classe dominante dont la reproduction dépend, pour une part, de la transmission du capital culturel, capital hérité qui a pour propriété d’être un capital incorporé, donc apparemment naturel, inné. Le racisme de l’intelligence est ce par quoi les dominants visent à produire une "théodicée de leur propre privilège", comme dit Weber, c’est-à-dire une justification de l’ordre social qu’ils dominent. (…) Tout racisme est un essentialisme et le racisme de l’intelligence est la forme de sociodicée caractéristique d’une classe dominante dont le pouvoir repose en partie sur la possession de titres qui, comme les titres scolaires, sont censés être des garanties d’intelligence et qui ont pris la place, dans beaucoup de sociétés, et pour l’accès même aux positions de pouvoir économique, des titres anciens comme les titres de propriété et les titres de noblesse. Pierre Bourdieu
Dieu merci, le temps de la domination des barbies blondes peroxydées est révolu … Time
Quand on est miss America, on doit être américaine. Tweet
C’est l’élection de Miss Etats-Unis, pas Miss Inde. Tweet
Super, ils ont choisi une musulmane comme Miss America. Obama doit être heureux. Peut-être qu’il a voté. Tweet
Les juges de Miss America ne le diront jamais, mais Miss Kansas a perdu parce qu’elle représente réellement les valeurs américaines. Todd Starnes (Fox news)
Une fille au teint foncé comme Nina ne serait jamais devenue Miss Inde. Au moins, elle est devenue Miss America. Varun Agarwal
À cette miss New York aux allures pas assez "américaines" (encore faudrait-il définir ce qu’est un vrai américain parmi ce peuple originaire d’Afrique, d’Europe, ou encore d’Asie), ils préféraient miss Kansas : une femme blanche, sergent de l’armée américaine, arborant un insigne militaire de toute beauté tatoué sur l’épaule. Céline Husson-Alaya
Nous avons délibérément choisi de tenir cet événement juste avant la finale des Miss Monde afin de montrer qu’une alternative existe pour les musulmanes. Créatrice du concours Miss Muslimah
Margaret Gorman represents the type of womanhood America needs, strong, red-blooded, able to shoulder the responsibilities of homemaking and motherhood. It is in her type that the hope of the country rests. The NYT (1921)
There she is, Miss America There she is, your ideal The dreams of a million girls Who are more than pretty May come true in Atlantic City Oh she may turn out to be The queen of femininity There she is, Miss America There she is, your ideal With so many beauties She’ll take the town by storm With her all-American face and form And there she is Walking on air she is Fairest of the fair she is Miss America. Jingle de Miss America
Thank God I have lived long enough that this nation has been able to select the beautiful young woman of color to be Miss America. Shirley Chisholm (Congresswoman)
Beauty contests are ways that if you live in a poor neighborhood, you can imagine getting ahead because it is a way up. It is a way to scholarships, to attention, and it’s one of the few things that you see out there as a popular symbol. When I was living in a kind of factory working neighborhood of Toledo, the K-Part television Miss TV contest, something like that, was advertised. And I decided I would try to enter the contest even though I was underage. I think I was 16 and the limit was, was 18. So I lied about my age. It wasn’t a terrible experience. It was a surrealistic experience. You had to put on your bathing suit and walk and stand on a beer keg. I did three or four different kinds of dances. Spanish and Russian and heaven knows what. I thought I would get money for college. And it seemed glamorous. It seemed to me in high school like a way out of a not too great life in a pretty poor neighborhood. Gloria Steinem
In spite of cringe-worth flaws of the pageant [like the bikini-in-heels (aka "swimsuit") competition], Nina Davuluri, the new Miss America, probably represents some of the best qualities and aspirations of "modern" America. Here’s why: America was built on a dream of hard work by people from all over the world. She and her family certainly fit that ideal. Her father is a physician and she aspires to be one as well. (…) Thanks to the life her parents built (from scratch), and her own hard work-ethic, she graduated from the University of Michigan debt-free. She’s a great example of working through failure and difficulty, and getting back up again. This shows in her struggle against bulimia. For fifteen years she studied classical Indian dance, refining a nuanced art form. She was gutsy enough to showcase a fusion of classical and Bollywood dance in her talent act (…) Her platform: "Celebrating Diversity through Cultural Competency" couldn’t be more timely. (…) When headlines all over the world proclaim Nina Davuluri as Miss America, this stops anti-Americans in their tracks. They see that the USA can live up to its values, as the land of the free, home of the brave. It’s where dreams for a better life come true. It’s where diverse people are welcomed. It’s full of beauty and sparkles and anything is possible. Homa Sabet Tavangar
Half of employed Asian Americans (50%) are in management, professional and related occupations, a higher share than the roughly 40% for employed Americans overall. Many of these occupations require advanced degrees. (…) These high levels of educational attainment are a factor in the occupational profile of Asian Americans, especially their concentration in the fields of science and engineering. Among adults, 14% of Asian Americans hold these types of jobs, compared with 5% of the U.S. population overall. The share among Indians is 28%. Another facet of the Asian-American occupational profile is the high share of immigrants from Asian countries who are in the U.S. under the H1-B visa program. These visas were authorized under the Immigration and Nationality Act in 1990 to increase the inflow of highly skilled “guest workers” from abroad. Asian countries are now the source of about three-quarters of such temporary visas. In 2011, India alone accounted for 72,438 of the 129,134 H1-B visas granted, or 56% (…) Among Indian Americans ages 25 and older, seven-in-ten (70%) have obtained at least a bachelor’s degree; this is higher than the Asian-American share (49%) and much higher than the national share (28%). Median annual personal earnings for Indian-American full-time, year-round workers are $65,000, significantly higher than for all Asian Americans ($48,000) as well as for all U.S. adults ($40,000). Among households, the median annual income for Indians is $88,000, much higher than for all Asians ($66,000) and all U.S. households ($49,800). (…) The share of adult Indian Americans who live in poverty is 9%, lower than the shares of all Asian Americans (12%) and of the U.S. population overall (13%). (…) Compared with other U.S. Asian groups, Indian Americans are the most likely to identify with the Democratic Party; 65% are Democrats or lean to the Democrats, 18% are Republican or lean to the Republicans. Pew (2012)
Les Indiens-américains sont en effet une nouvelle "minorité modèle". Ce terme remonte aux années 1960 quand les Americains d’origine asiatique – les Chinois, Japonais et Coréens – étaient connus pour leurs hautes qualifications et hauts revenus. Les ressortissants d’Asie du nord-est continuent d’exceller aux États-Unis, mais parmi les groupes minoritaires, les Indiens sont clairement le dernier et meilleur "modèle". En 2007, le revenu médian des ménages dirigés par un Indien-américain était d’environ 83 000 $, comparativement à 61 000 $ pour les ressortissants d’Asie du nord-est et 55 000 $ pour les Blancs. Environ 69 % des Indiens-américains de 25 ans et plus sont au moins détenteurs d’une licence, ce qui éclipse les taux de 51 % et 30 % atteints respectivement par les Asiatiques en général et les Blancs. Les Indiens-américains sont également moins susceptibles d’être pauvres ou en prison par rapport aux Blancs. Alors pourquoi les Indiens-Américains s’en sortent-ils si bien ? Une réponse naturelle est l’autosélection. Quelqu’un qui est prêt à s’arracher à ses racines et à traverser la moitié du monde aura tendance à être plus ambitieux et travailleur que la moyenne. Mais les gens veulent venir aux États-Unis pour de nombreuses raisons dont certaines – comme par exemple le rapprochement familial – ont peu à voir avec l’ardeur au travail. En fin de compte, la politique d’immigration décide quels types de qualités nos immigrants possèdent. En vertu de notre politique d’immigration actuelle, une majorité d’immigrants légaux aux États-Unis obtiennent la carte verte (résidence permanente) car ils ont des liens familiaux avec des citoyens américains, mais un petit nombre (15 % en 2007) sont choisis spécifiquement pour leur valeur sur le marché du travail. La proportion d’immigrants indiens qui ont reçu une carte verte liée à l’emploi est l’une des plus élevées de toutes les nationalités. Par conséquent, c’est principalement l’élite instruite indienne et ses proches qui vient aux États-Unis. Forbes

Miss America a-elle trahi le Rêve américain ?

Alors qu’en cette saison finissante de l’été et de ses habituels concours de beauté

Où tous voiles dehors la troisième Miss Muslimah nous bassine de ses versets d’un livre prétendument "incréé" à qui l’on doit sur son seul continent d’origine une énième boucherie au Kénya et les destructions à présent quasi-hebdomadaires d’églises chrétiennes …

La première Miss Monde philippine, dont le concours sous la pression des islamistes avait dû être déplacé à Bali, est non seulement née aux Etats-Unis de père américain mais déjà actrice confirmée …

Comment ne pas voir, avec l’élection récente de la première Miss America d’origine indienne qui triomphe avec un numéro digne de Bollywood mais dont le teint foncé n’aurait probablement jamais permis l’élection en Inde même, la trahison précisément du Rêve américain qu’elle était censée servir ?

Et ne pas comprendre du coup les réactions dites "racistes" qui ont accompagné, derrière cette lutte entre l’urbanité d’une Miss New York,  fille de gynécologue et future médecin elle-même, et la ruralité d’une Miss Kansas, blonde diane chasseresse aux rangers et tatouages religieux et militaire, l’apparent couronnement du produit de la plus grande concentration de privilèges ?

Où la géniale mais bassement commerciale trouvaille (probable reprise des fêtes médiévales du premier mai) du fameux Barnum des femmes à barbe et des cirques du même nom pour allonger la saison touristique des plages américaines et servir accessoirement de marche-pied pour Hollywood (Dorothy Lamour, Miss Louisiana 1931), la mode ou la publicité (jusqu’à 100 000 dollars annuels pour Miss 1926, soit plus que le champion de baseball Babe Ruth ou le président des Etats-Unis !) à la première jeune Américaine venue …

Qui sous la pression des ligues de vertu religieuses puis féministes et entre la première lauréate juive (et future candidate au Sénat au lendemain du génocide de 1945), la première Noire (1984) ou la première handicapée (2005), avait progressivement abandonné les manteaux de fourrure et bijoux des débuts pour devenir le premier fournisseur de bourses d’étude pour filles au monde (quelque 45 millions annuels pour 12 000 jeunes filles dont un total de 340 000 dollars pour l’élection finale et 50 000 pour la gagnante) …

Finit en fait entre le désormais sacrosaint impératif de diversité, la multiplication des épreuves toujours plus "intelligentes" (comme par ailleurs, sans compter les dérives de la chirurgie esthétique et des concours pour enfants, d’autres concours tels Miss Monde, Miss Univers, Miss International ou Miss Terre !) et cet adoubemment d’une nouvelle "minorité modèle" qui ajoute à présent l’ultime luxe de la beauté aux plus hauts taux de diplômés et revenus des Etats-Unis …

Par remplacer (ne nous avait-on pas déjà fait le coup en 2008 avec l’élection qui avait viré au concours de beauté politiquement correct du premier président américain de couleur ?) un racisme (ethnique) par un autre (social) ?

Has Miss America betrayed the American dream?

JC Durbant

October 2, 2013

What is more American than Miss America and its idea that any well-deserving American girl will make it to the top ? But with the recent controversial election of Miss America 2014, has America’s oldest beauty pageant really kept its promise of unlimited personal progress ?

To be sure, over its 92 years of existence, America’s favorite beauty contest has had its share of criticism: immorality, commercialism, dehumanization, over-sexualization, even racism. Yet over the years it has always seemed to adapt with the times, introducing ever more advances such as a talent competition, scholarships, evening gowns or allowing non-white participants. Thus, 1945 saw the election of the first Jewish American girl and 1983 the crowning of the first of many non-white contestants, including this year’s first Indian-American. And even if it did start as a marketing device to make Labor Day tourists prolong their stay at the Atlantic beaches, it did provide an opportunity for ordinary young women such as Hollywood superstar Dorothy Lamour to realize their American dream in the form of advertising or movie contracts. In fact, it even helped its first Jewish winner to enter politics and run for the Senate in 1980. Or provided initial exposure to one of today’s most powerful and influential women in America and in the world, namely talk show host Oprah Winfrey. And over the years it has distributed millions and millions of dollars in scholarship money to the point where it is now the world’s largest provider of scholarships to women.

So how to explain the controversy which this year’s election has just generated ? After all, Miss America’s first Indian-American winner has got all the talent, brains and beauty that one can expect from the woman that is supposed to represent the best of America’s womanhood for a year ? Shall it be assigned to the usual cause of racism that America’s slowly-dwindling white majority has been known for in the past ? Or could it be that Miss America is just the victim of its own success? After raising, one after another, its standards over the years as a response to the criticisms of which it was the object, America’s oldest beauty pageant now finds itself electing the best America can offer. An India-American gynecologist’s daughter with the brightest education record and plans to be a physician herself, Nina Davuluri is the perfect example of a new model minority that is already the best educated and best-off of all the ethnic groups in the country -whites included. Hence perhaps the not-to-unexpected resentment of some in a white majority that in these days of recession is fast losing ground.

But is this not in fact one of the inherent contradictions of the American dream itself – and the source of America’s persistent and even increasing inequalities – in which only the best are supposed to win and where therefore you end up rewarding the least needy in the end ?

Voir aussi:

La nouvelle Miss America est d’origine indienne (donc arabe, musulmane et fanatique d’Al-Qaïda)

Céline Husson-Alaya

Femmes, féminins, féminismes

La plus belle femme des États-Unis est d’origine indienne. Rien de bien étonnant en soi en Amérique, terre d’immigration et de métissage par excellence. Nina Davuluri, grande brune à la peau mate née dans l’État de New York il y a 24 ans, a été élue Miss America 2014 le 15 septembre au soir.

Mais cette élection a visiblement courroucé certains conservateurs. Non pas pour le côté suranné d’un concours de beauté féminine tout à fait discutable au XXIème siècle, mais parce que certains estiment que la belle Nina n’est pas assez américaine. Pire, elle serait arabe (passons sur le fait que toutes les personnes mates de peau ne sont pas nécessairement arabes, et que les Indiens le sont encore moins). Double tare, elle serait musulmane (comme Barack Obama en fait, c’est une conspiration). Provocation ultime : lors de "l’épreuve des talents", elle a interprété un mélange de danse traditionnelle indienne et de mouvements de films de Bollywood. N’en jetez plus.

La nouvelle miss a été lynchée de tweets racistes sur le site de micro-blogging. "Quand on est miss America, on doit être Américaine", "Quand est-ce qu’une femme blanche sera élue Miss America ? Jamais ?", "Ils ont choisi une musulmane pour devenir Miss America. Obama a dû être content. Peut-être qu’il faisait partie du jury". "Comment une étrangère peut gagner ? C’est une Arabe !". Sans compter une réflexion de toute beauté : "#MissAmerica hmmm quoi ? Avons-nous oublié le 11 septembre ? " et le splendide : "C’est plutôt miss Terroriste #MissAmerica".

Comme on dit, la bave de crapaud n’atteint pas la blanche colombe, qui déclarait après son couronnement : "Je suis si heureuse que cette institution prenne en compte la diversité". "Nous sommes en train d’écrire l’histoire ici, en tant qu’Asiatiques américaines", alors que la communauté asio-américaine compte 18,2 millions de personnes aux États-Unis (5,7% de la population). Balayant la polémique, la reine de beauté affirmait lors de sa première conférence de presse : "Je dois m’élever au-dessus de ça". "Je me suis toujours considérée en premier lieu et avant tout comme une Américaine", elle qui racontait avoir dû combattre les préjugés sur sa culture durant cette année d’élection (certains étaient convaincus que ses parents allaient organiser un mariage arrangée pour elle).

À cette miss New York aux allures pas assez "américaines" (encore faudrait-il définir ce qu’est un vrai américain parmi ce peuple originaire d’Afrique, d’Europe, ou encore d’Asie), ils préféraient miss Kansas : une femme blanche, sergent de l’armée américaine, arborant un insigne militaire de toute beauté tatoué sur l’épaule.

Ni musulmane, ni Indienne, et encore moins arabe, (et quand bien même) Nina Davuluri est une étudiante diplômée de l’Université du Michigan qui souhaite devenir médecin, comme son père, gynécologue obstétricien, et souhaite utiliser l’argent de sa victoire, non pas pour financer Al-Qaïda, mais pour payer l’université. Et réaliser son rêve américain.

Ce n’est pas la première fois qu’une miss America est la cible d’attaques racistes. En 2010, Rima Fakih, une jeune femme d’origine libanaise, était la cible des mêmes relents haineux. Car d’origine libanaise, donc arabe, donc musulmane et donc sans doute terroriste, elle était accusée de militer pour le Hezbollah.

Voir également:

Non, Miss America n’est pas une terroriste !

L’attribution de la couronne de Miss America à Nina Davuluri, une Américaine originaire de l’Etat de l’Andhra Pradesh, a déchaîné une véritable hystérie raciste en ligne. Des nombreux utilisateurs de Twitter ont vu en elle une terroriste arabe. Une histoire à vite oublier, estime le quotidien.

Neeti Sarkar

The Hindu

19 Septembre 2013

Quand Nina Davuluri est devenue la première Américaine d’origine indienne à remporter le titre de Miss America [le 16 septembre], tweets malveillants et autres commentaires racistes se sont multipliés sur les réseaux sociaux.

Aujourd’hui, avec la révolution des télécommunications, n’importe qui peut dire n’importe quoi sur le web. La démocratie Internet est une hydre. Les commentaires [racistes] sur Nina y voisinent avec ceux, peut-être plus nombreux encore, qui prennent sa défense. Bina Hanchinamani Ellefsen, une avocate de Seattle, se dit "mal à l’aise face aux commentaires racistes au sujet d’une Miss America d’origine indienne. Nous ne sommes pas moins américains parce que nos ancêtres étaient indiens et non pas européens."

Quant à Nimisha Gandhi, gestionnaire dans le monde de la mode, elle "déplore qu’un pays par ailleurs si avancé soit si arriéré dans sa mentalité. Et sur les réseaux, dès qu’il s’agit de dénigrer quelqu’un à cause de sa couleur de peau ou de sa religion, les commentaires pleuvent. Je suis désolé pour cette belle fille intelligente et forte qui a été traitée de tous les noms. D’un autre côté, je suis contente qu’un jury américain ne se soit pas laissé influencer par les différences raciales."

"On est choqué de lire tant de commentaires racistes sur Twitter, s’indigne la journaliste et blogueuse Divya Sehgal. Et c’est effrayant de s’apercevoir que les Américains d’origine asiatique ne sont toujours pas reconnus comme des Américains. Cela dit, je pense que c’est le fait d’une petite minorité. Si vous faites défiler l’article de Buzzfeed [site qui a mis en ligne les commentaires postés sur Twitter], vous verrez combien d’Américains sont choqués par ces propos racistes. Donc, si le racisme est déplorable, j’ose espérer qu’il n’est qu’une goutte d’eau dans un immense océan non raciste."

"Nina ne serait jamais devenue Miss Inde"

Tandis que la plupart des Indiens sont attristés par ce qui s’est passé aux Etats-Unis, l’entrepreneur et auteur Varun Agarwal a reçu 600 commentaires favorables sous son message [posté sur Facebook]. "Une fille au teint foncé comme Nina ne serait jamais devenue Miss Inde, écrivait-il. Au moins, elle est devenue Miss America."

Selon la psychologue Jamuna Tripathi, "nous vivons malheureusement dans un monde qui perpétue les stéréotypes. La société rend complexés les gens à la peau foncée. L’aspect positif, c’est que Nina est restée très digne face à l’adversité. Sa confiance en elle et sa maturité sont vraiment la marque d’une gagnante."

Tout en rappelant qu’il serait temps de prendre de la hauteur, l’ancienne Miss Inde et Miss Terre 2010, Nicole Faria, affirme : "Chacun a le droit d’avoir ses opinions et, dans les concours de beauté, tout le monde peut avoir un point de vue différent ; la beauté est dans l’œil de celui qui regarde. Ce qui est bien, c’est que le résultat est définitif, et, même si certains peuvent voir les choses autrement, le verdict est tombé. Nina a remporté la couronne. En tant qu’Indienne, ça fait chaud au cœur. Rappelons-nous que la beauté et la bonté ont triomphé, et ne laissons rien ternir de cette victoire si méritée."

Voir aussi:

Attaques racistes

"Miss America est une terroriste"

Clémentine Rebillat

Paris Match

16 septembre 2013

Nina Davuluri, la nouvelle Miss America, a été élue dimanche soir. A peine a-t-elle eu le temps de savourer sa victoire que la jeune femme d’origine indienne a été la cible d’insultes racistes.

Quelques minutes après son sacre, Nina Davuluri déclarait: «Je suis tellement contente que cette organisation laisse une large place à la diversité». La nouvelle Miss America 2014 n’avait pas encore conscience du flot d’insultes dont elle allait être la victime. La jeune femme de 24 ans d’origine indienne qui a remporté dimanche soir à Atlantic City le prestigieux concours de Miss est au coeur d’une polémique. Malgré sa grâce, ses talents de danseuse et ses brillantes études -elle souhaite devenir médecin et compte utiliser l’argent de son couronnement pour payer l’université- Nina ne fait pas l’unanimité. Loin de là.

Miss America

Au moment où son nom a été annoncé par le présentateur, la sublime brune à la beauté exotique a déclenché un flot d’insultes racistes sur les réseaux sociaux. «Si tu es Miss America, tu dois être Américaine», a lancé un internaute. «Super, ils ont choisi une musulmane comme Miss America. Obama doit être heureux. Peut-être qu’il a voté», a écrit un autre. «Miss New York est une Indienne… Avec tout votre respect, c’est l’Amérique», «Et une Arabe devient Miss Amérique. Classique», «#Miss Amérique. Avons-nous oublié le 11-Septembre?», «Miss America est une terroriste», «C’est Miss America ou Miss Al Qaïda?» ont posté d’autres téléspectateurs…

"La domination des Barbie blondes peroxydées est révolue"

Pour beaucoup d’internautes, ce n’est pas Nina qui aurait dû gagner mais Miss Kansas, une sculpturale blonde tatouée, militaire, parachutiste, boxeuse et championne de tir à l’arc. Theresa Vail n’hésite jamais à poser en treillis ou arme à la main. Une image de l’Amérique conservatrice que les détracteurs de Nina auraient voulu gagnante. «Les juges de Miss America ne le diront jamais, mais Miss Kansas a perdu parce qu’elle représente réellement les valeurs américaines», a réagi sur Twitter l’animateur de la Fox, Todd Starnes.

Pourtant, Nina Davuluri, qui, plus jeune, s’est battue contre des troubles alimentaires, a elle aussi une histoire forte. Farouchement opposée à la chirurgie esthétique -un fait rare dans les élections de miss aux Etats-Unis- son père est un éminent médecin, un métier qu’elle veut exercer, d’après CNN. Le «Time» de son côté se félicite que le «temps de la domination des Barbie blondes peroxydées est révolu». Si beaucoup d’internautes se sont déchainés contre la gagnante, d’autres n’ont pas hésité à prendre sa défense, critiquant «l’ignorance» des auteurs.

Malgré la polémique, Nina Davuluri est bien décidée à profiter de son sacre et ne compte pas se laisser abattre par les insultes. En conférence de presse, elle a déclaré qu’elle «devait passer au-dessus de tout ça». «Je me suis toujours vue avant tout comme une Américaine», a-t-elle ajouté. Pour son premier déplacement en tant que Miss America, cette passionnée de Bollywood devrait se rendre dans le New Jersey, sur les lieux de l’ouragan Sandy.

Voir encore:

Les «Miss musulmanes» répliquent à «Miss Monde»

Chloé Woitier, AFP, AP, Reuters Agences

Le Figaro

18/09/2013

Ce concours de beauté où la piété et l’engagement comptent autant que la beauté aura lieu en Indonésie quelques jours avant la grande finale de Miss Monde, qui se déroule cette année dans le même pays.

Alors que, sur l’île de Bali, les Miss de tous les continents sont en pleine préparation de l’élection de Miss Monde, un concours de beauté d’un autre genre s’apprête à avoir lieu à près de 1000 kilomètres de là. La capitale de l’Indonésie, Jakarta, accueille en effet ce mercredi la finale de World Muslimah 2013, ou Miss musulmane du Monde.

Si World Muslimah reste avant tout un concours de beauté – la taille et le poids des 20 finalistes sont listés sur le site officiel du concours -, la sélection des jeunes femmes s’est faite sur des critères religieux. Pour participer, il est en effet obligatoire de porter le voile islamique, et de savoir lire parfaitement les versets du Coran. Les photos jointes au dossier de candidature doivent se faire «dans une tenue conforme aux standards musulmans», qui ne «laisse pas voir les courbes du corps», «empêche de deviner la peau et les cheveux», et dont le voile «est suffisamment long pour couvrir les oreilles, le cou et la poitrine». «Vos poses doivent être élégantes, nous recherchons avant tout la modestie», souligne le site officiel.

Dans les coulisses du concours

«Porter le voile n’empêche pas de réussir sa carrière»

Les candidates, âgées de 18 à 27 ans, doivent également expliquer dans leur dossier de candidature pourquoi elles ont choisi de mettre le voile. Mais la dévotion ne fait pas tout. Les jeunes femmes doivent également justifier d’une activité professionnelle, associative, artistique ou sportive qui met en avant leurs talents et leurs qualités morales. «Ce que je recherche, c’est une personnalité forte, quelqu’un qui aide sa communauté et prouve que la beauté n’est pas que corporelle», explique l’une des juges du concours.

Les candidates de World Muslimah, sélectionnées sur Internet, ont également dû préparer une vidéo pour se présenter. La jeune femme actuellement la plus populaire – 889 votes sur le site officiel – est originaire de Bali. Âgée de 21 ans, Febrian Nur Vianti explique dans sa vidéo être passionnée de mode et s’exercer à créer ses chaussures pour lancer à terme sa propre entreprise. On la voit également réciter longuement des versets du Coran, et «espérer que sa candidature prouvera aux jeunes musulmanes que porter le voile n’empêche pas de réussir sa carrière».

Miss Monde, «un concours de prostituées»

Les 20 finalistes, originaires d’Indonésie, d’Iran, de Malaisie, du Nigeria, de Bangladesh et du Brunei, se sont fait offrir un voyage à Jakarta pour préparer la finale et ont effectué un stage spirituel de trois jours. La grande gagnante pourra partir tous frais payés à La Mecque pour réaliser son pélerinage, tandis que ses dauphines participeront à des «voyages éducatifs» en Inde, Turquie, et au Brunei.

La grande finale de World Muslimah aura lieu quelques jours avant celle de Miss Monde, qui est sous le feu des critiques des islamistes d’Indonésie. Ces derniers ont dénoncé un «concours de prostituées» et obtenu que la finale soit déplacée de Jakarta à Bali, île à majorité hindouiste. Les organisateurs de World Muslimah ne sont pas associés à ces critiques. «Nous avons délibérément choisi de tenir cet événement juste avant la finale des Miss Monde afin de montrer qu’une alternative existe pour les musulmanes», affirme la créatrice du concours, qui avait été licenciée de la télévision indonésienne en 2006 pour avoir refusé de retirer son voile à l’antenne. «Nous préférons montrer à nos filles qu’elles ont le choix entre Miss Monde et Miss musulmanes».

Voir également:

5 Reasons the First Indian-American Crowned Miss America Represents Best Aspirations for Modern America

Homa Sabet Tavangar

Huffington Post

09/16/2013

I didn’t watch Miss America, but now I wish I had. Monday morning I woke up to a fascinating news feed about backlash on the winner, Miss New York, an Indian-American, and a first. But just as her mascara-punctuated tears began to flow as the tiara graced her perfect coif, the haters on Twitter reared their narrow-minded heads. Here’s an example of the media coverage, from CNN.com, with the headline:

Miss America Crowns 1st Winner of Indian Descent; racist tweets flow

The Tweets included this racist one from Todd Starnes, host of Fox News and Commentary: "The liberal Miss America judges won’t say this – but Miss Kansas lost because she actually represented American values. #missamerica"

Many, many Tweets protested her being "Arab" (really?!), Muslim (she’s Hindu) and not American (she was born in Syracuse, NY and has lived in Oklahoma and Michigan as well).

In spite of cringe-worth flaws of the pageant [like the bikini-in-heels (aka "swimsuit") competition], Nina Davuluri, the new Miss America, probably represents some of the best qualities and aspirations of "modern" America. Here’s why:

America was built on a dream of hard work by people from all over the world. She and her family certainly fit that ideal. Her father is a physician and she aspires to be one as well.

The Founding Fathers were slave owners and came from Europe. Obviously, to be true to the ideals they enshrined, we don’t need to continue to live and look like them.

Thanks to the life her parents built (from scratch), and her own hard work-ethic, she graduated from the University of Michigan debt-free.

She’s a great example of working through failure and difficulty, and getting back up again. This shows in her struggle against bulimia. For fifteen years she studied classical Indian dance, refining a nuanced art form. She was gutsy enough to showcase a fusion of classical and Bollywood dance in her talent act (this made me want to try it!). Here’s a clip:

Her platform: "Celebrating Diversity through Cultural Competency" couldn’t be more timely. She chose this in part since she had to dispel so many misconceptions about her culture through the year, such as whether her parents will arrange a marriage for her. With the national spotlight, these prejudices are obviously rampant and growing, but it also offers an opening for a meaningful conversation: What is "cultural competency" and why does it matter? What are the values you hold dear as an American? Does she represent them? Does her brown skin and non-European heritage stand in the way of appreciating her accomplishment?

When headlines all over the world proclaim Nina Davuluri as Miss America, this stops anti-Americans in their tracks. They see that the USA can live up to its values, as the land of the free, home of the brave. It’s where dreams for a better life come true. It’s where diverse people are welcomed. It’s full of beauty and sparkles and anything is possible. Millions of dollars in weapons couldn’t convince youth in Iraq or Afghanistan or Egypt of this fact, but Nina’s smile just might.

Voir encore:

Will the Next Miss America Wear Combat Boots?

Susan Kraus

Huffington Post

09/03/2013

There is a Miss America contestant this year whose platform is "Empowering Women: Overcoming Stereotypes and Breaking Barriers."

2013-09-02-_51K65811.jpg

Her name is Theresa Marie Vail, Miss Kansas, and she’ll be breaking a few barriers herself.

Theresa is in the military. She enlisted in the Army National Guard, raised her right hand and took the oath to "support and defend" just three weeks after her 17th birthday. She completed basic training the summer between her junior and senior years of high school, and AIT (Advanced Individual Training) as a mechanic between high school and college. She was the only woman in her class, and graduated #1. After three years she transferred to a medical detachment and went to dental tech school where she also graduated at the top of her class.

She’s not the first contestant to be in the military. There’s been one: Miss Utah 2007, Jill Stephens, a medic in the Utah National Guard. They have similarities: commitment to service, dedication to country, and almost no experience as a contestant.

Theresa entered her first pageant just nine months ago.

"I never thought about it until a mentor, in my unit, explained how the recognition could help with what I want to do as a role model," Theresa explained in a recent interview.

As a child she was teased and bullied, and was shy and insecure as a result. But she overcame obstacles, relied on her religious faith, and worked very hard to become the leader she is today.

Theresa is a young woman who excels. Now 22, she’s a Kansas State University senior with a double major in Chemistry and Chinese (with a 3.8 GPA in Chinese) – the first because she wants to be a dentist and the second because it’s a challenge. Theresa loves a challenge. Tell her she can’t do something and then stand back and watch her go.

She’s an expert marksman on the M 16. She’s an expert bow hunter. She skydives. She boxes. She’s working on a private pilot license. She started motorcycle racing but stopped after a crash in which she broke all the fingers her right hand (hard to be a good dentist without flexible fingers.)

With pageant festivities back this year in Atlantic City (where Miss America began in 1921), the "Show Us Your Shoes Parade" will return to the famed boardwalk. The September 14th parade will be televised live for the first time ever (and will be lead-in to the pageant itself on the 15th). This is where contestants flash extravagantly decorated, often state-themed, girly-girly high heels to laughing crowds yelling "Show us your shoes."

Only Theresa will be in uniform, wearing combat boots instead of four-inch heels.

When it comes to the bathing suit competition, Theresa will be breaking another barrier: she’ll be the first contestant ever with visible tattoos. No itty-bitty rose hidden under a bikini top for this girl. She has the insignia for the U.S. Army Dental Corps on her left shoulder. The Serenity Prayer ("God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and Wisdom to know the difference") flows down her right side.

"It’s my personal mission statement," Theresa said.

Of course, Theresa is also – if one can use this description for someone trained to shoot to kill – drop-dead gorgeous.

When asked about what she is most proud of, she grinned.

"I just got promoted. I made sergeant," she said. "And I re-enlisted for six years."

So, if things get wild in Atlantic City in a few weeks, this would be another Miss America first: Here she comes, Miss America … Miss Kansas… Sgt. Theresa Marie Vail.

Voir de même:

Combat boots, tattoos, and a Miss Kansas pageant sash

Miss Kansas, Theresa Vail, at a Miss America event in Atlantic City. Vail, an Army National Guard sergeant, is an expert marksman, used to race motorcycles, and likes to skydive and bow-hunt for deer.

Jacqueline L. Urgo

Inquirer

September 13, 2013

ATLANTIC CITY – Hey, Kansas, your beauty queen wears combat boots!

And has big tattoos, too.

As an active member of the military, Miss Kansas, Theresa Vail – ahem, Army National Guard Sgt. Vail – may just have a slightly different take on world peace than the typical Miss America pageant contestant.

She’s also drop-dead gorgeous – literally. The slender blonde is an expert marksman who apparently knows her way around an M-16. She raced motorcycles as a teen until she broke her fingers. She is fluent in Chinese (she has a 3.8 GPA at Kansas State University) and likes to skydive and bow-hunt for deer. She’s working on a hunting series in production for the Outdoor Channel. (She will be the host.)

While her Miss America profile head shot has her looking like a supermodel, decked out in a hot-pink outfit, fluffed hair, and dangle earrings, other promo websites feature photos of her in full camouflage garb sporting a hunting rifle, bow and arrow, even posing with her prey (a deer, a fox).

But Vail is among only a handful of Miss America Pageant contestants to have military credentials. She is a dental technician with a National Guard medical unit based out of Kansas. Five pageant women since 1992 have been active-duty military, and Miss Utah 2007, Jill Stevens, was the first to work in a combat zone.

Also, Vail, 22, competing this week in the 2014 Miss America Pageant, is the first contestant ever to sport visible tattoos. Sure, other contestants have had tattoos – tiny, hidden ones, according to pageant officials.

But Vail’s big bold tat, of the Serenity Prayer, flanks her entire right midriff. She also sports the insignia of the Army Dental Corps on her left shoulder. The university senior aspires to be an Army dentist.

"No one expects a soldier to be a beauty queen. . . . Right now, everyone thinks of Miss America as this girl on a pedestal, and I want her to come down from that. She is just a normal girl," Vail said in a recent interview with a newspaper in Kansas.

So there it was, the big tattoo, when she competed Tuesday night in the swimsuit portion of the three-night preliminary competition. She didn’t win, wearing a bright-red bikini and the tattoo, done in scrolly vintage lettering.

But she apparently scored one for the atypical beauty queen crowd.

With no beauty contest experience, Vail entered her first pageant just nine months ago and became Miss Leavenworth County before winning Miss Kansas in June. Her pageant platform is "Empowering Women: Overcoming Stereotypes and Breaking Barriers."

It’s a subject Vail – who says she was bullied and teased through school – holds dear, hoping to inspire other young women to be whatever they choose.

Even for Saturday’s much-anticipated "Show Us Your Shoes" Parade – an all-out glittery spectacle where the contestants get to show off their flashy side – Vail is opting to wear her camouflage Army uniform and combat boots instead of the de rigueur five-inch heels and evening gowns being worn by most of the other women.

The next night, the Miss America Pageant will be televised live beginning at 9 on ABC.

"I think Miss Kansas’ participation in the pageant," said Sharon Pearce, president of the Miss America Organization, "shows us the diverse women that are involved in the competition."

Miss Kansas

Name: Theresa Vail.

Hometown: Manhattan, Kan.

Age: 22.

Education: Leavenworth High, Kansas State University.

Platform issue: Empowering women, overcoming stereotypes, and breaking barriers.

Scholastic ambition: To obtain a doctor of dental surgery degree.

Talent: Vocal.

Scholastic honors: Georganne Howler Chemistry Scholarship recipient; distinguished honor graduate of Army School of Ordnance; distinguished honor graduate of Army School of Health Science.

Career ambition: To become a prosthodontist for the Army.

About Face: Military Service and Miss America

Anu Bhagwati

Makers

September 19, 2013

I fully admit it—I’m steeped in judgment about beauty pageants as an industry, and I still wrestle with assumptions about the women and girls who participate in them. Almost all I can stomach on the topic is Miss Congeniality, in which Sandra Bullock plays a gung-ho FBI agent who goes undercover as Miss New Jersey at a national pageant and is forced to endure all of the industry’s sexist humiliations to pass as “gorgeous”—mandatory starvation, bikini waxing, high heels and all. Her resistance to the industry and her tough-guy attitude make the subject matter not only palatable but also even therapeutic.

Before you judge, let me share the negative impact the so-called “beauty industry” has had on me and almost every girl and woman I know—hours upon hours, spent week after week, for years on end, obsession with self-hatred, guilt or shame for how we look, what we do or do not eat, and how we must dress, speak and act in order to earn our family’s and society’s acceptance, and power and influence in the world. Miss America plays a role in shaping these powerfully defeating narratives in the lives of women and girls across the nation.

However, by the look of it, the face of national pageantry, if not the substance, is changing in apparently new and exciting ways. Plenty of attention has been a paid to the winner, Nina Davuluri, but I’m just as interested in Sergeant Theresa Vail, otherwise known as Miss Kansas, who made media waves as the first contestant ever to bare her tattoos. It’s not the first time a military woman has entered the pageant –Sergeant Jill Stevens, a combat medic, competed in 2008—and it certainly won’t be the last. But the media obsession with the “Serenity Prayer” tattooed around Vail’s midriff is less about women expressing themselves in authentic and edgy ways than it is about varying the same old theme on objectifying women’s bodies.

I don’t blame or resent Sgt. Vail for participating—I actually admire her talent and drive. And I don’t hold her even remotely responsible for either reforming the beauty pageant industry or for representing all military women everywhere. But I disagree with her that being Miss America and being a soldier are “one and the same”—you are not likely to get shot wearing the Miss America crown, and the average service member sacrifices a hell of a lot of comfort and privilege, unlike a crowned beauty queen.

Most of all, I am disappointed and indignant that the most national attention service women got this month (during a time of war, no less) was when the National Guardsman bared her skin in a red bikini and platform heels on prime time television. And that is entirely the fault of a sexist industry and the narrow-minded society that gives rise to it. Because to feature the sacrifices of women, women who have literally fought and died for this country, women who have accomplished great feats of leadership while in uniform might too provocatively subvert the gender status quo as we know it.

I’m reminded of a high profile event I reluctantly attended at New York City’s Fashion Week a couple years ago called, “Fatigues to Fabulous.” It was organized by several groups to, presumably, help women veterans and supported by several high profile fashion designers. The implication (and an actual suggestion) that what women veterans needed most when returning from war was to look “beautiful” still makes my stomach turn. If lipstick, stiletto heels and a $5000 dress could heal posttraumatic stress, they would definitely be onto something.

I discussed Sgt. Vail’s participation in the pageant with my fellow staff members at SWAN, women who have worn the uniform, deployed overseas and commanded troops. There was a palpable sense among us that we know what it’s like to be judged by our looks, to have our bodies scrutinized, to have to command mostly male troops within a climate of harassment and discrimination. At the end of the day, baring tattoos as a form of self-expression doesn’t erase the fact that Vail had to wear a bikini to express herself or that in the eyes of national media, a woman warrior is defined more by her looks when she’s undressed than by what she can do in uniform.

Voir par ailleurs:

Miss America

PBS

Film Description

On September 17, 1983, a long-legged 20-year-old sashayed across the stage at Convention Hall in Atlantic City. As the orchestra started to play, her powerful voice launched into "Happy Days are Here Again." Millions of Americans sat transfixed in front of their televisions. It was no surprise when the slender, hazel-eyed brunette was back on stage later in the evening among the pageant finalists. But what happened next made history. As the emcee announced: "And our new Miss America is… Vanessa Williams," the young woman’s mother leaned forward on her couch at home and in hushed tones, whispered "finally, finally."

Williams was the first African American woman to be crowned Miss America. Black leaders claimed her victory as a milestone in American racial history. Some compared the achievement to Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball. A black Miss America meant so much in 1983 because over the decades of its existence the Miss America Pageant had come to mean so much.

Miss America tracks the contest from its inception in 1921 as an exuberant local seaside pageant to its heyday as one of the most popular and anticipated events in the country’s cultural calendar. Among the many stories it uncovers are those of Williams and her predecessor, Bess Meyerson, who was crowned the first Jewish Miss America in 1945, the same year the Allies won World War II. It paints a vivid picture of the changing ambitions of the contestants and it describes how the pageant became the target of the first national protest by the women’s rights movement.

As the film unfolds, it becomes clear Miss America isn’t just the country’s oldest beauty contest. It is a powerful cultural institution that over the course of the century has come to reveal much about a changing nation — the increasing power of the image, the rise in commercialism, the complexity of sexual politics, the important role of big business and the emotional resonance of small towns. It is, we learn, about winners and losers, getting ahead, being included and being left out.

Beyond the symbolism lies a human story — at once moving, inspiring, infuriating, funny and poignant. Using intimate interviews with former contestants, archival footage and photographs, the film reveals why some women took part in the fledgling event and why others briefly shut it down. It describes how the pageant became a battleground for the country’s most conservative and progressive elements and a barometer for the changing position of women in society. It reveals how for women in the 1920s the pageant was an avenue to movie stardom and for women in the 1950s it paved the way to academic success.

Miss America intercuts period film with contemporary footage of the 1999 and 2000 pageants that captures the glamour and excitement of the event, both on stage and in the wings. The documentary reinforces the pageant’s continuing hold on the imagination of the American public.

Origins of the Beauty Pageant

PBS

Contests to determine "who is the fairest of them all" have been around at least since ancient Greece and the Judgment of Paris. According to legend, a poor mortal goatherd, Alexandros (Paris), was called upon to settle a dispute among the goddesses. Who was the most beautiful: Hera (Juno), Aprhodite (Venus), or Athena (Minerva)? All three goddesses offered bribes: according to the writer Apollodorus, "Hera said that if she were preferred to all women, she would give him the kingdom over all men; and Athena promised victory in war, and Aphrodite the hand of Helen." When Paris selected Aphrodite in exchange for getting Helen of Troy, the most beautiful mortal of the time, he inadvertently started the Trojan War.

While ancient Greeks memorialized in myth the complicated relationship between beauty and competition, there is no historical evidence that they actually held contests for women. A "contest of physique" called the euandria was held yearly at an Athenian festival — but the contest was for men. European festivals dating to the medieval era provide the most direct lineage for beauty pageants. For example, English May Day celebrations always involved the selection of queens.

In the United States, the May Day tradition of selecting women to serve as symbols of bounty and community ideals continued, as young beautiful women participated in public celebrations. When George Washington rode from Mount Vernon to New York City in 1789 to assume the presidency, groups of young women dressed in white lined his route, placing palm branches before his carriage. General Lafayette’s triumphant tour of the United States in 1826 also was greeted by similar delegations of young women.

The first truly modern beauty contest, involving the display of women’s faces and figures before judges, can be traced to one of America’s greatest showmen, Phineas T. Barnum (of circus fame). In the 1850s, the ever-resourceful Barnum owned a "dime museum" in New York City that catered to the growing audience for commercial entertainment. Some of Barnum’s most popular attractions were "national contests" where dogs, chickens, flowers, and even children were displayed and judged for paying audiences. While 61,000 people swarmed to his baby show in 1855, a similar event the year before to select and exhibit "the handsomest ladies" in America proved a disappointment. The prize — a dowry (if the winner was single) or a diamond tiara (if the winner was married) — was not enough to lure respectable girls and women of the Victorian era to publicly display themselves.

Barnum developed a brilliant alternate plan for a beauty contest that would accept entries in the form of photographic likenesses. These photographs would be displayed in his museum and the public would vote for them. The final ten entrants would receive specially commissioned oil portraits of themselves. These portraits would be reproduced in a "fine arts" book to be published in France, entitled the World’s Book of Female Beauty. Barnum sold off his museum before the photographs arrived, but in employing modern technology and in combining lowbrow entertainment with the appeal of highbrow culture, Barnum pioneered a new model of commercial entertainment.

In the decades to come, the picture photo contest was widely imitated and became a respectable way for girls and women to have their beauty judged. Civic leaders across the country, seeking to boost citizen morale, incorporate newcomers, and attract new settlers and businesses to their communities, held newspaper contests to choose women that represented the "spirit" of their locales. One of the most popular of these contests occurred in 1905, when promoters of the St. Louis Exposition contacted city newspapers across the country to select a representative young woman from their city to compete for a beauty title at the Exposition. There was intense competition and, according to one report, forty thousand photo entries.

By the early decades of the twentieth century, attitudes had begun to change about beauty pageants. Prohibitions against the display of women in public began to fade, though not to disappear altogether. One of the earliest known resort beauty pageants had been held in 1880, at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. However, it was not until the twentieth century that beach resorts began to hold regular beauty pageants as entertainments for the growing middle class. In 1921, in an effort to lure tourists to stay past Labor Day, Atlantic City organizers staged the first Miss America Pageant in September. Stressing that the contestants were both youthful and wholesome, the Miss America Pageant brought together issues of democracy and class, art and commerce, gender and sex — and started a tradition that would grow throughout the century to come.

Transcript

ARCHIVAL NEWSREEL: You can have wars and atom bombs, but so it seems there must always be a Miss America.

ARCHIVAL NEWSREEL: Just one talented young girl receives top honors as Miss America. So democracy works here too for the Atlantic City Miss America contest is predicated on the conviction that the typical American girl has talent and brains as well as beauty.

KATHY PEISS, Historian: I think the Miss America Pageant has been about the American dream for some women. It has been about a dream of being beautiful. It’s also been about a dream of being successful. And that combination is I think the kind of complicated stew that is very much American women’s experience of the last eighty years.

PAGEANT BROADCAST: I am tingling with excitement wondering who will be the next Miss America.

BILL GOLDMAN: When my kids were little, one of the big nights of the year was just the four of us sitting there watching the Miss America and saying oh she’s got to win. And you root and you got involved in it. And we all loved it. It was a part of our lives.

PAGEANT BROADCAST: Bert Parks: You know in this twentieth century, we have witnessed the birth of a legend, the legend of the American girl.

MARGARET CHO, Comedian: I think it’s a really important story to tell, because it’s about how we feel about ourselves as women, and how we’ve changed as women and who we are as women and what it means to be judged by men.

ARCHIVAL NEWSREEL: There are beauty contests and beauty contests, and then there’s the Miss America competition and this year’s crop seems to be the most beauteous bevy of breathtaking beauties in decades.

TRICIA ROSE, Cultural Critic: The Pageant is this example where you can be sort of nationalistic and patriotic and pro American and get to see some "T and A" all in the same event.

KATE SHINDLE, Miss America 1998: The thing about the pageant is that you have to have a sense of humor about it. I mean you’ve got girls who have invested their entire lives in wanting to become Miss America. On the one hand, it’s this investment of thousands of dollars in this huge goal, and on the other hand a girl is spray gluing her swimsuit to her butt so it doesn’t ride up.

JULIA ALVAREZ, Writer: You know this is like Miss America. I mean it’s not Miss Coffee Beans. It’s not Miss Peach Blossoms. This is the woman that sort of represents the country like the President does. And so it’s seeing what is the way to be the woman of the most powerful country on earth.

MISS AMERICA

ARCHIVAL NEWSREEL: These were the fabulous furious roaring 20s and this is why they roared.

NARRATOR: The Miss America Pageant started out as a promotional gimmick — dreamed up by Atlantic City businessmen in 1921, as a way to keep tourists in town after Labor Day. Over the next eight decades, it would become a national tradition dedicated to defining the ideal American woman.

Year after year, the Miss America Pageant would struggle to pull off a delicate balancing act — objectifying women while providing them with real opportunities; promoting traditional roles while encouraging women’s independence; glorifying feminine modesty while trading on female sexuality. Along the way, it would come to be a barometer of the nation’s shifting ideas about American womanhood.

But in 1921, Atlantic City’s businessmen were simply trying to turn a profit — by capitalizing on the country’s fascination with beauty.

KATHY PEISS: Well, there are many beauty pageants in the 1920’s, and they range from pageants oriented towards African-American women, Miss Bronze America. Even the Ku Klux Klan has a beauty pageant for Miss 100 Percent America. So there’s something about beauty as a symbol that is extremely important and many different groups are getting together and saying, we have the most beautiful woman who represents us. And Miss America is the national symbol of what is going on all over the country.

NARRATOR: The first Miss America Pageant was a spectacular two-day festival, culminating with a beachfront parade called the Bather’s Revue. The only rule for the competition was that all participants "must positively be attired in bathing costumes." A board of censors had been appointed to review questionable entries.

VICKI GOLD LEVI, Atlantic City Historian: Atlantic City was a place where everybody was kind of given to letting your hair down and having a delicious, romantic time. Bathing suits had changed a great deal and stockings were now being rolled beneath your knees, which was very daring. And women had to have their bathing suits at a certain length. And so there were beach censors who would actually come down and measure the length of your bathing suit.

NARRATOR: On the morning of the Revue, more than 100,000 people swarmed onto the Boardwalk, hoping to catch a glimpse of the scantily-clad young women down on the sand. The spectators’ stand out favorite was a slight, freckled sixteen-year-old from the nation’s capitol. Named Margaret Gorman.

RIC FERENTZ, Pageant Historian: Margaret Gorman was a sensation. She was tiny, petite, five one, with blonde, long ringlets who looked very much like Mary Pickford who was the biggest star of the day. So, the combination made this young, sixteen-year-old girl a star.

NARRATOR: Gorman swept the competition — and later that evening, she was crowned the very first Miss America. "Margaret Gorman represents the type of womanhood America needs," the New York Times declared, "strong, red-blooded, able to shoulder the responsibilities of homemaking and motherhood. It is in her type that the hope of the country rests."

NARRATOR: The first Miss America Pageant was a staggering success. Before the receipts were even tallied, city officials announced plans to continue the contest through the decade — confident that as long as there were girls in bathing suits, the crowds would come.

LEONARD HORN, Former CEO Miss America Organization: It was one of the first, if not the first instances of the marriage between advertising and the beauty of the female form which was ingenious because from then on many, many advertisers thought they could get more attention by putting a good looking woman into the picture. Some say it got started in 1921 in Atlantic City.

RIC FERENTZ: The very first years, there was a literal breakdown. Five points for the construction of the head, five points for the limbs, three points for the torso, two points for the leg…I mean it…you know and it added up to a hundred percent. Whether they really went by that, it’s hard to say.

NARRATOR: Throughout the 1920’s, scores of young women flocked to Atlantic City each year, most hoping the Pageant would land them a career in show business. While the average working woman labored in a factory or a typing pool, Miss America had offers from Hollywood and vaudeville — and the opportunity to cash in on her looks.

ARCHIVAL NEWSREEL: "5 feet 4 inches tall, 118 pounds of beauty. Norma Smallwood is crowned Miss America of 1926."

NARRATOR: During the year of her reign, Miss America 1926 — a small-town girl from Tulsa, Oklahoma — reportedly made over $100,000, more than either Babe Ruth or the President of the United States.

RIC FERENTZ: Norma Smallwood had an acute business sense. In 1927, when she was due to return to crown her successor, she demanded a fee for her appearance in Atlantic City. And although she arrived and took part in the early part of the pageant, during the middle when that money was not forthcoming, Norma picked up and left for another job in North Carolina. And the press was not very kind to that. They thought that she should have been the gracious one that didn’t take the money and stayed around to crown her successor, and Norma thought, I’m sorry, this is a business.

KATHY PEISS: There was a general sense that the Old World had died and a new one was being born. And I think that was especially important for women. There’d been a women’s movement that had been successful in certain ways, women had gotten the right to vote for example, and women are increasingly in the labor force in the 1920’s. A number are getting college educated. And so in some ways the pageant seems to be a contradiction. Here, feminists had wanted women to move into the public sphere to sort of gain the positions that men had gained, and yet the pageant represents women very much as female and as in some ways, sexualized, as beauty objects.

NARRATOR: The Pageant’s attention to the female form had troubled conservative Americans since the very beginning. But in the late-1920’s, critics finally went on the offensive.

All over the country, women’s clubs and religious organizations publicly attacked the Miss America Pageant, and accused organizers of corrupting the nation’s morals. "Before the competition, the contestants were splendid examples of innocence and pure womanhood," one protestor argued. "Afterward their heads were filled with vicious ideas."

In 1928, fearing the controversy would ruin Atlantic City’s reputation, the Chamber of Commerce voted twenty-seven to three to cancel the Miss America Pageant.

For now, morality had shut the Pageant down. But America’s infatuation with beauty would endure.

CONTEMPORARY FOOTAGE: Brandi: "It’s very me, it’s very Brandi…"

MARGARET CHO: I think the fascination with beauty pageants is that there can be a winner. That there are certain rules, guidelines that constitute beauty, that it is not necessarily in the eye of the beholder. That we as the collective beholder have agreed on certain qualities that create beauty and uh that there can be a contest to judge it. It’s this fascinating thing.

TRICIA ROSE: What gets defined as beauty? I mean, it’s not unlike high fashion supermodels in that the bodies that work are the bodies that are least like what women look like. So what are we saying? What are we actually saying about what women look like when we say, well you know what, to be most beautiful you have to not look like what women look like?

ISAAC MIZRAHI, Designer: I think that fashion and beauty is everything in the way a woman marks her identity today, unfortunately. But I can’t think of a period of time when it wasn’t about that, and there are all sorts of obvious manifestations of that you know, the length of your skirt, the size of your waist. But there are other even more subtle things. Like when you shave your legs, even if you’re wearing pants that day you feel three times prettier, I think.

JULIA ALVAREZ: You know, there’s a yearning in the human spirit, an aspiring for beauty. And, the successful man still has a beautiful woman on his arm. That’s the prize. It’s been our power structure and it’s…it’s still operative. Beauty is still the currency out there.

GLORIA STEINEM, Writer: The traditional way to get ahead is to compete with other women for the favors of men, you know and this is not different from any other marginalized or less powerful group. You’re supposed to compete with each other for the favors of the powerful. So what could be a greater example of that than a beauty contest?

NARRATOR: Not long after the Miss America Pageant was cancelled, a devastating economic depression brought Atlantic City’s tourist trade to a halt. Desperate, local businessmen opted to ignore the critics and revived their lucrative beauty pageant. In 1933, thirty young women were brought to Atlantic City, aboard a chartered train called the Beauty Special, to compete for Miss America’s crown.

ARCHIVAL NEWSREEL: Yeah it’s sort of relaxin’ what with strikes and food shortages and international disputes and so on to have the lassies back with us once again. Oh well, one good turn deserves another.

NARRATOR: "So striking was the change between the ideal figure of the twenties and that of 1933," one observer said of the contestants, "that one might almost have thought that a new anatomical species had come into being."

Among the entries was Marion Bergeron, a high school sophomore and the daughter of a Connecticut policeman.

MARION BERGERON SETZER, Miss America 1933: 1933, it was a depression and at 15 years old I hadn’t been out of Westhaven, Connecticut, let alone wind up in Atlantic City.

NARRATOR: A curvaceous blonde with a striking resemblance to screen-siren Jean Harlow, Bergeron had competed in her first local pageant just weeks before.

To her surprise, she had won the title of Miss New Haven, and then Miss Connecticut — and before she knew it, she was being crowned Miss America.

MARION BERGERON SETZER: To the judge’s eyes, I was the typical American girl. Totally unsophisticated, very naïve, had a lot of enthusiasm, had a lot of talent that they didn’t ask for, but I did have that. And I was just, I was just a 1933 typical American girl. My figure then as they described it was a typical Mae West figure which was hourglass, thirty-four bust, a twenty-six waist, eighty-two buns.

NARRATOR: The new Miss America was just the kind of girl vaudeville producers were looking for — and they soon came waving contracts, promising to make her a star.

But all the attention was short-lived. As soon as the newspapers reported that she was only fifteen, the show business contracts were quickly withdrawn — and Bergeron went back to high school.

MARION BERGERON SETZER: On our way home, I had to go back only to be met by the nuns that said I had had entirely too much undue publicity. And they felt that it would be better if I chose another school. Yeah, and that’s practically being kicked out of school. Here I feel like I’m really somebody. You know, I’m just the most glamorous thing that ever happened at 15 years old, but the but the nuns didn’t think so.

KATHY PEISS: Beauty pageants by the early thirties had a reputation for being somewhat disreputable, like …a carnival atmosphere. And especially the association with Atlantic City and the seaside resorts made that venue somewhat of a question mark I think for women in terms of their respectability. To be a public woman had a longstanding connotation of having loose morals, of being either a prostitute or sexually loose. And that doesn’t disappear, certainly through the 1930’s.

NARRATOR: In October 1935, a Pageant scandal rocked Atlantic City. Less than a month after seventeen-year-old Henrietta Leaver was crowned Miss America, a nude statue of her was unveiled in her hometown of Pittsburgh.

Leaver — a high school dropout and dime store salesgirl — swore she had worn a bathing suit when she posed, and that her grandmother had been present at all times. But the press coverage was merciless, and the businessmen behind the Pageant finally decided to make some changes.

For help, they turned to a single, 29-year-old Southern Baptist with years of experience in public relations. As the Pageant’s Executive Secretary, she would spend the next three decades inventing a new image for Miss America. Her name was Lenora Slaughter.

RIC FERENTZ: She was the iron fist in a velvet glove. I think that she was a woman that was well ahead of her time. She was tough when she had to be. But knew how to get by on a Southern drawl.

NARRATOR: Slaughter’s mission now was to eliminate scandal and to attract what she called "a better class of contestants."

She immediately established a minimum age requirement of eighteen, then added a talent competition to the traditional line-up of bathing suits and evening gowns. Once the contestants were in Atlantic City, Slaughter insisted they be chaperoned at all times, and that they observe a strict curfew of one a.m. They were barred from drinking establishments, forbidden to smoke, and there were to be no private visits with men — not even their fathers.

A Pageant judge once asked Slaughter what to look for in a winner. "Honey," she answered, "just pick me a lady."

VICKI GOLD LEVI: She brought a respectability to the pageant. She presented her girls with class, with style. She transformed the pageant by setting the standards high, by making it something that women would want to participate in.

NARRATOR: Sometime later, Slaughter slipped one final entry requirement into the Pageant by-laws. Known as Rule Seven, the new regulation strictly limited Pageant participation to women "in good health and of the white race."

SARAH BANET WEISER, Communication Scholar: Race has always factored into anyone’s notion of ideal womanhood in the United States. It’s just that the way in which whiteness functions is through invisibility. It’s not seen as a race. It’s just the normal way to be. It’s just regular. And it’s really no different in the Miss America Pageant.

TRICIA ROSE: That’s what’s most interesting about it to me that we are supposed to believe that this is what American womanhood looks like. And it really is an enormously narrow conception from facial features, you know, height, weight. And then of course there are the most obvious more political categories: race, ethnicity and all of these things are very important in the historical understanding of the Pageant.

NARRATOR: By the early 1940’s, Slaughter had constructed an ideal woman to represent the Miss America Pageant. Now, the mass media would make her a star.

Each September, millions of Americans watched the annual newsreel of Miss America’s crowning. She was featured in newspapers and advertisements, and honored with her own day at the World’s Fair. And when the United States entered World War II, and the Federal Government shut down most large public events, Slaughter convinced officials that the Pageant should be allowed to go on. "Miss America is emblematic of the nation’s spirit," she told them, "and that spirit [continues] through war and peace, good times and bad." Permission was granted — on the condition that the winner sell war bonds.

KATHY PEISS: The early period of the 1940’s is one where we see women being mobilized for the war effort. They’re being encouraged to take jobs, to work more than full time to support the war effort. At the same time, those women are encouraged to maintain their femininity and their beauty. And there’s a huge effort to sell women lipstick, to see cosmetics as morale boosters. And they are one product that is not rationed during the war. There’s an attempt to ration cosmetics but it’s overturned within six months. Women are given the pitch that one of the reasons we’re fighting the war is for women to be beautiful.

NARRATOR: Lenora Slaughter believed there was more to a woman than her looks — and she wanted Miss America to prove it. So in 1944, she convinced the Pageant’s new board of directors to award Miss America a scholarship to college.

Raising money proved a bigger challenge. Of the 236 companies Slaughter approached for contributions, only five signed on as sponsors. But between them, Slaughter had enough cash for a five thousand-dollar prize — and in 1945, the Miss America Pageant became one of the first organizations in the country to offer college scholarships to women.

VICKI GOLD LEVI: That’s immediately what redefined Miss America because no other pageant, competition, beauty contest was giving scholarship money. And by doing this it really, really set the pageant in a different category. You didn’t have to go in there just to prove you had a pretty figure, you could go in there to prove you had brains.

NARRATOR: Among those vying for the first scholarship in 1945 was a twenty-one year-old New Yorker named Bess Myerson. The American-born daughter of Russian-Jewish immigrants, Myerson had paid her own way through New York’s Hunter College by giving piano lessons in the Bronx neighborhood where she grew up. Now she hoped to go on to graduate school, where she planned to study conducting.

BESS MYERSON, Miss America 1945: Talent was very important because that was the way we were going to make our living. That’s what we were going to support ourselves doing when we grew up. The most important thing was that you do well at school…oh no. The most important thing was that you listened to your parents. That you do well in school. And that you play a musical instrument. We never imagined anything else would be open to us.

NARRATOR: To Lenora Slaughter, Myerson seemed the ideal candidate for the new scholarship prize. She was beautiful, talented, smart. There was only one problem: she would have to change her name.

BESS MYERSON: Lenora Slaughter said my name was not a good name for show business. And I said well, you know I have no intention of going into show business. I said, what do you want me to change it to? Well you know there are a lot of good stage names like Beth…Beth Merrick. I said…the problem is that I’m Jewish, yes? And with that kind of name it’ll be quite obvious to everyone else that I’m Jewish. And you don’t want to have to deal with a Jewish Miss America. And that really was the bottom line. I said I can’t change my name. You have to understand. I cannot change my name. I live in a building with two hundred and fifty Jewish families. The Sholom Aleichem apartment houses. If I should win, I want everybody to know that I’m the daughter of Louie and Bella Myerson.

NARRATOR: On September 3rd, Myerson and the other contestants appeared on Atlantic City’s Boardwalk for the Miss America Pageant’s opening ceremony: a victory parade to celebrate the end of the war. In the crowd was Myerson’s older sister Sylvia. Her mother, who spoke no English, had been left at home in the Bronx.

BESS MYERSON: The first night I compete with a group of girls on talent, I won. Headline says, "Jewish Girl in Atlantic City Wins Talent in Miss America Pageant." Now we’ve just learned all the details of six million Jews being killed, slaughtered, burned, tortured. And naturally it attracts attention, and the juxtaposition of the two things was so improbable. There were people that would come to the hotel where I was staying with my sister, and they would introduce themselves to me and say I’m Jewish, and it’s just wonderful that you’re in this contest. But how about when people came up to you with numbers on their arms, which they did as well, and said, you see this? You have to win. You have to show the world that we are not ugly. That we shouldn’t be disposed of and so on however they worded it. I have to tell you that I felt this tremendous responsibility. I owed it to those women to give them a present, a gift, that to them was the gift.

NARRATOR: On the second night of preliminaries, Myerson scored another win, in the swimsuit competition, and she now seemed a strong favorite for the finals. "The new Miss America will either be Miss New York City, Bess Myerson," one newspaper predicted, "or somebody else."

ARCHIVAL NEWSREEL: They’re about to pick Miss America of 1945. Well, they’ve made their choice and the crown goes to Miss New York City, a 21-year-old, 5’10" brunette, Bess Myerson, Hunter College graduate.

NARRATOR: By the time Myerson’s name was announced, her sister Sylvia was already in tears. From the audience came shouts of "Mazel tov!" "Don’t let anybody kid you," Myerson said years later. "It was one hell of a terrific moment."

VICKI GOLD LEVI: Bess was the answer to every Jewish woman’s dream. Her win was such a multilevel symbol. It was a symbol of a certain statement against anti-Semitism. It was a symbol of a victory against Hitler. It was a symbol for women, and when she won there was great celebration in our house. It was like when Roosevelt won or something.

NARRATOR: Myerson expected to spend her reign making appearances and promoting the Pageant’s new sponsors. But after an obligatory four-week performance tour, where drunks in the audience demanded she play the piano in her bathing suit, there were few requests for her time. None of the sponsors wanted a Jewish girl — even a Jewish Miss America — posing with their products.

BESS MYERSON: Half way through that year, I said to the pageant, I’m not available to you anymore because I want to do something else. I’ve met people from an organization called the Anti-defamation League. And they’ve asked me to go out on a tour speaking at the high schools and colleges, speaking to students where there are problems having to do with anti-Semitism, with hatred, with racism. And I did a speech called "You Can’t Hate and be Beautiful."

SARAH BANET WEISER: Bess Myerson took on the mantle of Miss America in a different way. It’s the historical moment, it’s her ethnic identity, it’s her own aspirations, and all those put together you know provided a very different kind of Miss America and a very different kind of reign.

NARRATOR: Myerson had made Miss America a scholar and a lady. But the following year, pageant judges made it clear that looks still counted. "It was the year they brought out the rubberized bathing suit," one of them said later, "and we voted for the girl with the best of everything showing."

GLORIA STEINEM: The swimsuit competition is probably the most honest part of the competition because it really is about bodies. It is about looking at women as objects. That’s what it’s about. The fact is that the most disqualifying part of the competition is how you look.

MARGARET CHO: When you see their bodies, it’s so interesting because they seem so not real. You don’t see anything off. They are so perfect and not sexual really but you just kind of these perfectly shaped women that their bodies are very smooth. There’s no creases or lines, there’s no stretch marks or nipples or hair. It’s kind of jarring. You think god whose body is like that? And then you think, oh, maybe I’m not the woman. Maybe they’re the women, and I’m not the woman. And then you kind of feel like an imposter too.

ISAAC MIZRAHI: It’s always so sort of…heartbreaking to watch the swimsuit competition because these…these good girls they’re sort of like ooh, I’m such a piece of meat or something you know. Of all the parts of the pageant that I feel victimize women the most, it’s that part of the pageant. These poor girls in those painful looking high heels my heart goes out to them. But you know honestly if you have to wear a swimsuit and you have to parade, good, you should wear the high heels, because there’s nothing better on your leg than a high heel.

KATE SHINDLE: I worked so hard to be ready to compete in swimsuit that I didn’t dread it. You know, I actually found it kind of empowering because I figured that once I could get over enough issues to walk around on the stage in a bathing suit in front of twenty million people, I could pretty much do anything I wanted to.

ARCHIVAL NEWSREEL: "Go ahead and drool, it’s Miss America time…"

NARRATOR: For more than a quarter century, the bathing suit competition had been the Miss America Pageant’s feature attraction. But with the scholarship program now in place, Lenora Slaughter wanted to project a more dignified image.

The challenge was to downplay the bathing suits without offending Catalina Swimwear, one the Pageant’s major sponsors. In 1947, Slaughter struck the term "bathing suit" from the official Pageant vocabulary, and replaced it with the more athletic-sounding "swimsuit." Then, she banned two-piece suits from the competition, and announced that Miss America would now be crowned in an evening gown.

Still, when most Americans thought of the Pageant, a girl in bathing suit was the first thing that came to mind.

Then along came Yolande Betbeze. A twenty-one-year-old opera singer from Mobile, Alabama, Betbeze had been recently sprung from convent school when she captured her first local crown, Miss Torch 1949. Miss Alabama wasn’t far behind.

YOLANDE BETBEZE, Miss America 1951: I didn’t plan on the Miss America Pageant. I didn’t know anything about it. I was in a convent for fourteen years. The last four years in a cloistered convent, behind high walls, and no escape, and I was very naïve when I arrived in Atlantic City. I mean coming from a small town in Alabama borrowing shoes of high heels and taking the braces off my teeth. I had a ball.

NARRATOR: The minute Betbeze stepped off the train in Atlantic City, Slaughter knew she was looking at the next Miss America. "Yolande was the sexiest, most glamorous thing I had ever laid eyes on," she later said. Slaughter’s new husband, a business manager for the Pageant, agreed. "She can’t lose," he predicted, "unless the women judges run away from her."

YOLANDE BETBEZE: I thought I was a little bit plain to be Miss America, but I knew that I would do well in talent as an operatic coloratura, and indeed I did… I did win the talent. The swimsuit was difficult. Fortunately, it was a suit in good taste, one piece, white, nothing very revealing. But even so, I mean to stand up for the first time in your life in front of fifty thousand people in a bathing suit is…is awkward. ARCHIVAL NEWSREEL: The field is squared off at 16 curvaceous finalists. The winner is brown haired brown-eyed Yolande Betbeze, 21, of Mobile, Alabama.

NARRATOR: The morning after she was crowned, the new Miss America was summoned to a breakfast meeting, where she was to be briefed on her duties for the coming year.

YOLANDE BETBEZE: I did not know what to expect with this. So I arrived and they…all these…these suits were sitting about. Older men, board of directors, congratulated me and said now Miss Betbeze, this is what I represent, this is what you’re going to do for us. Then it came to the bathing suit, the most important sponsor. And this man said to me, November we’ll be in Wyoming, and you’ll wear this and that bathing suit. I said wait a minute please. No. No way. To…go into Milwaukee in the middle of the winter and walk around a department store in a bathing suit is not my idea of Miss America, scholarship foundation, the reason I’m here. And he really, really thought I had lost my mind. He couldn’t believe it.

RIC FERENTZ: I love the fact that she made the statement that she had to play their game to become Miss America and once she became Miss America they had to play by her game. I thought it was very bold of her to say to one of its major sponsors which was Catalina that she just wasn’t going to pose in a swimsuit, that she was an opera singer, she was not a pinup.

NARRATOR: Catalina withdrew its sponsorship of Miss America, and soon launched not one, but two pageants of its own — Miss USA and Miss Universe. Both judged contestants entirely on looks and absolutely required them to wear Catalina swimsuits.

VICKI GOLD LEVI: For the Pageant there was always this pull between the pulchritude and the pulpit. There was always this sort of dichotomy about how are you an upstanding, religious, well-educated girl and you could show your thighs and cleavage — which is always kind of a theme of America anyhow, sexuality and godliness. The Elvis Presley phenomenon. Shake your hips while singing "Nearer My God to Thee."

NARRATOR: In the fall of 1952, the Pageant’s directors invited an up-and-coming Hollywood actress named Marilyn Monroe to serve as the Grand Marshall of the Boardwalk Parade. "She wore the first dress anybody had ever worn," that year’s Miss America said later, "that was cut down to her navel." Monroe was not asked back to Atlantic City.

NARRATOR: It had taken nearly three decades to transform Miss America from a local celebrity to a national phenomenon. But making her a household name would take just one night — September 11th, 1954, when Miss America would be crowned live on national television.

The Pageant’s board of directors had asked former Miss America Bess Myerson to provide backstage commentary for the viewers at home, and had even invited Academy award-winning actress Grace Kelly to judge the competition.

Now, as the cameras wheeled into position on Atlantic City’s Convention Hall stage, ABC sent out the broadcast signal — and television audiences coast-to-coast joined the Miss America finals already in progress.

ARCHIVAL: "Live from Atlantic City . . . "

LEE MERIWETHER, Miss America 1955: The only time I really noticed a camera was we were waiting to have the crowning. I saw a television camera, and it was coming toward us, so I thought, ooh it’s…it’s time. And then I saw Lenora Slaughter, the head of the pageant bringing a banner over, and she put it on my lap. She said, Lee, you’re our Miss America.

ARCHIVAL: 19 year old, Lee Ann Meriwether of San Francisco, California. She triumphed over 49 other…

LEE MERIWETHER: My head flipped back and that is all I remember. And I was crying hysterically. Crying, crying, I couldn’t stop, but I do remember my mother being pulled backstage. And my mother said, stop your sniveling. And that did it.

NARRATOR: More than 27 million people, nearly half of the television audience, watched the Miss America Pageant that night — in a broadcast that broke all records for TV viewership. "To think that folks out in Idaho could see this was just amazing," one Pageant volunteer recalled. "It just knocked everything off the airwaves."

WILLIAM GOLDMAN, Screenwriter: The Miss America contest was something that seemed very glamorous to all of us in the thirties and forties and fifties. But all we ever saw of it were snippets on newsreels in movie theaters. And then suddenly when television happened, here was this fabulous event and in that period it was incredibly popular. When you look at old black and white television now it looks so prehistoric, but my god, it was free, it was in your house, you could watch it. And it changed everything.

NARRATOR: By the second broadcast, the Pageant had been redesigned for TV, and a celebrity singer and announcer had been hired to serve as the regular master of ceremonies. The forty-year-old star of a popular TV program called Stop the Music; he was known to audiences across the country as the guy with "the smile you can read by." His name was Bert Parks.

PAGEANT BROADCAST: Bert Parks: Thank you very much. Thank you. Good Evening. What a wonderful audience …

LEONARD HORN: Bert Parks came along at just the right time. And his ability to be funny, to be extemporaneous, to be silly, and yet at the same time allow the women to be the stars of the show was a perfect, series of ingredients that the Miss America program needed at that time.

PAGEANT BROADCAST: Bert Parks: "Hi. And this of course ladies and gentlemen is Miss Oklahoma. From what city please?" Miss Oklahoma: "I’m from Alva, Oklahoma." Parks: "Alva?" Miss Oklahoma: "Alva." Parks "What is the population of Alva?" Miss Oklahoma: "7000." Parks: "7000. What’s Alva most famous for?" Miss Oklahoma: "Wheat and cattle and my daddy’s bakery." Parks: "Golden Krust bakery, call him up tonight."

VICKI GOLD LEVI: I don’t know if he would fly today, but he was really into the girls, the women, and that’s what made Bert Parks so different. He wasn’t a celebrity flown in on a Saturday night. He was there all week getting to know them. They trusted him. He loved what he was doing, and he really was one of the defining factors that made households and television households love Miss America. And when he sang "There She Is" that was it. There she was.

NARRATOR: Making its debut right alongside Parks was the official Miss America theme song. Composed in just under an hour by a New York songwriter named Bernie Wayne, the song was an instant hit. It would soon be as recognizable as the national anthem.

KATHY PEISS: It evokes a wedding with Bert Parks kind of giving away the… bride, or…in his youth he was more of the groom. It evokes the debutante ball. There is this real sense of suddenly being the most beautiful woman at the ball. And so there is this sense that this could happen to anyone, or at least that’s the fantasy, that this could happen to any girl.

JULIA ALVAREZ: We didn’t see a whole lot of what it was like to be an American woman. This was our little window into what it was like, what this world was like. It was a way to, I don’t know, climb the ladder of success. And so you know it was like watching a female version of a Horatio Alger story.

LEE MERIWETHER: I had no knowledge of the pageant really at all. I knew there was a Miss America Pageant, but I thought it was a quote unquote bathing beauty contest, and as such I would never have entered. And then my father passed away and just my life sort of stopped right there. And my mother said the money is no longer here, daddy’s gone and if you want to continue on with school, that’s the thing, go to Atlantic City.

GLORIA STEINEM: Beauty contests are ways that if you live in a poor neighborhood, you can imagine getting ahead because it is a way up. It is a way to scholarships, to attention, and it’s one of the few things that you see out there as a popular symbol. When I was living in a kind of factory working neighborhood of Toledo, the K-Part television Miss TV contest, something like that, was advertised. And I decided I would try to enter the contest even though I was underage. I think I was 16 and the limit was, was 18. So I lied about my age. It wasn’t a terrible experience. It was a surrealistic experience. You had to put on your bathing suit and walk and stand on a beer keg. I did three or four different kinds of dances. Spanish and Russian and heaven knows what. I thought I would get money for college. And it seemed glamorous. It seemed to me in high school like a way out of a not too great life in a pretty poor neighborhood.

NARRATOR: By 1958, Atlantic City’s local tourist attraction had become one of the most popular television events in the country. With networks competing over the broadcasting contract, and companies clamoring to provide the high-profile program with sponsorship, the Miss America Pageant could now afford to award over 200,000 dollars worth of scholarships. But winning money for college was only part of the Pageant’s appeal. As every contestant knew, being crowned Miss America on national television could turn a small-town girl into an instant celebrity.

PAGEANT BROADCAST: I’m sure you all realize, ladies and gentleman, what a frightening experience it is for these young ladies, most of whom have never appeared in public before much less here in the convention hall in Atlantic City before some 25,000 people and over a full television network.

NARRATOR: One of the contestants that year was Mary Ann Mobley, a nineteen-year-old drama major with her eye on the Broadway stage. A native of Brandon, Mississippi — population twenty-five hundred — Mobley had competed in her first pageant only two weeks before, at the personal request of Brandon’s mayor, and had walked off with the state title.

MARY ANN MOBLEY, Miss America 1959: Everyone was in shock. I said to my Sunday school teacher, I said, Miss Long I can’t believe I’m on the way to Atlantic City. I mean, I had seen the previous Miss America. She was tall, I mean her legs started at my armpits. And she had these wonderful features and long blonde hair, and I thought that’s what Miss America should look like and I’m nowhere near that.

PAGEANT BROADCAST: Bert Parks: and now ladies and gentlemen, we come to the talent competition…

MARY ANN MOBLEY: Now I have to tell you that I had never sung with an orchestra. And there I was in front of two football fields put together. Well, I was panicked. And my horror was I was going to get out there and no sound was going to come out. And one of the stagehands tapped me on the shoulder and he said you go get ‘em Mississippi.

PAGEANT BROADCAST: Bert Parks: Mississippi, let’s bring her on…

MARY ANN MOBLEY: And they swagged the curtain and I thought I’ve got two options, I can run or I can walk out there. And I said I can’t embarrass my home state and myself by running away, I have to walk out there.

PAGEANT BROADCAST: Mary Ann Mobley: Tonight as my talent, may I sing a portion of the lovely, "Un bel di" from Puccini’s opera, Madame Butterfly.

MARY ANN MOBLEY: And I started "Un bel di," and it came out and it sounded okay. And then I said stop, but I’m tired of being proper and cultured and of appreciating Beethoven, Puccini and Bach …

PAGEANT BROADCAST: Mary Ann Mobley: I want to sing and dance to something that’s solid and hot. So, there’ll be some changes made.

MARY ANN MOBLEY: (SINGS) There’ll be a change in the weather and…

PAGEANT BROADCAST: (SINGING)…a change in the sea. And from now on, there’ll be a change in me. My…."

MARY ANN MOBLEY: They started to applaud.

PAGEANT BROADCAST: (SINGING)…nothing about me’s going to be the same.

MARY ANN MOBLEY: And I said they like me, or else they’re just applauding that I’m not going to finish the aria.

RIC FERENTZ, Pageant Historian: I think Mary Ann was very popular because she was different. She was tiny and spunky and had a little bit of guts.

PAGEANT BROADCAST: Bert Parks: Here is your question, Miss Mississippi. What is your favorite topic when with a young man for opening the conversation? Mary Ann Mobley: Well, I’ve read different articles that tell you how to get along with the opposite sex, and the first thing that they say is get him to talk about himself. So the first thing I ask is, Do you play football or what sport are you interested in? And then if he doesn’t say anything, then you say, Well, what are your hobbies? And you go down the line from there and if you can’t get him to answer you on any of those then you’re just quiet for the rest of the evening.

RIC FERENTZ: I think that she showed a different side to Miss America. A more girl next door type. I think that more young women could relate to Mary Ann than they perhaps could to the Miss Americas that had preceded her.

PAGEANT BROADCAST: Bert Parks: First runner up, Joan Lucille McDonald, Miss Iowa. Miss America … Miss Mississippi.

MARY ANN MOBLEY: Once I won, I came unglued. I mean, I’m not talking about glistening tears. They were running down my chin onto my chest and my dress. CBS ran that for a long time because you really saw someone terribly, terribly affected by what was happening in her life. But I remember thinking, what am I … what am I doing here, no one’s going to believe this. And I’m not pretty enough to be Miss America, but here I am with a crown on my head. It’s real, and how could it happen to the little girl from Brandon, Mississippi. I think even now it evokes memories. I guess what I was really feeling was I was Cinderella.

PAGEANT BROADCAST: "Everybody’s got talent."

PAGEANT BROADCAST: Over the years the talent competition has become the most significant and the most popular part of this decisive final night. The ability to be poised and personable in the living room is a far cry from the ability to be self possessed on the stage of this great convention hall before a live audience of 25,000 people and a television audience of many millions.

VICKI GOLD LEVI, Atlantic City Historian: I do remember a girl having a talent where she told us how she packed her suitcase. I definitely remember that. And illustrators were big. They had big pieces of paper clipped on and they would quickly do cartoon sketches and things.

WILLIAM GOLDMAN, Screenwriter: I have this great memory of this beautiful blonde girl from Wisconsin whose talent was telling a fishing story with an accent. And she was just beautiful. And it was…you were laughing at the screen even then, you couldn’t believe that that was her talent, telling a story with a Norwegian accent.

ISAAC MIZRAHI, Designer: I don’t really remember any of the talent except that it was always terrible you know and completely not interesting. And that you know what I used to think was a giant flop would get the biggest applause. Like I’d sit there thinking, wow that stank. And then the audience would just go mad, loving every second of it you know.

LEONARD HORN, Former CEO Miss America Organization: A lot of people sat back and laughed at it. I always thought it was kind of cruel to laugh at it because here was a young woman that was competing her little heart out for a coveted prize that was important to her. That’s what the program was all about. It was another reason why it became so popular because it was every woman and every woman was competing. And every woman is not an accomplished singer or an accomplished monologist.

MARGARET CHO, Comedian: If I had a talent I don’t know what I would do. I think that I would probably collate a script. Collate some new pages in a script. That’s…I’m really good at that, that’s probably my talent, or operating a three hole punch, I can do that pretty swiftly and, I’m probably the best at that.

ISAAC MIZRAHI, Designer: What would I do as my talent? I would probably sing a song.

GLORIA STEINEM, Writer: I wouldn’t enter but now I would I suppose read something I’d written.

JULIA ALVAREZ, Writer: As my talent? You know I worried about that. I mean there was a way in which I thought I could never be that, but it wasn’t just because of the beauty, I just didn’t have any displayable talents. I couldn’t sing. I couldn’t dance. I had an accent, so I couldn’t do a dramatic part. And I sort of wondered what I would do.

NARRATOR: By 1960, the Miss America Pageant had become a national ritual. Each year, on the second Saturday in September, Americans gathered in their living rooms, switched on their sets, and settled in to see if their favorite contestant would capture the crown. Five times over the next decade, the Miss America Pageant was the highest-rated show of the year.

PAGEANT BROADCAST: With her beauty, brains, poise and talent, the American girl has become the most envied and admired girl in the world.

NARRATOR: Richard Nixon claimed it was the only program his daughters were allowed to stay up late to watch.

And all across the country now, little girls dreamed of becoming Miss America.

VICKI GOLD LEVI: It was this time when I sort of call the debutante era of the pageant, sort of the late ’50s, early ’60s, when everyone looked like they were at a cotillion with the high white gloves and the crinolines and the big hoop skirts and they were for god, motherhood and apple pie. They wanted to be good mothers, good wives. They wanted to be supporters of what their husbands chose to do, they wanted world peace.

PAGEANT BROADCAST: Parks "This is a presidential election year. If a qualified woman were running for president, how would you feel about voting for her and why?" Contestant: If the men candidates running were qualified, I feet I would vote against her. My reasons being that women are very high strung and emotional people. They aren’t reliable enough when it comes to making a decision, a snap decision. I believe that a man in such a predicament would be able to make a more justifiable and better decision.

PAGEANT BROADCAST Parks "What in your opinion constitutes the ideal wife?" Contestant: "I imagine that the ideal wife depends entirely upon the viewpoint of the husband."

PAGEANT BROADCAST: Parks "Some sociologists say that American women are usurping the place of the male in American life and have become too dominant. Do you agree or disagree and why?" Contestant: "I do agree w/that. I believe that there are far too many women in the working world. I can see many cases where this is a necessary arrangement, but I do feel that a woman’s place is in the home with her husband and with her children."

LEONARD HORN: The concept of Miss America as an ideal American woman was consistent with society’s ideas of what an ideal young woman was. She was your everyday young girl who any man would be happy to call daughter, any man would be happy to call wife. Miss America was the American girl next door. She was an ideal that many women aspired to.

NARRATOR: Until now, the Pageant had managed to present a vision of ideal womanhood that most of the country shared. But by the mid-1960’s, the all-American girl-next-door was changing fast.

At a time when bikinis and miniskirts were all the rage, Pageant contestants continued to wear the regulation one-piece suits and dresses that fell within two inches of their knees. While anti-war protestors marched through the nation’s streets, Miss America was in Vietnam, touring with the USO. And in a moment of sexual revolution, the Pageant’s ideal remained wholesome and pure.

KATHY PEISS, Historian: Well, the pageant bore no relationship to the reality of life in the United States at that moment. The height of the Vietnam War, a period of great civil unrest, the civil rights movement and black power movements at their height, and the beginnings of a feminist movement. The birth control pill, the counterculture, the origins of the gay and lesbian liberation movement. All of these suggested that the pageant was terribly out of date and that it really was no longer relevant to the lives of women.

GLORIA STEINEM: It was a very exhilarating, affirming, funny explosion of rebellion and consciousness. It was partly about taking off the symbols, the gloves, the little white gloves, the dyed to match shoes, and in the middle of all of that, the artificiality of the Miss America Contest was an obvious kind of cartoon.

NARRATOR: In the spring of 1968, a 27-year-old writer and editor named Robin Morgan decided to take a stand — and with help from a group called New York Radical Women, she began laying plans for a protest at the annual Miss America Pageant.

"Where else could one find such a perfect combination of American values?" Morgan argued. "Racism, militarism, and capitalism — all packaged in one ideal symbol: a woman."

ROBIN MORGAN, Writer: It seemed to me you know a sort of epiphany moment because it was the nexus of so many issues, beauty standards, money, women’s freedom, objectification of women, patriotism, and all of this somehow wrapped up in motherhood and apple pie or virgin hood and apple pie, in terms of Miss America. So it seemed like my god, what is not to dislike about this?

NARRATOR: Word of the protest soon reached Atlantic City, and pageant organizers braced themselves for the picket line.

It would be the first major demonstration of the women’s liberation movement in the United States.

ROBIN MORGAN: We had you know prepared for about maybe fifty people, and to do some guerilla theater, some songs, some chants, to picket on the boardwalk all day. What we had not counted on was that close to four hundred women showed up on the boardwalk. They came from all over. I mean they were carrying signs from Florida and from Wisconsin and some people drove from California, and that was just amazing. I mean it had clearly this protest tapped into something that was enormous and very, very moving.

GLORIA STEINEM: They put on the boardwalk a big trashcan and dumped in it all kinds of symbols of the stereotypical female role, a steno pad, a dust mop, an apron, a bra, all of these things. I think they never did burn those items because they couldn’t get a fire permit. Just shows you we’ve been too law abiding.

ARCHIVAL FOOTAGE: singing "Ain’t she sweet. Makin’ profit off her meat. Beauty sells she’s told, so she’s out pluggin’ it. Ain’t she sweet. Ain’t she quaint with her face all full of paint. After all how can she face reality? Ain’t she quaint."

NARRATOR: The demonstration soon drew a crowd of more than 600 spectators — most of them men, and nearly all unsympathetic. One suggested that the protestors throw themselves into the Freedom Trash Can.

ROBIN MORGAN: The threats, the epithets, the screams were mostly from guys who would, you know lean over the barricades and do the usual. I mean say sort of you know go back to Russia, you’re commie pinko lesbian crazy broom riding witches. You name it. You’re all too ugly to be in the Miss America Pageant.

NARRATOR: Inside Convention Hall, the Miss America contestants were running through one last rehearsal before show time. Outside, on the Boardwalk, the protestors were burning Bert Parks in effigy.

Parks was unfazed. When he got wind that one of the demonstrators was planning to infiltrate the Pageant finals that evening, he didn’t miss a beat. "I’ll grab her by the throat," he said, "and keep right on singing."

PAGEANT BROADCAST: 1968 Bert Parks sings, and Judy Ford crowned…

NARRATOR: Judy Ann Ford, an eighteen-year-old gymnast from Illinois, was the first blonde in eleven years to be crowned Miss America. "I’m so glad," she gushed to the press that evening. "I feel like it’s a breakthrough."

Meanwhile, just four blocks from Convention Hall, at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, another ideal was about to be chosen.

Calling itself a "positive protest," the Miss Black America Pageant had been scheduled to begin at midnight, in the hopes that newsmen would drop by when they left Convention Hall. It was nearly three in the morning before nineteen-year-old Philadelphian Saundra Williams was crowned. "Miss America does not represent us," Williams told the audience. "With my title, I can show black women they, too, are beautiful."

TRICIA ROSE, Cultural Critic: Miss Black America is of course an effort to say well, look, trying to be like a white person is not what’s at stake. But appreciating what is black is quite important. So Essence Magazine emerges. Black is beautiful, afros, you know, black women emphasizing that which is black as beautiful and so this was a way of saying, we exist as both a market and as a kind of esthetic really begins to take place in the late 1960s and gets even stronger in the late 70s and 80s.

NARRATOR: All the controversy of 1968 took its toll on Miss America. And before the year was out, Pepsi Cola, a sponsor of the Pageant for over eleven years, withdrew its support. "Miss America as run today," the company declared, "does not represent the changing values of our society."

LEONARD HORN: Society was swirling around it but the Miss America pageant stayed the same, continuing to worship an outmoded ideal. In fact, the powers that be at the pageant never did learn. They never did learn. They didn’t because they regard the Miss America pageant as sacrosanct. The Miss America pageant had developed a formula. The formula worked and nobody wanted to change it.

PAGEANT BROADCAST: Bert Parks: "You know often I’ve heard it said, "Is Miss America relevant today? Well, is personal achievement relevant, is scholarship, is good citizenship relevant? We think it is. And we think it will be for a long time to come."

NARRATOR: The Miss America Pageant still drew an enormous audience — reaching a peak, in 1970, of over 22 million households. But then the ratings started to slip — and the Pageant was finally forced to catch up with the times.

PAGEANT BROADCAST: Song and dance number: "Call Me Ms."

GLORIA STEINEM: It just seemed as if they were just trying to keep the lid on. You know they were just hoping against hope that…that somehow there wouldn’t be too many demonstrations or that the contestants wouldn’t stand up and raise a fist. You know somehow the people who ran the pageant were trying desperately to preserve it.

NARRATOR: The time had come for a new-style Miss America — and in 1973, the Pageant found one in an aspiring attorney from Denver, Colorado named Rebecca Ann King.

REBECCA KING DREMAN, Miss America 1974: I started watching it, the Miss America Pageant as a young girl and I wasn’t really sure that it was the kind of young woman that I was going to be, because I knew I was going to be president of the United States some day. The young women looked a little Barbie dollish to me. They looked a little too made up to me and a little too world peace and I just didn’t think I was that kind of young woman.

NARRATOR: King was finishing up her senior year at Colorado Women’s College, when a friend tried to talk her into entering the Miss America Pageant.

REBECCA KING DREMAN: I said what’s in it for me? She said there’s scholarship money so you can go on to law school. And so I said okay. I’ll think about it, but don’t tell anybody.

PAGEANT BROADCAST: King "During the past 23 years, my grandmother often said to me, that the character of the nation is determined through its womanhood. Through the practice of law, I hope to make a productive contribution to mankind, and find the happiness of a fulfilled woman."

REBECCA KING: I was really in it for the money. And I think it shocked the pageant when I said I was in it for the money. And I didn’t think it was strange at all. I said what is it? It’s a scholarship program, right? Isn’t that what we’re here for?

PAGEANT BROADCAST: Parks "The winner of a 15,000 dollar scholarship and our new Miss America Rebecca Ann King, Miss Colorado…"

REBECCA KING: Well I didn’t fall apart as Miss America. Walked over, got the crown on, and I think my mother received maybe a hundred letters because I didn’t cry. She didn’t cry. What kind of Miss America do we have here on our hands walking down the runway not crying?

NARRATOR: For most Americans, the real surprise came later, when the new Miss America began speaking to the press — and came out in favor of legalized abortion.

REBECCA KING: It was right at the time of Roe v. Wade. I thought a woman ought to have the right to choose whether to continue with the pregnancy or not. And it just blew completely up and the Pageant never said not talk about it.

KATHY PEISS: Well the Miss America pageant in the 1970’s is faced with the growing politicization of women on both the left and the right. And one of the key moments of course is the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision in 1973. So when Miss America comes out as pro-choice, inserting a political stand in the Pageant which had always seen itself as nonpolitical or apolitical it really is an important moment.

REBECCA KING: The pageant has always been a little behind the times, but it was definitely the ’70s. It was time for people to move on and the pageant was trying.

NARRATOR: The national press applauded Miss America’s new image. Even feminists, who had been protesting against the Pageant for half a decade, now called off their war and invited King to speak at the National Organization for Women’s annual convention.

Still Miss America’s television audience continued to shrink, edged out by competition from new cable networks and dismissed by younger viewers as old-fashioned.

LEONARD HORN: I think that a large number of people began not watching the Miss American pageant probably about the mid-70s. The ideals upon which the Miss America pageant appeared to rest no longer seemed very exciting or relevant. And I think we lost a generation of people.

NARRATOR: By the late 1970’s, Pageant organizers were desperate for viewers and casting about for ways to update the show. So they decided to fire Bert Parks, Miss America’s master of ceremonies for a quarter of a century.

It was later reported that the Pageant’s sponsors considered 65-year-old Parks "too old and too out of touch." The decision caused such an uproar that Tonight Show host Johnny Carson even held an on-air campaign to get Parks reinstated. The Pageant replaced him anyway.

But a new host did not bring new viewers.

TRICIA ROSE: I was a teenager in the late-70s, and I, my recollection of the Pageant was that it just being a New Yorker, it just didn’t seem to reflect what the City looked like to me. So the pageant was a sort of helpful travelscape for me like oh this is what women look like in Texas and Florida. I was pretty much sure that the most blonde was going to be in the top two if not the number one slot. If a brunette was going to win, it was because of some other extraordinary traits that were compensating, but I very much understood it as a tall, blonde, you know, Southern woman’s festival.

MARGARET CHO: My father was very into it. And then, at one point when I was a little girl, I said oh I want to be one of those contestants. I want to grow up and do that, and he said no, oh no, you cannot do that, no. You know like, and I took it to mean that the beauty pageant was not open to all women. I mean my father thought that this whole pageant was fascinating and we would pick out the winners, but I was not allowed to even entertain the fantasy of becoming one of these women. And I thought well maybe I’m just not pretty enough. Maybe I’m just not white.

LENCOLA SULLIVAN, Miss Arkansas 1980: I remember always sitting in front of the television watching the Miss America every single year when I was a little kid, and I was the only one watching. Everybody else kind of went to bed, and I would be so excited, mom, mom, I got a … I chose the first runner up or the second runner up. But the interesting thing about that, I always kind of saw myself on stage as well, although no one looked like me. There was no one who looked like me.

NARRATOR: Twenty-year-old Cheryl Brown, Miss Iowa 1970, had been the first African-American woman ever to compete in Atlantic City. In the decade that followed, there had been just ten other black contestants — and of those, only one had made the top five: Lencola Sullivan, Miss Arkansas 1980.

LENCOLA SULLIVAN: You know I made history that night by being the first black woman to ever make top five in the Miss America Pageant’s history. And even though that was wonderful, of course I was sad that I didn’t make it to the top and didn’t walk away with the…the title of Miss America. That was actually one of the questions that was asked of me when I competed, was…is America ready for a black woman to become Miss America? And I said if Arkansas is ready, America is ready, but obviously America wasn’t ready.

NARRATOR: But in 1983, the 61st year of the Miss America Pageant, everything suddenly changed.

PAGEANT BROADCAST: 1983 Vanessa Williams singing and being crowned.

NARRATOR: A twenty-year-old musical theater major at Syracuse University, Williams had entered the Pageant in the hope of breaking into show business. Like so many Miss America before her, she wanted to be a star. But first, she would become a political symbol.

To some, the crowning of a black Miss America was a milestone in the struggle against bigotry. "Thank God I have lived long enough," said Congresswomen Shirley Chisholm, "that this nation has been able to select the beautiful young woman of color to be Miss America."

KIMBERLY AIKEN COCKERHAM, Miss America 1994: I remember watching the pageant, and I don’t know that I had watched it before and I remember her singing. I remember her performance. I remember her being crowned, I remember thinking wow, she looks like me. This is something that I could do. I had never to that point thought that Miss America was something that was for me or something that I could do. So I think that that was a turning point for me. I think everybody was shocked, excited and just looking forward to having a year where there was a Miss America that was black and would get to do all the great things that every other Miss America had ever done. So I think it was just a time of excitement and anticipation.

NARRATOR: Williams’ fans made her the most heavily-booked Miss America in the Pageant’s history. Not quite ten months into her reign, she had already earned a record $125,000 in fees.

WILLIAM GOLDMAN: I remember talking to some pageant people and they said that the best Miss Americas they ever had was Vanessa Williams. Apparently she was just sensational. She was just the most verbal, bright, terrific seller of the Miss America contest they’d ever had.

NARRATOR: But there were those who considered Williams’ victory an affront. For the first time, Miss America received death threats and hate mail. When she made appearances in the South, armed guards had to be posted at her hotel room door. And even in the African-American community, there were those who assailed her for not being "black" enough.

Then, in July of 1984, Williams was informed that an unauthorized pictorial, featuring explicit nude photos she had posed for two years earlier, was about to be published in Penthouse magazine. Pageant officials were quick to respond.

ARCHIVAL: L. Horn press conference: "We do not believe that under the content and spirit of the rules as well as the contracts as well as the image of Miss America that she should remain Miss America and still give this particular program the vitality as well as the respect to which it is entitled. If we don’t draw the line here, where do you draw the line?"

LEONARD HORN: The sponsors were waiting on the sidelines. We had received a warning that if we didn’t handle this right, it didn’t turn out right, they were going to pull out. If they pulled out at the end of July, there would have been no money and no Miss American pageant in 1984. And there would not be a Miss America pageant today. That’s how close we came.

NARRATOR: Williams was given 72 hours to resign. She would be allowed to keep her scholarship and the money she had earned, but her title would be given to the first runner-up, Suzette Charles.

ARCHIVAL/Vanessa Williams: "It is one thing to face up to a mistake that one makes in youth. But it is almost totally devastating to have to share it with the American public and the world at large as both a human being and as Miss America. I put the session in the back of my mind and believed the photos would never be used for any purpose as the photographer had verbally assured me. I never consented to the publication or the use of these photographs in any manner.

NARRATOR: It was the first time in the Pageant’s six-decade history that a Miss America was asked to give up her crown.

KIM AIKEN: A lot of people were very disappointed. And I think any community, any minority community looks to their role models that are so accepted and are so loved by everybody as a point of inspiration, and maybe at that point it is, you are let down that okay, these are choices that she made that have caused a lot of embarrassment to her and her family but also to the black community.

TRICIA ROSE: I do remember feeling … incredibly sorry for her. I just felt that she was carrying the weight of this whole history of vicious stereotypes about black women and simply by trying to win the Pageant, she was in a sense trying to counter many of those stereotypes. And then to have these pictures emerge to undermine it was probably the most vicious way to have it because I would be stunned if she was the first Pageant contestant to have tried to raise money as a model by doing these kinds of pictures. I would be stunned if she were the first. But I wouldn’t be surprised if people were more interested in finding hers to undermine it because she in a sense you know, by definition threw the rest of the contestants into stark relief.

NARRATOR: The Vanessa Williams issue of Penthouse would ultimately bring in over 20 million dollars, the magazine’s all-time, single-issue sales record.

MARGARET CHO: You know what’s great about it is that she’s the only Miss America that anybody remembers, and she’s the only one that ever really became a star and that is what’s really great is that her … she has the most kiss my ass story that you can triumph over anything so she’s certainly a big hero of mine.

NARRATOR: For a time, the scandal revived public interest in the Miss America Pageant, and ticket sales for the 1984 finals rose by twenty percent.

That night, after only two months as Miss America, Suzette Charles walked the Convention Hall runway to a standing ovation, before crowning her successor: 20-year-old Sharlene Wells, a tall, blonde Mormon whom USA Today described as "squeaky-clean."

NARRATOR: Confronted now by the possibility of scandals that Lenora Slaughter never could have imagined, Pageant directors drew up a new contestant contract, gradually adding dozens of regulations to which potential Miss Americas were subject.

KATE SHINDLE, Miss America 1998: That you’ve always been female, is one. Is that hilarious? You have to sign a contract saying I’ve always been female. There is, there’s a clause in the contract that you have never posed in the nude there’s always a clause that you can’t have ever, you can’t be the natural or adoptive parent of a child that you have never done anything that could possibly be interpreted as illegal, immoral, unethical, whatever. And everybody signs the contract, but who didn’t cheat on a second grade math test, you know what I mean?

NARRATOR: With the changes in the contract came a renewed campaign to portray Miss America as a "thinking woman" who could make a positive contribution to society. In 1989, Pageant officials introduced a new competition called "the platform," which required contestants to demonstrate on ongoing commitment to a social problem — and to back it up with community service.

PAGEANT FOOTAGE: Miss Florida ‘Hello from the Sunshine State. I’m devoted to promoting unity through the celebration of our cultural diversity’ … Miss North Dakota, ‘I am devoted to encouraging youth to postpone their sexual activities …’

KATE SHINDLE: It’s one of those things that people love to make fun of. I’d love to, I support world peace and I want to give everyone a flower. It’s, it’s the kind of stereotype that we abhor that we really want to get away from, and the way of doing that at least in my mind is to show that we can walk the walk as well.

PAGEANT FOOTAGE: Kate Shindle being crowned? And talking about AIDS

KATE SHINDLE: Because I was talking about AIDS which was something people don’t necessarily associate with the sort of conservative, white bread grass roots Miss America organization, it got a lot of media attention I took some flack for talking to students about sexual activity, certainly about abstinence but also about safer sex. There are people who don’t want you to come to their high school and say things like that. But I will tell you that Miss America got me so much access. The fact that I was invited to speak at middle and high schools in middle America where they would never never invite an AIDS activist to come and speak to their kids. But they’ll roll out the red carpet for Miss America and hope she brings her crown was an enormous part of what I felt was effective during that year.

NARRATOR: More than eighty years after the first contest was held in Atlantic City, the Miss America Pageant still endures. It is one of the longest-running television programs in American history, seen by more than a billion people since its first broadcast in 1954.

It is also the single largest scholarship organization for women in the world. Each year, 1200 state and local pageants are franchised by the Miss America Organization. And each year, more than 10,000 young women enter those contests, all of them hoping Miss America’s crown will change their lives.

KIM AIKEN: I think every contestant that comes to Miss America has a different agenda. Some contestants and I remember even my year said, I don’t want to win this pageant, I really just want to be on TV. Some contestants come there because they want to be discovered by a modeling agency or they want to go into acting or broadcasting. Many contestants go because of their social activism. Many contestants go just because they have this idea of Miss America with the crown and the walking down the runway and many contestants go for that reason.

PAGEANT BROADCAST: 50’s contestant: I would love to be your next Miss America . . . it would enable me to further my studies at Sacramento State College … It would also give the opportunity to meet many wonderful people that I wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to meet … and it would considerably broaden my outlook on life … I would love to be your next Miss America.

MARGARET CHO: I think that women’s roles have changed so much in the last twenty years that we are constantly looking for the outside world to tell us who we are and that we really search for this sure identity, for this sure being of who we are and the pageant is one way of defining ourselves.

SARAH BANET-WEISER: It’s not you either love it or you hate it. It’s not it’s either good or bad. It just doesn’t fit that neatly into one of those boxes. I think that what civic rituals do is that they are stories that we tell ourselves about ourselves. And I think that along with considering the Miss America Pageant as popular culture we needed to consider it as a civic ritual, as something that is about imagining citizenship and imagining, who we are, why we’re here, what we’re for.

WILLIAM GOLDMAN: I wonder, I don’t know, do little girls now of six and seven dream of being Miss America? I don’t know. Or do they dream of replacing Bill Gates, I have no idea.

Voir également:

AS IT HAPPENED

ATLANTIC CITY IS A TOWN WITH CLASS — THEY RAISE YOUR MORALS WHILE THEY JUDGE YOUR ASS

Judith Duffett, New York

On Sept. 7, nearly 150 women committed to women’s liberation from New York, New Jersey, Washington DC, Florida, Boston and Detroit, converged on Atlantic City to protest the degrading image of women perpetuated by the Miss America Pageant.

Our goal was No more Miss America! Our objections to the Pageant, its racism (there’s never been a black contestant); its use of Miss America as a military mascot to entertain the troops abroad and symbolize the "unstained, patriotic American womanhood our boys are fighting for"; the degrading Mindless-Boob-Girlie symbol which puts women on a pedestal/auction block to compete for male approval; the consumer con game which makes Miss America a walking commercial and oppresses all women into commodity roles; the cult of youth and the American institution of planned obsolescence which makes last year’s Miss America as stale as yesterday’s news and makes all women "useless" when they are no longer ripe for exploitation as sex objects, the Madonna/Whore image of womanhood which means that Miss America must be seductive in a bathing suit and at the same time be pure and untouched; and the whole idea of beauty contests, which create one "winner" and millions of insecure, frustrated losers, who feel they must meet the imposed standards of beauty or face disaster: "You won’t get a man!"

photo source: "The Liberated Woman’s Appointment Calendar And Survival Handbook, 1971," by Jurate Kazickas and Lynn Sherr. Universe Books, 1970

Our purpose was not to put down Miss America but to attack the male chauvinism, commercialization of beauty, racism and oppression of women symbolized by the Pageant. We arrived on the Boardwalk at 2 p.m. Saturday and began picketing in front of Convention Hall. Some of our signs read: "Everyone is Beautiful," "I am a Woman, Not a Toy, Pet or Mascot," "Who Dares to Judge Beauty," and "Welcome to the Miss America Cattle Auction."

Guerrilla theater was used to illustrate some of our points. A live sheep was crowned "Miss America" and paraded on the liberated area of the boardwalk to parody the way the contestants (all women) are appraised and judged like animals at a county fair.

"Women are enslaved by beauty standards" was the theme of another dramatic action in which some of us chained ourselves to a life-size Miss America puppet. This was paraded and auctioned off by a woman dressed up as a male Wall Street financier. "Step right up, gentlemen, get your late model woman right here–a lovely paper dolly to call your very own property … She can push your product, push your ego, or push your lawnmower …"

The highlight of the afternoon was the giant Freedom Trash Can. With elaborate ceremony and shouts of joy, we threw away instruments of torture to women–high-heeled shoes, Merry Widow corsets, girdles, padded bras, false eyelashes, curlers, copies of Playboy, Cosmopolitan, Ladies Home Journal, etc.

Throughout the afternoon activities, we were observed by some five or six hundred onlookers, mostly men, who were by turns amused, perplexed, and mostly enraged by our presence. The heckling was led by two young men: "You’re just jealous–you couldn’t be Miss America if you were the last man (?) on earth!" "Get back on your broom!" "Why don’t you go back to Russia?" "Which one of your girlfriends is your husband?" The women in the mainly lower middle class crowd by and large agreed with them. One woman, however, crossed the police line with her three children and joined us!

We generally ignored their jeers, but in the evening (we stayed until midnight), when the crowd was somewhat less hostile, we changed our tactics. Many of us put down our signs and went right up to the police line and began engaging in dialogue with the people. Two more women crossed the line to our side, though we did not make any noticeable conversions. But a dialogue was established, and women who had felt confused and hurt by the signs and leaflets which they didn’t understand and demonstrators with whom they could not identify, began to go through some changes in their heads when we started to talk to them personally. Proving what many of us have felt for a long time: women who are unreachable on most radical issues can be reached on this one, since it involves their daily lives.

Sixteen of us purchased tickets to the Pageant and from seats in the balcony near the stage, began a disruption as the outgoing Miss America was making her farewell speech. Although there was no TV coverage of the disruption (we were told later that one of the cameramen was about to pan to the balcony when he was told that if he did he would lose his job), the cameras and microphones did record the visible turning of heads and the stuttering and trembling of Miss America as we shouted "Freedom for Women!" and "No More Miss America" and hung a banner from the balcony reading "Women’s Liberation."

The sixteen were quickly hustled out, and five were arrested, charges against them later dropped. Earlier Peggy Dobbins had been arrested and held on $1,000 bail. She was charged with disorderly conduct and "emanating a noxious odor" for spraying a can of Toni home permanent throughout the audience. The Pageant and city officials were undoubtedly sensitive on this area of commercial products. We had already declared a boycott of the products sponsoring the Pageant, of which Toni is one (the others are Pepsi-Cola and Oldsmobile). We expected that they would sweep Peggy’s case under the rug. Instead the charges against her were escalated to an indictable offense, with a possible sentence of two to three years.

All in all, the day was a tremendous success. We intend to be back in Atlantic City next year and every year until the Miss America Pageant is closed down. It may not take too long. There have been rumors that because of the disturbance, the Pageant next year may be taped with no studio audience.

We have also been in contact with a former Miss America who is on our side, and have heard from a woman who was asked to be a judge but declined, partly because she heard of our plans. I suppose it’s possible to have the Pageant without an audience, but you can hardly have one without contestants or judges!

‘BEAUTY OF THE BLACK WOMAN’

source:http://www.pbs.org/wgbh

"There’s a need for the beauty of the black woman to be paraded and applauded as a symbol of universal pride," said J. Morris Anderson, an organizer of the competing pageant. "We’re not protesting against beauty. We’re protesting because the beauty of the black woman has been ignored. It hasn’t been respected. We’ll show black beauty for public consumption — herald her beauty and applaud it."

At Convention Hall, at least a few of the women pickets were Negroes. They were aware of the Miss Black America contest, but were not sure what they ought to do about it. "I’m for beauty contests," said Mrs. Bonnie Allen, a Negro Bronx housewife in her mid-thirties. "But then again maybe I’m against them. I think black people have a right to protest." "Basically, we’re against all beauty contests," Miss Morgan said. "We deplore Miss Black America as much as Miss White America but we understand the black issue involved."

NEGRO FINALISTS ACTIVE

While the Miss America finalists stayed out of sight, reportedly primping for their last show in Convention Hall, the eight Miss Black America finalists were out on the town acting like

source:http://www.pbs.org

beauty queens. They rode in open convertibles from the Ritz Carlton past the hall, around the business district and on into the Negro community. They waved white-gloved hands, smiled perfect smiles and showed off themselves as well as their elegant evening gowns in the afternoon sun.

They were cheered everywhere. The predominantly white strollers along the boardwalk waved and applauded. But nowhere was the reception more enthusiastic than along the main streets within the Negro community. Besides a motorcycle escort, they were accompanied by music makers with bongos, cowbells and flutes. And after their automobile tour, they went off to swim, party and wait for the midnight judging to begin. The final’s beginning coincided with the Miss America finale.

The Miss America Organization

The Miss America Pageant and its sponsor, the Miss America Organization, has evolved from a beach-side showcase for frolicking bathing beauties to a competition that still includes bathing suits, but now emphasizes scholarships and social causes. In 1921 the winner of the first Inter-City Beauty Contest was crowned "Miss America," and she won a first place prize of $100. The first pageant had only seven contestants from cities along the East Coast. Although the number of contestants and the pageant’s popularity increased throughout the decade, the event was closed down in 1927 due to growing criticism and charges of immorality, as well as a lack of financial support.

In 1933 organizers revived the pageant. By 1940, the pageant had regained its financial footing and respectability. It continued as a not-for-profit event; its official title became the "Miss America Pageant" and chose the Atlantic City Convention Hall as its permanent venue. The national executive director, Lenora Slaughter, shaped the modern pageant by adding features such as state competitions, the scholarship program, and a judging category based on personal interviews.

In the 1990s the pageant was reformed into The Miss America Organization, a not-for-profit corporation which comprised three distinct divisions: the traditional Miss America Pageant, the scholarship fund, and a Miss America foundation. The organization grants state franchises to one "responsible" organization in each state — usually the Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees). The state organization conducts a state competition in accordance with all the rules and regulations established by the Miss America Organization. These include having a panel of Miss-America-certified judges. The state pageant organizations, in turn, are responsible for reciprocal franchising of "responsible" organizations within each state to sponsor local and regional competitions. The local, state, and national organizations all rely on a vast army of volunteers and financial supporters to work throughout the year.

Contestants at all levels of the pageant compete in four categories: talent, evening wear, interview and physical fitness. Further, every Miss America state titleholder must select a platform for a social cause that is important to her. She spends her year’s service as a state winner advocating her issue. On the national level, Miss America also spends her year (since 1989, when the platform requirement was established) advocating her cause to the media, business people, public officials, and civic and charitable organizations.

The pageant competitions and the national broadcast are only one part of what the Miss America Organization does. The national and state organizations operate twelve months a year, raising scholarship funds from large and small businesses. The Miss America Organization’s main mission is to provide contestants with the opportunity to pursue their professional and educational goals through monetary grants and awards.

On the national level, scholarships are distributed as follows:

Miss America, $40,000

First runner-up, $30,000

Second runner-up, $20,000

Third runner-up, $15,000

Fourth runner-up, $10,000

Each of the five semi-finalists also wins $8,000. Each of the other 40 contestants receives $3,000. The three preliminary talent winners get $2000 each. The three preliminary swimsuit winners gain $500 each. One non-finalist interview winner is awarded $1,000. There are a number of other scholarship awards on the national level, including ten Bert Parks non-finalist talent winners, receiving $1,000 each, and a newly established Steinway Music Scholarship of $5,000.

Since establishing the scholarship program in 1945, the Miss America program has distributed more than $150 million in educational grants, making it the world’s largest scholarship program for women. Each year more than $30 million in diverse scholarships are made available to thousands of women who participate in local, state and national Miss America programs.

Lenora Slaughter Transforms the Pageant

From its inception, the Miss America Pageant wrestled with its image. In the 1920s, pageant organizers worked to make it a sophisticated event. But critics such as women’s clubs and religious groups abhorred the display of the female form in public; it was not considered respectable behavior. Although Victorian values had relaxed, new freedoms for women — from the expression of more direct sexuality to winning the vote in 1920 — led to a general anxiety about women’s apparently loosening morals. To make matters worse, most of the women who flocked to the pageant came with hopes of landing a Hollywood or stage career, cashing in on their good looks but raising questions about their morality. The growing criticism caused pageant officials to shut down the event in 1928.

The economic depression of the 1930s brought a more conservative understanding of "proper" femininity. The ideal of the frugal homemaker replaced that of the flapper. Before the pageant could be revived, organizers had to create an event that had a higher moral tone. In 1935 Lenora Slaughter was hired to produce an event that was respectable and legitimate.

Lenora Slaughter, a Southern Baptist and businesswoman, had made a name for herself in St. Petersburg, Florida, by working tirelessly at the Chamber of Commerce to put that town on the map. Slaughter came to the Miss America Pageant on a six-week leave of absence from St. Petersburg. She ended up staying, and in time would become director of the pageant, in a reign that lasted until 1967. The pageant became her passion. She would bring the most significant and lasting changes to its structure.

The newly revived pageant of 1935 marked the beginning of a concerted effort to attract an appropriate "class of girl" to represent the nation with the title of Miss America. Unfortunately, Slaughter’s early years were plagued with scandal and notoriety. In 1935, a sculptor unveiled a nude statue of that year’s Miss America, Henrietta Leaver. Later, Miss America 1937, eighteen-year-old Bette Cooper, changed her mind about becoming Miss America and escaped in the middle of the night.

Slaughter initiated an all-out crusade to improve the pageant’s image. First, she banned contestants who held titles that represented commercial interests, such as newspapers, amusement parks and theaters. Contestants were required to carry the title of a city, region, or state. This distanced the pageant from the crass practices of other pageants where the connection between money and women displaying themselves in public was obvious. The contestants now had to be between 18 and 25 years old, and never married. And while in Atlantic City, they had to observe a 1 am curfew and a ban on bars and nightclubs. Slaughter initiated the talent competition in 1938, introducing the idea that the contestants could be judged on more than beauty.

Slaughter did not stop there. At the time, theaters, swimming pools, state fairs, and amusement parks ran local pageants. She persuaded local Junior Chambers of Commerce (Jaycees) to become sponsors, allowing parents to feel their daughters were in safe hands. Further still, Slaughter persuaded socialites from Atlantic City’s upper strata to act as hostesses and chaperones for the young women when they were in Atlantic City. A pageant judge once asked Slaughter what to look for in a winner. "Honey," she said, "just pick me a lady."

Slaughter’s most significant legacy is the Miss America scholarship program. "I knew that the shine of a girl’s hair wasn’t going to make her a success in life," she wrote in her autobiography. Prizes before Slaughter consisted of such things as a fur coat, a Hollywood contract, or the chance to earn money modeling. In offering opportunities for advancement through education, Slaughter fashioned a pageant that appealed to middle-class sensibilities. Slaughter sat down and personally wrote about three hundred letters to businesses asking for college scholarship money that could be offered as the prize for the Miss America title. She initially raised $5000, and in 1945 the Miss America Pageant became one of the first organizations in the country to offer college scholarships to women. Lenora Slaughter died in December 2000 at the age of 94. By the time of her death, the Miss America Organization was the single largest contributor of scholarships to women in the United States.

Breaking the Color Line at the Pageant

The first African Americans to appear in the Miss America Pageant came onstage as ‘slaves’ for a musical number in 1923. It was not until 1970 that a black woman, Iowa’s Cheryl Brown, won a state title and made it to Atlantic City as a contestant. Lencola Sullivan, Miss Arkansas 1980, was the first African American to make it to the top five. In 1984 Vanessa Williams became the first black Miss America, beginning the year as one of the best Miss Americas ever, in the eyes of many pageant insiders, but ending her reign mid-year amidst scandal.

The pageant’s long history of excluding women of color dates from its beginnings. At some point in the 1930s, it was formalized in the notorious rule number seven of the Miss America rule book. Instituted under the directorship of Lenora Slaughter, rule number seven stated that "contestants must be of good health and of the white race." As late as 1940, all contestants were required to list, on their formal biological data sheet, how far back they could trace their ancestry. In the pageant’s continual crusade for respectability, ancestral connections to the Revolutionary War or perhaps the Mayflower would have been seen as a plus.

Bess Myerson, Miss America 1945 and daughter of Russian-Jewish parents, while technically eligible to compete under rule seven, sensed the far-reaching bigotry behind it. She had, after all, been pressured (unsuccessfully) to change her name to a less Jewish-sounding name. Myerson was the first Jewish Miss America — and the only one ever to be crowned, as of 2001. Myerson later recalled her discussion with Slaughter:

"I said… the problem is that I’m Jewish, yes? And with that kind of name it’ll be quite obvious to everyone else that I’m Jewish. And you don’t want to have to deal with a Jewish Miss America. And that really was the bottom line. I said I can’t change my name. You have to understand. I cannot change my name. I live in a building with two hundred and fifty Jewish families. The Sholom Aleichem apartment houses. If I should win, I want everybody to know that I’m the daughter of Louie and Bella Myerson."

In addition to Myerson, others had pushed the boundaries of the pageant’s unwritten and written rules for inclusion. In 1941 a Native American, Mifauny Shunatona, represented Oklahoma at the pageant, though there would not be another Native American contestant for 30 years. Irma Nydia Vasquez from Puerto Rico, and Yun Tau Zane from Hawaii, the first Asian contestant, both broke the color bar in 1948.

Asian American comedian Margaret Cho recalls watching the pageant: "My father was very into it. And then, at one point when I was a little girl, I said oh I want to be one of those contestants. I want to grow up and do that, and he said no, oh no, you cannot do that, no. …and I took it to mean that the beauty pageant was not open to all women. I mean my father thought that this whole pageant was fascinating and we would pick out the winners, but I was not allowed to even entertain the fantasy of becoming one of these women. And I thought well maybe I’m just not pretty enough. Maybe I’m just not white."

By the 1960s there still had not been a black contestant. Following the advances of the civil rights movement, black Americans set up their own contest in 1968. Black communities had sponsored segregated black beauty contests for years, dating farther back than the Miss America contest. However, the 1968 Miss Black America Contest, held in Atlantic City on the same day as the Miss America Pageant, was organized as a direct protest of the pageant. On that same day, feminists staged a boardwalk demonstration protesting the pageant. The 1968 Miss America Pageant was confronted with its shortcomings on several fronts.

It was not until 1984 that Vanessa Williams of New York was crowned as the first black Miss America. Many likened her accomplishment to that of Jackie Robinson breaking the color line in baseball. Controversy followed Williams as, for the first time, Miss America recieved death threats and hate mail. By all accounts, Williams was doing an excellent job of representing the pageant at her public appearances. But halfway into her year, the discovery of pornographic photos of her forced Williams to resign. She had been pressured into posing for the photographs that she had been told would never appear in print. In 1984 they came out in the most successful issue of Penthouse magazine ever printed, netting publisher Bob Guccione a windfall profit of $14 million.

When Williams resigned, the media and the American public could talk of little else. Williams’ situation seemed to be about more than a single young woman’s error in judgment. Many people, both inside the black community and outside it, saw racial politics at the heart of the scandal, and debated how Williams’ race might have affected events. No matter how people viewed the scandal, Williams often was cast as representing not only herself, but also her race.

Vanessa Williams persevered, and went on to have a major recording career. Her runner-up, an African American woman from New Jersey named Suzette Charles, took over as the 1984 Miss America. Since then, there have been other black Miss Americas, as well as the first Asian Miss America, Angela Baraquio, Miss Hawaii of 2000. Today, the Miss America Pageant has made diversity part of its official mission.

Still, it is a particular kind of diversity. For recent historians and commentators, the question that is becoming most significant is how "diverse" a contestant can be. Is the pageant truly diverse, or is it peddling an outdated image of America as a homogenized melting pot? Do women of color need to fit the idealized white version of femininity that is the legacy of the pageant? Can more ethnic and racially diverse features be represented at the pageant? And can modern beauty even be reduced to a single, representative face? These questions are likely to be raised by the pageant for years to come.

History follows former Miss Iowa First black pageant winner recalls her crowning moment

Shirley Davis

Quad-City Times

October 19, 2000

Cheryl Brown Hollingsworth, now of Lithonia, Ga., is married and the mother of two married children. She hopes to be in Davenport for tonight’s pageant.

Thirty years ago a pretty and talented ballet dancer from Iowa set the international press spinning when she became the first-ever African-American contestant in the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City, N.J.

The fact that she came from a conservative Midwestern state like Iowa was doubly astounding to those who were reporting on the pageant, and she drew attention not only from newspaper and magazine writers around the world but from the security forces in Atlantic City, who were quite visible during rehearsals in Convention Hall.

Today, Cheryl Brown Hollingsworth of Lithonia, Ga., who was Miss Iowa of 1970, says, “Iowans were very accepting of me, but I think it took the country by surprise to realize that it was a young woman from Iowa who became the first African-American contestant.

“I don’t feel I personally changed the pageant,” Brown said in a phone interview from her home this week, “ but I feel that my presence expanded people’s minds and their acceptance. And, in subsequent years, they were much more open to African-American candidates.” She says, “I didn’t feel hounded by the press, but it was obvious that security was tight —especially at Convention Hall rehearsals when our chaperones weren’t always present.

“There were women’s lib protesters on the Boardwalk, and no one knew whether there would be more protesters because of the African-American connection.” The reigning Miss Iowa, Jennifer Caudle of Davenport, who will give up her crown tonight, is only the second African-American contestant from Iowa in the past 30 years.

Brown, who has been working in banking industry for 26 years, manages a financial center for First Union National Bank in Atlanta, Ga. Her husband Karl, formerly of Moline, is regional human resources manager for the Federal Express. Her mother-in-law, Mildred Taylor, still lives in Moline.

The couple has been married 28 years. Their daughter Etienne Thomas of Durham, N.C., finished law school in December and was married in January. Son Joshua also is married and is an Army paratrooper at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Brown was to have judged this week’s state pageant in Davenport, but a conflict with her job made that impossible at the last minute. At this writing, she planned to arrive in Davenport by Friday evening, operating on a very tight schedule. “I’ll be pushing it,” she said, “but I hope to make it.” She’d also hoped to be here for the 50th anniversary pageant two years ago, but had to cancel because of another conflict. “This would have been only the third pageant I’d have judged,” she said. She was an Iowa judge in the early ’80s.

Brown came to Davenport in 1970 as a student from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. As Miss Decorah, she won a college scholarship —then more scholarships from the state and national pageants, with an extra scholarship for being a non-finalist talent winner in Atlantic City.

These helped with her education at Luther College, where she met her husband.

Although she didn’t place in the coveted “top 10” in Atlantic City, Brown’s talent brought her back to the Miss America Pageant the following year. “I was one of the Miss America contestants chosen to go on a USO tour to Vietnam, and we were all invited back to the pageant.

“I think it was one of the last Miss America groups to go to Vietnam,” Brown said.

Because she was a New Yorker, Brown stayed in the Bettendorf home of Marge and Walter Steffens during her reign, because her title required her to maintain a Quad-City residence. The Steffens’ daughter Barbara was a friend of Brown’s. She remembers the fun she had shopping for her Atlantic City wardrobe —all at the expense of the pageant board.

Brown now keeps up with Miss Iowa news through a pageant newspaper.

She had hoped to come back for the 50th anniversary of the Miss Iowa Pageant in 1998, but another conflict prevented that.

“My daughter isn’t interested in pageants and is not a dancer,” Brown said. Brown’s father, who had been employed at a New York City airport, died three years ago, and recently her mother moved to Atlanta to be near her.

Fighting Racism, One Swimsuit at a Time

Belva Davis

February 10, 2011

As we celebrate Black History Month and honor progress against racial and gender bias, it’s good to acknowledge some of the roadblocks that had to be overcome, especially for African American women.

In the 1960s, nobody had to tell me that a dark-skinned girl was ineligible to be Miss America; everybody knew the crown was reserved for white girls only. The rare occasions when the pageant included African Americans had been demeaning, such as the 1923 competition in which blacks played the roles of slaves during a Court of Neptune musical extravaganza. By the 1930s, the exclusion was made explicit with Pageant Rule #7, which required that Miss America contestants “be of good health and of the white race.”

By the 1940s, contestants were required to complete a biological data sheet tracing their ancestry as far back as possible —preferably to the Mayflower.

Not until 1970 would a U.S. state be so rebellious as to send a black contestant to the Miss America Pageant, and ironically it would be one of the whitest states in the nation: Iowa. The first black woman to win the Miss America crown was Vanessa Williams in 1983, a surprising triumph at a time when the prototypical “beautiful woman” in the mainstream culture of the day had a slim build, blonde hair and blue eyes.

Internalizing this racism, many black females put themselves through a torturous process trying to appear “less black” —straightening the kinks out of their hair, bleaching their skin, minimizing their curvaceous bodies and even occasionally clamping their wider noses with clothespins in a preposterous attempt to narrow them. They weren’t unaware of the consequences of skin color: Social science research would later establish that lighter-toned African Americans had better employment prospects than their darker counterparts.

But I had no doubt that attractive girls and women came in all colors, from pale porcelain to glorious ebony, as history has taught us. And if the Miss America pageant was too stubbornly prejudiced to see that, I decided, we should simply initiate a contest all our own. Maxine Craig, associate professor of women and gender studies at the University of California, Davis, took note of it in her scholarly paper ”Walking like a Queen: Learning to be Miss Bronze:”

On June 9, 1961 an Oakland, California black newspaper announced the beginning of the ‘first major beauty contest for Negro girls held in Northern California.’ Belva Davis, an energetic free-lance journalist, recruited contestants, trained them, found sponsors, a band and a banquet hall, sold tickets, arranged for press coverage and thus created the first northern California ‘Miss Bronze’ contest.

The pageant was open to unmarried African American women 17 to 25 years old, from the Oregon border all the way south to Fresno. I recruited contestants in the Bay Area via my newspaper column, my radio show and even church appearances. Eventually Sacramento, Merced and Fresno staged their own local pageants, with their winners advancing to the Miss Bronze Northern California finals. The winner and first runner-up, as well as the talent-competition winners, were awarded free trips to Los Angeles to compete in the Miss Bronze California Pageant finals.

I did everything I could to make the competition affordable to all young women. Entrance was free, as were the required charm school classes. We secured donated swimsuits for the contestants — always modest one-pieces, to keep the churches happy —and provided stipends for their evening gowns.

Today, few would consider the creation of a beauty pageant as a serious way to fight injustice, but it proved to be an effective tool four decades ago. The Miss Bronze contest gave our young contestants the confidence and self-pride they needed to pursue the dreams they held of breaking through the crust of doubts about their own self-worth. Simple things such as good posture, a confident smile, the rewards of volunteering–all helped the contestants define and aspire to become their best selves. Participation in the Miss Bronze California pageant opened the door to talented women of that era, some who continue to enjoyed long careers in the entertainment industry–like Oscar nominee (for The Color Purple) Margaret Avery, and Marilyn McCoo and Florence LaRue of The Fifth Dimension.

The words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave me the comfort I needed to realize the value of what some saw as frivolous and demeaning to women. He said,

If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.

Those words hold true today. Find a place where you can work toward equality, forget the name and go to work.

Belva Davis’s new memoir is Never in My Wildest Dreams; see an excerpt from it in the latest issue of Ms. magazine.

Photo of Marilyn McCoo of The Fifth Dimension performing in 1970, from Wikimedia Commons. McCoo won the Miss Bronze California pageant in 1962.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Miss America Pageant

FOX News Magazine

September 13, 2013

The preliminary rounds for this year’s Miss America pageant are already under way in Atlantic City, with the final night of competition airing on ABC this Sunday at 9 p.m. ET.

But before you settle down for an extravaganza of swimsuits, singing and sashaying, why not take a few minutes to learn a bit more about one of America’s favorite national pastimes? After all, there’s a whole lot more to Miss America than meets the eye (besides her hidden talent for playing the marimba).

Here’s a few of the most interesting stories, scandals and secrets surrounding the Miss America pageant.

* * * * *

#1. The Miss America pageant started as a ploy to keep tourists on the Atlantic City boardwalk after Labor Day. In 1920, a group of local businessmen organized an event called the Fall Frolic, which happened to feature a rolling chair parade of young ladies. At the following year’s Fall Frolic, the parade was reworked as the Inter-City Beauty contest, and entrants were chosen through newspaper-sponsored photo contests. Sixteen-year-old Margaret Gorman won the title of "The Most Beautiful Bathing Girl in America" and took home the Golden Mermaid trophy. She returned to defend her title in 1922, where she was informally dubbed "Miss America."

#2. After Yolande Betbeze won the title of Miss America for 1951, she flat-out refused to wear or promote Catalina swimwear, one of the pageant’s sponsors. (Betbeze told the company she was a singer, "not a pin-up.") Because of this, Catalina cut ties with Miss America and created their own beauty competition in 1952: the Miss USA pageant.

#3. To compete for the Miss America crown, a contestant can’t be married — but she can certainly be divorced. A rule change in 1999, which was applied to the 2000 pageant and onward, states that the contestants only need to swear that they’re unmarried, not pregnant, and not the adoptive or biological parent of a child (rather than the previous rule that required a Miss America contestant to swear that she had never been married or pregnant).

#4. California, Oklahoma and Ohio boast the most Miss America wins with six each. Nineteen states and two U.S. territories share the distinction of earning zero Miss America titles.

#5. In 2012, the widow of the songwriter who penned the familiar Miss America tune ("There she is, Miss America … ") filed a lawsuit against the pageant. Phyllis Wayne felt that the song — written by her late husband Bernie Wayne — had been improperly licensed at the 2011 and 2012 ceremonies. A confidential settlement was reached in late 2012, but the song wasn’t heard at the 2013 pageant, and it won’t be heard at the 2014 pageant, either.

#6. Historically, there has always been a set of qualifying criteria that must be met in order to enter the Miss America pageant, but none was as controversial as rule #7. This rule, which was in place until 1940, stated that "contestants must be of good health and of the white race." To satisfy this requirement, Miss America hopefuls were required to trace their ancestry back through as many generations as they could.

#7. The first and only Jewish Miss America, Bess Myerson, was crowned in 1945. She was pressured to change her name to "Beth Merrick" for the pageant, but the Bronx native told her pageant director that she wouldn’t do it. "I said … the problem is that I’m Jewish, yes? And with that kind of name it’ll be quite obvious to everyone else that I’m Jewish. And you don’t want to have to deal with a Jewish Miss America," Myerson recounted. "And that really was the bottom line. I said I can’t change my name. You have to understand. I cannot change my name. I live in a building with two hundred and fifty Jewish families. The Sholom Aleichem apartment houses. If I should win, I want everybody to know that I’m the daughter of Louie and Bella Myerson."

#8. Television and radio announcer Bert Parks has hosted more Miss America pageants than anyone else, having emceed the event every year between 1955 and 1979. When he was fired at the age of 65 (organizers were trying to revamp the show for a younger audience), Johnny Carson staged a "We Want Bert" campaign to get him reinstated. It didn’t work, but Parks was eventually invited back to appear as a guest for the pageant’s 70th anniversary in 1990.

#9. Prior to becoming an Oscar- and Golden Globe-winning actress, Cloris Leachman competed in the 1946 Miss America pageant as Miss Chicago. (In the pageant’s earlier years, delegates representing larger metropolitan areas such as New York City and Chicago were allowed to enter alongside delegates from New York State and Illinois. After complaints, the pageant did away with these positions — as well as the position of Miss Washington D.C., albeit temporarily.)

#10. The morning after winning the title of Miss America at the 1937 pageant, Bette Cooper decided she didn’t want to commit to the role and ran off with a man (by motorboat, some say). She opted to return to school instead of fulfilling her Miss America duties, and no other contestant was awarded the title in her stead.

Regina

Vintage Powder Room

a window into the past

1 Jul, 2012

All hail the Queen! The Regina hair net envelope suggests that any wearer of the net inside will become a queen. Well, a hair net is much easier to wear out in public than a jeweled crown is — unless you’re Miss America.

The Miss America Pageant was conceived in Atlantic City. The Businessmen’s League of Atlantic City devised a plan that would keep profits flowing into the city past Labor Day, which was when tourists traditionally left for home.

The kick-off event was held on September 25, 1920, and was called the Fall Frolic. Who could resist an event in which three hundred and fifty men pushed gaily decorated rolling wicker chairs along a parade route? The main attractions were the young maidens who occupied the chairs. The head maiden was Miss Ernestine Cremona who, dressed in a flowing white robe, was meant to represent peace.

The Atlantic businessmen had scored a major success with the Frolic. They immediately realized the powerful appeal of a group of attractive young women dressed in bathing suits, and so a committee was formed to organize a bather’s revue for the next year’s event.

The bather’s revue committee contacted newspapers in cities as far west as Pittsburgh and as far south as Washington, D.C. asking them to sponsor local beauty contests. The winners of the local contests would participate in the Atlantic City beauty contest.

Atlantic City newspaperman Herb Test reported that the winner of the city’s pageant would be called Miss America.

The 1921 Fall Frolic was five days of, well, frolicking. There were tennis tournaments, parades, concerts, a fancy dress ball and SEVEN different bathing divisions! If you were in Atlantic City during those five days and not dressed in a bathing suit you would have been out of place. Children, men, even fire and police personnel, all were in bathing suits. There was a category created specifically for professional women, and by professional the pageant’s organizers didn’t mean corporate women, secretaries or hookers, they meant stage and screen actresses.

Margaret Gorman

The first Miss America was chosen by a combination of the crowd’s applause and points given to her by a panel of artists who served as judges. Sixteen-year-old Margaret Gorman (30-25-32), who bore a strong resemblance to screen star Mary Pickford, was proclaimed the winner. Gorman was crowned, wrapped in an American flag, and presented with the Golden Mermaid trophy and $100.

Atlantic City expanded the frolic during the 1920s and the number of contestants grew to 83 young women from 36 states. The event drew protestors who thought that the girls were immoral — why else would they be willing to parade around in bathing suits in public? The organizers countered the protests by publicizing that the contestants were wholesome, sweet young things who neither wore make-up, nor bobbed their hair.

Louise Brooks, bobbed haired beauty.

With the runaway success of the Atlantic City pageant, other groups saw an opportunity to jump on the bandwagon by promoting their own ideals of beauty. The 1920s saw pageants for a Miss Bronze America, and even the Ku Klux Klan staged a pageant for Miss 100 Percent America! It’s difficult for me to visualize a woman wearing a bathing suit and one of those dopey conical hats.

For the next several years the Atlantic City pageant continued to thrive and to change. One of the changes was in scoring. How does a panel of judges determine a beauty contest winner? By the mid-1920s a points system was established: five points for the construction of the head, three points for the torso, two points for the leg…I’m wondering just how many points a perky rounded posterior was worth.

Norma Smallwood

In 1926, Norma Smallwood, a small-town girl from Tulsa, Oklahoma, was crowned Miss America. She parlayed her reign into big bucks. She reportedly made over $100k — more than either Babe Ruth or President Calvin Coolidge!

Smallwood appears to have been the first Miss America who realized that her crown was a business opportunity. When she was asked to return to Atlantic City in 1927 to crown her successor, she demanded to be paid. When the pageant reps didn’t come forward with a check, Norma bid them adieu and headed for a gig in North Carolina.

By 1928 women’s clubs, religious organizations and other conservative Americans went on the attack and accused the organizers of the Miss America Pageant of corrupting the nation’s morals. One protester said, “Before the competition, the contestants were splendid examples of innocence and pure womanhood. Afterward their heads were filled with vicious ideas.”

Still from OUR DANCING DAUGHTERS (1928)

The controversy over the beauty contest scared the Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce so badly that, in 1928, they voted twenty-seven to three to cancel the event!

The stock market crash and resulting economic depression made the Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce rethink the event, and it was revived 1933.

In 1933, thirty young women were brought to Atlantic City aboard a chartered train called the Beauty Special.

The Atlantic City Press newspaper reported:

“Queens of pulchritude, representing 29 states, the District of Columbia and New York City, will arrive here today to compete for the crown of Miss America 1933.

The American Beauty Special train will arrive at the Pennsylvania-Reading Railroad Station at South Carolina Avenue at 1:20 p.m. to mark the opening of the eighth edition of the revived Atlantic City Pageant. The five-day program will be climaxed Saturday night with the coronation ceremonies in the Auditorium.

A collection of blondes, brunettes and red heads, will assemble in Broad Street Station, Philadelphia, this morning, and the beauty special will leave at 11:55 a.m.”

It is surprising that more women didn’t participate in the 1933 Miss America pageant. In the midst of the Great Depression the contest prizes sounded fabulous, “Wealth and many honors await the Miss America this year. She will receive many valuable prizes and a cash award as well. In addition, she will have opportunities to pursue a theatrical career.”

Some of the contestants may have believed the stories related in rags-to-Broadway-riches films like GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933. The opportunity for a girl to win a part in a film or on Broadway would have been a potent lure for those who saw themselves as the next Joan Blondell or Ruby Keeler. I can imagine many of the Miss America hopefuls on the Beauty Train singing WE’RE IN THE MONEY.

The 1933 winner was Marian Bergeron, a talented girl from Westhaven, Connecticut. She was poised for a shot at stardom until the newspapers reported her age; she was only fifteen. Her young age put a damper on an offer from RKO, but she was buoyed by a two year reign – no pageant was held in 1934.

Marian Bergeron

During the 1930s the Miss America pageant continued to be viewed by many as a circus of sin. In October 1935 a scandal rocked the contest.

Less than a month after seventeen-year-old Henrietta Leaver had been crowned Miss America, a nude statue of her was unveiled in her hometown of Pittsburgh.

Henrietta swore up and down that she had worn a bathing suit when she posed for the statue, and she also said that her grandmother had been with her each time she had posed. Nobody bought Henrietta’s story and the image of the Miss America pageant was further tarnished.

One of my favorite Miss America contestants of the 1930s was Rose Veronica Coyle (1936 winner). Rose was twenty-two when she won title of Miss America. Rose wore a short ballet shirt with a white jacket, brightened by huge red polka dots, and sang “I Can’t Escape from You”.

Rose Coyle, Truckin’

She then wowed the judges with her eight-minute long tap dance routine performed to TRUCKIN’. The audience loved her so much the judges allowed her an encore — the first in the pageant’s history.

The Miss America Pageant lost its venue after WWII broke out because it was needed by the military. Rose Coyle and her husband, Leonard Schlessinger (National General Manager of Warner Bros. Theaters) saved the day by relocating the Miss America Pageant to the Warner Theatre on the Boardwalk. It would be the pageant’s home until 1946.

Beauty Pageants, Miss America, Miss American Rose Day

A Return to True Beauty

In What Day is it?

October 20, 2009

In thousands of beauty pageants across America, she stands there, an aura around her as she tries with all of her might not to squint under the bright, hot kleig lights causing tiny beads of sweat to form on her forehead, as she focuses on holding that perfect vasoline-covered smile, praying not to trip on the dress while walking past the dimly-lit judges’ table in front of the stage….

Origin of Modern-Day Beauty Pageant

In 1921 the Businessman’s League of Atlantic City, a fun-loving group of guys to be sure, decided to hold what they called a ”Fall Frolic.” Sticking wheels on 350 colorful wicker chairs, the organizers decorated them and assembled together scores of attractive women to pose on the chairs, as men pushed them down the Boardwalk. The spectacle was such a success (go figure) that organizers decided to ask cities far and wide to run photo pageants in their newspapers, perform state-wide runoffs, and send all the winners to Atlantic City the following year as state representatives. A local newspaperman, Herb Test, spoke up and stated that the ultimate winner should be crowned “Miss America.” Although only a handful of states sent women the next year, an empire was born, changing how beauty was perceived for decades to come.

Rubber-stamping Beauty

The nationalizing and glamorizing of beauty pageants significantly helped to standardize what it means to be “beautiful” in America. Oh, I’m not trying to villify the Billion-Dollar pageant industry…. They were only building on the commercial success that came with parading a steady stream of female cinema bombshells in Hollywood. It’s no coincidence that the first winner of the Miss America Pageant was 16-year-old Margaret Gorman, noted to have been popular because she looked like then-famous movie starlet Mary Pickford.

Little girls in small towns scattered across America read about the annual winners, pouring over photographs of the contest in their local papers. Quite a bit more than a handful of young women began that dream of competing someday in what has become over 1,200 local and state-level pageants leading to the now televised national pageants, hoping to be picked (by the new pageant ”experts,” tape measure in hand) as perfect.

Eating Disorders : The 800 lb. Gorilla in the Room

A Johns Hopkins University study showed that the average contestant on Miss America is 5’7″ talls, weighs in at a feathery-light 120 lbs., and has a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 18.5, placing her squarely in the undernourished category for her height. This is to be compared to the average American woman, with a height of 5’4″, weighing 142 lbs., with a BMI of 24.4. In other words, to be considered as the next nationally televised representative of American beauty, a young women has to put serious consideration in joining the population of those residing deeply in the territory bordering an eating disorder.

My three young girls see the woman who is pressed forward by the crowd, to cut the ribbon on the new mall’s ground-breaking with impossibly large scissors. They see the happy young girl waving from the car passing by on the parade, the one in the beautiful white formal. My girls are health, having been known to turn down seconds at the dinner table many a time. Despite these continual exercises in self-control, they don’t see the same figure in the mirror as those that represent our shared ideals of shapeliness. How easy it must be for them to equate success in life with that waif-like figure paraded in front of them in magazines and on television, in music videos and commercials. I work hard to make sure they understand the difference between perception and reality…

It is estimated by the National Institute of Mental Health that between 5-10% of all women in America suffer from eating disorders, and up to 15% have had issues with them in their lives. Women have begun to fight back at this impossible body image, demanding a more realistic view of what is considered beautiful by the media, often lashing out at the beauty pageants, television conglomerates, and fashion industry.

From Skinny to “Fit”

She looks fat?

She looks fat?

Beauty pageant marketers have heard the complaints, simply moving their message from thin to the more popular image of “fit,” adding the word “fitness” to describe swimsuit competitions, as though to wear a skinny slip of fabric is akin to a sporting activity. My Dad used to watch pretty much any sport that was on television, including of all things Bass Fishing. If they had grass growing competitions, I am sure he would have owned a hat with Kentucky Blue Grass emblazoned on it. To my surprise, he also loved to watch Women’s Baskeball. I’m not always sure it was for the right reasons… The players looked pretty fit to me. The average female Olympic women’s basketball player (a Hell of a lot taller, fitter and thinner than the average woman) coincidentally has a BMI averaging 24.4, same as your typical, much shorter red-blooded and totally hot American female.

There is nothing fit in the rapid (and dangerous) weight-loss regimen that one not-long-ago Miss America winner underwent, going from a size 7 to a size 2 in just four months in preparation for the competition. I seriously doubt she played basketball to get in that condition. Our girls cannot (and should not) try to keep up with this dangerous example of American “fitness.” They don’t wind up on stages with tiaras after that type of behavior. They wind up in hospitals.

The Addition of “Good Causes”

National and International Beauty Pageants have further pushed away the issue of eating disorders by brandishing before them (and perhaps hiding behind) a variety of wonderful causes they support financially, including AIDS Education, Women’s Rights, School Violence and Breast Cancer Awareness. They are certainly incredible, worthy causes. I believe in and support them all, in case an apologetic wants to bash me over the head with one. But the pageants continue to fail to take on the 800 lb. gorilla in the room head-on, undertaking the loosening of what body style has to be met to compete and win. What better way to create a more healthy, positive body image for our daughters, one that empowers them to stop looking in the mirror so much and begin looking more seriously at their educations, than to change what they physically see in beauty pageant winners? In that girl who cuts the ribbon or waves in the parade?

Even Barbie is No Longer Skinny Enough…

Cankles? Really?

Cankles? Really?

French Shoe Designer Christian LouBoutin recently complained that he felt that Barbie, the perennial American doll that pretty much everybody acknowledges has impossible proportions, has cankles. Yes, fat ankles. He wants the doll redesigned to have skinnier ankles. Thanks, jerk.

Ralph Lauren model Filippa Hamilton (size 4) sparked controversy in the news recently, stating she was let go for being too fat to fit in the clothing provided to her for photograph sessions. In support of these statements, fashion shots of the 5’10″ 120 lb. model were produced to the media, doctored in order make her hips appear even skinnier than her head, because a size 4 was not small enough to produce the desirable eye-candy on a sailboat look…

The Power of Beauty

There is no mistaking the power of attractiveness. Have we been trained to believe that beautiful people somehow possess greater faculties of the mind, or a deeper reservoir of essential, earthy goodness? Researchers have shown that when handing in homework of equal merit, more attractive students get higher grades on average by their googly-eyed teachers. More attractive criminals tend to get lighter sentences from their jurors. Less attractive people earn less than average-looking people, who make less than more attractive workers holding similar positions.

Where Does It Stop? Who Will Take a Stand?

Thank you Miss American Rose!

Thank you Miss American Rose!

The Miss American Rose Pageant is very unlike other pageants. Competitors of all ages are not invited to attend at a particular location, instead mailing in their applications to pageant headquarters. That’s right, mail-in. There are no travel expenses, no clothing and hairstyle costs, no hotel rooms and trainers, no poise school and singing lessons, no tape under the boobs, no wardrobe malfunctions, no stupid answers to canned questions. And definitely no itching powder in a competitor’s swimsuit.

The competition is based largely on a girl (or woman’s) lifetime achievements, rather than being almost wholely focused on one’s appearance and poise. There are optional competitions based on academics, talent, community service, career, and finally beauty. But before you roll your eyes, the beauty portion of the pageant is based on either photograph or written essay, as outer and inner beauty are each being considered as having their merit..

I have to stand and applaud the Miss American Rose Pagaent. They have shirked the standardized beauty specifications, put down the tape measures and scales, and allowed the definition of what is beautiful to return to the eye of the beholder. They have drawn forth and celebrated the inner beauty in each and every girl and woman, empowering and pushing them to be leaders, teachers, and examples for all of us.

From the bottom of my heart I thank you, Miss American Rose Pageant. My daughters and I love you.

Timeline: Miss America

1845

Women’s History entry

Newspaperman Horace Greeley publishes a landmark book by journalist and social reformer Margaret Fuller, Woman in the Nineteenth Century. The work argues for women’s equality in all aspects of life.

1848

Women’s History entry

Leading women in early feminist movement American women move further into the public sphere; the first Women’s Rights Convention is held at Seneca Falls, New York.

1849

Women’s History entry

Amelia Bloomer begins her crusade to reform American women’s fashions.

1854

Miss America entry

P.T. Barnum’s efforts to launch a live beauty contest are unsuccessful. Respectable women do not parade their beauty in public. He launches a picture-based beauty contest sponsored by local newspapers. It is highly successful and imitated.

1861-64

Civil War soldier holding flag The nation is divided in two as North and South clash in the U.S. Civil War.

1863

January 1: President Abraham Lincoln signs the Emancipation Proclamation.

1880

Miss America entry

The first recorded bathing beauty contest takes place at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Inventor Thomas Edison is a judge. A bridal trousseau is the prize. Contestants must be under 25, not married, at least 5 feet 4 inches tall, and weigh no more than 130 pounds.

1889

Women’s History entry

November 18: Journalist Nellie Bly sets off to travel around the world in under 80 days.

1890

Women’s History entry

An umbrella organization, the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, is formed. Women’s clubs are venues for women’s education and development, and will increasingly focus on community service.

In a second wave of U.S. immigration, people from Eastern Europe and Italy come to America.

1893

Miss America entry

The Chicago Columbian Exposition features a Congress of Beauty.

1895

Women’s History entry

The National Federation of Afro-American Women is formed. A year later it joins with the League of Colored Women to become the National Association of Colored Women.

1896

U.S. Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson rules that segregation is not unconstitutional. The doctrine treating African Americans as "separate but equal" holds for the next half century.

1898

Rough Riders, San Juan American soldiers fight the Spanish American War in Cuba and the Philippines.

1902

Women’s History entry

The National Women’s Trade Union League is formed.

Women’s History entry

November: McClure’s Magazine publishes the first installment of muckraker Ida Tarbell’s exposé, The History of the Standard Oil Company.

1907

Miss America entry

Swimmer Annette Kellerman is arrested for indecent exposure while trying to popularize a one-piece swimsuit worn with tights rather than bloomers.

1909

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is founded.

1914

World War I begins in Europe.

1915

D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation is the first full-length feature film in the new motion picture industry. It portrays the Ku Klux Klan as American heroes.

The new sound recording industry begins a phase of rapid growth.

1917-18

World War I poster The U.S. enters World War I. Of the 4.3 million American soldiers who fight, 126,000 are killed. The total number dead in the bloodiest war mankind has ever seen is 8.5 million, from over a dozen nations.

1919

Women’s History entry

Meter readers The First International Congress of Working Women meets in Washington, D.C.

The Red Summer: widespread anti-Communist sentiment, racial and labor unrest, and the aftermath of war combine and cause the nation to erupt in violence.

1920

prohibition January: The Eighteenth Amendment makes the sale, manufacture, and transportation of intoxicating liquors illegal.

Women’s History entry

August: The Nineteenth Amendment is ratified, giving women the right to vote. The National League of Women Voters is organized.

1921

Miss America entry

Margaret Gorman with other contestants September 7: The first Miss America Pageant, called the "Inter-City Beauty Pageant," takes place in Atlantic City as a part of a Fall Frolic to attract tourists. There are seven contestants. Sixteen-year-old Margaret Gorman from Washington, D.C., wins the title, Miss America.

1923

Miss America entry

September: The Inter-City Beauty Contest grows in popularity, attracting over 70 contestants. After pageant officials forget to include a "no marriage" rule, it is discovered that "Miss" Alaska, Helmar Leiderman, is not only married but is also a resident of New York.

Miss America entry

September: Mary Katherine Campbell becomes the only woman to win the Miss America title two years in a row. Pageant officials subsequently establish a rule that a woman cannot hold the title more than once.

1924

The Immigration Act establishes a national quota system for limiting immigration.

1926

Miss America entry

Norma Smallwood, Miss America 1926, makes $100,000 in appearance fees, an income higher than either Babe Ruth or the president of the United States.

1927

September: Baseball star Babe Ruth hits record-breaking home run number 60. All the people in attendance wave handkerchiefs in his honor. The record will stand for over 3 decades.

1929

Miss America entry

Religious groups and women’s clubs protest the loose morals of young women in the pageant. Bad press plus financial trouble shut the pageant down between 1929 and 1932.

Unemployment lines October 24: The stock market crashes. The Great Depression begins.

1931

March 25: Nine black youths are accused of the rape of two white women in Paint Rock, Alabama. The Scottsboro boys’ case becomes one of the most significant legal fights of the twentieth century.

1932

Women’s History entry

Female nurse May 20: Amelia Earhart is the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. She becomes a Depression-era hero and advocate for women’s equality, saying, "A pilot’s a pilot. I hope that such equality could be carried out in other fields so that men and women may achieve equally in any endeavor…"

Miss America entry

September: Atlantic City sponsors revive the Miss America Pageant. Fifteen-year-old Marian Bergeron is Miss America 1933. Age requirements are instituted afterwards requiring contestants to be between 18 and 26.

1930s

Miss America entry

Sometime in the 1930s a pageant rule is established requiring contestants to be of the white race.

Women’s History entry

Union membership among women in the U.S. increases threefold, to almost 20% of the female workforce.

1933

Franklin Roosevelt President Franklin Delano Roosevelt is inaugurated.

1935

Miss America entry

- Pageant officials hope to re-invent the pageant. They hire Lenora Slaughter to do the job for six weeks. She will stay for 32 years, serving as the pageant’s director.

1937

Miss America entry

Winner Bette Cooper changes her mind about being Miss America, and flees Atlantic City.

1937

Farmer Dust Bowl farmers in the Great Plains suffer the effects of severe dust storms as well as economic hard times.

1938

Miss America entry

A "society matron" chaperone system is enacted, to keep pageant contestants away from scandal.

Miss America entry

A talent competition is added as part of the scoring process.

Miss America entry

Contestants are no longer allowed to represent cities, resorts, or theaters. Instead, they are required to represent states.

1939

April: RCA’s National Broadcasting Company (NBC) broadcasts the opening of the New York World’s Fair. One of the first television sets is displayed at the Fair.

September 1: Germany invades Poland. World War II begins.

1940

Miss America entry

September: The pageant is officially dubbed the Miss America Pageant and moves into Atlantic City’s Convention Hall.

1941

Pearl Harbor December 7: The Japanese bomb a U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. A day later, President Roosevelt declares war on Japan and the U.S. enters World War II.

1941-1945

Women’s History entry

Women working for war effort Women’s employment rises dramatically as women take on new wartime jobs.

1942

Miss America entry

Miss America is transformed into an emblem of patriotism. Miss America 1942, Jean Bartel, turns down a lucrative movie offer to sell a record number of war bonds.

1942-1943

Women’s History entry

Women’s branches of armed forces are formed, including the Army WACS, the Navy WAVES, the Coast Guard SPARS, the Marines MCWR, and the Army Air Force’s WASPS. Women are six percent of the armed services.

1944

January 22: More than 17 months after news of Hitler’s plan to annihilate Europe’s Jews reaches the U.S., President Roosevelt issues an executive order to establish the War Refugee Board.

Miss America entry

Director Lenora Slaughter raises $5000 to launch the Miss America scholarship program. Previously Miss America is offered furs and movie contracts. Now she is offered funds for college. The original scholarship patrons are: Joseph Bancroft and Sons, Catalina Swimwear, F.W. Fitch Company, and the Sandy Valley Grocery Company. She also enlists Junior Chambers of Commerce across the country to sponsor local and state contests.

Miss America entry

September 8: Bess Myerson becomes Miss America 1945, the first Jewish Miss America and the first winner of the scholarship program. She plans to study conducting.

1945

Miss America entry

Bess Myerson receives few offers for appearances and product endorsement. America appears not to be ready for a Jewish Miss America. Myerson decides to spend her year speaking for the Jewish Anti-Defamation League on the topic, "You Can Not Be Beautiful and Hate."

May 8: V-E Day. President Harry Truman announces the end of the war in Europe via radio.

September 2: V-J Day, when Japan formally surrenders, ends World War II.

1946

Miss America entry

Lenora Slaughter bans the phrase "bathing suit"– the garments are to be called "swimsuits."

The Baby Boom begins. The birth rate will rise dramatically over the next decade.

1947

Miss America entry

Lee Meriwether September: For the last time, Miss America is crowned in a bathing suit. Afterwards, winners are crowned in evening gowns.

1948

Women’s History entry

June 12: President Harry Truman signs into law the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act, enabling women to serve as permanent, regular members of the armed services. The law limits the number of women that can serve in the military to two percent of the total forces in each branch.

1949

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is formed.

1950s

A "Cold War" develops between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R.

1950

Korean woman and child June: North Korea invades South Korea. President Truman commits U.S. troops.

Miss America entry

September: Yolande Betbeze sings an operatic aria and is crowned Miss America 1951. Catalina Swimwear withdraws sponsorship of the pageant after Betbeze refuses to appear in public in a swimsuit.

1952

Dwight Eisenhower is elected president.

Miss America entry

Catalina inaugurates the Miss Universe and Miss USA Pageants, two years after withdrawing support for the Miss America Pageant.

1953

June 2: Queen Elizabeth II is crowned in England.

Miss America entry

ABC approaches the pageant about televising the event. Fearful of losing the Atlantic City audience to TV, pageant officials say no. Movie star Eddie Fisher hosts the pageant.

September: Alfred Kinsey’s report, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, challenges many myths about sexual behavior in American society.

December: Playboy, a men’s magazine featuring photographs of nude women, publishes its inaugural issue, featuring Marilyn Monroe on the cover.

1954

May 17: The "separate but equal" doctrine established by Plessy v. Fergusson in 1892 is overruled in Brown v. Board of Education. The Supreme Court unanimously rules that segregation in schools is unconstitutional.

Miss America entry

Miss America on television Philco Television Sets purchases 1954 television broadcast rights to the pageant for $10,000 and contracts with ABC for the broadcast.

Miss America entry

September 11: Twenty-seven million people tune in to see Lee Ann Meriwether crowned Miss America. Grace Kelly is a judge and Bess Myerson reports from backstage. The scholarship award is $10,000.

1955

Miss America entry

Bert Parks Bert Parks is hired as the pageant’s emcee. He introduces a theme song, There She Is , written by Bernie Wayne.

1959

Miss America entry

Every state in the nation is at last represented at the pageant.

1960s

Women’s History entry

Women protesting in Washington Women are major participants in the civil rights and anti-war movements.

1961

Women’s History entry

The President’s Commission on the Status of Women is established, chaired by former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. The commission will take two years to publish its Peterson Report, documenting workplace discrimination against women and making recommendations for child care, maternity leave, and equal opportunity for working women.

1963

Women’s History entry

Betty Freidan publishes The Feminine Mystique, reflecting a groundswell of dissatisfaction with women’s social status, and it is a best seller. Gloria Steinem’s magazine article, "I Was a Playboy Bunny," details the author’s undercover investigation of the New York Playboy Club.

Martin Luther King Jr. August 28: Martin Luther King leads a March on Washington to urge support for pending civil rights legislation. He delivers his famous "I have a dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

November 22: President John F. Kennedy is assassinated.

1964

Women’s History entry

The 1964 Civil Rights Act includes a key provision for women. Title VII outlaws discrimination in public accommodations or employment on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin. At the last minute the word "sex" is added by a Southern congressman, thinking it will kill the entire bill. Instead, it passes.

The Immigration Act abolishes a quota system that had restricted immigration.

1965

President Johnson with American soldiers The first American troops arrive in Vietnam.

1966

Miss America entry

The Miss America Pageant is televised in color in its first year on NBC.

Women’s History entry

October: The National Organization for Women is formed.

1967

Women’s History entry

The women’s liberation movement begins to grow. In Berkeley, California, women gather to raise consciousness about feminist issues.

Miss America entry

Lenora Slaughter, the pageant’s director, retires.

1968

April 4: Martin Luther King is assassinated. Rioting occurs in 100 American cities.

June 6: Senator Robert Kennedy is assassinated.

August: Protesters disrupt the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

Miss America entry

Miss Black America pagent September 7: Judi Ford is crowned Miss America 1969. Feminists get national media attention for their protest on the Atlantic City boardwalk, where they crown a sheep and throw products like lipstick and hair curlers into a "Freedom Trash Can." The same day, the first Miss Black America Contest is held in Atlantic City in protest of the "white" Miss America Pageant.

Miss America entry

Pepsi Cola withdraws its 11-year sponsorship, claiming the pageant no longer represents the changing values of American society.

Women’s History entry

Shirley Chisholm is the first African American woman to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

1969

Miss America entry

Feminist protesters at Atlantic City Feminist protesters return to Atlantic City, claiming the pageant treats women as sex objects. Protesters will return every year well into the 1970s.

1970

May 4: National Guardsmen kill four students at anti-war demonstrations at Ohio’s Kent State University.

Miss America entry

Rules barring non-whites have finally changed. The first black contestant to make it to Atlantic City is Cheryl Brown, Miss Iowa.

Miss America entry

Pam Eldred, Miss America 1970, has to be evacuated to safety while entertaining soldiers in Vietnam.

1971

Women’s History entry

A prototype of Ms. Magazine is published.

1972

Women’s History entry

March 22: The Equal Rights Amendment passes Congress and is sent to the states for ratification. The amendment will be defeated, after a lengthy battle, in 1982.

Women’s History entry

Title IX of the Higher Education Act bans exclusion on the basis of sex from programs or activities in universities receiving federal financial assistance, marking a turning point for women’s access to athletics programs.

June 17: Five men are arrested for breaking into Democratic National Committee offices at the Watergate apartment and office complex in Washington, D.C.

1973

Women’s History entry

January 22: In Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court grants women the right to legal abortions.

March 29: The last American troops leave Vietnam.

Miss America entry

Becky King Rebecca King is chosen Miss America 1974. She is the first winner to use her scholarship award for professional education, studying to become a lawyer.

1974

Women’s History entry

Little League Baseball votes to allow girls on its teams.

President Richard Nixon August 9: President Nixon resigns.

1979

March 28: The nuclear power plant at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania has a meltdown at its core, in America’s worst nuclear accident.

November 4: Militant Islamic students seize hostages at the American Embassy in Teheran, Iran. Fifty-two hostages will be detained for 444 days — over 14 months.

1980

Miss America entry

Miss Alabama, Lencola Sullivan, is the first African American to make the pageant’s top five finalists.

Women’s History entry

Only 27% of the nation’s households conform to traditional ideas of a family with a male breadwinner and female housewife. Two-income families or female-headed households are rapidly replacing the older pattern.

President Ronald Reagan Ronald Reagan is elected president.

1981

Miss America entry

Bert Parks is fired. He is considered too old, too corny, and too sexist for the times. Talk show host Johnny Carson initiates a protest that is unsuccessful. Ron Ely and then Gary Collins replace Parks.

Women’s History entry

September 25: Sandra Day O’Connor becomes the U.S. Supreme Court’s first female judge.

1983

Women’s History entry

Sally Ride June 18: The first woman astronaut, Sally K. Ride, travels into space aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger.

Miss America entry

Vanessa Williams Vanessa Williams is crowned Miss America 1984 and is the first black woman to hold the title. Two months before the end of her reign, Penthouse magazine will publish nude photos of her taken when she was 17. Pageant officials will force her to resign.

1984

Women’s History entry

The Democratic Party nominates Geraldine Ferraro for the vice presidency, the first time a major party has nominated a woman.

1987

Miss America entry

Albert Marks retires as Chairman of the Board of the Miss America Organization after 27 years. The first paid CEO, Leonard Horn, is hired.

1988

Miss America entry

Miss America Kaye Lani Rae Rafko devotes her year to advocacy of care for the terminally ill, becoming the first winner to dedicate her reign to a social issue.

1989

Miss America entry

The social issue platform, where contestants commit to advocating for a cause if they become Miss America, becomes part of the pageant’s requirements.

1990

The Berlin Wall falls, marking the end of the Cold War.

1990-1991

President George Bush with leader of Kuwait Persian Gulf War. The U.S. leads a multi-national coalition against Iraq after that country invades Kuwait; Iraq surrenders.

1991

Women’s History entry

Anita Hill, a law professor, testifies before a U.S. Senate committee that the conservative Supreme Court nominee, Clarence Thomas, engaged in sexual harassment. Issues of race and gender are debated across the country.

1992

Miss America entry

Kim Aiken, Miss America 1993, is the fifth African American Miss America. She uses her year to promote the cause of the homeless.

1994

Miss America entry

Alabama’s Heather Whitestone wins the swimsuit and talent competitions and is crowned Miss America 1995. She is deaf and becomes the first Miss America with a physical handicap.

1996

Miss America entry

Record low TV ratings prompt NBC to drop the Miss America Pageant after 30 years. ABC picks up broadcast rights.

1997

Miss America entry

The swimsuit competition is modified. Contestants can wear any style, including two piece and bikini.

1999

Miss America entry

The swimsuit rules are again modified, barring string bikinis and thong swimsuits.

2000

Miss America entry

In the year 2000, the first Asian American Miss America is crowned. Angela Perez Baraquio of Hawaii is Miss America 2001.

2001

September 11: Terrorists from the Middle East highjack four airplanes. Two crash into New York’s World Trade Center, destroying both towers and killing thousands. One crashes into the Pentagon, also causing extensive damage and loss of life. The fourth plane crashes in a field in Pennsylvania, killing all passengers.

The United States commits to a war on terrorism.

Miss America entry

September 26: Katie Harman, Miss America 2002, rings the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange, along with several New York firefighters.

Voir enfin:

Indian Americans

Pew

June 19, 2012

History

The arrival of more than 6,000 Indians from Asia between 1904 and 1911, mainly to work as farmhands, marked the first major influx of this population into the United States. Indians from Asia in the U.S. were first classified in court decisions of 1910 and 1913 as Caucasians, and therefore could become citizens as well as intermarry with U.S.-born whites. However, the decisions were reversed by the Supreme Court in 1923, when Indians from Asia were legally classified as non-white and therefore ineligible for citizenship.

That court decision prevented Indian immigrants from naturalizing. New immigration from India already had been prohibited by a 1917 law.

The restrictions were lifted after passage of comprehensive immigration legislation in 1965. Since then, a large influx of highly educated professionals from India has immigrated to the U.S. for skilled employment. In 2010, an estimated 2.2 million adult Indian Americans lived in the U.S., according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Indians are the third-largest group among Asian Americans and represent about 17% of the U.S. adult Asian population.

Characteristics (2010 ACS)

Nativity and citizenship. Nearly nine-in-ten (87%) adult Indian Americans in the United States are foreign born, compared with about 74% of adult Asian Americans and 16% of the adult U.S. population overall. More than half of Indian-American adults are U.S. citizens (56%), lower than the share among overall adult Asian population (70%) as well as the national share (91%).

Language. More than three-quarters of Indian Americans (76%) speak English proficiently, (41) compared with 63% of all Asian Americans and 90% of the U.S. population overall.

Age. The median age of adult Indian Americans is 37, lower than for adult Asian Americans (41) and the national median (45).

Marital status. More than seven-in-ten (71%) adult Indian Americans are married, a share significantly higher than for all Asian Americans (59%) and for the nation (51%).

Fertility. The share of Indian-American women ages 18 to 44 who gave birth in the 12 months prior to the 2010 American Community Survey was 8.4%, higher than the comparable share for Asian-American women overall (6.8%) and the national share (7.1%). The share of these mothers who were unmarried was much lower among Indian Americans (2.3%) than among all Asian Americans (15%) and the population overall (37%).

Educational attainment. Among Indian Americans ages 25 and older, seven-in-ten (70%) have obtained at least a bachelor’s degree; this is higher than the Asian-American share (49%) and much higher than the national share (28%).

Income. Median annual personal earnings for Indian-American full-time, year-round workers are $65,000, significantly higher than for all Asian Americans ($48,000) as well as for all U.S. adults ($40,000). Among households, the median annual income for Indians is $88,000, much higher than for all Asians ($66,000) and all U.S. households ($49,800).

Homeownership. More than half of Indian Americans (57%) own a home, compared with 58% of Asian Americans overall and 65% of the U.S. population overall.

Poverty status. The share of adult Indian Americans who live in poverty is 9%, lower than the shares of all Asian Americans (12%) and of the U.S. population overall (13%).

Regional dispersion. Indian Americans are more evenly spread out than other Asian Americans. About 24% of adult Indian Americans live in the West, compared with 47% of Asian Americans and 23% of the U.S. population overall. More than three-in-ten (31%) Indian Americans live in the Northeast, 29% live in the South, and the rest (17%) live in the Midwest.

Attitudes

Here are a few key findings from the 2012 Asian-American survey about Indian Americans compared with other major U.S. Asian groups:

Indian Americans stand out from most other U.S. Asian groups in the personal importance they place on parenting; 78% of Indian Americans say being a good parent is one of the most important things to them personally.

Indian Americans are among the most likely to say that the strength of family ties is better in their country of origin (69%) than in the U.S. (8%).

Compared with other U.S. Asian groups, Indian Americans are the most likely to identify with the Democratic Party; 65% are Democrats or lean to the Democrats, 18% are Republican or lean to the Republicans. And 65% of Indian Americans approve of President Obama’s job performance, while 22% disapprove.


Elections iraniennes: Attention, une surprise peut en cacher une autre (We are all competitors and friends who serve the regime well)

19 juin, 2013
http://media.cagle.com/176/2013/06/12/133099_600.jpg
Dry Bones,cartoon, Israel, Iran, Islamist, islamic state, Ayatollah, Ayatollahs, Elections, Rebels, theological, theocracy, Dictator, supreme leader, Shia, Shi'ite, Okay, on va voter. Combien de personnes ici voudraient être braquées par ce groupe? Et maintenant combien de personnes voudraient être braquées par notre groupe? Virgil Starkwell ("Prends l’oseille et tais-toi", Woody Allen, 1969)
N’oubliez pas qu’Ahmadinejad n’est que le représentant d’un régime de nature totalitaire, qui ne peut se réformer et évoluer, quelle que soit la personne qui le représente. (…) le problème ne vient pas de l’idée de se doter de l’énergie nucléaire; il provient de la nature du régime islamique (…) Si le régime veut survivre, il doit absolument mettre en échec le monde libre, combattre ses valeurs. La République islamique ne peut pas perdurer dans un monde où l’on parle des droits de l’homme ou de la démocratie. Tous ces principes sont du cyanure pour les islamistes. Comment voulez-vous que les successeurs de Khomeini, dont le but reste l’exportation de la révolution, puissent s’asseoir un jour à la même table que le président Sarkozy ou le président Obama? Reza Pahlavi
Le fond du problème est que ce régime ne veut pas reprendre ses négociations avec les Occidentaux car au bout de compte, il devrait accepter des compromis contraires à ses intérêts. Ces intérêts résident dans le fait d’être l’adversaire idéologique de l’Occident pour demeurer dans le rôle intéressant d’agitateur régional arbitre du conflit israélo-arabe. Pour cela, il doit séduire la rue arabe avec des slogans anxiogènes et disposer de milices armées. S’il faisait le moindre geste d’apaisement, il perdrait l’appui de la rue arabe et de ces milices qui peuvent aller proposer leurs services à d’autres protecteurs qui souhaitent contrôler cette force de nuisance (Syrie, Russie ou Chine). Iran Resist
Nous sommes tous des concurrents et des amis qui servent bien le régime. Ali Akbar Velayati
Pendant que nous parlions avec les Européens à Téhéran, nous installions le matériel dans certaines parties de l’installation de [conversion nucléaire] à Ispahan. En créant un environnement calme, nous avons pu achever les travaux. Rowhani (2004)
Iran made most of its key nuclear strides under Mr. Ahmadinejad, who also showed just how far Iran could test the West’s patience without incurring regime- threatening penalties. Supply IEDs to Iraqi insurgents to kill American GIs? Check. Enrich uranium to near-bomb grade levels? Check. Steal an election and imprison the opposition? Check. Take Royal Marines and American backpackers hostage? Check. Fight to save Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria? That, too. Even now, the diplomatic option remains a viable one as far as the Obama administration is concerned. Now the West is supposed to be grateful that Mr. Ahmadinejad’s scowling face will be replaced by Mr. Rohani’s smiling one—a bad-cop, good-cop routine that Iran has played before. Western concessions will no doubt follow if Mr. Rohani can convince his boss, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, to play along. It shouldn’t be a hard sell: Iran is now just a head-fake away from becoming a nuclear state and Mr. Khamenei has shown he’s not averse to pragmatism when it suits him. The capacity for self-deception is a coping mechanism in both life and diplomacy, but it comes at a price. As the West cheers the moderate and pragmatic and centrist Mr. Rohani, it will come to discover just how high a price it will pay. Bret Stephens
Rohani (…) ne s’est jamais lui-même qualifié de réformiste. Mais il utilise une rhétorique qui est moins violente que celle d’Ahmadinejad et parle plus modérément, y compris sur la question des négociations nucléaires. Je ne peux interpréter son élection que dans un seul sens: le régime voulait sa victoire. S’ils avaient voulu la victoire d’un conservateur, ils se seraient arrangés pour obtenir l’abandon de quatre des cinq conservateurs, ouvrant la voie à la victoire de Ghalibaf [maire de Téhéran]. Mais ils ne l’ont pas fait. En outre, c’est le régime qui a approuvé la candidature de Rouhani aux côtés de seulement sept autres. C’est la preuve évidente que Khamenei voulait que Rouhani gagne, intérieurement et extérieurement. La victoire d’un candidat qui est perçu comme plus modéré mais a toujours la confiance de Khamenei sert le régime de la meilleure des façons. Extérieurement, l’Iran est aujourd’hui dans une situation très difficile en ce qui concerne les sanctions et sa réputation internationale. Un président conservateur n’aurait fait qu’aggraver l’isolement de Téhéran dans le monde. La victoire d’un membre du ‘mouvement modéré’ amènera en revanche immédiatement certains pays de la communauté internationale à appeler à "donner une chance au dialogue avec les Iraniens modérés". Ils vont demander plus de temps afin d’encourager cesdits "modérés" et cela réduira d’autant la pression sur le régime. Et donc, nous voyons que dans la non-disqualification de Rouhani et surtout dans le non-abandon de quatre des cinq candidats conservateurs il y a bien plus qu’une indication que c’est le résultat que souhaitait le régime.  Dr Soli Shahvar (Centre Ezri des études pour l’Iran et le golfe, Université de Haïfa)
Rowhani a non seulement été soigneuesement par le régime comme l’un des seuls huit candidats, tandis que des centaines d’autres étaient disqualifiés, mais la liste des candidats a été ouvertement conçue pour s’assurer qu’il arrive en tête: celle-ci opposait cinq conservateurs (deux candidats ayant abandonné avant le vote), assurant ainsi la division du vote conservateur face à un seul "modéré". "S’ils avaient voulu la victoire d"un des conservateurs, ils auraient demandé à quatre des cinq conservateurs d’abandonner (…). Et  c’est précisément ce qui s’est passé du côté "modéré". Au départ, il y avait deux "modérés", mais l’ancien président iranien Mohammad Khatami en a persuadé un, Mohammad Reza Aref, de se retirer de manière à ne pas diviser le vote modéré. Il est incroyable que Khamenei n’ai pu concevoir quelque chose de similaire du côté conservateur s’il l’ avait voulu. Il est également intéressant de noter que tout au long de la campagne, Khamenei a soigneusement évité de donner la moindre indication quant au candidat qu’il préférait. (…) Mais l’argument le plus convaincant, selon moi, est (…) le décompte des voix final. Selon les résultats officiels, Rowhani a gagné dès le premier tour en remportant 50,7 % des voix. Mais pour un régime largement soupçonné d’avoir commis une fraude électorale massive pour assurer la réélection de Mahmoud Ahmadinejad en 2009, cela aurait été un jeu d’enfant de modifier le décompte des voix de l’infime fraction nécessaire pour mettre Rowhani à moins de 50 pour cent et de forcer ainsi un second tour. En outre, il aurait été parfaitement sûr, parce qu’aucun des commentaires pré-électoraux n’avait prévu que Rowhani ait même une chance de l’emporter. Ainsi s’il avait été annoncé à, disons, 49 pour cent, il n’y n’aurait aucun soupçons de fraude ; au contraire, tout le monde aurait été étonné de sa forte prestation. Et puis, avec les conservateurs mettant en commun leurs forces derrière un candidat unique au second tour, une petite défaite de Rowhani aurait été tout aussi insoupçonnable. Il n’est pas difficile de comprendre pourquoi Khamenei voulait la victoire de Rowhani: il avait désespérément besoin de quelqu’un qui pouvait alléger les sanctions internationales et conjurer la menace d’une frappe militaire sans concéder quoi que ce soit sur le programme nucléaire. Et la performance de Rowhani comme principal négociateur nucléaire iranien en 2003-2005 avait prouvé sa compétence à cet égard. Dont il s’était d’ailleurs vanté: "Pendant que nous parlions avec les Européens à Téhéran, nous installions le matériel dans certaines parties de l’installation de [conversion nucléaire] à Ispahan", avait déclaré Rowhani en 2004. En créant un environnement calme, nous avons pu achever les travaux." Au lendemain de la victoire de Rowhani, des responsables américains et européens en sont déjà à envisager avec enthousiasme un nouveau cycle de négociations, tandis que les analystes israéliens affirment que l’élection a presque certainement retardé toute possibilité d’une action militaire contre le programme nucléaire de l’Iran à 2014. Ainsi, Khamenei a obtenu exactement ce qu’il voulait. La seule question est pourquoi tous les "experts" dépeignent encore cela comme une défaite pour le régime. Evelyn Gordon

Comment dit-on "tireur de ficelles" en persan ?

Réduisez votre nombre de candidats à huit (dont bien sûr le candidat que vous souhaitez voir gagner) après en avoir disqualifié des centaines; réduisez encore le nombre des candidats à six en demandant à deux "conservateurs" de se retirer tout en vous assurant de la division dudit camp conservateur en maintenant cinq d’entre eux en lice tout en renforçant le camp modéré en obtenant l’abandon d’un des deux "modérés; évitez soigneusement tout au long de la campagne de montrer la moindre préférence pour aucun candidat; fixez la victoire finale de votre candidat à quelques fractions de pourcentages au-dessus de 50% de façon à ce qu’il n’y ait pas de second tour et voilà: vous avez la victoire d’un candidat "modéré" que personne n’attendait mais qui réjouit tout le monde – vous compris !

Alors qu’au lendemain d’une énième élection-bidon, nos prétendus "experts" nous bassinent à longueur de page et d’antenne sur la prétendue "divine surprise" de l’élection d’un "modéré" à la présidence iranienne …

Comment ne pas voir, avec la revue Commentary, l’aveuglante évidence d’un énième coup monté ?

Mais surtout la vraie surprise (?) d’une communauté internationale et de ses prétendus "experts" si pressés de présenter comme une défaite du régime au moment précisément où se rapprochait dangereusement la fenêtre de tir pour la destruction des installations nucléaires iraniennes …

La victoire d’un candidat s’étant explicitement vanté, la dernière fois qu’il dirigeait les négociations nucléaires, d’avoir endormi les Européens et permis ainsi l’achèvement des travaux ?

Rowhani’s Win Is a Victory for the Regime

Evelyn Gordon

Commentary

06.18.2013

Despite widespread disagreement about how Hassan Rowhani’s election as president affects the chances of a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear program, just about everyone appears to agree on one thing: The victory of a “relative moderate” came as a complete and unwelcome surprise to Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei. I’d been wondering whether anyone was ever going to challenge this blatantly irrational consensus, but finally, someone has. “I interpret his election in one way only: The regime wanted him to win,” said Dr. Soli Shahvar, head of Haifa University’s Ezri Center for Iran and Gulf Studies, in an interview with the Tower.

Shahvar pointed out that not only was Rowhani handpicked by the regime to be one of only eight candidates, while hundreds of others were disqualified, but the candidate list was blatantly tilted to ensure that he would place first: It pitted a single “moderate” against five conservatives (two candidates dropped out before the vote), thereby ensuring that the conservative vote would fragment. “If they had wanted one of the conservatives to win, they would have gotten four of the five conservatives to drop out of the race,” Shahvar said.

Indeed, though Shahvar didn’t mention it, that’s precisely what happened on the “moderate” side. Initially, there were two “moderates,” but former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami persuaded one, Mohammad Reza Aref, to withdraw so as not to split the moderate vote. It beggars belief that Khamenei couldn’t have engineered something similar on the conservative side had he so desired.

It’s also worth noting that throughout the campaign, Khamenei carefully avoided giving any hint as to which candidate he preferred. The widespread assumption that he preferred a conservative is unsupported by any evidence.

But the most convincing argument, to my mind, is one Shahvar didn’t make: the final vote tally. According to the official results, Rowhani clinched the contest in the first round by winning 50.7 percent of the vote. But for a regime widely suspected of committing massive electoral fraud to ensure Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s reelection in 2009, it would have been child’s play to alter the vote count by the tiny fraction necessary to put Rowhani under 50 percent and force a second round. Moreover, it would have been perfectly safe, because none of the pre-election commentary foresaw Rowhani coming anywhere near victory. Thus had his tally been announced at, say, 49 percent instead, there would have been no suspicions of fraud; rather, everyone would have been amazed at his strong showing. And then, with conservatives pooling their forces behind a single candidate in the run-off, a narrow loss for Rowhani would have been equally unsuspicious.

It’s not hard to figure out why Khamenei would have wanted Rowhani to win: He desperately needed someone who could ease the international sanctions and stave off the threat of a military strike without actually conceding anything on the nuclear program. And Rowhani’s performance as Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator in 2003-05 proved his skill in this regard. Indeed, he boasted of it: “While we were talking with the Europeans in Tehran, we were installing equipment in parts of the [nuclear conversion] facility in Isfahan,” Rowhani said in 2004. “By creating a calm environment, we were able to complete the work there.”

In the aftermath of Rowhani’s victory, American and European officials are already talking enthusiastically about a new round of negotiations, while Israeli analysts say the election has almost certainly delayed any possibility of military action against Iran’s nuclear program until 2014. Thus Khamenei has gotten exactly what he wanted. The only question is why all the “experts” are still portraying this as a defeat for the regime.

Voir aussi:

“The Regime Wanted Him to Win”

Avi Issacharoff

The Tower

June 16, 2013

Soon after it became clear to Ali Akbar Velayati that he had no chance of winning this week’s presidential election in Iran, he quickly congratulated the rest of the candidates and wished them success. “We are all competitors and friends who serve the regime well,” he said.

And indeed, putting aside how quickly the winner Hassan Rouhani was branded a “reformist” by Western and even Israeli outlets, Velayati had described him most accurately: a servant of the regime.

The incoming president of Iran was never a reformist. It is doubtful that his achievement was even a victory for the moderate camp in Iran, which on the face of it wants to replace the regime and to stop the nuclear weapons race. Rouhani, as opposed to the image that has been fashioned, was until recently known as part of the conservative camp in Iran. He is not one of those challenging the Islamist regime, and certainly not challenging Khamenei’s rule.

Rouhani’s win election should not be seen as a dramatic sign that Iran will change its line regarding either its nuclear policy or its involvement in Middle Eastern conflicts. Despite Rouhani’s declarations in the past that may suggest he seeks flexibility in the nuclear project, the reality in Iran is that these matters will remain in the hands of Khamenei and the men of the Revolutionary Guard.

Politicall Rouhani’s victory reflects power struggles within the Iranian leadership. It marks a kind of political comeback for former president President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who was Rouhani’s political godfather. Moreover, Rouhani is the breath of fresh air, a new face at the top of the Iranian leadership compared to the outgoing president, Muhamad Ahmedinejad. He was the only cleric allowed to run in the race, and will now try to bring the public, including the Tehran elites, closer to the regime of the Ayatollahs – of which he is one of the most outstanding products.

So how did a member of Iran’s Assembly of Experts and Supreme National Security Council – and a confidant of Khamenei – become the “great hope” of the moderate camp? It may be the embrace he received from the two former presidents, Khatami and Rafsanjani, rivals to Khamenei, that put him into the reformist category.

“He never called himself a reformist,” explains Dr. Soli Shahvar, who heads the Ezri Center for Iran and Gulf Studies at Haifa University. “But he uses rhetoric that is less blustery than that of Ahmedinejad, and speaks more moderately, including on the subject of nuclear negotiations.” Shahvar’s conclusion with respect to Rouhani’s win is unambiguous. “I interpret his election in one way only: The regime wanted him to win. If they had wanted one of the conservatives to win, they would have gotten four of the five conservatives to drop out of the race, paving the way for [eventual runner-up, Tehran Mayor Mohammad-Bagher] Ghalibaf to win. But they didn’t do that. Moreover, it was the regime that approved the candidacy of Rouhani alongside only seven others. This is striking evidence that Khamenei wanted Rouhani to win, both internally and externally.”

According to Shahvar, from the internal perspective, a victory for another candidate like Ahmedinejad risked provoking a renewal of the demonstrations like those of 2009. “Victory for a candidate who is perceived as more moderate yet still has the confidence of Khamenei, serves the regime in the best way. Externally, Iran today is in a very difficult situation with regard to sanctions and its international standing. A conservative president would only have increased Tehran’s isolation in the world. A victory for someone from the ‘moderate stream,’ however, will immediately bring certain countries in the international community to call for ‘giving a chance to dialogue with the Iranian moderates.’ They will ask for more time in order to encourage this stream, and it will take pressure off the regime. And so we see that in the non-disqualification of Rouhani and especially in the non-dropping-out of four of the five conservative candidates there is more than just an indication that this is the result the regime desired.”

Rouhani, in his new position as president of the country, will first of all have to bring relief in the economic crisis facing the citizens of Iran. Yet this is a nearly impossible task in light of the international sanctions which themselves are the result of the nuclear policy that has been set by the supreme leader Khamenei.

In a few months the public’s anger may well be turned against the man on whom so many Iranians, as of now, seem to have pinned their hopes.

Voir également:

Behind Iran’s ‘Moderate’ New Leader

Hassan Rohani unleashed attacks on pro-democracy student protesters in 1999.

Sohrab Ahmari

WSJ

June 16, 2013

So this is what democracy looks like in a theocratic dictatorship. Iran’s presidential campaign season kicked off last month when an unelected body of 12 Islamic jurists disqualified more than 600 candidates. Women were automatically out; so were Iranian Christians, Jews and even Sunni Muslims. The rest, including a former president, were purged for possessing insufficient revolutionary zeal. Eight regime loyalists made it onto the ballots. One emerged victorious on Saturday.

That man is Hassan Rohani, a 64-year-old cleric, former nuclear negotiator and security apparatchik. Western journalists quickly hailed the "moderate" and "reformist" Mr. Rohani. The New York Times’s Tehran correspondent couldn’t repress his election-night euphoria on Twitter: "Tonight the Islamic Republic rocks Rohani style." A BBC correspondent gushed: "The reaction of the people showed how much they trusted the electoral system." Just hours earlier the broadcaster had condemned Iranian security forces for threatening to assassinate a BBC Persian journalist in London, but such is the Western media’s hunger for good news from Tehran.

Turnout was high, with more than 70% of eligible voters casting ballots. That figure should be taken with a grain of salt, since voting is obligatory for many sectors of Iranian society. Still, some of the victory parties in Tehran and other cities did seem genuine, with voters taking to the streets to celebrate the end of a Mahmoud Ahmadinejad era that saw a rise in repression and in economic hardship caused by the regime’s mounting international isolation.

But disillusionment with seemingly heroic new leaders promising change is a centuries-old theme in Iranian history. The current regime’s theocratic structure—with a supreme leader, the Ayatollah Khamenei, and numerous unaccountable bodies lording over popularly elected officials—will soon remind voters that this latest hero has little room to maneuver.

That is, if he’s inclined to seek change in the first place. The new Iranian president was born Hassan Feridon in 1948 in Iran’s Semnan province. He entered religious studies in Qom as a child but went on to earn a secular law degree from Tehran University in 1969.

Mr. Rohani spent Iran’s revolutionary days as a close companion of the Ayatollah Khomeini and would go on to hold top posts during the Islamic Republic’s first two decades in power. For 16 years starting in 1989, Mr. Rohani served as secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council. During his tenure on the council, Mr. Rohani led the crackdown on a 1999 student uprising and helped the regime evade Western scrutiny of its nuclear-weapons program.

As Mr. Rohani said at a pro-regime rally in July 1999: "At dusk yesterday we received a decisive revolutionary order to crush mercilessly and monumentally any move of these opportunist elements wherever it may occur. From today our people shall witness how in the arena our law enforcement force . . . shall deal with these opportunists and riotous elements, if they simply dare to show their faces."

The "opportunists and riotous elements" Mr. Rohani referred to were university students staging pro-democracy protests. His words at the time were widely viewed as a declaration of war, authorizing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the basij militia to unleash hell on Tehran’s campuses.

Reza Mohajerinejad was one of those students. A founder of the National Union of Iranian Students and Graduates in the 1990s, he resides today in the San Francisco Bay area. Speaking in a phone interview on Saturday, Mr. Mohajerinejad recalled how after Mr. Rohani’s statement in 1999 security forces "poured into the dorm rooms and murdered students right in front of our eyes."

Mr. Mohajerinejad was arrested and detained for six months. Among other torture methods they used, his captors during this era of "reform" would tie him to a bed and whip his feet to a pulp. In between flogging sessions, the imprisoned students would be forced to run laps on their bloody feet or be suspended from their wrists for hours at a time.

"If we’re ever going to get freedom and democracy," Mr. Mohajerinejad now says, "we’re not going to get them from Rouhani."

Beyond Iran’s borders, Mr. Rohani has largely favored "resistance" and nuclear defiance. During the campaign, he boasted of how during his tenure as negotiator Iran didn’t suspend enrichment—on the contrary, "we completed the program." And on Syria, expect Mr. Rohani to back the ruling establishment’s pro-Assad policy. "Syria has constantly been on the front line of fighting Zionism and this resistance must not be weakened," he declared in January, according to the state-run Press TV.

These inconvenient facts from the Rohani dossier should give pause to those in Washington and Brussels eager to embrace this smiling mullah.

Mr. Ahmari is an assistant books editor at the Journal.

Voir encore:

A ‘Pragmatic’ Mullah

Iran’s new president Hassan Rohani is no moderate.

Bret Stephens

WSJ

June 17, 2013

‘There’s a sucker born every minute" is one of those great American phrases, fondly and frequently repeated by Americans, who tend to forget that it was said mainly about Americans. In the election of Hassan Rohani as Iran’s president, we are watching the point being demonstrated again by someone who has demonstrated it before.

Who is Mr. Rohani? If all you did over the weekend was read headlines, you would have gleaned that he is a "moderate" (Financial Times), a "pragmatic victor" (New York Times) and a "reformist" (Bloomberg). Reading a little further, you would also learn that his election is being welcomed by the White House as a "potentially hopeful sign" that Iran is ready to strike a nuclear bargain.

All this for a man who, as my colleague Sohrab Ahmari noted in these pages Monday, called on the regime’s basij militia to suppress the student protests of July 1999 "mercilessly and monumentally." More than a dozen students were killed in those protests, more than 1,000 were arrested, hundreds were tortured, and 70 simply "disappeared." In 2004 Mr. Rohani defended Iran’s human-rights record, insisting there was "not one person in prison in Iran except when there is a judgment by a judge following a trial."

Mr. Rohani is also the man who chaired Iran’s National Security Council between 1989 and 2005, meaning he was at the top table when Iran masterminded the 1994 bombing of the Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires, killing 85 people, and of the Khobar Towers in 1996, killing 19 U.S. airmen. He would also have been intimately familiar with the secret construction of Iran’s illicit nuclear facilities in Arak, Natanz and Isfahan, which weren’t publicly exposed until 2002.

In 2003 Mr. Rohani took charge as Iran’s lead nuclear negotiator, a period now warmly remembered in the West for Tehran’s short-lived agreement with Britain, France and Germany to suspend its nuclear-enrichment work. That was also the year in which Iran supposedly halted its illicit nuclear-weapons’ work, although the suspension proved fleeting, according to subsequent U.N. reports.

Then again, what looked to the credulous as evidence of Iranian moderation was, to Iranian insiders, an exercise in diplomatic cunning. "Negotiations provided time for Isfahan’s uranium conversion project to be finished and commissioned, the number of centrifuges at Natanz increased from 150 to 1,000 and software and hardware for Iran’s nuclear infrastructure to be further developed," Seyed Hossein Mousavian, Mr. Rohani’s spokesman at the time, argues in a recent memoir. "The heavy water reactor project in Arak came into operation and was not suspended at all."

Nor was that the only advantage of Mr. Rohani’s strategy of making nice and playing for time, according to Mr. Mousavian.

"Tehran showed that it was possible to exploit the gap between Europe and the United States to achieve Iranian objectives." "The world’s understanding of ‘suspension’ was changed from a legally binding obligation . . . to a voluntary and short-term undertaking aimed at confidence building." "The world gradually came close to believing that Iran’s nuclear activities posed no security or military threat. . . . Public opinion in the West, which was totally against Tehran’s nuclear program in September 2003, softened a good deal." "Efforts were made to attract global attention to the need for WMD disarmament by Israel."

And best of all: "Iran would be able to attain agreements for the transfer of advanced nuclear technology to Iran for medical, agricultural, power plant, and other applications, in a departure from the nuclear sanctions of the preceding 27 years."

Mr. Mousavian laments that much of this good work was undone by the nuclear hard line Iran took when the incendiary Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became president in 2005.

But that’s true only up to a point. Iran made most of its key nuclear strides under Mr. Ahmadinejad, who also showed just how far Iran could test the West’s patience without incurring regime- threatening penalties. Supply IEDs to Iraqi insurgents to kill American GIs? Check. Enrich uranium to near-bomb grade levels? Check. Steal an election and imprison the opposition? Check. Take Royal Marines and American backpackers hostage? Check. Fight to save Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria? That, too. Even now, the diplomatic option remains a viable one as far as the Obama administration is concerned.

Now the West is supposed to be grateful that Mr. Ahmadinejad’s scowling face will be replaced by Mr. Rohani’s smiling one—a bad-cop, good-cop routine that Iran has played before. Western concessions will no doubt follow if Mr. Rohani can convince his boss, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, to play along. It shouldn’t be a hard sell: Iran is now just a head-fake away from becoming a nuclear state and Mr. Khamenei has shown he’s not averse to pragmatism when it suits him.

The capacity for self-deception is a coping mechanism in both life and diplomacy, but it comes at a price. As the West cheers the moderate and pragmatic and centrist Mr. Rohani, it will come to discover just how high a price it will pay.

Voir par ailleurs:

Iran : toutes les clefs du scrutin

Le Point

14/06/2013

Théoriquement, le président de la République islamique est élu au suffrage universel. Mais dans les faits, l’élection se déroule sous étroite surveillance.

Contrairement aux monarchies arabes du Golfe, tels l’Arabie saoudite ou le Qatar, l’Iran offre la possibilité à ses citoyens de choisir leur président et leur Parlement. Quoi de plus normal pour une République dont la Constitution repose en partie sur la souveraineté populaire. Sauf que ce texte, adopté en 1979 après la révolution, se fonde surtout sur la volonté divine. Ainsi, à la tête de l’État iranien règne un guide suprême, représentant de Dieu sur terre, qui possède le dernier mot sur toutes les décisions du pays, surpassant la volonté du président, et donc celle du peuple qui l’a élu.

Qui peut voter ?

50,5 millions d’électeurs iraniens (sur 75 millions d’habitants) sont appelés à élire ce vendredi 14 juin le président de la République islamique, soit le chef du gouvernement depuis la suppression du poste de Premier ministre en 1989. Peut voter tout citoyen iranien résidant en Iran, ou même à l’étranger, à condition qu’il soit âgé d’au moins 18 ans.

Qui peut se présenter ?

Première limite du scrutin. Si tout Iranien peut officiellement se porter candidat, il doit passer par le filtre du puissant Conseil des gardiens de la Constitution. Cet organe, composé de six clercs et de six juristes (généralement aussi des clercs), doit vérifier la compatibilité des candidatures avec la Constitution iranienne. Sont alors pris en compte le sérieux du candidat (celui-ci doit être une personnalité politique ou religieuse reconnue), ses antécédents judiciaires et surtout sa loyauté au principe fondamental de la République islamique : le Velayat-e faqih (la primauté du religieux sur le politique). Exit donc tous les laïques, monarchistes et autres communistes. Surtout, derrière les choix du Conseil des gardiens de la Constitution se profile la main du guide suprême, l’ayatollah Khamenei, qui nomme la moitié de ses membres et peut influencer les six autres.

Qui sont les favoris ?

Sur les 686 candidats qui se sont officiellement présentés au scrutin, seuls huit ont été retenus par le Conseil des gardiens de la Constitution. Parmi les recalés figurent deux candidats de poids. Si la mise à l’écart d’Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, le bras droit d’Ahmadinejad, n’est pas une surprise tant ses positions nationalistes étaient haïes du clergé chiite, l’élimination de l’ancien président conservateur modéré Akbar Hachemi Rafsandjani a fait l’effet d’une bombe. En disqualifiant l’un des pères fondateurs de la République islamique, en raison de sa proximité avec les réformateurs iraniens, le guide a profondément ébranlé la légitimité de son propre régime.

Après les désistements de deux candidats qualifiés, il ne reste plus que six prétendants, dont quatre conservateurs proches du guide :

En voici les favoris :

- Saïd Jalili, 47 ans et favori du guide. Actuel secrétaire du Conseil suprême de la sécurité nationale, il est le représentant direct de l’ayatollah Khamenei dans les négociations sur le programme nucléaire iranien. Vétéran de la guerre Iran-Irak, ce diplomate extrêmement pieux bénéficie de l’appui des ultraconservateurs qui louent son intransigeance face à l’Occident.

- Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, 51 ans, l’efficace maire de Téhéran. Ancien commandant des Gardiens de la révolution, l’armée idéologique du régime, puis à la tête de la police, où son professionnalisme a fait forte impression, ce technocrate peut également se prévaloir de son bilan positif durant ses huit années à la tête de la mairie de la capitale, qui l’ont rendu populaire. Il est néanmoins soupçonné d’avoir été impliqué dans la répression des manifestants de juin 2009 (le Mouvement vert). Cela ne l’empêche pas d’être actuellement en tête du peu de sondages organisés par les médias officiels.

- Ali-Akbar Velayati, 67 ans, la carte "ouverture" du guide. Ministre des Affaires étrangères durant 16 ans, et désormais conseiller diplomatique du guide, ce pédiatre de formation prône plus de souplesse vis-à-vis de l’Occident dans l’épineux dossier nucléaire afin d’atténuer les sanctions internationales frappant le pays. Il ne remet toutefois pas en cause le droit de l’Iran au nucléaire civil.

- Hassan Rohani, 64 ans, le réformateur par défaut. Ce religieux conservateur modéré a reçu l’appui de l’ex-président Rafsandjani, mais surtout celui de l’ex-président réformateur Mohammad Khatami, ce qui pourrait lui assurer le ralliement d’une partie des voix du Mouvement vert et des déçus d’Ahmadinejad. Connu pour avoir dirigé les négociations nucléaires sous la présidence de Khatami, il avait accepté une suspension provisoire de l’enrichissement d’uranium, ce qui lui a valu de nombreuses critiques au sein de l’establishment iranien. Il sera remercié de son poste dès l’arrivée au pouvoir d’Ahmadinejad en 2005.

Comment s’organise le vote ?

Si une majorité simple n’est pas acquise au premier tour le 14 juin, un second tour sera organisé le 21 juin. Une hypothèse rendue plausible par l’éclatement probable des voix au premier tour entre les quatre candidats conservateurs, et cela alors que les voix réformatrices et les mécontents qui souhaitent voter reporteront à coup sûr leur choix sur l’unique candidat modéré, Hassan Rohani.

Comment s’est déroulée la campagne ?

Lancée le 23 mai dernier, la campagne, qui s’est achevée le 13 juin au matin, s’est révélée bien morne. La plupart des candidats ont opté pour des déplacements limités, et les autorités ont interdit les rassemblements dans les rues. Le maître mot a été l’économie, dont l’état s’avère catastrophique en Iran. En raison de la gestion calamiteuse des gouvernements successifs d’Ahmadinejad, mais aussi des sanctions internationales, l’Iran a connu un effondrement de sa monnaie (70 %) et une explosion de l’inflation (supérieure à 30 %). Pourtant, lors des trois débats organisés par la télévision officielle, aucun candidat n’a trouvé de recette miracle à ce fléau. Seule la question du nucléaire, liée toutefois aux sanctions économiques, a donné lieu à une passe d’armes sans précédent entre conservateurs, Ali Velayati s’étant directement attaqué au négociateur iranien Saïd Jalili, en dénonçant ses méthodes "problématiques".

Des fraudes sont-elles possibles ?

Beaucoup estiment qu’une première étape a déjà été franchie, avec l’élimination de la course de l’ex-président Rafsandjani, le seul candidat modéré qui pouvait réellement l’emporter. Mais cela n’écarte nullement la possibilité de véritables fraudes organisées si l’élu du guide ne se retrouve pas en tête à l’issue du scrutin. Des cas de fraudes (bourrage ou déplacement d’urnes, passeports votant à plusieurs reprises) ont été dénoncés en 2005 et surtout en 2009, permettant à chaque fois l’élection de Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Pourtant, en 1997 et en 2001, c’est un candidat réformateur, Mohammad Khatami, qui l’a à chaque fois emporté, avec respectivement 70 et 78 % des suffrages. Une époque où le régime avait besoin de s’ouvrir au monde. Dans tous les cas, l’appareil sécuritaire du régime, les 100 000 Gardiens de la révolution et les quelque quatre millions de bassidjis (miliciens mobilisés par le régime) se tiennent prêts à toute éventualité.

Quel sera le poids réel du président ?

On l’a vu avec Ahmadinejad. Lorsqu’un président bénéficie du soutien entier du guide suprême, ce qui fut le cas de l’ultraconservateur Mahmoud Ahmadinejad lors de son premier mandat, il a davantage les coudées franches pour mener sa politique gouvernementale. Et même lorsque le chef de l’exécutif n’est pas le favori de l’ayatollah Khamenei, comme ce fut le cas pour le réformateur Khatami, ce dernier peut décider de mesures limitées en faveur de la liberté d’expression ou tenter une ouverture sur l’Occident. Étant aujourd’hui isolée sur la scène internationale et frappée de plein fouet par les sanctions, la République islamique a cruellement besoin d’assouplir sa position sur le nucléaire pour sauver son économie et pérenniser le régime. Un tel rôle pourrait être joué par le nouvel élu. Mais bien sûr, le dernier mot appartient au guide.

Voir enfin:

Iran : premières réactions à l’élection de Rohani

Le Point

15/06/2013

De Londres à Berlin en passant par l’ONU et la Syrie, les réactions se multiplient pour saluer l’élection du nouveau président iranien.

Le secrétaire général de l’ONU, Ban Ki-moon, "félicite chaleureusement" le nouveau président iranien Hassan Rohani et "continuera d’encourager l’Iran à jouer un rôle constructif dans les affaires régionales et internationales", a indiqué son porte-parole, Martin Nesirky. Ban Ki-moon "a l’intention de continuer à travailler avec les autorités iraniennes et avec le président élu sur les dossiers d’importance pour la communauté internationale et pour le bien-être du peuple iranien", poursuit le porte-parole en notant "avec satisfaction le fort taux de participation" au scrutin.

Depuis plusieurs années, l’ONU et les Occidentaux imposent un arsenal de sanctions à l’Iran pour tenter de dissuader Téhéran de se doter de l’arme atomique sous le couvert d’un programme nucléaire civil, ce dont la République islamique se défend. Samedi soir, le nouveau président a salué "la victoire de la modération sur l’extrémisme", mais a insisté pour que la communauté internationale "reconnaisse les droits" de l’Iran en matière nucléaire.

Religieux modéré, Hassan Rohani a créé la surprise samedi en remportant l’élection présidentielle iranienne dès le premier tour, avec 50,68% des voix, face à cinq candidats conservateurs. Cette victoire marque le retour des modérés et réformateurs au gouvernement.

La question nucléaire

La chef de la diplomatie européenne, Catherine Ashton, a réagi samedi à la victoire-surprise du modéré Hassan Rohani à la présidentielle iranienne en se disant "déterminée" à travailler avec son gouvernement sur la question nucléaire. "J’adresse mes voeux de réussite à M. Rohani dans la formation d’un nouveau gouvernement et dans ses nouvelles responsabilités. Je reste fermement déterminée à travailler avec les nouveaux dirigeants iraniens en vue d’une solution diplomatique rapide à la question nucléaire", écrit Catherine Ashton dans un communiqué.

Le ministre allemand des Affaires étrangères, Guido Westerwelle, a salué samedi "un vote en Iran pour des réformes et une politique étrangère constructive". Le ministre allemand réagissait ainsi, dans un communiqué, à la victoire-surprise du modéré Hassan Rohani à la présidentielle iranienne. "Il est à espérer que la nouvelle direction du pays collabore en ce sens pour arriver à des solutions sur les questions internationales et régionales", a-t-il ajouté, selon le communiqué du ministère.

L’Iran sur un "nouveau chemin", selon Londres

Le Royaume-Uni a appelé samedi le nouveau président iranien Hassan Rohani à "mettre l’Iran sur un nouveau chemin", notamment en "s’attelant aux inquiétudes de la communauté internationale sur le programme nucléaire iranien". "Nous prenons note qu’Hassan Rohani a remporté l’élection présidentielle" iranienne, a déclaré le ministère britannique des Affaires étrangères dans un communiqué. "Nous l’appelons à mettre l’Iran sur un nouveau chemin pour l’avenir en s’attelant aux inquiétudes de la communauté internationale sur le programme nucléaire iranien, en faisant avancer une relation constructive avec la communauté internationale et en améliorant la situation politique et des droits de l’homme", a ajouté le ministère.

La Coalition de l’opposition syrienne a également rapidement réagi en appelant dans un communiqué le religieux modéré de 64 ans à revoir la position de son pays qui soutient fermement le régime de Bachar el-Assad. "La Coalition nationale syrienne estime qu’il est de son devoir d’appeler le nouveau président de l’Iran à rectifier les erreurs commises par la direction iranienne", affirme le texte, faisant allusion à l’appui de poids apporté par Téhéran à son allié régional.

Félicitations de l’ayatollah Khamenei

En Iran, le Guide suprême iranien, l’ayatollah Ali Khamenei, a salué samedi l’élection à la présidence de la République du religieux modéré Hassan Rohani, sur son site officiel khamenei.ir. "Je félicite le peuple et le président élu", a écrit le numéro un iranien, en affirmant que "tout le monde devait aider le nouveau président et son gouvernement". Le numéro un iranien a également demandé à tout le monde d’éviter les "comportements inappropriés" de ceux qui veulent montrer "leur joie ou leur mécontentement", faisant allusion aux partisans et adversaires du nouveau président.


Iran: The show must go on (How do you say tweedle dee tweedle dum in Farsi ?)

15 juin, 2013
http://www.richgibson.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/tweedle-dee-dum.jpgN’oubliez pas qu’Ahmadinejad n’est que le représentant d’un régime de nature totalitaire, qui ne peut se réformer et évoluer, quelle que soit la personne qui le représente. (…) le problème ne vient pas de l’idée de se doter de l’énergie nucléaire; il provient de la nature du régime islamique (…) Si le régime veut survivre, il doit absolument mettre en échec le monde libre, combattre ses valeurs. La République islamique ne peut pas perdurer dans un monde où l’on parle des droits de l’homme ou de la démocratie. Tous ces principes sont du cyanure pour les islamistes. Comment voulez-vous que les successeurs de Khomeini, dont le but reste l’exportation de la révolution, puissent s’asseoir un jour à la même table que le président Sarkozy ou le président Obama? Reza Pahlavi
Le fond du problème est que ce régime ne veut pas reprendre ses négociations avec les Occidentaux car au bout de compte, il devrait accepter des compromis contraires à ses intérêts. Ces intérêts résident dans le fait d’être l’adversaire idéologique de l’Occident pour demeurer dans le rôle intéressant d’agitateur régional arbitre du conflit israélo-arabe. Pour cela, il doit séduire la rue arabe avec des slogans anxiogènes et disposer de milices armées. S’il faisait le moindre geste d’apaisement, il perdrait l’appui de la rue arabe et de ces milices qui peuvent aller proposer leurs services à d’autres protecteurs qui souhaitent contrôler cette force de nuisance (Syrie, Russie ou Chine). Iran Resist
La révolution iranienne fut en quelque sorte la version islamique et tiers-mondiste de la contre-culture occidentale. Il serait intéressant de mettre en exergue les analogies et les ressemblances que l’on retrouve dans le discours anti-consommateur, anti-technologique et anti-moderne des dirigeants islamiques de celui que l’on découvre chez les protagonistes les plus exaltés de la contre-culture occidentale. Daryiush Shayegan (1992)
Inspiré par les campagnes américaines, et particulièrement celle de Barack Obama, Mir Hussein Moussavi, s’est souvent montré avec sa femme lors de la campagne. Il lui a même publiquement tenu la main lors d’un meeting. Du jamais-vu, rappelle le Wall Street Journal qui explique qu’elle a aussi organisé ses propres meetings et a clairement annoncé qu’elle jouerait "un rôle actif socialement et politiquement si elle devenait première dame". Le Monde
Quel que soit le vainqueur de l’élection présidentielle en Iran, le vainqueur sera l’ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (…) En Iran, le véritable pouvoir est entre les mains du Guide. Le président de la République n’est, en fait, qu’un Premier ministre, qui n’a pas d’autorité sur les grandes institutions : l’armée, les forces de sécurité, la police, les gardiens de la révolution, les médias, les grandes fondations (qui disposent de beaucoup d’argent dont le gouvernement ne contrôle pas l’utilisation). Cette réalité, nombreux sont ceux en Occident, qui, pour des raisons idéologiques, ont voulu l’occulter lorsque le président Mahmoud Ahmadinejad prenait manifestement, pour des raisons de politique intérieure iranienne, un malin plaisir à les choquer. Mais Ahmadinejad n’avait pas les clés de la maison Iran, même s’il se donnait une certaine liberté de manoeuvre, et était entré en conflit quasi ouvert avec le Guide cette dernière année. Si Ali Khamenei a toujours le dernier mot, dans ce pays qui n’est pas une dictature classique, il doit composer, en dépit de sa toute-puissance, avec les multiples courants du pouvoir. Pour cette élection, Hassan Rouhani semble avoir le vent en poupe dans les sondages (ils existent). Faut-il encore que l’ayatollah Ali Khamenei et son entourage veuillent le laisser gagner.(…) De plus, même si Hassan Rouhani devenait le prochain président de la République, il ne bouleverserait pas l’Iran. Il est, lui aussi, un religieux et un conservateur. Même si on le classe parmi les pragmatiques. Chef des négociations sur le nucléaire avec les Occidentaux pendant le second mandat du président Khatami, de 2001 à 2005, il avait montré de la souplesse dans les pourparlers. Mais la politique était décidée ailleurs. (…) Tout dépend donc du Guide et de sa volonté de se rapprocher ou non de l’Occident. Voudra-t-il lâcher du lest sur la politique nucléaire ? Ceci permettrait de sortir l’Iran de sa déprime en relançant l’économie (30 % de chômeurs) mise à mal par les sanctions occidentales. Mais il ne voudra pas (ni aucun Iranien d’ailleurs) perdre la face. Reste à trouver une parade acceptable par tous. Le choix du nouveau président sera peut-être une première indication. Le Point
Four years ago, almost to the day, I wrote a blog post, “Rooting for Ahmadinejad,” that explained why I wanted the worst of the candidates on Iran’s election day in 2009 to win the election. Whoever is elected president, whether Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or his main opponent, Mir Hossein Mousavi, will have limited impact on the issue that most concerns the outside world – Iran’s drive to build nuclear weapons, which Khamene’i will presumably continue apace, as he has in prior decades. Therefore, while my heart goes out to the many Iranians who desperately want the vile Ahmadinejad out of power, my head tells me it’s best that he remain in office. (…) Following the same logic, that it’s better to have an aggressive Saeed Jalili than a sweet talking Hassan Rouhani, I am, despite myself, rooting for the vile Jalili. Daniel Pipes
De fait, l’Iran est un régime de type totalitaire. Les élections y sont un simulacre. Le pouvoir réel n’est pas entre les mains du Président élu, mais entre celles du Guide suprême de la Révolution, successeur de l’ayatollah Khomeiny, et le nom du Guide présentement en place est connu. Celui qui lui servira de marionnette sortira d’un décompte qui ne sera pas vraiment le résultat des suffrages exprimés, car les choses se passeront comme en 2009, mais l’expression de la volonté du Guide. Les journalistes qui voudront faire croire que l’élection est autre chose qu’un simulacre en rendront compte : ils en parlent déjà. Ils essaieront de discerner des nuances entre les sept prétendants qui sont en lice, et diront que celui-ci est « modéré », que tel autre est plus « radical » : je ne sais s’il y avait des modérés et des radicaux au sein du Parti National Socialiste des Travailleurs Allemands au temps d’Hitler, je sais seulement qu’ils étaient tous membres du Parti National Socialiste des Travailleurs Allemands, ce qui m’incline à les mettre dans la même benne à ordures. (…) Ceux qui se sont présentés à la présidence ont accepté à l’avance d’être une marionnette. C’est leur choix. Les Iraniens qui voteront auront l’illusion de décider de quelque chose, mais ce sera une illusion. En 2009, il y avait des prétendants un peu moins immondes, juste un peu moins : s’ils avaient été autre chose qu’immondes, ils auraient été réduits immédiatement au silence. Les Iraniens se sont soulevés parce qu’ils ont eu l’illusion qu’ils pouvaient décider et que la décision leur avait été confisquée. Leur soulèvement était porteur moins d’un appui aux prétendants moins immondes que d’un désir d’en finir avec un régime qui les condamne à l’obscurité, au désespoir et à la déchéance. Ils ont voulu espérer un appui du monde occidental, et ils ont demandé à Obama s’il était avec eux ou contre eux. Obama a fait comprendre qu’il n’était pas avec eux et a laissé le régime écraser le soulèvement dans le sang. (…) Le danger représenté par le régime iranien restera ce qu’il est aujourd’hui. L’avancée de l’Iran vers l’arme nucléaire se poursuivra. Des diplomates iraniens roués continueront à rouler dans la farine leurs homologues occidentaux. (…) un régime iranien sanctuarisé pourrait financer et armer davantage encore qu’aujourd’hui des groupes terroristes islamiques. Guy Millière

Comment dit-on bonnet blanc-blanc bonnet en persan ?

Alors que, quatre ans après le mensonge du Mouvement vert et face à nouveau à une Administration américaine plus affaiblie que jamais, le régime totalitaire iranien nous prépare pour un nouveau tour sa dernière mascarade électorale  …

Qui devrait, entre le chef du Conseil de sécurité du régime, responsable des "négociations nucléaires" et auteur des discours incendiaires d’Ahmadinejad (un certain Jalili) et le modéré de service lui aussi ancien "négociateur nucléaire" et même issu du clergé s’il vous plait (un certain Rouhani), adouber comme prévu sa dernière marionnette en date …

Petite remise des pendules à l’heure,  avec Guy Millière, sur la seule question vraiment d’importance …

A savoir derrière tant la question existentielle pour nos amis et alliés israéliens que l’oppression depuis 40 ans d’une population iranienne largement abandonnée à son sort …

La nécessité d’empêcher par tous les moyens la sanctuarisation nucléaire d’un régime qui pourrait alors financer et armer davantage encore les groupes terroristes islamiques de la planète entière …

Iran : je regrette déjà Ahmadinejad

Guy Millière

Dreuz

Une élection présidentielle a lieu ce jour en Iran.

On connaîtra les résultats assez vite. Je peux en réalité d’ores et déjà les communiquer : le vainqueur s’appellera Ali Khamenei. De fait, l’Iran est un régime de type totalitaire. Les élections y sont un simulacre. Le pouvoir réel n’est pas entre les mains du Président élu, mais entre celles du Guide suprême de la Révolution, successeur de l’ayatollah Khomeiny, et le nom du Guide présentement en place est connu. Celui qui lui servira de marionnette sortira d’un décompte qui ne sera pas vraiment le résultat des suffrages exprimés, car les choses se passeront comme en 2009, mais l’expression de la volonté du Guide. Les journalistes qui voudront faire croire que l’élection est autre chose qu’un simulacre en rendront compte : ils en parlent déjà. Ils essaieront de discerner des nuances entre les sept prétendants qui sont en lice, et diront que celui-ci est « modéré », que tel autre est plus « radical » : je ne sais s’il y avait des modérés et des radicaux au sein du Parti National Socialiste des Travailleurs Allemands au temps d’Hitler, je sais seulement qu’ils étaient tous membres du Parti National Socialiste des Travailleurs Allemands, ce qui m’incline à les mettre dans la même benne à ordures.

En Iran, il n’y a pas de Parti National Socialiste des Travailleurs Iraniens. Il y a une doctrine, le velayat e faqih, le « gouvernement du docte », depuis 1979. Et nul ne peut y déroger. Il y a un « docte », qu’on pourrait qualifier de Führer islamique. Il y a un programme, défini par le « docte » et par un « Conseil des gardiens », constitué de « doctes » aussi dogmatiques, cyniques et sectaires que le « docte » en chef. Ceux qui se sont présentés à la présidence ont accepté à l’avance d’être une marionnette. C’est leur choix. Les Iraniens qui voteront auront l’illusion de décider de quelque chose, mais ce sera une illusion. En 2009, il y avait des prétendants un peu moins immondes, juste un peu moins : s’ils avaient été autre chose qu’immondes, ils auraient été réduits immédiatement au silence. Les Iraniens se sont soulevés parce qu’ils ont eu l’illusion qu’ils pouvaient décider et que la décision leur avait été confisquée. Leur soulèvement était porteur moins d’un appui aux prétendants moins immondes que d’un désir d’en finir avec un régime qui les condamne à l’obscurité, au désespoir et à la déchéance. Ils ont voulu espérer un appui du monde occidental, et ils ont demandé à Obama s’il était avec eux ou contre eux. Obama a fait comprendre qu’il n’était pas avec eux et a laissé le régime écraser le soulèvement dans le sang. Je ne pense pas qu’il y aura de nouveau un soulèvement cette année : les Iraniens savent qui est Obama, et le savent bien mieux que la plupart des Européens. S’il devait y avoir un soulèvement, il s’achèverait comme en 2009, et le régime a déjà pris toutes les dispositions requises.

En Europe, on scrutera le nouveau « Président » : « modéré » ou « radical », comme disent les journalistes. Pourquoi pas « radical modéré » ou l’inverse ? Chez Obama, on proposera à nouveau de tendre la main au nouveau « Président » qui, vraisemblablement, ne saisira pas la main qu’on lui tend, car Khamenei ne veut pas.

Une décision importante sera donc prise aussi à Jérusalem.

Le danger représenté par le régime iranien restera ce qu’il est aujourd’hui. L’avancée de l’Iran vers l’arme nucléaire se poursuivra. Des diplomates iraniens roués continueront à rouler dans la farine leurs homologues occidentaux. Les décisions importantes seront prises à Moscou et à Pékin, car seules la Russie et la Chine ont un poids réel sur les décisions de l’Iran. Poutine entend, surtout, sauver ce qui reste du régime Assad et semble avoir dit à Binyamin Netanyahou qu’il se chargeait de calmer l’Iran. Binyamin Netanyahou semble lui avoir répondu que si la ligne rouge israélienne était atteinte, Israël n’en ferait pas moins ce qui s’impose, et Poutine semble n’avoir rien répondu. Si Israël ne s’en prend pas à Assad, la Russie pourra faire preuve de ce qu’en termes choisis, on appelle le pragmatisme, et cela signifiera une forme de feu vert pour Israël lorsqu’il s’agit des bases nucléaires iraniennes. Les dirigeants chinois semblent avoir des positions proches de celles de Poutine. Obama laissera faire ce que Poutine et les dirigeants chinois laisseront faire. Une décision importante sera donc prise aussi à Jérusalem.

Si Israël ne frappe pas, nul ne frappera, et l’Iran sera bientôt sanctuarisé

Que décidera, de son côté, Khamenei ? Telle est la question qui devrait être posée. Disons que pour l’heure, il entend lui-même sauver ce qui reste du régime Assad et sauver l’emprise du Hezbollah sur le Liban. Disons qu’il entend aussi sanctuariser le régime qu’il dirige. Disons qu’il est fort peu vraisemblable qu’il déclare la guerre à Israël et déclenche une guerre régionale plus vaste que celle qui broie la Syrie aujourd’hui. Mais disons aussi qu’un régime iranien sanctuarisé pourrait financer et armer davantage encore qu’aujourd’hui des groupes terroristes islamiques. Disons que si Israël ne frappe pas, nul ne frappera, et l’Iran sera bientôt sanctuarisé. Disons que si Israël frappe, les moyens de rétorsion de Khamenei sont aujourd’hui très amoindris, au vu de la situation en Syrie et au Liban. Disons que le reste se passe dans la tête de Khamenei.

Une autre question pourrait être posée. Pourquoi un régime totalitaire organise-t-il des élections ? La réponse, là, est plus simple. Un régime totalitaire organise des élections parce que cela lui permet de dire qu’il est « démocratique » : même si c’est une imposture, il y a des imbéciles qui le croient et des journalistes qui parlent des élections organisées. Un régime totalitaire peut aussi vouloir donner à la population l’illusion qu’elle peut décider de quelque chose. Les régimes totalitaires ne sont pas les seuls à vouloir donner à une population ce genre d’illusions.

En tout cas, je regretterai Ahmadinejad. Je le regrette déjà. C’était un être abject, et ses discours étaient absolument répugnants. Il permettait à ceux qui en auraient douté de voir que le régime iranien était lui-même abject et absolument répugnant. Je crains que son successeur ne soit plus terne, moins histrionique, moins atroce, plus à même d’endormir des opinions occidentales déjà presque endormies. Dans certains cas, avoir en face de soi un être abject et entendre des discours absolument répugnants est utile, très utile.

Voir aussi:

Rooting for Jalili

Daniel Pipes

National review

June 14, 2013

Four years ago, almost to the day, I wrote a blog post, “Rooting for Ahmadinejad,” that explained why I wanted the worst of the candidates on Iran’s election day in 2009 to win the election.

Whoever is elected president, whether Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or his main opponent, Mir Hossein Mousavi, will have limited impact on the issue that most concerns the outside world – Iran’s drive to build nuclear weapons, which Khamene’i will presumably continue apace, as he has in prior decades.

Therefore, while my heart goes out to the many Iranians who desperately want the vile Ahmadinejad out of power, my head tells me it’s best that he remain in office. When Mohammed Khatami was president, his sweet words lulled many people into complacency, even as the nuclear weapons program developed on his watch. If the patterns remain unchanged, better to have a bellicose, apocalyptic, in-your-face Ahmadinejad who scares the world than a sweet-talking Mousavi who again lulls it to sleep, even as thousands of centrifuges whir away.

And so, despite myself, I am rooting for Ahmadinejad.

Following the same logic, that it’s better to have an aggressive Saeed Jalili than a sweet talking Hassan Rouhani, I am, despite myself, rooting for the vile Jalili.

Voir également:

Elections en Iran: le modéré Hassan Rohani en tête

L’Express

15/06/2013

Plusieurs heures après la fin du premier tour vendredi, le modéré Hassan Rohani était en tête avec 49,87% des voix, sur 10% des bureaux de vote. Ce religieux de 64 ans, candidat unique des modérés et réformateurs, a remercié dans un communiqué ses partisans qui se sont mobilisés pour "créer cette merveille".

Plusieurs heures après la fin du premier tour vendredi, le modéré Hassan Rohani était en tête avec 49,87% des voix, sur 10% des bureaux de vote. Ce religieux de 64 ans, candidat unique des modérés et réformateurs, a remercié dans un communiqué ses partisans qui se sont mobilisés pour "créer cette merveille".

Le modéré Hassan Rohani mène largement la course à la présidentielle en Iran, avec 49,87% des voix, selon un décompte effectué dans 10% des bureaux de vote, d’après des résultats parcellaires indiqués par le ministre de l’Intérieur iranien à la télévision publique, samedi matin.

Hassan Rohani, soutenu par les courants modérés et réformateurs, a recueilli 1,46 million de voix sur 2,92 millions de bulletins à dépouiller. Il devance ainsi le maire conservateur de Téhéran Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf.

"L’exactitude ne doit pas aller au détriment de la vitesse"

"L’exactitude (des résultats) ne doit pas aller au détriment de la vitesse", a expliqué à la télévision le ministre, qui s’exprimait pour la première fois peu avant 06H00 (01H30 GMT), soit sept heures après la fermeture des derniers bureaux de vote.

Les six candidats en lice ont appelé leurs partisans au calme, leur demandant de ne pas participer à des rassemblements avant cette annonce officielle. Toute la journée, les Iraniens s’étaient massivement mobilisés pour ce premier tour.

Hassan Rohani, un religieux de 64 ans et candidat unique des modérés et réformateurs, a remercié dans un communiqué ses partisans qui se sont mobilisés pour "créer cette merveille". "Cette participation et l’unité (des réformateurs et modérés) aidera l’Iran a prendre une nouvelle voie", a-t-il ajouté.

Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf a pour sa part salué une élection qui menait vers une "épopée politique", comme l’avait proclamé le guide suprême iranien Ali Khamenei.

Forte affluence dans les bureaux de vote

Les opérations de vote se sont terminées à 23H00 (18H30 GMT) à Téhéran, une heure plus tard que dans le reste du pays, après plusieurs reports en raison de l’affluence d’électeurs dans les bureaux de vote qui devaient initialement fermer à 18H00.

Le taux de participation devrait atteindre 70% dans la province de Téhéran, selon le responsable des élections pour la région, voire dépassé dans d’autres régions, selon des responsables locaux cités par les médias. En 2009, le taux de participation avait officiellement atteint 85%.

Le président sortant Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ne peut pas briguer un troisième mandat consécutif, selon la Constitution.

Aucun résultat n’avait été donné avant l’intervention du ministre, contrairement aux élections précédentes. Le porte-parole du Conseil des gardiens de la Constitution, chargé de superviser les opérations de vote, s’était borné à indiquer qu’aucune irrégularité n’avait été établie.

La prudence de mise

Plus tôt, le Conseil avait mis en garde contre toute annonce de victoire d’un candidat avant que celle-ci soit confirmée par le ministère.

Dans un communiqué commun, les représentants des six candidats ont fait part de "rumeurs" sur "l’organisation de fêtes de victoire", demandant "au peuple de ne pas y prêter attention et d’éviter tout rassemblement avant l’annonce des résultats officiels".

En 2009, l’annonce de la réélection de Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dès le premier tour avait provoqué des heurts entre police et partisans des deux candidats réformateurs, Mir Hossein Moussavi et Mehdi Karoubi, puis plusieurs semaines de manifestations de masse dénonçant des fraudes massives. Le mouvement avait été sévèrement réprimé par le pouvoir et les deux ex-candidats sont en résidence surveillée depuis 2011.

Avec AFP

Voir encore:

Élection présidentielle iranienne : un seul vainqueur, le Guide suprême

Le Point

14/06/2013

Quel que soit le vainqueur de l’élection présidentielle en Iran, le vainqueur sera l’ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Décryptage.

En Iran, le véritable pouvoir est entre les mains du Guide. Le président de la République n’est, en fait, qu’un Premier ministre, qui n’a pas d’autorité sur les grandes institutions : l’armée, les forces de sécurité, la police, les gardiens de la révolution, les médias, les grandes fondations (qui disposent de beaucoup d’argent dont le gouvernement ne contrôle pas l’utilisation). Cette réalité, nombreux sont ceux en Occident, qui, pour des raisons idéologiques, ont voulu l’occulter lorsque le président Mahmoud Ahmadinejad prenait manifestement, pour des raisons de politique intérieure iranienne, un malin plaisir à les choquer. Mais Ahmadinejad n’avait pas les clés de la maison Iran, même s’il se donnait une certaine liberté de manoeuvre, et était entré en conflit quasi ouvert avec le Guide cette dernière année. Si Ali Khamenei a toujours le dernier mot, dans ce pays qui n’est pas une dictature classique, il doit composer, en dépit de sa toute-puissance, avec les multiples courants du pouvoir.

Pour cette élection, Hassan Rouhani semble avoir le vent en poupe dans les sondages (ils existent). Faut-il encore que l’ayatollah Ali Khamenei et son entourage veuillent le laisser gagner. En 1997, la victoire du réformateur Mohammad Khatami avec près de 70 % des voix au second tour contre un candidat très conservateur, Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri, avait été une véritable surprise. Cette année-là, les élections avaient été transparentes. Il n’est pas certain que le clan conservateur coure ce risque une nouvelle fois. La répression sanglante de 2009 contre les réformateurs qui contestaient la réélection de Mahmoud Ahmadinejad permet d’en douter.

Nucléaire

De plus, même si Hassan Rouhani devenait le prochain président de la République, il ne bouleverserait pas l’Iran. Il est, lui aussi, un religieux et un conservateur. Même si on le classe parmi les pragmatiques. Chef des négociations sur le nucléaire avec les Occidentaux pendant le second mandat du président Khatami, de 2001 à 2005, il avait montré de la souplesse dans les pourparlers. Mais la politique était décidée ailleurs.

Ainsi Mohammad Khatami, le président réformateur, avait ouvert de réelles fenêtres de liberté dans la presse, le secteur de la culture, les associations… Mais faute de tenir les vrais leviers du pouvoir, ses décisions étaient systématiquement contrées par les durs du système. Et les assassinats politiques n’avaient jamais été si nombreux que sous le sage et modéré Khatami, hormis au début de la révolution.

Tout dépend donc du Guide et de sa volonté de se rapprocher ou non de l’Occident. Voudra-t-il lâcher du lest sur la politique nucléaire ? Ceci permettrait de sortir l’Iran de sa déprime en relançant l’économie (30 % de chômeurs) mise à mal par les sanctions occidentales. Mais il ne voudra pas (ni aucun Iranien d’ailleurs) perdre la face. Reste à trouver une parade acceptable par tous. Le choix du nouveau président sera peut-être une première indication.

Voir enfin:

Elections en Iran : les six finalistes

Libération
13 juin 2013
Les six candidats à la présidence.

Les six candidats à la présidence. ((Photos Reuters)

Portraits Après des désistements, ils ne sont plus que six à briguer la succession de Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vendredi, dont un seul modéré.

Emiliana Malfatto

La présidentielle en Iran se tient ce vendredi. Avec le retrait de l’unique candidat réformateur à la présidentielle, Mohammad Reza Aref, et de son adversaire conservateur Gholam Ali Hadad Adel, ils ne sont plus que six à briguer la succession de Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, à qui la Constitution interdit de briguer un troisième mandat consécutif.

Les favoris

Côté conservateur

Saïd Jalili, le chouchou du guide suprême

Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili arrives at the Iranian Consulate before his meeting with European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in Istanbul May 15, 2013. The United Nations' nuclear agency failed to persuade Iran on Wednesday to let it resume an investigation into suspected atomic bomb research, leaving the high-stakes diplomacy in deadlock. REUTERS/Osman Orsal (TURKEY - Tags: POLITICS ENERGY) - RTXZNSYLe benjamin des candidats (47 ans) est aussi le favori des inconditionnels du guide suprême Ali Khamenei. Jalili est en effet le candidat le plus proche de l’ayatollah – censé demeurer au-dessus des luttes partisanes – dont il est le représentant direct pour les négociations internationales sur le programme nucléaire iranien. Son intransigeance face aux grandes puissances lui garantit le soutien des ultra-conservateurs, sa relation avec le guide celui de la mouvance «principaliste», composée de militaires et religieux attachés à l’autorité absolue de Khamenei.

Le principal handicap de cet homme discret et effacé est précisément sa stature internationale : il est plus connu à l’étranger que dans son propre pays. Les médias iraniens ont longtemps ignoré ce diplomate originaire de Mashhad, dans le nord-est du pays, qui a perdu sa jambe droite à la guerre contre l’Irak en 1987. Depuis l’annonce de sa candidature, son équipe de campagne a tenté de le rendre plus visible en lui créant un compte Twitter, ainsi que sur Instagram… Deux réseaux officiellement bloqués en Iran.

Ali Akbar Velayati, le partisan du compromis avec l’Occident

Ali Akbar Velayati, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's top adviser on international affairs, attends a news conference at the Iranian embassy in Damascus August 9, 2010. REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri        (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR2H6EMSi Jalili est le candidat de l’intransigeance, Velayati représente l’homme du compromis avec les puissances occidentales. A 67 ans, ce pédiatre, formé aux Etats-Unis, a une longue expérience des affaires gouvernementales, puisqu’il a passé plus de seize ans (1981-1997) à la tête du ministère des Affaires étrangères.

Devenu conseiller pour les affaires internationales auprès de Khamenei – dont il est proche – Velayati s’impose comme le principal détracteur de son adversaire Saïd Jalili, critiquant son intransigeance face aux grandes puissances sur le dossier du nucléaire. Velayati prône un changement de diplomatie afin de réduire les sanctions internationales qui pèsent sur le pays.

Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, le policier qui veut devenir Président

Iranian presidential candidate Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf talks to supporters in Tehran June 14, 2005. Allies of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, front-runner in Iran's presidential race, said on Tuesday he would probably fall short of an outright win in polls on Friday which analysts say are the closest in the Islamic state's history. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi  CJF/JJ - RTRECSSA 51 ans, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf a déjà porté de nombreuses casquettes. Il a été gardien de la révolution, puis chef de la police nationale avant de s’imposer comme maire de Téhéran en 2005, après son élimination au premier tour de l’élection présidentielle de la même année.

Une fois installé à la mairie, il n’a de cesse de faire oublier son passé policier au profit d’une image de technocrate moderne et efficace. Il lance de grands travaux pour améliorer cette métropole de 12 millions d’habitants, construisant espaces verts, autoroutes et lignes de métro. Au bout de huit ans, il aborde aujourd’hui les élections présidentielles en se prévalant d’un bilan positif et d’une grande popularité dans la capitale.

Côté modéré

Hassan Rohani, le seul espoir des modérés et réformateurs

Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Hassan Rohani speaks to Reuters correspondent during an interview in Tehran May 18, 2005. Iran's decision to resume nuclear work opposed by the West is irreversible but it may delay the work for a few weeks if talks with European powers go well, chief negotiator Hassan Rohani said on Wednesday. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi  CJF/PN - RTRBLWQAvec la défection de Mohammad Reza Aref, Hassan Rohani, religieux de 64 ans, devient le chef de file des courants modérés et réformateurs. Proche de l’ancien président réformateur Akbar Hachémi Rafsandjani, Rohani est connu pour avoir dirigé les négociations nucléaires avec l’Occident jusqu’en 2005, et avoir obtenu, en 2003, une suspension temporaire de l’enrichissement de l’uranium – un compromis considéré comme une «trahison» par les conservateurs.

Seul candidat à être issu du clergé – il a effectué sa formation théologique à Qom et à Téhéran – Rohani peut séduire non seulement les déçus de l’ère Ahmadinejad, mais aussi les électeurs désireux de voir s’apaiser les tensions internationales autour de l’Iran. Il bénéficie en outre de soutiens de poids pour le scrutin : les anciens présidents réformateurs Mohammad Khatami et Akbar Hachémi Rafsandjani ont appelé à voter pour lui vendredi.

Les figurants

Seyed Mohammad Gharazi, candidat pour la forme

File photo taken June 8, 2013 shows former Iranian Oil Minister and presidential candidate Mohammad Gharazi. The Iranian presidential election will be held June 14. REUTERS/Fars News (IRAN - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS PROFILE) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS - RTX10KSLAncien ministre du Pétrole et candidat modéré, Mohammad Gharazi, 72 ans, continue la course à la présidentielle malgré son manque d’atouts : il n’a ni notoriété, ni, selon ses propres dires, «argent, porte-parole, structure de campagne».

Retiré de la vie politique depuis des années, il a axé sa campagne sur la lutte contre l’inflation, préoccupation majeure de la population. Cet ingénieur en informatique de formation est le seul candidat à avoir fait partie, sous le régime du Shah, de l’Organisation des moudjahidins du peuple iranien. Il a dû quitter l’Iran en 1976, rejoignant l’ayatollah Khomeini en exil à Neauphle-le-Château.

Moshen Rezaïe, en course pour la troisième fois

File photo taken May 10, 2013 shows Iranian presidential candidate and former Revolutionary Guards commander Mohsen Rezaie. The Iranian presidential election will be held June 14. REUTERS/Fars News    (IRAN - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS PROFILE) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS - RTX10KS6Ancien chef des Gardiens de la révolution, Moshen Rezaïe, 58 ans, n’en est pas à sa première campagne présidentielle : il s’est déjà présenté en 2005 (pour se désister deux jours avant le scrutin), et en 2009, où il a obtenu 1,7% des voix. Rezaïe est par ailleurs docteur en économie et chef d’entreprise.


Présidentielle américaine 2012: C’était pas les Hispaniques, imbécile ! (It was the elderly black women, stupid !)

13 juin, 2013
http://blackgirlsguidetoweightloss.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/aunt-jemima-racist-ads.jpgIt ought to concern people that the most Republican part of the electorate under Ronald Reagan were 18-to-29-year-olds. And today, people I know who are under 40 are embarrassed to say they’re Republicans. They’re embarrassed! They get harassed for it, the same way we used to give liberals a hard time. Republican party strategist
The all-female focus group began with a sobering assessment of the Obama economy. All of the women spoke gloomily about the prospect of paying off student loans, about what they believed to be Social Security’s likely insolvency and about their children’s schooling. A few of them bitterly opined that the Democrats care little about the working class but lavish the poor with federal aid. “You get more off welfare than you would at a minimum-wage job,” observed one of them. Another added, “And if you have a kid, you’re set up for life!”
“I’m going to write down a word, and you guys free-associate with whatever comes to mind,” she said. The first word she wrote was “Democrat.” “Young people,” one woman called out. “Liberal,” another said. Followed by: “Diverse.” “Bill Clinton.”“Change.”“Open-minded.”“Spending.”“Handouts.”“Green.”“More science-based.” When Anderson then wrote “Republican,” the outburst was immediate and vehement: “Corporate greed.”“Old.”“Middle-aged white men.” “Rich.” “Religious.” “Conservative.” “Hypocritical.” “Military retirees.” “Narrow-minded.” “Rigid.” “Not progressive.” “Polarizing.” “Stuck in their ways.” “Farmers.” (…) The session with the young men was equally jarring. None of them expressed great enthusiasm for Obama. But their depiction of Republicans was even more lacerating than the women’s had been. “Racist,” “out of touch” and “hateful” made the list — “and put ‘1950s’ on there too!” one called out. (…) During the whiteboard drill, every focus group described Democrats as “open-minded” and Republicans as “rigid.” “There is a brand,” the 28-year-old pollster concluded of her party with clinical finality. “And it’s that we’re not in the 21st century.”
Several G.O.P. digital specialists told me that, in addition, they found it difficult to recruit talent because of the values espoused by the party. “I know a lot of people who do technology for a living,” Turk said. “And almost universally, there’s a libertarian streak that runs through them — information should be free, do your own thing and leave me alone, that sort of mind-set. That’s very much what the Internet is. And almost to a person that I’ve talked to, they say, ‘Yeah, I would probably vote for Republicans, but I can’t get past the gay-marriage ban, the abortion stance, all of these social causes.’ Almost universally, they see a future where you have more options, not less. So questions about whether you can be married to the person you want to be married to just flies in the face of the future. They don’t want to be part of an organization that puts them squarely on the wrong side of history.” Many young conservatives also said that technological innovation runs at cross-purposes with the party’s corporate rigidity. “There’s a feeling that Republican politics are more hierarchical than in the Democratic Party,” Ben Domenech, a 31-year-old blogger and research fellow at the libertarian Heartland Institute, told me. “There are always elders at the top who say, ‘That’s not important.’ And that’s where the left has beaten us, by giving smart people the space and trusting them to have success. It’s a fundamentally anti-entrepreneurial model we’ve embraced.”
The Republicans did in fact recently have a David Plouffe of their own. As one G.O.P. techie elegantly put it, “We were the smart ones, back in ’04, eons ago.” Referring to the campaign that re-elected George W. Bush, Plouffe told me: “You know how in fantasy baseball you imagine putting up your team against the 1927 Yankees? We would’ve liked to have faced off against the 2004 Republicans. Beating the Clintons” — during the 2008 primaries — “that was, in terms of scale of difficulty, significantly above beating Romney. But going up against the Bushies — that would’ve been something we all would’ve relished.” Plouffe wasn’t referring to competing against Bush’s oft-described architect, Karl Rove — but rather, against the campaign manager, Ken Mehlman. “Mehlman got technology and organization and the truth is — I think it’s completely misunderstood — it was Ken’s campaign,” Plouffe said. (…) Mehlman, according to Bush campaign officials, persuaded Rove to invest heavily in microtargeting (a data-driven means of identifying and reaching select groups of voters), which helped deliver Ohio and thus the election. He advocated reaching out to minority voters both as Bush’s campaign manager and later as chairman of the R.N.C., where he also instructed his staff to read “Moneyball.” “I was like, ‘What does a baseball book have to do with politics?’ ” said Michael Turk, who worked for Mehlman at the R.N.C. “Once I actually took the time to digest it, I realized what he was trying to do — which was exactly the kind of thing that the Obama team just did: understanding that not every election is about home runs but instead getting a whole bunch of singles together that eventually add up to a win.”
“There’s an important book by Ben Wattenberg and Richard Scammon called ‘The Real Majority,’ published in 1970,” Mehlman said as he leaned back in his chair. “The book explains in part how the Republican Party would go on to win five out of six presidential elections through the eyes of the ‘typical’ voter — a working-class couple in Dayton, Ohio. They’re white, worried about crime, feel burdened by taxes and feel like too many Democrats don’t understand these concerns.” Today’s typical voter, he went on to say, could be that same white couple in Dayton. “But here’s the difference,” he said. ‘They worry about economic mobility — can their kids get ahead or even keep up. Their next-door neighbors are Latino whose mom gets concerned when she hears talk about self-deportation or no driver’s licenses. And that couple has a gay niece and an African-American brother-in-law. And too many folks like the couple in Dayton today wonder if some of the G.O.P. understands their lives anymore.” I asked him whether, as even some Republicans have suggested, Ronald Reagan would have trouble building a winning coalition today. “I think he could win, partly because Reagan wouldn’t be the Reagan he was in 1980,” Mehlman replied. “Reagan had an unbelievable intuitive understanding of the electorate, because he’d spent his life as the president of a large union, as an actor who understands his audience, as the governor of the largest state, as a corporate spokesman who traveled — Reagan spent his life listening to people and learning from them and adapting to their concerns. That’s why there were Reagan Democrats — ethnics, working-class voters, Southern voters. So I think a modern Reagan would understand the demography and where the new voters are and would’ve applied his principles accordingly.”
But could a modern-day Reagan, even with Ken Mehlman running his campaign, overcome the party’s angry and antiquated image? To win, a reincarnated Reagan — or a Rubio or a Chris Christie or a Bobby Jindal — would still have to satisfy his base of hard-line conservatives and captivate a new generation of voters at the same time. I ran this quandary by Kristen Soltis Anderson. “It’s a big challenge,” she acknowledged. “But I think that if you can earn the trust of the people, there are ways you can say, ‘Here’s why I take this position.’ I don’t know that someone like Rubio, who may be young and attractive and well spoken, could attract young voters despite his views on gay marriage. I do think that in the absence of a very compelling reason to vote for a candidate, those social issues can be deal-breakers for young voters. The challenge is: Can you make a case that’s so compelling that you can overcome those deal-breaker issues? And I don’t know the answer to that question.”
Bret Jacobson, the Red Edge entrepreneur, insisted that the solution was ultimately a simple one. “I think the answer for a vibrant Republican Party is to make our North Star empowering every individual in this country to follow their own dream, free of legislative excesses,” he told me. “There are millions of Americans who take seriously their religious culture as well as traditions that have been handed down for centuries. And the party has to empower them to fight those battles in the social sphere, not in the government sphere. That’s harder work than taking control of the country for four years. But it’s the appropriate battle.” Robert Draper
Let me tell you something. The Hispanic voters in Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico don’t give a damn about Marco Rubio, the Tea Party Cuban-American from Florida. You know what? We won the Cuban vote! And it’s because younger Cubans are behaving differently than their parents. It’s probably my favorite stat of the whole campaign. So this notion that Marco Rubio is going to heal their problems — it’s not even sophomoric; it’s juvenile! And by the way: the bigger problem they’ve got with Latinos isn’t immigration. It’s their economic policies and health care. The group that supported the president’s health care bill the most? Latinos. David Plouffe (Democratic strategist)
The sleeping giant of the last election wasn’t Hispanics; it was elderly black women, terrified of media claims that Republicans were trying to suppress the black vote and determined to keep the first African-American president in the White House. Contrary to everyone’s expectations, 10 percent more blacks voted in 2012 compared to 2008, even beating white voters, the usual turnout champions. Eligible black voters turned out at rate of 66.2 percent, compared to 64.1 percent of eligible white voters. Only 48 percent of all eligible Hispanic voters went to the polls. (Only two groups voted in larger numbers in 2012 compared to 2008: blacks aged 45-64, and blacks over the age of 65 — mostly elderly black women. In raw numbers, nearly twice as many blacks voted as Hispanics, and nine times as many whites voted as Hispanics. (Ninety-eight million whites, 18 million blacks and 11 million Hispanics.) Ann Coulter
Amnesty is a gift to employers, not employees. The (pro-amnesty) Pew Research Hispanic Center has produced poll after poll showing that Hispanics don’t care about amnesty. In a poll last fall, Hispanic voters said they cared more about education, jobs and health care than immigration. They even care more about the federal budget deficit than immigration! (…) Who convinced Republicans that Hispanic wages aren’t low enough and what they really need is an influx of low-wage workers competing for their jobs? Maybe the greedy businessmen now running the Republican Party should talk with their Hispanic maids sometime. Ask Juanita if she’d like to have seven new immigrants competing with her for the opportunity to clean other people’s houses, so that her wages can be dropped from $20 an hour to $10 an hour. Ann Coulter

A l’heure où, avec les scandales qui s’accumulent, les obamamanes découvrent enfin les vraies couleurs de l’Illusioniste en chef de Chicago

Et que, face à la nouvelle législation sur l’immigration promise depuis longtemps par l’Administration Obama, nombre de Républicains semblent être tentés par l’amnistie …

Retour, avec l’éditorialiste républicaine Ann Coulter, sur le prétendu épouvantail du vote hispanique qui en novembre dernier aurait coulé Romney

Pour rappeler que lesdits hispaniques n’ont non seulement voté qu’à 48% (contre plus de 66% et 64% pour les noirs et les blancs) …

Mais qu’ils ne sont peut-être pas si pressés de voir une arrivée massive d’immigrants pousser leurs propres salaires vers le bas  …

If the GOP is this stupid, it deserves to die

Ann Coulter

6/12/2013

Democrats terrify Hispanics into thinking they’ll be lynched if they vote for Republicans, and then turn around and taunt Republicans for not winning a majority of the Hispanic vote.

This line of attack has real resonance with our stupidest Republicans. (Proposed Republican primary targets: Sens. Kelly Ayotte, Jeff Flake, Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio.) Which explains why Republicans are devoting all their energy to slightly increasing their share of the Hispanic vote while alienating everyone else in America.

It must be fun for liberals to manipulate Republicans into focusing on hopeless causes. Why don’t Democrats waste their time trying to win the votes of gun owners?

As journalist Steve Sailer recently pointed out, the Hispanic vote terrifying Republicans isn’t that big. It actually declined in 2012. The Census Bureau finally released the real voter turnout numbers from the last election, and the Hispanic vote came in at only 8.4 percent of the electorate — not the 10 percent claimed by the pro-amnesty crowd.

The sleeping giant of the last election wasn’t Hispanics; it was elderly black women, terrified of media claims that Republicans were trying to suppress the black vote and determined to keep the first African-American president in the White House.

Contrary to everyone’s expectations, 10 percent more blacks voted in 2012 compared to 2008, even beating white voters, the usual turnout champions. Eligible black voters turned out at rate of 66.2 percent, compared to 64.1 percent of eligible white voters. Only 48 percent of all eligible Hispanic voters went to the polls.

No one saw this coming, which is probably why Gallup had Romney up by 5 points before Hurricane Sandy hit, and up by 1 point in its last pre-election poll after the hurricane.

Only two groups voted in larger numbers in 2012 compared to 2008: blacks aged 45-64, and blacks over the age of 65 — mostly elderly black women.

In raw numbers, nearly twice as many blacks voted as Hispanics, and nine times as many whites voted as Hispanics. (Ninety-eight million whites, 18 million blacks and 11 million Hispanics.)

So, naturally, the Republican Party’s entire battle plan going forward is to win slightly more votes from 8.4 percent of the electorate by giving them something they don’t want.

As Byron York has shown, even if Mitt Romney had won 70 percent of the Hispanic vote, he still would have lost. No Republican presidential candidate in at least 50 years has won even half of the Hispanic vote.

In the presidential election immediately after Reagan signed an amnesty bill in 1986, the Republican share of the Hispanic vote actually declined from 37 percent to 30 percent — and that was in a landslide election for the GOP. Combined, the two Bush presidents averaged 32.5 percent of the Hispanic vote — and they have Hispanics in their family Christmas cards.

John McCain, the nation’s leading amnesty proponent, won only 31 percent of the Hispanic vote, not much more than anti-amnesty Romney’s 27 percent.

Amnesty is a gift to employers, not employees.

The (pro-amnesty) Pew Research Hispanic Center has produced poll after poll showing that Hispanics don’t care about amnesty. In a poll last fall, Hispanic voters said they cared more about education, jobs and health care than immigration. They even care more about the federal budget deficit than immigration! (To put that in perspective, the next item on their list of concerns was “scratchy towels.”)

Also, note that Pew asked about “immigration,” not “amnesty.” Those Hispanics who said they cared about immigration might care about it the way I care about it — by supporting a fence and E-Verify.

Who convinced Republicans that Hispanic wages aren’t low enough and what they really need is an influx of low-wage workers competing for their jobs?

Maybe the greedy businessmen now running the Republican Party should talk with their Hispanic maids sometime. Ask Juanita if she’d like to have seven new immigrants competing with her for the opportunity to clean other people’s houses, so that her wages can be dropped from $20 an hour to $10 an hour.

A wise Latina, A.J. Delgado, recently explained on Mediaite.com why amnesty won’t win Republicans the Hispanic vote — even if they get credit for it. Her very first argument was: “Latinos will resent the added competition for jobs.”

But rich businessmen don’t care. Big Republican donors — and their campaign consultants — just want to make money. They don’t care about Hispanics, and they certainly don’t care what happens to the country. If the country is hurt, I don’t care, as long as I am doing better! This is the very definition of treason.

Hispanic voters are a small portion of the electorate. They don’t want amnesty, and they’re hopeless Democrats. So Republicans have decided the path to victory is to flood the country with lots more of them!

It’s as if Republicans convinced Democrats to fixate on banning birth control to win more pro-life voters. This would be great for Republicans because Democrats will never win a majority of pro-life voters, and about as many pro-lifers care about birth control as Hispanics care about amnesty.

But that still wouldn’t be as idiotic as what Republicans are doing because, according to Gallup, pro-lifers are nearly half of the electorate. Hispanics are only 8.4 percent of the electorate.

And it still wouldn’t be as stupid as the GOP pushing amnesty, because banning birth control wouldn’t create millions more voters who consistently vote against the Democrats.

Listening to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus burble a few weeks ago on “Fox News Sunday” about how amnesty is going to push the Republicans to new electoral heights, one is reminded of Democratic pollster Pat Caddell’s reason for refusing to become a Republican: No matter how enraged he gets at Democratic corruption, he says he can’t bear to join such a stupid party as the GOP.

Voir aussi:

Hispanics favor Dems but didn’t decide election

November 22, 2012

Byron York

Chief Political Correspondent

The Washington Examiner

After moments of panic in the immediate aftermath of Mitt Romney’s defeat, some Republicans and conservatives are regaining their equilibrium on the issue of what the GOP should do about immigration and the Hispanic vote.

They’re looking at key questions from the campaign, like how much of Barack Obama’s victory was attributable to Hispanic support. They’re also looking at the Hispanic electorate itself to see how big a role immigration, versus a wide range of other issues, played in voting decisions. The goal, of course, is to win a larger portion of the Hispanic vote, but first to take a clear-eyed look at what actually happened on Nov. 6.

And the lesson for Republicans is: Take your time. Calmly reassess your positions. Don’t pander.

The first question is whether Hispanic voters gave Obama his margin of victory. In a recent analysis, the New York Times’ Allison Kopicki and Will Irving looked at vote totals in each state, plus the percentage of the vote cast by Hispanics, to see what the outcome would have been had Hispanics voted differently.

For example, they looked at Wisconsin, a state the Romney-Ryan team hoped to win. Hispanics weren’t a huge part of the total vote — about 4 percent, according to the exit polls — and Obama won big among them, 65 percent to 31 percent. But going through the totals, Kopicki and Irving concluded that even if every single Hispanic voter in Wisconsin had cast a ballot for Romney, Obama still would have won.

They found the same result for New Hampshire and Iowa, two other swing states Romney looked to win.

Then there was Ohio. According to the exit polls, Obama won 53 percent of the Hispanic vote there. But given how decisively Obama won other voting groups, Kopicki and Irving found that the president would have prevailed in Ohio even if he had won just 22 percent of the Hispanic vote. Put another way, even if Romney had won a stratospheric 78 percent of the Hispanic vote, he still would have lost Ohio.

In Virginia, Obama won the Latino vote 65 percent to 33 percent. Kopicki and Irving found that if those numbers had been reversed — if Romney had won an unprecedented 65 percent of the Latino vote — Obama still would have won Virginia.

Even in states where the Hispanic vote played a bigger role, Romney could have made significant gains among Hispanics and still lost. In Colorado, for example, the president won Hispanics by a huge margin, 75 percent to 23 percent. Kopicki and Irving found that Romney could have increased his margin to 42 percent — a major improvement for a Republican — and still come up short in Colorado.

The bottom line is that even if Romney had made historic gains among Hispanic voters, he still would have lost the election. That means Romney underperformed among more than just Hispanic voters. And that means winning more Hispanic votes is far from the GOP’s only challenge.

Then there is the question of what motivates Hispanic voters. "They should be a natural Republican constituency: striving immigrant community, religious, Catholic, family-oriented and socially conservative (on abortion, for example)," columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote Nov. 8. "The principal reason they go Democratic is the issue of illegal immigrants." Krauthammer urged Republicans to accept amnesty for illegals, accompanied by a completed border fence.

Some other conservatives echoed Krauthammer’s sentiments. But social scientist Charles Murray looked across a broad range of data and found little to support the notion that Hispanics are natural Republicans. Hispanics "aren’t more religious than everyone else … aren’t married more than everyone else … aren’t more conservative than everyone else," Murray wrote. In addition, Hispanics don’t work harder than other groups and are only slightly more pro-life than the rest of the population.

The available data, Murray concluded, "paint a portrait that gives no reason to think that Republicans have an untapped pool of social conservatives to help them win elections."

In addition, exit poll information suggests Hispanics voted on a number of issues beyond illegal immigration — and those issues favored Democrats. A majority of Hispanics who voted Nov. 6 favored keeping Obamacare. A majority favored higher taxes for higher earners. A majority — two-thirds, in fact — said abortion should be legal.

None of this is to say the GOP shouldn’t seek more Hispanic votes. There are opportunities; for example, Romney made significant inroads among Hispanic voters with college degrees. But the fact is, Republicans had a serious problem with lots of voters, as well as potential voters who didn’t go to the polls. The Hispanic vote was just part of it.

Byron York, The Examiner’s chief political correspondent, can be contacted at byork@washingtonexaminer.com. His column appears on Tuesday and Friday, and his stories and blog posts appear on washingtonexaminer.com.

Voir encore:

Can the Republicans Be Saved From Obsolescence?

Robert Draper

The New York Times

February 14, 2013

One afternoon last month, I paid a visit to two young Republicans named Bret Jacobson and Ian Spencer, who work in a small office in Arlington, Va., situated above an antique store and adjacent to a Japanese auto shop. Their five-man company, Red Edge, is a digital-advocacy group for conservative causes, and their days are typically spent designing software applications for groups like the Heritage Foundation, the Republican Governors Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Lately, however, Jacobson and Spencer have taken up evangelizing — and the sermon, delivered day after day to fellow conservatives in the form of a 61-point presentation, is a pitiless we-told-you-so elucidation of the ways in which Democrats have overwhelmed Republicans with their technological superiority.

They walked me through a series of slides showing the wide discrepancies between the two campaigns. “And just to make them feel really bad,” Jacobson said as he punched another image onto the overhead screen. “We say, ‘Just wait — this is the most important slide.’ And this is what kills them, because conservatives always look at young voters like the hot girl they could never date.” He read aloud from the text: “1.25 million more young people supported Obama in 2012 over 2008.”

In the light of his Apple monitor, Jacobson’s grin took on a Luciferian glow. He is 33, wiry and well dressed and has the twitchy manner of a highly caffeinated techie. “And then we continue with the cavalcade of pain,” he said. The next chart showed that while the Romney campaign raised slightly more money from its online ads than it spent on them, Obama’s team more than doubled the return on its online-ad investment.

Spencer chimed in: “That’s when one of our clients moaned, ‘It’s even worse than I thought.’ ” Spencer, who is 29, possesses the insectlike eyes of a committed programmer. He and Jacobson are alumni of the University of Oregon, where they both worked on the Commentator, a conservative alternative paper whose slogan was, “Free Minds, Free Markets, Free Booze.”

“Then, once people think we’ve gotten them through the worst,” Jacobson said, “we pile on more — just the way Obama did.” He put up Slide 26, titled, “Running Up the Score.” “Obama was the very first candidate to appear on Reddit. We ask our clients, ‘Do you know what Reddit is?’ And only one of them did. Then we show them this photo of Obama hugging his wife with the caption ‘Four more years’ — an image no conservative likes. And we tell them, ‘Because of the way the Obama campaign used things like Reddit, that photo is the single-most popular image ever seen on Twitter or Facebook.’ Just to make sure there’s plenty of salt in the wound.”

Back in August 2011, Jacobson wrote an op-ed in Forbes alerting Republicans to Obama’s lead on the digital front. His warnings were disregarded. Then last summer, he and Spencer approached the conservative super PAC American Crossroads with their digital-tool-building strategies and, they say, were politely ignored. It’s understandable, then, that a touch of schadenfreude is evident when Jacobson and Spencer receive the policy-group gurus and trade-association lobbyists who file into Red Edges’s office to receive a comeuppance.

“Business is booming for us,” Jacobson said. “We’ll double or triple our bottom line this year, easily. But this isn’t about getting new business. We need the entire right side of the aisle to get smart fast. And the only way they can do that is to appreciate how big the chasm was.”

Exhibit A is the performance of the Romney brain trust, which has suffered an unusually vigorous postelection thrashing for badly losing a winnable race. Criticism begins with the candidate — a self-described data-driven chief executive who put his trust in alarmingly off-the-mark internal polls and apparently did not think to ask his subordinates why, for example, they were operating on the assumption that fewer black voters would turn out for Obama than in 2008. Romney’s senior strategist, Stuart Stevens, may well be remembered by historians, as one House Republican senior staff member put it to me, “as the last guy to run a presidential campaign who never tweeted.” (“It was raised many times with him,” a senior Romney official told me, “and he was very categorical about not wanting to and not thinking it was worth it.”)

Under the stewardship of Zac Moffatt, whose firm, Targeted Victory, commandeered the 2012 digital operations of the Romney campaign, American Crossroads and the Republican National Committee, Team Romney managed to connect with 12 million Facebook friends, triple that of Obama’s operation in 2008; but Obama in 2012 accrued 33 million friends and deployed them as online ambassadors who in turn contacted their Facebook friends, thereby demonstrably increasing the campaign’s get-out-the-vote efforts in a way that dwarfed the Republicans’. While Romney’s much-hyped get-out-the-vote digital tool, Orca, famously crashed on Election Day, Obama’s digital team unveiled Narwhal, a state-of-the-art data platform that gave every member of the campaign instant access to continuously updated information on voters, volunteer availability and phone-bank activity. And despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars, the Romney television-ad-making apparatus proved to be no match for the Obama operation, which enlisted Rentrak, the data corporation for satellite and cable companies, through which it accrued an entirely new layer of information about each and every consumer, giving the campaign the ability to customize cable TV ads.

“They were playing chess while we were playing checkers,” a senior member of the campaign’s digital team somberly told another top Romney aide shortly after the election. Later, the top aide would participate in a postelection forum with Obama’s campaign manager. He told me (albeit, like a few people I spoke to, under the condition that he not be identified criticizing his party), “I remember thinking, when Jim Messina was going over the specifics of how they broke down and targeted the electorate: ‘I can’t play this game. I have to play a different game, so that I don’t look like an idiot in front of all these people.’ ”

But the problem for the G.O.P. extends well beyond its flawed candidate and his flawed operation. The unnerving truth, which the Red Edge team and other younger conservatives worry that their leaders have yet to appreciate, is that the Republican Party’s technological deficiencies barely begin to explain why the G.O.P. has lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. The party brand — which is to say, its message and its messengers — has become practically abhorrent to emerging demographic groups like Latinos and African-Americans, not to mention an entire generation of young voters. As one of the party’s most highly respected strategists told me: “It ought to concern people that the most Republican part of the electorate under Ronald Reagan were 18-to-29-year-olds. And today, people I know who are under 40 are embarrassed to say they’re Republicans. They’re embarrassed! They get harassed for it, the same way we used to give liberals a hard time.”

It was not long after the election that elder statesmen of the G.O.P. began offering assurances that all would soon be right. But younger Republicans were not buying it. On Dec. 6, Moffatt addressed an audience of party digital specialists at the R.N.C.’s Capitol Hill Club. Moffatt spoke confidently about how, among other things, the Romney digital team had pretty much all the same tools the Obama campaign possessed. Bret Jacobson was shocked when he read about Moffatt’s claim the next day. “That’s like saying, ‘This Potemkin village will bring us all prosperity!’ ” Jacobson told me. “There’s something to be said for putting on a happy face — except when it makes you sound like Baghdad Bob.”

A few days after the Moffatt gathering, the R.N.C.’s chairman, Reince Priebus, announced that the committee would conduct a wide-ranging investigation — called the Growth and Opportunity Project — into the ways the party was going astray. To guide the investigation were familiar names, like the former Bush White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, the longtime Florida operative Sally Bradshaw and the R.N.C. veteran Henry Barbour. Erik Telford, the 28-year-old founder of the RightOnline bloggers’ convention, told me that he found himself wondering aloud: “Do you want an aggressive investigation from people who’ve built their careers on asking skeptical questions? Or do you want a report from people who are symptomatic of what’s gone wrong?”

Equally galling to younger Republicans was the op-ed Stuart Stevens wrote in The Washington Post on Nov. 28. In it, Romney’s top strategist struck an unrepentant tone, proudly noting that the candidate “carried the majority of middle-class voters” and that the party therefore “must be doing something right.” From her office near the Capitol, Kristen Soltis Anderson, a 28-year-old G.O.P. pollster, tried not to come unglued. “But you didn’t win the election,” she told me she thought at the time. “I’m really glad you scored that touchdown in the third quarter, I am — but you lost the game!”

Anderson is a fantasy-football fanatic, with the rat-a-tat argumentative cadence that gives her away as a former high-school debater. Upon graduating from college, she became the lead singer of the Frustrations, a rock-ska group that folded, as only a D.C.-based band could, when one member decided to attend law school and another needed more time to study for the bar exam. Anderson, for her part, is now a pollster and vice president of the Winston Group. Like the Red Edge partners and virtually every other young Republican with whom I spoke, she regards herself as a socially tolerant, limited-government fiscal conservative. (Today Republicans of all age groups strenuously avoid describing themselves as “moderate,” a term that the far right has made radioactive.) Camera-ready and compulsively perky — she has twice appeared on Bill Maher’s ”Real Time” panel as a token conservative — she nonetheless lapses into despondency when talking about her party’s current state of denial. During one of the postelection panels, Anderson heard a journalist talk about his interviews with Romney staff members who had hoped to build a winning coalition of white voters. “That just stunned me,” she told me one afternoon over coffee. “I thought: Did you not see the census? Because there was one! And it had some pretty big news — like that America’s biggest growing population is the Latino community! Surprise, surprise! How have we not grasped that this is going to be really important?”

One afternoon last month, I flew with Anderson to Columbus, Ohio, to watch her conduct two focus groups. The first consisted of 10 single, middle-class women in their 20s; the second, of 10 20-something men who were either jobless or employed but seeking better work. All of them voted for Obama but did not identify themselves as committed Democrats and were sufficiently ambivalent about the president’s performance that Anderson deemed them within reach of the Republicans. Each group sat around a large conference table with the pollster, while I viewed the proceedings from behind a panel of one-way glass.

The all-female focus group began with a sobering assessment of the Obama economy. All of the women spoke gloomily about the prospect of paying off student loans, about what they believed to be Social Security’s likely insolvency and about their children’s schooling. A few of them bitterly opined that the Democrats care little about the working class but lavish the poor with federal aid. “You get more off welfare than you would at a minimum-wage job,” observed one of them. Another added, “And if you have a kid, you’re set up for life!”

About an hour into the session, Anderson walked up to a whiteboard and took out a magic marker. “I’m going to write down a word, and you guys free-associate with whatever comes to mind,” she said. The first word she wrote was “Democrat.”

“Young people,” one woman called out.

“Liberal,” another said. Followed by: “Diverse.” “Bill Clinton.”“Change.”“Open-minded.”“Spending.”“Handouts.”“Green.”“More science-based.”

When Anderson then wrote “Republican,” the outburst was immediate and vehement: “Corporate greed.”“Old.”“Middle-aged white men.” “Rich.” “Religious.” “Conservative.” “Hypocritical.” “Military retirees.” “Narrow-minded.” “Rigid.” “Not progressive.” “Polarizing.” “Stuck in their ways.” “Farmers.”

Anderson concluded the group on a somewhat beseeching note. “Let’s talk about Republicans,” she said. “What if anything could they do to earn your vote?”

A self-identified anti-abortion, “very conservative” 27-year-old Obama voter named Gretchen replied: “Don’t be so right wing! You know, on abortion, they’re so out there. That all-or-nothing type of thing, that’s the way Romney came across. And you know, come up with ways to compromise.”

“What would be the sign to you that the Republican Party is moving in the right direction?” Anderson asked them.

“Maybe actually pass something?” suggested a 28-year-old schoolteacher named Courtney, who also identified herself as conservative.

The session with the young men was equally jarring. None of them expressed great enthusiasm for Obama. But their depiction of Republicans was even more lacerating than the women’s had been. “Racist,” “out of touch” and “hateful” made the list — “and put ‘1950s’ on there too!” one called out.

Showing a reverence for understatement, Anderson said: “A lot of those words you used to describe Republicans are negative. What could they say or do to make you feel more positive about the Republican Party?”

“Be more pro-science,” said a 22-year-old moderate named Jack. “Embrace technology and change.”

“Stick to your strong suit,” advised Nick, a 23-year-old African-American. “Clearly social issues aren’t your strong suit. Stop trying to fight the battle that’s already been fought and trying to bring back a movement. Get over it — you lost.”

Later that evening at a hotel bar, Anderson pored over her notes. She seemed morbidly entranced, like a homicide detective gazing into a pool of freshly spilled blood. In the previous few days, the pollster interviewed Latino voters in San Diego and young entrepreneurs in Orlando. The findings were virtually unanimous. No one could understand the G.O.P.’s hot-blooded opposition to gay marriage or its perceived affinity for invading foreign countries. Every group believed that the first place to cut spending was the defense budget. During the whiteboard drill, every focus group described Democrats as “open-minded” and Republicans as “rigid.”

“There is a brand,” the 28-year-old pollster concluded of her party with clinical finality. “And it’s that we’re not in the 21st century.”

Of course, many conservatives like their brand just the way it is, regardless of what century it seems to belong to. Anderson did not relish a tug of war over the party’s identity between them and more open-minded Republicans. She talked to me about Jon Huntsman, the presidential candidate whose positions on climate change and social issues she admired, and the unseemly spectacle of his denigrating the far right. To prosper, the party should not have to eat its own, she maintained. Still, to hear her focus-group subjects tell it, the voice of today’s G.O.P. is repellent to young voters. Can that voice, belonging to the party’s most fevered members, still be accommodated even as young Republicans seek to bring their party into the modern era?

This conundrum has been a frequent postelection topic as youthful conservative dissidents huddle in taverns and homes and — among friends, in the manner of early-20th-century Bolsheviks — proceed to speak the unspeakable about the ruling elite. I sat in on one such gathering on a Saturday evening in early February — convened at a Russian bar in Midtown Manhattan, over Baltika beers. The group of a half-dozen or so conservative pundits and consultants calls itself Proximus, which is Latin for “next,” and they seem to revel in their internal disagreements. One of them argued, “Not all regulation is bad,” while another countered, “I hate all regulations, every single one of them” — including, he cheerfully admitted, minimum-wage and child-labor laws. Nonetheless, the focal point of Proximus’s mission is not policy formulation but salesmanship: how to bring new voters into the fold while remaining true to conservative principles.

“This is a long-term play,” conceded John Goodwin, a founder of the group and former chief of staff to the outspoken conservative congressman Raúl Labrador. “This isn’t going to happen by 2014. But we want to be able to show voters that we have a diversity of opinion. Right now, Republicans have such a small number of vocal messengers. What we want to do is add more microphones and eventually drown out the others.”

“And we can’t be afraid to call out Rush Limbaugh,” said Goodwin’s fiancée, S. E. Cupp, a New York Daily News columnist and a co-host of ”The Cycle” on MSNBC. “If we can get three Republicans on three different networks saying, ‘What Rush Limbaugh said is crazy and stupid and dangerous,’ maybe that’ll give other Republicans cover” to denounce the talk-show host as well.

Cupp, who is 33, defines her brand of conservatism as “rational — and optimistic!” She is staunchly anti-abortion but also pro-gay-marriage and a “warheads on foreheads” hawk whose heroes are Barry Goldwater and William F. Buckley Jr. Like many Republicans today — and indeed like liberal Democrats in the 1980s, before Bill Clinton came along and charted a more centrist course — Cupp finds herself in the unenviable position of maintaining that Americans largely side with her party’s worldview, even if their votes suggest otherwise. “Public polling still puts the country center-right on a host of issues,” she told me.

The problem is that her party’s loudest voices sound far more right than center. The voters in Kristen Soltis Anderson’s focus groups condemned Republicans for their unchecked hatred of Obama and for threatening to take away financing for Planned Parenthood, ban abortion, outlaw gay marriage and wage war. From where they stood, at the center-right of S. E. Cupp’s domain, the party had been dragged well out of plain view.

Proximus seeks to marginalize the more strident talking heads by offering itself up to — or if necessary, forcing itself upon — the party as a 21st-century mouthpiece. “If I were training a candidate who’s against gay marriage,” Cupp told me, “I’d say: ‘Don’t change your beliefs, just say legislatively this is not a priority, and I’m not going to take away someone’s right. And if abortion or gay marriage is your No. 1 issue, I’m not your guy.’ ”

I tried to imagine how Cupp’s kinder-gentler message-coaching would go over with the Tea Party, a group that was never mentioned by the young Republicans I spoke with until I broached it. Still, the influence of the far right on the party’s image remains hard to ignore. When I brought up the subject of the Tea Party to Cupp, she said: “People aren’t repelled by the idea of limited government or balancing the budget or lowering taxes. Those Tea Party principles are incredibly popular with the public, even if they don’t know it. Again, that’s a messaging issue, that’s not a principle issue.”

She went on to say, “I don’t think we win by subtraction” — meaning, by casting out the party’s right wing to entice the centrists. Instead, Cupp and her fellow travelers hope to revive Lee Atwater’s bygone “big tent,” under which gay people and Tea Party members and isolationists and neocons would coexist without rancor. But Atwater, the legendary R.N.C. chairman, did not have to worry about freelance voices like Limbaugh and Todd Akin offending whole swaths of emerging demographic groups. Nor during the Atwater era, when Ronald Reagan was president, did the party’s most extreme wing intimidate other Republicans into legislating like extremists themselves, thereby further tarnishing the party’s image. When I mentioned this to the Proximus gathering, Goodwin explained the dilemma faced by Republicans in Congress. “What forces them to vote that way, 9 times out of 10, is a fear of a primary challenge,” he said. “What we hope to accomplish is to bring more voters into Republican primaries, so that it isn’t just the far right that shows up at the polls.”

The dilemma, Goodwin acknowledged, is that the far-right rhetoric may well repel such voters from participating in G.O.P. primaries to begin with. “We recognize that this isn’t something that’s going to happen anytime soon,” he said.

On Nov. 30, more than 2,000 progressives shuffled into the Washington Convention Center to participate in RootsCamp, an annual series of seminars hosted by the New Organizing Institute, where the most cutting-edge digital and grass-roots organizing techniques are discussed. The shaggy and the achingly earnest are well represented at RootsCamp, which makes it an easy target of derision from the right. A reporter from the conservative publication The Daily Caller attended the postelection gathering in 2010 and made great sport of the “unconference,” with its self-conscious inclusiveness, which the reporter termed “multilingual, multicultural and multi-unpurposeful.”

But the handful of conservatives who attended the conference this past November were in no mood to sneer. One was Patrick Ruffini, a 34-year-old leader of the G.O.P.’s young-and-restless digerati. At RootsCamp, his breathless tweets of the sessions held by top Obama organizers — “In eight years, calling people will be obsolete”; “Digital organizing director and field director will be one and the same” — set off a buzz among Republican techies. Ruffini was plainly impressed by the openness of the experience. “I’m like, Wow, they’re doing this in front of 2,000 people, and the system seems to actually work,” he told me a month later. “The thing I was struck by at RootsCamp was that in many ways, the Democratic technology ecosystem has embraced the free market — whereas the Republican one sort of runs on socialism, with the R.N.C. being the overlord.”

The success of the RootsCamp, and its smaller and more intensive offshoot gathering, the New Media Boot Camp, helps explain the yawning digital divide between the two parties. In 2006, a few holdovers from the Howard Dean and John Kerry campaigns eschewed lucrative offers from Washington consulting firms in order to devote some of their time to the communal information-sharing ideals of the New Organizing Institute. Since then, numerous Boot Camp alumni have gone on to help run the tech operations of the Obama campaign and throughout the Democratic Party infrastructure, while RootsCamp has served as a crash course in best practices for thousands of lefties.

Young Republicans now lament that no one from their side has stepped up to organize a conservative version of RootsCamp. Michael Turk, a 42-year-old Republican digital guru, suggested that the failure of G.O.P. technologists to do this springs from a uniquely Republican trait. “They all wanted to make money,” he said. “And so as a result, Katie Harbath, who was one of my deputies at the R.N.C., is now at Facebook, and Mindy Finn” — a longtime G.O.P. digital operative — “is at Twitter, and Patrick and I each started our own companies. We all found ways to parlay that into a living for our families, as opposed to just doing it for the cause.”

Several G.O.P. digital specialists told me that, in addition, they found it difficult to recruit talent because of the values espoused by the party. “I know a lot of people who do technology for a living,” Turk said. “And almost universally, there’s a libertarian streak that runs through them — information should be free, do your own thing and leave me alone, that sort of mind-set. That’s very much what the Internet is. And almost to a person that I’ve talked to, they say, ‘Yeah, I would probably vote for Republicans, but I can’t get past the gay-marriage ban, the abortion stance, all of these social causes.’ Almost universally, they see a future where you have more options, not less. So questions about whether you can be married to the person you want to be married to just flies in the face of the future. They don’t want to be part of an organization that puts them squarely on the wrong side of history.”

Many young conservatives also said that technological innovation runs at cross-purposes with the party’s corporate rigidity. “There’s a feeling that Republican politics are more hierarchical than in the Democratic Party,” Ben Domenech, a 31-year-old blogger and research fellow at the libertarian Heartland Institute, told me. “There are always elders at the top who say, ‘That’s not important.’ And that’s where the left has beaten us, by giving smart people the space and trusting them to have success. It’s a fundamentally anti-entrepreneurial model we’ve embraced.”

Erik Telford explained it this way: “I think there’s a very incestuous community of consultants who profit off certain tactics, and that creates bias and inhibits innovation.” Telford was suggesting that many of the party leaders, like Karl Rove and his American Crossroads super PAC, saw no financial advantage to bringing in avant-garde digital specialists, the types who were embraced by the Obama operation. For that matter, Zac Moffatt and his firm, Targeted Victory, enjoyed a virtual monopoly on the G.O.P.’s digital business during the lackluster 2012 cycle, which has made Moffatt an irresistible symbol for all that’s clubby and backward-thinking about the party. As Bret Jacobson said, half-jokingly, “If you have one firm that’s doing the top candidate, plus the R.N.C., plus the top outside group — the Department of Justice, in any other industry, would be actively asking questions.”

One of several G.O.P. digital whizzes who went unused by Moffatt’s shop in 2012 was Vincent Harris, a savvy 24-year-old social-media consultant whose efforts in Texas helped catapult Ted Cruz to an upset victory over a better-known candidate in the U.S. Senate primary. Harris told me he saw the Romney campaign as “a very insular, closed operation,” symptomatic of a partywide affliction. “There’s an old guard in Republican politics, and that old guard is mostly made up of television and direct-mail consultants,” he said. “And you can say that’s generational — but at the same time, David Axelrod has to be the same age as Karl Rove, right? The old guard in the Democratic Party made the adjustment with the Obama digital operation. There hasn’t been a concerted effort among the established G.O.P. folks to figure this stuff out.”

Harris suffers no illusions that the Roves of his party will turn over the keys to young techies like him. “We’re the second rung,” he told me. “The first tier isn’t going away for another 20 years.”

It is Harris’s last point — that the G.O.P. is stuck with its current leadership for the next decade or more — that incites particular angst in young Republicans. With palpable envy, they describe the forward-leaning impulses of the Obama campaign: Axelrod’s tweeting endlessly; the deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter’s becoming a YouTube dynamo with her sassy Web rebuttals to the Romney campaign; Jim Messina’s traveling westward to receive wisdom from Eric Schmidt, Steve Jobs and Steven Spielberg. (From Spielberg, about not trying to replicate their 2008 campaign: “You can only be the Rolling Stones from 1965 once. And then you’re a touring band that has to sell tickets each time you come to town.”) One leading G.O.P. digital operative told me: “We’re looking for someone who comes to us and is like: ‘All right, what do we need to do? I’m going to trust you to do it, I’m going to give you a real budget, you’ll have a seat at the table and will be just as important as the communications guy and the field guy. And you know what, those other guys need to be more modern, too, and that’s the campaign we’re going to run. So let’s start plotting out how we’re going to do that.’ ”

Echoing the opinion of nearly every other young Republican with whom I spoke, the operative concluded sadly, “And we haven’t had that person yet.”

The person they are seeking is the Republican incarnation of David Plouffe — the seemingly unremarkable Hill staffer and itinerant consultant who, like the Howard Dean strategist Joe Trippi before him, recognized that the only way his relatively unknown and underfinanced candidate could prevail over the front-runner would be to muster a guerrilla operation. To accomplish this, in 2007, Plouffe met with a 25-year-old former Dean techie named Joe Rospars and promptly enlisted him to help marshal candidate Obama’s volunteer support through high-tech means. Plouffe, Rospars told me, became the champion of “using digital to build the campaign from the bottom up.” Employing then-nascent social media channels like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, Rospars’s team raised enormous sums of money online while also plugging a nationwide grass-roots network into Obama’s get-out-the-vote efforts. Four years later, Stephanie Cutter said, “Plouffe was a big proponent” of completely reimagining the 2008 effort.

A few days before this year’s inauguration — after which he would take leave of the Obama White House and of politics as a profession — Plouffe met with me in his small and uncluttered West Wing office. He wore a blue shirt and a purple tie and, with his work now done, was uncharacteristically expansive. He told me he was surprised by the Romney campaign’s strategic shortcomings. After naming one particular member of Romney’s high command, he said, “We had 15 people more qualified to do that job than him.”

Plouffe cut his teeth as the deputy chief of staff of Representative Dick Gephardt, whose impressive farm team also included those who would go on to be White House advisers, like Paul Begala, George Stephanopoulos and Bill Burton. Now it was the Obama operation that, he said, “is going to generate a lot of people who are going to run presidential and Senate campaigns.” They were apt pupils of a campaign that was “a perfect-storm marriage between grass-roots energy and digital technology.” He continued: “Not having that is like Nixon not shaving before his first debate — you’ve got to understand the world you’re competing in. Our thinking always was, We don’t want people when they interact with the Obama campaign to have it be a deficient experience compared to how they shop or how they get their news. People don’t say, ‘Well, you’re a political campaign, so I expect you to be slower and less interesting.’ Right? We wanted it to be like Amazon. And I still don’t think the Republicans are there.”

But, I asked Plouffe, wasn’t the G.O.P. just one postmodern presidential candidate — say, a Senator Marco Rubio — away from getting back into the game?

Pouncing, he replied: “Let me tell you something. The Hispanic voters in Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico don’t give a damn about Marco Rubio, the Tea Party Cuban-American from Florida. You know what? We won the Cuban vote! And it’s because younger Cubans are behaving differently than their parents. It’s probably my favorite stat of the whole campaign. So this notion that Marco Rubio is going to heal their problems — it’s not even sophomoric; it’s juvenile! And by the way: the bigger problem they’ve got with Latinos isn’t immigration. It’s their economic policies and health care. The group that supported the president’s health care bill the most? Latinos.”

Plouffe readily conceded that he and his generation held no iron grip on political wisdom, but then he flashed a grin when I brought up the R.N.C.’s Growth and Opportunity Project, composed of party stalwarts. “If there’s a review board the Democrats put together in 2032, or even 2020, and I’m on it,” he said, “we’re screwed.”

The Republicans did in fact recently have a David Plouffe of their own. As one G.O.P. techie elegantly put it, “We were the smart ones, back in ’04, eons ago.” Referring to the campaign that re-elected George W. Bush, Plouffe told me: “You know how in fantasy baseball you imagine putting up your team against the 1927 Yankees? We would’ve liked to have faced off against the 2004 Republicans. Beating the Clintons” — during the 2008 primaries — “that was, in terms of scale of difficulty, significantly above beating Romney. But going up against the Bushies — that would’ve been something we all would’ve relished.”

Plouffe wasn’t referring to competing against Bush’s oft-described architect, Karl Rove — but rather, against the campaign manager, Ken Mehlman. “Mehlman got technology and organization and the truth is — I think it’s completely misunderstood — it was Ken’s campaign,” Plouffe said. He added that he and Mehlman were friends, and that during the 2012 cycle, Mehlman — who had been informally advising the Romney campaign — was also “very free with advice about structure, how they dealt with an incumbent president, how they dealt with debate prep.” (Similarly, the former Bush senior strategist Matthew Dowd told me that Axelrod reached out to him for advice and they sat down together. “Which never happened with me and Romney-world.”)

Mehlman, according to Bush campaign officials, persuaded Rove to invest heavily in microtargeting (a data-driven means of identifying and reaching select groups of voters), which helped deliver Ohio and thus the election. He advocated reaching out to minority voters both as Bush’s campaign manager and later as chairman of the R.N.C., where he also instructed his staff to read “Moneyball.” “I was like, ‘What does a baseball book have to do with politics?’ ” said Michael Turk, who worked for Mehlman at the R.N.C. “Once I actually took the time to digest it, I realized what he was trying to do — which was exactly the kind of thing that the Obama team just did: understanding that not every election is about home runs but instead getting a whole bunch of singles together that eventually add up to a win.”

I met with Mehlman one morning in his office near the Capitol. He left politics in 2007 and subsequently came out as gay — and after that, became a vigorous if behind-the-scenes supporter of legalizing same-sex marriage in New York and beyond. Mehlman is now a partner at the private-equity giant Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, wealthy and free from his party’s fetters. He was nonetheless hesitant to criticize his fellow Republicans, though implicitly his comments were damning.

“There’s an important book by Ben Wattenberg and Richard Scammon called ‘The Real Majority,’ published in 1970,” Mehlman said as he leaned back in his chair. “The book explains in part how the Republican Party would go on to win five out of six presidential elections through the eyes of the ‘typical’ voter — a working-class couple in Dayton, Ohio. They’re white, worried about crime, feel burdened by taxes and feel like too many Democrats don’t understand these concerns.”

Today’s typical voter, he went on to say, could be that same white couple in Dayton. “But here’s the difference,” he said. ‘They worry about economic mobility — can their kids get ahead or even keep up. Their next-door neighbors are Latino whose mom gets concerned when she hears talk about self-deportation or no driver’s licenses. And that couple has a gay niece and an African-American brother-in-law. And too many folks like the couple in Dayton today wonder if some of the G.O.P. understands their lives anymore.”

I asked him whether, as even some Republicans have suggested, Ronald Reagan would have trouble building a winning coalition today. “I think he could win, partly because Reagan wouldn’t be the Reagan he was in 1980,” Mehlman replied. “Reagan had an unbelievable intuitive understanding of the electorate, because he’d spent his life as the president of a large union, as an actor who understands his audience, as the governor of the largest state, as a corporate spokesman who traveled — Reagan spent his life listening to people and learning from them and adapting to their concerns. That’s why there were Reagan Democrats — ethnics, working-class voters, Southern voters. So I think a modern Reagan would understand the demography and where the new voters are and would’ve applied his principles accordingly.”

But could a modern-day Reagan, even with Ken Mehlman running his campaign, overcome the party’s angry and antiquated image? To win, a reincarnated Reagan — or a Rubio or a Chris Christie or a Bobby Jindal — would still have to satisfy his base of hard-line conservatives and captivate a new generation of voters at the same time. I ran this quandary by Kristen Soltis Anderson. “It’s a big challenge,” she acknowledged. “But I think that if you can earn the trust of the people, there are ways you can say, ‘Here’s why I take this position.’ I don’t know that someone like Rubio, who may be young and attractive and well spoken, could attract young voters despite his views on gay marriage. I do think that in the absence of a very compelling reason to vote for a candidate, those social issues can be deal-breakers for young voters. The challenge is: Can you make a case that’s so compelling that you can overcome those deal-breaker issues? And I don’t know the answer to that question.”

Bret Jacobson, the Red Edge entrepreneur, insisted that the solution was ultimately a simple one. “I think the answer for a vibrant Republican Party is to make our North Star empowering every individual in this country to follow their own dream, free of legislative excesses,” he told me. “There are millions of Americans who take seriously their religious culture as well as traditions that have been handed down for centuries. And the party has to empower them to fight those battles in the social sphere, not in the government sphere. That’s harder work than taking control of the country for four years. But it’s the appropriate battle.”

But, I asked him, don’t social conservatives feel a moral obligation to legislate their beliefs? Did Jacobson really expect the Rick Santorums of his party to let a new generation of Republican leaders tell them what to accept and how to behave?

Jacobson did not back down. “Even the Republican Party rejected Santorum,” he said. “He got some attention, and he certainly received votes. But he didn’t win.”

In a sense, however, Santorum and his fellow archconservatives did win, by tugging Mitt Romney and his pliable views rightward. Then Romney lost, and so did the Republicans.

Two days after Obama’s inauguration, Bret Jacobson flew to Charlotte to attend the R.N.C.’s winter conference and sit on a panel devoted to discussing new digital techniques. “Bret’s presentation was one of the best-received of the panel, by far,” the seminar’s organizer, Ryan Cassin, told me. Still, Jacobson was disappointed to see only 30 people in attendance. President Obama, meanwhile, announced the previous week that his campaign juggernaut would be transformed into an advocacy group, Organizing for Action, that would use the vast social network amassed during the 2012 cycle to advance the administration’s policy goals. The Republican panel amounted to a first step — a baby step — while the competition was lapping them.

Jacobson did not stick around the next day to hear Reince Priebus declare to the conferees, “We’re the party of innovation!” Instead, he left his own panel early to catch a plane back to Washington. Calls were continuing to come into Red Edge’s office from establishment Republicans inquiring about Jacobson and Spencer’s cautionary slide presentation.

Jacobson wanted to interpret this interest as a good thing. But I could tell from his voice that the experience at the R.N.C. conference deflated his hopes about Republicans being well on the road to enlightenment. “My primary worry,” he told me without his characteristic levity, “is that I’m going to become the Al Gore of the right” — meaning, a forecaster of doom, appreciated and unheeded as the clever if somewhat lonely guy who told them so.

Robert Draper is a contributing writer for the magazine. His most recent book is “Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives.”


Obama II: Rattrapé par les scandales, Obama se hollandise à la vitesse grand V (Obama scandals: six months of Nixon-grade cover-up and they put you back in the White House)

23 mai, 2013
http://www.letelegramme.fr/ar/imgproxy.php/PhotoIntuitions/2013/01/05/1963206_economob.JPG?article=20130105-1001963206&aaaammjj=20130105http://0.tqn.com/d/politicalhumor/1/0/q/L/5/Obama-Scandals.jpghttp://www.carlsontoons.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/magCOLOR.gifhttp://img.allvoices.com/thumbs/image/609/609/98285623-obama-scandals.jpghttp://sphotos-c.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/p480x480/417907_10151596694745699_500981230_n.jpghttp://bluecollarphilosophy.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Big-Dawg-590-LI.jpghttp://www.frugal-cafe.com/public_html/frugal-blog/frugal-cafe-blogzone/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/obama-class-of-2013-do-not-fear-government-audit-political-cartoon.jpgMa propre ville de Chicago a compté parmi les villes à la politique locale la plus corrompue de l’histoire américaine, du népotisme institutionnalisé aux élections douteuses. Barack Obama (Nairobi, Kenya, 2006)
J’ai appris hier avec stupéfaction et colère les aveux de Jérôme Cahuzac devant les juges. Il a trompé les plus hautes autorités du pays: le chef de l’Etat, le chef du gouvernement, le Parlement et à travers lui tous les Français. (…) J’affirme ici que Jérôme Cahuzac n’a bénéficié d’aucune protection autre que celle de la présomption d’innocence et il a quitté le gouvernement à ma demande dès l’ouverture d’une information judiciaire. François Hollande (3 avril 2013)
Je vous l’assure : à l’instant où je l’ai appris, j’ai mis toute mon énergie pour faire en sorte que ce problème soit réglé. (…) Je peux vous affirmer que je n’étais au courant de rien à propos de ce rapport de l’inspection générale des services fiscaux avant qu’il n’y ait des fuites dans la presse. Barack Obama (16 mai 2013)
One lesson, however, has not fully sunk in and awaits final elucidation in the 2012 election: that of the Chicago style of Barack Obama’s politicking. In 2008 few of the true believers accepted that, in his first political race, in 1996, Barack Obama sued successfully to remove his opponents from the ballot. Or that in his race for the US Senate eight years later, sealed divorced records for both his primary- and general-election opponents were mysteriously leaked by unnamed Chicagoans, leading to the implosions of both candidates’ campaigns. Or that Obama was the first presidential candidate in the history of public campaign financing to reject it, or that he was also the largest recipient of cash from Wall Street in general, and from BP and Goldman Sachs in particular. Or that Obama was the first presidential candidate in recent memory not to disclose either undergraduate records or even partial medical. Or that remarks like “typical white person,” the clingers speech, and the spread-the-wealth quip would soon prove to be characteristic rather than anomalous. Few American presidents have dashed so many popular, deeply embedded illusions as has Barack Obama. And for that, we owe him a strange sort of thanks. Victor Davis Hanson
Selon le professeur Dick Simpson, chef du département de science politique de l’université d’Illinois, «c’est à la fin du XIXe siècle et au début du XXe que le système prend racine». L’arrivée de larges populations immigrées peinant à faire leur chemin à Chicago pousse les politiciens à «mobiliser le vote des communautés en échange d’avantages substantiels». Dans les années 1930, le Parti démocrate assoit peu à peu sa domination grâce à cette politique «raciale». Le système va se solidifier sous le règne de Richard J. Daley, grande figure qui régnera sur la ville pendant 21 ans. Aujourd’hui, c’est son fils Richard M. Daley qui est aux affaires depuis 18 ans et qui «perpétue le pouvoir du Parti démocrate à Chicago, en accordant emplois d’État, faveurs et contrats, en échange de soutiens politiques et financiers», raconte John McCormick. «Si on vous donne un permis de construction, vous êtes censés “payer en retour”», explique-t-il. «Cela s’appelle payer pour jouer», résume John Kass, un autre éditorialiste. Les initiés affirment que Rod Blagojevich ne serait jamais devenu gouverneur s’il n’avait croisé le chemin de sa future femme, Patricia Mell, fille de Dick Mell, un conseiller municipal très influent, considéré comme un rouage essentiel de la machine. Le Figaro
C’est un système pourri, une toile d’araignée qui organise sa survie en nommant ses amis à des postes clés de l’administration en échange de leur soutien politique et financier.  Anthony Peraica
Dans ce contexte local plus que trouble, Peraica affirme que la montée au firmament d’Obama n’a pu se faire «par miracle».«Il a été aidé par la machine qui l’a adoubé, il est cerné par cette machine qui produit de la corruption et le risque existe qu’elle monte de Chicago vers Washington», va-t-il même jusqu’à prédire. Le conseiller régional républicain cite notamment le nom d’Emil Jones, l’un des piliers du Parti démocrate de l’Illinois, qui a apporté son soutien à Obama lors de son élection au Sénat en 2004. Il évoque aussi les connexions du président élu avec Anthony Rezko, cet homme d’affaires véreux, proche de Blagojevich et condamné pour corruption, qui fut aussi le principal responsable de la levée de fonds privés pour le compte d’Obama pendant sa course au siège de sénateur et qui l’aida à acheter sa maison à Chicago. «La presse a protégé Barack Obama comme un petit bébé. Elle n’a pas sorti les histoires liées à ses liens avec Rezko», s’indigne Peraica, qui cite toutefois un article du Los Angeles Times faisant état d’une affaire de financement d’un tournoi international de ping-pong qui aurait éclaboussé le président élu. Le Figaro
Mr. Obama’s lesson in lack of political accountability also seems to be trickling down (…) There’s a certain infantilization of the federal government here that should be especially alarming to taxpayers who have ever crossed paths with the IRS. (…) If the scandal is showing anything, it is that the White House has a bizarre notion of accountability in the federal government. President Obama’s former senior adviser, David Axelrod, told MSNBC recently that his guy was off the hook on the IRS scandal because "part of being President is there’s so much beneath you that you can’t know because the government is so vast." In other words, the bigger the federal government grows, the less the President is responsible for it. Mr. Axelrod’s remarkable admission, and the liberal media defenses of Mr. Obama’s lack of responsibility, prove the tea party’s point that an ever larger government has become all but impossible to govern. They also show once again that liberals are good at promising the blessings of government largesse but they leave its messes for others to clean up. (…) If the President isn’t accountable, then we really have the tea party nightmare of the runaway administrative state accountable to no one. If Mr. Obama and his aides are to be taken at their word, that is exactly what we have. The WSJ
As of September 11, the race was dead even. (…) Beneath Obama’s calm veneer that September there were lots of things the public did not know, and from the administration’s point of view apparently should not know until after the election. Just three months earlier, the Treasury Department’s inspector general had reported to top Treasury officials that the Internal Revenue Service had been inordinately targeting conservative groups that were seeking tax-exempt status. Such political corruption of the IRS was a Nixonian bombshell, with enormous implications for the election, especially given that during the campaign Obama’s economic adviser Austan Goolsbee had claimed that he had knowledge about the Koch brothers’ tax returns, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was lauding himself as a “wrecking crew” as he swore he had the inside dope on Mitt Romney’s taxes. (…) In other words, in cynical fashion, the Obama team won on two counts: The IRS had intimidated conservative organizations for months and had very possibly helped to prevent them from repeating their successes of 2010, while keeping the illegal activity from the press and the public.
As of September 11, 2012, the American people also did not know that the attorney general’s office had four months earlier been conducting secret monitoring of two months’ worth of records of calls made from private and work phone lines of Associated Press reporters — this surveillance supposedly due to suspicions that administration sources were leaking classified information to these reporters. (…) Reporters were outraged when they eventually learned that some of their brethren had been subjected to stealthy government surveillance — but they learned this a year after the fact and only following the reelection of Barack Obama.
On September 11, 2012, of course, there was the violent attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead, and a host of unanswered questions in the heat of the campaign: What was such a large CIA operation doing in Benghazi? Why was our ambassador left so vulnerable both before and during the attack? Why had the much-praised “lead from behind” campaign to remove Qaddafi earned us a dead ambassador and a nation full of anti-American terrorists, some of them perhaps al-Qaeda–related? We know now from a flurry of e-mails, public talking points, and public statements from staffers that when the president himself, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, and Press Secretary Jay Carney insisted that the attack grew out of a spontaneous demonstration over an Internet video, they knew in reality that the video had nothing to do with the attack. Yet coming clean before the American people apparently might have involved explaining why no one in Washington was willing to beef up security in answer to Ambassador Stevens’s requests. And during the attack, worry over a Mogadishu-like firefight two months before the election may have been why the administration ordered available units to stand down rather than sending in help by any means necessary. (…) Again, the cover-up worked perfectly in accordance with the September campaign narrative. The American people did not find out the truth of what happened in Benghazi — the “consulate” was never attacked by “spontaneous” demonstrators enraged by a video emanating from the United States — until eight months after the attack.
In the matters of the Associated Press surveillance, the IRS scandal, and Benghazi, the White House prevailed — keeping from the public embarrassing and possibly illegal behavior until the president was safely reelected. As in the mysteries surrounding David Petraeus’s post-election resignation, and the revelation about the “train wreck” of Obamacare, what the voters knew prior to November about what their government was up to proved far different than what they are just beginning to know now. And so Obama won the election, even as he is insidiously losing half the country. Because breaking the law and telling untruths eventually surface, we will come to learn that Obama was reelected into oblivion. Victor Davis Hanson

Obama-Hollande, même combat !

Mensonges ou non-dits électoralistes sur l’attentat de Benghazi (4 morts dont l’ambassadeur, gommant, en ce 10e anniversaire du 11/9, toute référence à Al Qaeda qui aurait pu effrayer l’électeur), profilage du fisc pour les seuls groupes d’opposition,  presse sur écoutes (saisie de deux mois de relevés téléphoniques d’une vingtaine de journalistes), atermoiements sur la Syrie, impuissance sur la fermeture de Guantanamo, défaites sur le budget et le contrôle des armes à feu …

Alors que les scandales se multiplient autour du 2e mandat d’un président américain qui nous refait lui aussi le coup de la complète ignorance

Et que chez nous le fisc confirme, contrairement aux dénégations présidentielles, qu’il était au courant pour Cahuzac depuis au moins 2001 …

Comment ne pas voir comme le confirme l’historien militaire Victor Davis Hanson …

L’étrange gémellité entre d’un côté le président français le plus impopulaire de l’histoire de la Ve république et de l’autre le singulièrement précoce canard boiteux et auteur chicagoan du double casse du siècle de 2008 et de 2012 ?

The President Won — Sort Of

The administration spent the last six months of the campaign in cover-up mode.

Victor Davis Hanson

National Review

May 21, 2013

On September 11, 2012, Barack Obama was 1 point ahead of Mitt Romney in the ABC and Washington Post polls. He was scheduled to meet Romney in three weeks for the first debate. The president was increasingly anxious. Unemployment was still at 7.8 percent, and the Solyndra and Fast and Furious scandals had only recently disappeared from the news — and they had done so only thanks to the use of executive privilege.

But the Tea Party seemed to have lost its 2010 momentum, despite its renewed warnings that Obamacare would be a disaster if not repealed in 2013. The president was running on the slogan that GM was alive and bin Laden was dead — the implications being that massive influxes of borrowed federal money had allowed GM’s work force to survive, and that with the death of bin Laden came the unraveling of the “core” of al-Qaeda. Libya, of course, was cited as an overseas success — a sort of implied un-Iraq.

The contours of the campaign, in other words, were well drawn. Obama claimed that he had brought peace overseas and restoration at home, while Romney claimed that we were less secure on President Obama’s watch and that the economy was ossified because of too much debt and government spending.

And the race was neck and neck. In a few days the secretly taped “47 percent” Romney video would emerge and tar Romney with the charge of social insensitivity. And in the second debate, in mid-October, the moderator, CNN’s Candy Crowley, in utterly unprofessional fashion, would interrupt Romney’s reference to Benghazi and cite a transcript in such a way as to falsely turn Obama’s generic reference to terrorism into an explicit presidential condemnation of the Benghazi attacks as a terrorist action, and swing the momentum of the debate back to a stumbling Barack Obama.

Again, as of September 11, the race was dead even.

Beneath Obama’s calm veneer that September there were lots of things the public did not know, and from the administration’s point of view apparently should not know until after the election. Just three months earlier, the Treasury Department’s inspector general had reported to top Treasury officials that the Internal Revenue Service had been inordinately targeting conservative groups that were seeking tax-exempt status. Such political corruption of the IRS was a Nixonian bombshell, with enormous implications for the election, especially given that during the campaign Obama’s economic adviser Austan Goolsbee had claimed that he had knowledge about the Koch brothers’ tax returns, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was lauding himself as a “wrecking crew” as he swore he had the inside dope on Mitt Romney’s taxes.

The inspector general of the Treasury recently testified before Congress that he had told Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin of the IRS’s shenanigans in June 2012, five months before the election. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who had been grilled during confirmation hearings about his own improper tax deductions, must at some point have been told of the IRS mess, but somehow all these disturbing developments were kept under wraps for the duration of the campaign. Are we to believe that, each time Geithner met with the president between June and November, he did not mention the scandal brewing in his department because his own deputy had never told him?

In other words, in cynical fashion, the Obama team won on two counts: The IRS had intimidated conservative organizations for months and had very possibly helped to prevent them from repeating their successes of 2010, while keeping the illegal activity from the press and the public.

As of September 11, 2012, the American people also did not know that the attorney general’s office had four months earlier been conducting secret monitoring of two months’ worth of records of calls made from private and work phone lines of Associated Press reporters — this surveillance supposedly due to suspicions that administration sources were leaking classified information to these reporters.

But something was awry here too. First, the administration did not start by apprising AP that it wished to talk to their suspect reporters, as is normal protocol. Stranger still, the administration itself apparently had leaked classified information about the Stuxnet cyber-war virus, the drone protocols, and the Seal Team 6 raid that killed bin Laden (remember Defense Secretary Bob Gates’s “Shut the f*** up!”) — all in efforts to persuade the voting public that their president was far more engaged in the War on Terror than his critics had alleged.

These efforts to squelch any mention of the monitoring of journalists worked as well. Reporters were outraged when they eventually learned that some of their brethren had been subjected to stealthy government surveillance — but they learned this a year after the fact and only following the reelection of Barack Obama.

On September 11, 2012, of course, there was the violent attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead, and a host of unanswered questions in the heat of the campaign: What was such a large CIA operation doing in Benghazi? Why was our ambassador left so vulnerable both before and during the attack? Why had the much-praised “lead from behind” campaign to remove Qaddafi earned us a dead ambassador and a nation full of anti-American terrorists, some of them perhaps al-Qaeda–related?

We know now from a flurry of e-mails, public talking points, and public statements from staffers that when the president himself, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, and Press Secretary Jay Carney insisted that the attack grew out of a spontaneous demonstration over an Internet video, they knew in reality that the video had nothing to do with the attack.

Yet coming clean before the American people apparently might have involved explaining why no one in Washington was willing to beef up security in answer to Ambassador Stevens’s requests. And during the attack, worry over a Mogadishu-like firefight two months before the election may have been why the administration ordered available units to stand down rather than sending in help by any means necessary. The truth was clear: Libya was not quiet, nor was al-Qaeda leaderless.

Instead, blaming the violence on a petty crook and supposed “Islamophobe” squared the circle: A right-wing bigot had caused the problem; he could be summarily jailed; and the president could both be absolved from blame for the unexpected violence and praised for his multicultural bona fides in condemning such a hateful voice on our soil. Again, the cover-up worked perfectly in accordance with the September campaign narrative. The American people did not find out the truth of what happened in Benghazi — the “consulate” was never attacked by “spontaneous” demonstrators enraged by a video emanating from the United States — until eight months after the attack.

In the matters of the Associated Press surveillance, the IRS scandal, and Benghazi, the White House prevailed — keeping from the public embarrassing and possibly illegal behavior until the president was safely reelected. As in the mysteries surrounding David Petraeus’s post-election resignation, and the revelation about the “train wreck” of Obamacare, what the voters knew prior to November about what their government was up to proved far different than what they are just beginning to know now. And so Obama won the election, even as he is insidiously losing half the country.

Because breaking the law and telling untruths eventually surface, we will come to learn that Obama was reelected into oblivion.

— NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. His The Savior Generals is just out from Bloomsbury Books.

Voir aussi:

Obama fragilisé par une succession de scandales

L’opposition républicaine accuse le fisc d’avoir multiplié à dessein les enquêtes contre des groupes proches du Tea Party.

Laure Mandeville

Le Figaro

«Il y a du sang dans l’eau», écrit John Avlon dans le Daily Beast,pour décrire la position défensive et affaiblie dans laquelle se retrouve acculée une Administration Obama rattrapée, en quelques jours, par les scandales. Plus que par les critiques quasi obsessionnelles des élus républicains contre les mensonges ou les non-dits de la crise de Benghazi, le président réélu est aujourd’hui rattrapé par les sombres manœuvres du fisc américain visant à cibler des groupes conservateurs Tea Party, ainsi que par la surveillance des échanges téléphoniques de plusieurs journalistes de la prestigieuse agence de presse AP. Certains parlent déjà d’une débandade à la Nixon pendant le Watergate, d’autres préférant faire plus sobrement référence aux affres de «Clinton II» et à la «malédiction», classique, des deuxièmes mandats. «On est encore dans le registre des abus mineurs, en comparaison avec les autres présidents», tempère le politologue Larry Sabato.

Dans un rapport publié mardi, l’inspecteur général de l’administration fiscale, qui dépend du département du Trésor, n’en a pas moins reconnu que l’IRS (Internal Revenue Service) a failli à sa mission en ciblant «selon des critères inappropriés» des groupes conservateurs qui réclamaient des exemptions fiscales. L’épicentre du scandale semble concerner une cellule du fisc de Cincinnati, où des groupes Tea Party et des mouvements «patriotes» de droite se sont vus soumis à des enquêtes approfondies sur l’origine de leurs fonds et le nom de leurs donateurs entre 2010 et 2012. L’inspecteur a affirmé que ces actions discriminantes constituent une infraction au principe de neutralité de l’État mais que rien ne permet de prouver qu’elles aient été commanditées de l’extérieur. «Ces conclusions sont intolérables et inexcusables. L’IRS doit appliquer la loi de manière juste et impartiale et ses employés doivent agir avec la plus grande intégrité», a condamné le président embarrassé, ordonnant au secrétaire au Trésor Jack Lew de sanctionner les coupables. Le FBI a par ailleurs ouvert une enquête.

« On est encore dans le registre des abus mineurs, en comparaison avec les autres présidents »

Le politologue Larry Sabato.

La question centrale est de déterminer si les actes des inspecteurs du fisc ont été le fait d’individus isolés ou si d’autres administrations, dont la Maison-Blanche, ont été associées. Une telle découverte changerait évidemment l’équation politique du scandale. La directrice des services d’exonération fiscale, Lois Lerner, parle d’un acte isolé dans lequel la présidence n’a eu aucun rôle. Elle affirme avoir eu vent de ces pratiques en 2011 et avoir ordonné un changement des critères de sélection. Mais les employés du fisc les auraient modifiés à nouveau sans en informer leur hiérarchie…

Peu convaincus, les élus républicains du Congrès s’apprêtent ce vendredi à lancer des auditions sur le sujet. À en croire certains groupes conservateurs ciblés par l’IRS, des agents du fisc leur auraient expliqué que leurs dossiers étaient examinés… à Washington. Plusieurs cellules Tea Party, de la Californie à la Virginie, affirment avoir été les cibles de contrôles du même type.

Pour les groupes conservateurs, qui vivent dans une méfiance instinctive du centre fédéral et accusent Barack Obama de vouloir instaurer un État centralisé dictatorial espionnant les citoyens et les privant de leurs libertés fondamentales – peur alimentée par son projet de contrôle des armes -, l’affaire de l’IRS est une aubaine, un formidable slogan de campagne potentiel pour les élections de mi-mandat de 2014.

Le porte-parole de la Maison-Blanche a beau affirmer que la présidence ne se sent «nullement» assiégée par ces dossiers d’abus de pouvoir, le bateau Obama semble avoir du mal à colmater les brèches, forçant «son capitaine» à la défensive. Pour le président, qui vient de subir deux défaites cuisantes sur le budget et le contrôle des armes à feu, cette tempête tombe mal, même si elle ne débouche pas sur une mise en cause de son intégrité. Son bilan législatif de deuxième mandat s’annonce squelettique, à l’exception de la loi sur l’immigration. Épuisé par ses efforts infructueux d’ouverture, il peine à définir le cadre de sa «conversation» avec le pays, handicap majeur dans une démocratie définie par un cycle d’actualité continue impitoyable, note l’ancien porte-parole de Bill Clinton, Mike McCurry. Même le consensus naissant sur l’immigration se retrouve occulté par les combines de l’IRS et les écoutes d’AP. Si on ajoute à ces couacs répétés, les atermoiements sur la Syrie et l’impuissance sur le dossier de la fermeture de Guantanamo, on voit se dessiner le portrait d’une Administration hésitante et paralysée par les couacs et les polémiques mesquines. «Mon intention est de gouverner», a pourtant lancé Obama clairement exaspéré, appelant ceux qui préfèrent «penser à leur élection qu’à la prochaine génération» à en assumer les risques.

La presse se déchaîne après la surveillance téléphonique de plusieurs journalistes

Déjà très remontée contre l’opacité de son Administration, la presse est furieuse contre Barack Obama. Avec la décision du ministère de la Justice de se faire communiquer les factures détaillées de journalistes de la vénérable agence Associated Press, elle se sent trahie et a déterré la hache de guerre. Il suffit de lire l’éditorial du New York Times ce mercredi pour comprendre. D’ordinaire plutôt amène vis-à-vis d’Obama, la rédaction épingle «le zèle glaçant de l’Administration à enquêter sur les fuites et à poursuivre leurs auteurs en justice». Pour l’heure, tout en affirmant ne pas avoir été impliquée dans les écoutes, la Maison-Blanche justifie de telles pratiques au nom de la sécurité nationale.

Voir aussi:

Les trois affaires qui embarrassent Obama

Groupes d’opposition ciblés par le fisc, journalistes espionnés, cafouillage de la communication sur l’attentat de Benghazi: l’Administration américaine est empêtrée dans une série de scandales.

Anne-Laure Frémont

Le Figaro

15/05/2013

L’année 2013 ne porte pas chance à Barack Obama. Déjà affaibli par son incapacité à faire passer une loi sur le contrôle des armes à feu, le président américain fait face, ces derniers jours, à une succession d’affaires dont les républicains se servent pour fustiger les «abus de pouvoirs» de l’Administration.

1- L’excès de zèle du fisc américain

La justice américaine a annoncé ce mardi l’ouverture d’une enquête après le mea culpa embarrassant du fisc. Vendredi, l’IRS (Internal Revenue Service) a en effet reconnu avoir ciblé quelque 75 groupes proches de la mouvance conservatrice et anti-impôts du Tea Party, en lançant des examens plus approfondis de leur demande de statut spécial (qui conferre aux groupes dits «501(c)4» le régime fiscal de non-imposition, au même titre que les ONG ou les Églises). Les groupes dont le nom comportait le mot «patriote» étaient par exemple, particulièrement visés.

Depuis l’an dernier, des dizaines d’entre eux se plaignaient des questions très intrusives du fisc. En ciblant les groupes d’opposition, ce dernier a enfreint la loi et choque démocrates comme républicains. «Nous allons attendre de connaître tous les faits et les détails. Mais je n’ai aucune patience pour cela, je ne le tolérerai pas et nous ferons en sorte de comprendre exactement ce qu’il s’est passé», a promis Barack Obama lundi, évoquant un acte «scandaleux» lors d’une conférence de presse sur un tout autre sujet, à laquelle le premier ministre britannique David Cameron assistait. Son porte-parole, Jay Carney, a tenu à préciser mardi que le président n’avait rien à voir avec cette affaire. Même si l’IRS est un organisme indépendant, tout mauvais agissement de sa part rejaillit forcément sur la Maison-Blanche, estime toutefois Ron Bonjean, ancien assistant républicain au Congrès.

2 – Les journalistes de l’agence de presse AP espionnés

En voulant à tout prix contenir les fuites d’informations confidentielles, Washington est peut-être allé trop loin. L’agence de presse américaine Associated Press (AP) a dénoncé lundi une «intrusion massive et sans précédent» du département de la Justice, qui se serait secrètement saisi de deux mois de relevés téléphoniques d’une vingtaine de journalistes de l’agence. Selon AP, la justice aurait pris cette décision après la publication d’une dépêche dans laquelle, en mai 2012, l’agence révélait une opération de la CIA au Yémen ayant permis de déjouer un projet d’attentat d’al-Qaida visant à faire exploser une bombe à bord d’un avion à destination des États-Unis. La saisie aurait eu pour but de traquer l’identité des informateurs de l‘agence.

Le ministre de la Justice, Eric Holder, a tenté de se justifier mardi, indiquant que les fuites d’informations en question étaient «parmi les plus, si ce n’est les plus graves» qu’il ait jamais vues «depuis 1976», date à laquelle il a démarré sa carrière à la justice. «Ce n’est pas une exagération, cela mettait les Américains en danger et tenter de déterminer qui en était responsable, je pense, exige une action très offensive», a ajouté le ministre, qui a refusé de dire si d’autres médias étaient concernés. Mardi, Jay Carney a assuré qu’Obama soutenait le premier amendement – qui garantit la liberté d’expression – mais qu’un «équilibre» était nécessaire entre les libertés publiques et l’impératif d’enquêter sur des pratiques criminelles. Le sénateur démocrate Harry Reid a pour sa part jugé cette procédure «inexcusable». «J’ai du mal à défendre ce qu’a fait le ministère de la Justice (…), il n’y a aucun moyen de le justifier», a-t-il déclaré.

3 – L’interminable dossier Benghazi

L’Administration Obama est empêtrée dans l’affaire de l’attentat de Benghazi, en Libye. Un attentat au cours duquel l’ambassadeur, Christopher Stevens, et trois Américains ont été tués, le 11 septembre dernier. Les élus républicains, qui mettent notamment en cause l’ex-secrétaire d’État Hillary Clinton, reprochent à l’Administration d’avoir voulu taire le caractère «terroriste» de cette attaque pour ne pas plomber la campagne présidentielle d’Obama avant le vote de novembre 2012.

Rapports et auditions à l’appui, les républicains dénoncent les failles du dispositif de sécurité, tandis que des courriels révélés vendredi par la chaîne ABC semblent aussi indiquer que l’Administration est intervenue pour supprimer une référence à al-Qaida dans un document sur lequel devait s’appuyer Susan Rice, ambassadrice à l’ONU, pour rendre compte à la télévision des débuts de l’enquête. Dans l’un de ces messages, Victoria Nuland, alors porte-parole du département d’État, s’oppose à ce qu’on fasse état d’informations préalables de la CIA sur une menace islamiste dans l’est de la Libye «car cela pourrait être utilisé par des membres du Congrès pour attaquer le département d’État en l’accusant d’avoir ignoré les mises en garde».

Depuis des mois, l’équipe Obama tente de se justifier. «Le lendemain de cette attaque, j’avais reconnu qu’il s’agissait d’un acte terroriste», a encore déclaré le président américain lundi. «Le fait qu’on continue à en parler, franchement, a beaucoup à voir avec des motivations politiques.»

(Avec agences)

Voir également:

L’élan de Barack Obama brisé par les scandales

Laure Mandeville

Le Figaro

Quatre ans après une élection historique et six mois après une réélection sans réserve, le président américain donne l’impression d’être un observateur frustré et fatigué, plutôt qu’un président en charge.

De notre correspondante à Washington

À regarder Barack Obama donner une laborieuse conférence de presse en compagnie de son hôte turc Erdogan, ce jeudi dans le jardin aux Roses, sous un parapluie tenu au-dessus de sa tête par un marine à l’immobilité impeccable, on avait l’impression pénible d’une métaphore de l’état de sa présidence. Celle d’une Maison-Blanche qui prend l’eau. Quatre ans après une élection historique et six mois après une réélection sans réserve, il n’y a déjà plus d’élan à Washington. Juste un président fatigué aux cheveux blanchis par les soucis, qui tente tant bien que mal de reprendre l’initiative après une semaine émaillée de scandales.

Certes, Obama a promis de remettre de l’ordre avec vigueur dans les affaires du fisc américain, qui a clairement commis des abus de pouvoir. Pris à partie sur sa gestion politique de la crise de Benghazi, le chef de l’État a là encore choisi de faire publier tous les e-mails internes relatifs à l’affaire et appeler le Congrès à voter le renforcement des dispositifs de sécurité des ambassades. Au nom de «la sécurité nationale», Obama a également défendu l’action du ministère de la Justice, qui avait procédé à une surveillance de journalistes de l’agence Associated Press.

La pression des lobbys

Dans les trois cas, sa position est plutôt sensée et rationnelle, en tout cas défendable. Contrairement à Richard Nixon pendant le Watergate, ou à Clinton pendant l’affaire Lewinsky, Obama n’est pas personnellement éclaboussé par ces trois affaires, contrairement à ce que veut faire croire une armée de blogs conservateurs attirés par l’«odeur du sang». Mais ce qui manquait ce jeudi dans le jardin aux Roses, c’était l’étincelle. La force de conviction. Cette communion avec un homme qui avait fait croire à l’Amérique qu’il pourrait réformer Wall Street, fermer Guantanamo, réparer Washington, unifier la nation et réconcilier le monde d’un coup de baguette magique. Bref, marcher sur l’eau.

Si le président paraît désemparé, c’est qu’il réalise qu’il n’y a pas de grâce en politique, pas de place pour la grande transformation structurelle qu’il avait rêvée. Les trois ans et demi à venir s’annoncent comme un cheminement laborieux et cruel dans la boue des attaques, la pression des lobbys et l’affrontement permanent avec un Congrès divisé et paralysant, pour un résultat incertain. Patauger dans les batailles politiciennes, ce n’est pas vraiment la spécialité d’Obama, qui se pense comme un visionnaire et se passionne pour les dossiers techniques. Ses tentatives répétées d’ouverture vers les républicains, lors de dîners privés destinés à susciter des compromis sur le budget ou le contrôle des armes, ont échoué. Seule une victoire, très improbable, aux élections de mi-mandat, pourrait encore sauver ses plans. Du coup, Obama donne l’impression d’être un observateur frustré plutôt qu’un président en charge.

Crucifixion quotidienne

Le pays, qui a la mémoire courte, a oublié que cette «crucifixion» quotidienne a été le lot de tous ses prédécesseurs. Clinton a été honni et traîné dans la boue avant de devenir le sage dont chacun à droite comme à gauche loue «l’intelligence politique». Raillé, mis à l’index par les libéraux et déstabilisé par le scandale des contras, Reagan a dû mourir pour devenir une statue du commandeur tutélaire. Même chose pour Harry Truman, à la présidence semée de scandales. Au fond, Barack Obama vit un destin présidentiel normal. Il est juste parti de très haut, donnant du coup l’impression d’une chute irrémédiable. Ses hésitations à agir en Syrie – même si elles révèlent une prudence louable et peut-être salutaire – accroissent le sentiment d’un capitaine à la main défaillante.

Est-ce définitif? Sans doute pas. Dans le monde versatile du XXIe siècle, un drame en chasse un autre et c’est la chance d’Obama. S’il parvient à arracher une loi sur l’immigration par exemple, la planète médiatique se remettra à le louer, avec la même force qu’elle l’enterre. S’il réussit à démontrer les excès grotesques des critiques républicaines, qui l’accusent de vouloir transformer l’État en «Big Brother» dangereux, il pourrait rassurer un pays de plus en plus fatigué de la propagande et de la paralysie. Bref, le verre de la présidence Obama est toujours à moitié plein, même s’il se vide.

Reste toutefois une ombre de taille au tableau. Celle que la faiblesse politique d’Obama projette sur le pouvoir américain et ses limites. En regardant le président sous son parapluie appeler à s’en remettre à «la communauté internationale» pour régler le problème syrien, on ne peut s’empêcher d’y lire aussi une métaphore de la nouvelle impuissance américaine. Certains, à l’étranger, s’empresseront de l’exploiter.

Voir encore:

The Unaccountable Executive

If the President doesn’t run the government, then who does?

The Wall Street Journal

May 22, 2013

Every day brings new revelations about who knew what about the IRS targeting conservative groups during President Obama’s re-election campaign, but the overall impression is of a vast federal bureaucracy run amok. While the White House continues to peddle the story of a driverless train wreck, taxpayers are being treated to a demonstration of the dangers of an unwieldy and unaccountable administrative state. Look, Ma, no hands!

In his press events, Mr. Obama has said that while he learned about the Cincinnati rogues on the news, he plans to "hold accountable those who have taken these outrageous actions." But the White House began its response by pushing the line that the IRS is an "independent agency," and Mr. Obama has since given the impression that he sits atop a federal government which he does not, and could not possibly, control.

White House senior adviser Dan Pfieffer encouraged that fable on this Sunday’s news shows, implying that the Treasury’s internal process for handling the unfair treatment of political targets trumped the President’s right to know. When CNN political correspondent Candy Crowley asked Mr. Pfieffer why the White House and top Treasury officials weren’t notified, he explained that Treasury’s investigation was ongoing and "Here’s the cardinal rule: You do not interfere in an independent investigation."

Now there’s a false choice. The Treasury Inspector General’s report, for starters, was an audit, not an inviolable independent investigation. He lacked subpoena power and could bring no criminal charges. Having the President know of the IRS’s mistakes so that he could act to correct the problem was not a bridge too far or even clouding the purity of the process. Those things could have been done simultaneously without compromising Treasury’s investigation.

At Darrell Issa’s House oversight hearing on Wednesday, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George was criticized for not notifying Congress of the IRS wrongdoing when he became aware of it in July 2012. Emails between the IG’s office and committee staff show the IG’s office repeatedly evaded Congressional inquiries on the progress of the investigation.

All IGs appear before Congress, but they are really answerable to the President who is responsible for what goes on in the IRS and what the agency actually does. If the IRS is not operating in a way that treats taxpayers evenhandedly and in accordance with its guidelines and mission, it is up to him to change the personnel and make any other corrections so that the taxing power of the federal government is legal and fair. If that isn’t the case, voters deserve to know exactly who is accountable for the decisions of the agency that takes a healthy fraction of their income every year.

Mr. Obama’s lesson in lack of political accountability also seems to be trickling down: Lois Lerner was in charge of the IRS division that discriminated against conservative groups. But rather than take responsibility, Ms. Lerner on Wednesday invoked her Fifth Amendment right not to testify at the House hearing, though not before she read a statement saying that she had "not done anything wrong."

Asked by Texas Senator John Cornyn at a Finance Committee hearing on Tuesday whether he owed conservative groups an apology, former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman said that he was "certainly not personally responsible for creating a list that had inappropriate criteria on it" though he was sorry that it had happened on his watch.

There’s a certain infantilization of the federal government here that should be especially alarming to taxpayers who have ever crossed paths with the IRS. The agency has the power to make citizens lives miserable, ruin their businesses and garnish their wages. Anyone facing an audit is unlikely to get away with the evasions now in display in the federal bureaucracy.

If the scandal is showing anything, it is that the White House has a bizarre notion of accountability in the federal government. President Obama’s former senior adviser, David Axelrod, told MSNBC recently that his guy was off the hook on the IRS scandal because "part of being President is there’s so much beneath you that you can’t know because the government is so vast."

In other words, the bigger the federal government grows, the less the President is responsible for it. Mr. Axelrod’s remarkable admission, and the liberal media defenses of Mr. Obama’s lack of responsibility, prove the tea party’s point that an ever larger government has become all but impossible to govern. They also show once again that liberals are good at promising the blessings of government largesse but they leave its messes for others to clean up.

***

Alexander Hamilton and America’s Founders designed the unitary executive for the purpose of political accountability. It is one of the Constitution’s main virtues. Unlike grunts in Cincinnati, Presidents must face the voters. That accountability was designed to extend not only to the President’s inner circle but over the entire branch of government whose leaders he chooses and whose policies bear his signature.

If the President isn’t accountable, then we really have the tea party nightmare of the runaway administrative state accountable to no one. If Mr. Obama and his aides are to be taken at their word, that is exactly what we have.

Voir de même:

Obama’s ‘Idiot’ Defense

Scandal forces the president to drop the pose of omnicompetent know-it-all.

Jonah Goldberg

National review

May 22, 2013

Although there’s still a great deal to be learned about the scandals and controversies swirling around the White House like so many ominous dorsal fins in the surf, the nature of President Obama’s bind is becoming clear. The best defenses of his administration require undermining the rationale for his presidency.

“We’re portrayed by Republicans as either being lying or idiots. It’s actually closer to us being idiots.” So far, this is the administration’s best defense.

It was offered to CBS News’ Sharyl Attkisson by an anonymous aide involved in the White House’s disastrous response to the attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

Well-intentioned human error rarely gets the credit it deserves. People want to connect the dots, but that’s only possible when you assume that all events were deliberately orchestrated by human will. This is the delusion at the heart of all conspiracy theorists, from Kennedy assassination crackpots to 9/11 “truthers.”

Behind all such delusions is the assumption that government officials we don’t like are omnicompetent and entirely malevolent. The truth is closer to the opposite. They mean well but can’t do very much very well.

This brings us to the flip side of the conspiracy theory — call it the redeemer fantasy: If only we had the right kind of government with the right kind of leaders, there’d be nothing we couldn’t do.

It’s been a while since we had a self-styled redeemer president. John F. Kennedy surely dabbled in the myth that experts could solve all of our problems, though much of JFK’s messianic status was imposed on him posthumously by the media and intellectuals. You really have to go back to Franklin D. Roosevelt or Woodrow Wilson to find a president who pushed the salvific powers of politics as much as Barack Obama.

His presidency has been grounded in the fantasy that there’s “nothing we can’t do” through government action if we just put all our faith in it — and, by extension, in him. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for, he tells us, and if we just give over to a post-political spirit, where we put aside our differences, the way America (allegedly) did during other “Sputnik moments” (one of his favorite phrases), we can give “jobs to the jobless,” heal the planet, even “create a kingdom [of heaven] right here on Earth.”

For Obama, the only things separating America from redemption are politics, specifically obstruction from unhinged Republicans and others clinging to outdated and vaguely illegitimate motives. Opposition to gun control is irrational because the “government is us.” Reject warnings “that tyranny is always lurking,” he told the graduating class at Ohio State, because a self-governing people cannot tyrannize themselves.

But, suddenly, when the administration finds itself ensnared by errors of its own making, the curtain is drawn back on the cult of expertise and the fantasy of statist redemption. Early on in the IRS scandal, before the agency’s initial lies were exposed, David Axelrod defended the administration on the grounds that the “government is so vast” the president “can’t know” what’s going on “underneath” him. Of course, it was Obama who once said, “I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors.”

That is, when things are going relatively well. When scandal hits the fan, he goes from the “government is us” to talking of his own agencies the way a czar might dismiss an injustice in some Siberian backwater. The hubris of omnicompetence gives way to “lighten up, we’re idiots.”

Many of his defenders now rush to insist that it’s unfair to hold him to too high a standard. He’s just a man, just a politician. Well, duh.

Meanwhile, Obama insists that he is outraged. And, if sincere, that’s nice. But so what? What the president seems to have never fully understood is that the Founders were smarter than he is or that the American people aren’t as dumb as he thinks we are. His outrage is beside the point.

A free people will have legitimate differences on questions of policy. A government as vast as ours is — never mind as vast Obama wants it to be — is destined to abuse its power, particularly in a climate where a savior-president is incessantly delegitimizing dissent (and journalistic scrutiny). Government officials will behave like idiots sometimes, not because they are individually dumb but because a government that takes on too much will make an idiot out of anyone who thinks there’s no limit to what it can do. That alone is good reason to fear tyranny. Indeed, it would be idiotic not to.

— Jonah Goldberg is the author of The Tyranny of Clichés, now on sale in paperback.

Voir aussi:

Big Government’s Abuses of Power

Monitoring AP but not detaining Tamerlan Tsarnaev — there is a common theme.

Victor Davis Hanson

National review

May 22, 2013

Government is now so huge, powerful, and callous that citizens risk becoming virtual serfs, lacking the freedoms guaranteed by the Founders.

Is that perennial fear an exaggeration? Survey the current news.

We have just learned that the Internal Revenue Service before the 2012 election predicated its tax-exemption policies on politics. It inordinately denied tax exemption to groups considered conservative or otherwise antagonistic to the president’s agenda.

If the supposedly nonpartisan IRS is perceived as skewing our taxes on the basis of our politics, then the entire system of trust in self-reporting is rendered null and void. Worse still, the bureaucratic overseer at the center of the controversy, Sarah Hall Ingram, now runs the IRS division charged with enforcing compliance with the new Obamacare requirements.

It was also before the 2012 election that some reporters at the Associated Press had their private and work phone records monitored by the government, supposedly because of fear about national-security leaks. The Justice Department gave the AP no chance, as it usually would, first to question its own journalists. The AP had run a story in May 2012 about the success of a double agent working in Yemen before the administration itself could brag about it.

In fact, the Obama White House has been accused of leaking classified information favorable to the administration — top-secret details concerning the Stuxnet computer virus used against Iran, the specifics of the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound, and the decision-making behind the drone program — often to favored journalists. The message is clear: A reporter may have his most intimate work and private correspondence turned over to the government — Fox News’s James Rosen had his e-mail account tapped into — on the mere allegation that he might have tried to do what his own government had in fact already done.

Now the civil-rights divisions of the Department of Education and the Department of Justice have issued new speech codes for campuses, focusing on supposed gender insensitivities. The result is that federal bureaucrats can restrict the constitutionally protected rights of free speech for millions of American college students — including during routine classroom discussions.

Eight months after the Benghazi mess, Americans only now are discovering that the Obama administration, for political reasons, failed to beef up security at our Libyan consulate or send it help when under attack. It also lied in blaming the violence on a spontaneous demonstration prompted by an Internet video. That pre-election narrative was known to be untrue when the president, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney all peddled it.

The problem with a powerful rogue government is not just that it becomes quite adept at doing what it should not. Increasingly, it also cannot even do what it should.

Philadelphia abortionist Dr. Kermit Gosnell may well turn out to be the most lethal serial killer in U.S. history. His recent murder conviction gave only a glimpse of his carnage at the end of a career that spanned more than three decades. Yet Gosnell operated with impunity right under the noses of Pennsylvania health and legal authorities for years, without routine government health-code and licensing oversight.

In the case of Boston terrorist bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, his loud jihadist activity had earned him a visit from the FBI and the attention of both the CIA and the Department of Homeland Security. But all that government monitoring was for naught. Tsarnaev was not detained, but allowed to visit Dagestan and Chechnya — both located in the supposedly dangerous region that prompted his family’s flight to the U.S. in the first place.

In all of these abuses and laxities there is one common theme. Bureaucrats, political appointees, regulators, intelligence officials, and law-enforcement personnel wanted to fall in line with the perceived politically correct agenda of the day. Right now, that party line seems to include protecting the progressive interests of the Obama administration, going after its critics, turning a blind eye toward illegal abortions, ignoring warnings about radical Islam, and restricting the right to free speech in order to curtail language declared potentially hurtful.

Conspiracists, left and right, are sometimes understandably derided as paranoids for alleging that Big Government steadily absorbs the private sector, violates private communications, targets tax filers it doesn’t like, and lies to the people about what it is up to. The only missing theme of such classic paranoia is the perennial worry over the right to bear arms.

I went to several sporting-goods stores recently to buy commonplace rifle shells. For the first time in my life, there were none to be found. Can widespread shortages of ammunition be attributed to panic buying or to production shortfalls caused by inexplicably massive purchases by the Department of Homeland Security at a time of acrimonious debate over the Second Amendment?

Who knows, but yesterday’s wacky conspiracist may become today’s Nostradamus.

— Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His new book, The Savior Generals, is just out from Bloomsbury Press.

Voir enfin:

Is Obama Already a Lame Duck?

Not quite, but he sure is quacking like one.

Peggy Noonan

WSJ

May 3, 2013

I think we’re all agreed the president is fading—failing to lead, to break through, to show he’s not at the mercy of events but, to some degree at least, in command of them. He couldn’t get a win on gun control with 90% public support. When he speaks on immigration reform you get the sense he’s setting it back. He’s floundering on Syria. The looming crisis on implementation of ObamaCare has begun to fill the news. Even his allies are using the term "train wreck." ObamaCare is not only the most slovenly written major law in modern American history, it is full of sneaked-in surprises people are just discovering. The Democrats of Washington took advantage of the country’s now-habitual distractedness: The country, now seeing what’s coming in terms of taxes and fees, will not be amused. Mr. Obama’s brilliant sequester strategy—scare the American public into supporting me—flopped. Congress is about to hold hearings on Boston and how the brothers Tsarnaev slipped through our huge law-enforcement and immigration systems. Benghazi and what appear to be its coverups drags on and will not go away; press secretary Jay Carney was reduced to saying it happened "a long time ago." It happened in September. The economy is stuck in low-growth, employment in no-growth. The president has about a month to gather himself together on the budget, tax reform and an immigration deal before Congress goes into recess. What are the odds?

Republicans don’t oppose him any less after his re-election, and Democrats don’t seem to support him any more. This week he was reduced to giving a news conference in which he said he’s got juice, reports of his death are greatly exaggerated. It was bad. And he must be frustrated because he thinks he’s trying. He gives speeches, he gives interviews, he says words, but he doesn’t really rally people, doesn’t create a wave that breaks over the top of the Capitol Dome and drowns the opposition, or even dampens it for a moment.

Mr. Obama’s problem isn’t really the Republicans. It’s that he’s supposed to be popular. He’s supposed to have some sway, some pull and force. He was just re-elected. He’s supposed to have troops. "My bill is launched, unleash the hounds of war." But nobody seems to be marching behind him. Why can’t he rally people and get them to press their congressmen and senators? I’m not talking about polls, where he hovers in the middle of the graph, but the ability to wield power.

The president seems incapable of changing anything, even in a crisis. He’s been scored as passive and petulant, but it’s the kind of passivity people fall into when nothing works. "People do what they know how to do," a hardened old pol once said, meaning politicians use whatever talent they have, and when it no longer works they continue using it.

There’s no happy warrior in there, no joy of the battle, just acceptance of what he wearily sees as the landscape. He’d seem hapless if he weren’t so verbally able.

So, the president is stuck. But it’s too early to write him off as a lame duck because history has a way of intervening. A domestic or international crisis that is well-handled, or a Supreme Court appointment, can make a president relevant. There are 44 months left to Mr. Obama’s presidency. He’s not a lame duck, he’s just lame.

***

Which has me thinking of two things that have weakened the Obama presidency and haven’t been noted. One was recent and merely unhelpful. The other goes back, and encouraged a mindset that became an excuse, perhaps a fatal one.

The recent one: In the days after the 2012 election the Democrats bragged about their technological genius and how it turned the election. They told the world about what they’d done—the data mining, the social networking, that allowed them to zero in on Mrs. Humperdink in Ward 5 and get her to the polls. It was quite impressive and changed national politics forever. But I suspect their bragging hurt their president. In 2008 Mr. Obama won by 9.5 million votes. Four years later, with all the whizbang and money, he won by less than five million. When people talk about 2012 they don’t say the president won because the American people endorsed his wonderful leadership, they say he won because his team outcomputerized the laggard Republicans.

This has left him and his people looking more like cold technocrats who know how to campaign than leaders who know how to govern. And it has diminished claims of a popular mandate. The president’s position would be stronger now if more people believed he had one.

What damaged the Obama presidency more, looking back, was, ironically, the trash-talking some Republican leaders indulged in after the 2008 campaign. It entered their heads at the Obama White House and gave them a warped sense of the battlefield.

In a conference call with conservative activists in July 2009, then-Sen. Jim DeMint said of the president’s health-care bill, "If we’re able to stop Obama on this it will be his Waterloo. It will break him." Not long after, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was quoted as saying that the GOP’s primary goal was to make Mr. Obama a one-term president.

The press hyped this as if it were something new, a unique and epic level of partisan animus. Members of the administration also thought it was something new. It made them assume no deals with Republicans were possible, and it gave them a handy excuse they still use: "It’s not us, they vowed from the beginning they wouldn’t work with us!"

Peggy Noonan’s Blog

Daily declarations from the Wall Street Journal columnist.

But none of it was new. The other side always vows to crush you. Anyone who’d been around for a while knew the Republicans were trying to sound tough, using hyperbole to buck up the troops. It’s how they talk when they’re on the ropes. But the president and his staffers hadn’t been around for a while. They were young. They didn’t understand what they were hearing was par for the course.

Bill Clinton’s foes made fierce vows about him, the enemies of both Bushes did the same. The opposing party always gets on the phone or gathers in what used to be Georgetown dens to denigrate the new guy and vow to fight him to the end. That’s how blowhards blow. When Reagan came in they vowed to take him down, and it was personal. Speaker Tip O’Neill called him "ignorant" and a "disgrace" and said it was "sinful" that he was president. He called Reagan "a man who has no care and no concern for the working class of America" and said: "He’s cold. He’s mean. He’s got ice water for blood." Chris Matthews, an O’Neill staffer, says he once greeted Reagan in the Capitol with the words: "Mr. President, welcome to the room where we plot against you."

They did. Reagan knew it.

Yet he had no problem dealing successfully with O’Neill. He didn’t moan, "Oh they hate me, it’s no use!"

Note to the next White House: There’s always gambling at Rick’s place. It’s never a shock and not an excuse. It’s business as usual. And if you’re a leader you can lead right past it.


Terrorisme: le grand tabou de la présidentielle (Iran’s islamic Comintern)

17 avril, 2013

Islamic Comintern

J’annonce au monde entier que si les infidèles font obstacle à notre religion, nous nous opposerons au monde entier et nous ne cesserons pas avant leur anéantissement, nous en sortirons tous libérés ou nous obtiendrons une plus grande liberté qui est le martyr. Soit nous nous serrerons les uns aux autres pour célébrer la victoire de l’islam sur le monde ou bien nous aurons tous la vie éternelle grâce au martyr. Dans les deux cas, la victoire et le succès seront à nous. Khomeiny
Quand Khomeiny revint d’exil à Téhéran, son premier visiteur étranger fut Yasser Arafat, sunnite pur jus. Cela faisait longtemps déjà que l’OLP formait à la guérilla et au terrorisme les hommes de Khomeiny. Ce dernier avait, en outre, une longue tradition de coopération avec les Frères musulmans égyptiens, la maison-mère d’Arafat, du Fatah et du sunnisme musclé. Laurent Murawiec
Le terrorisme, la violence internationale sont des thèmes très absents de la campagne électorale. Pourtant, l’Hexagone n’est pas à l’abri. On ne peut pas ignorer que s’est constituée une branche algérienne d’Al Qaïda qui a la France en ligne de mire. L’armée française (…) est présente dans de nombreux pays, de l’Afghanistan à la Bosnie en passant par l’Afrique. Pourtant, il n’y a pas de réflexion sur sa place dans le monde, sur son rôle. On ne se demande pas qui est l’ennemi, comment il faut combattre, avec qui. Regardez la polémique sur un second porte-avions nucléaire, notamment avec Ségolène Royal. On fournit des réponses sans poser les questions! Guy Sorman

Attention: dix questions peuvent en cacher une autre!

A l’heure où un groupe terroriste algérien se revendiquant d’Al Qaeda vient à nouveau d’offrir aux diverses Jihad TV’s du monde leurs images de sang algérien …

Et que des menaces sont évoquées sur l’élection présidentielle française à la fin de la semaine…

Devinez sur quoi Le Quotidien de révérence qui, se résignant enfin (à une semaine de l’élection) à interroger les principaux candidats sur leur programme de politique étrangère, décide (entre l’Iran, le Darfour, la Chine et la Russie et fameux "intérêts français" obligent) de ne… PAS parler?

Et ce d’autant plus que, sous couvert de ses alliances déguisées avec ses protecteurs russe et chinois (la fameuse "multipolarité" si chère à nos Védrine, Chirac et Villepin) mais aussi de ses relations économiques avec (surprise) le fameux Groupe des 5 censés le contraindre à renoncer à l’armement nucléaire, le "grand pays au rôle stabilisateur" (Douste-Blazy dixit) qui depuis quelques années multiplie les conférences sur la "Solution finale" (contre le "Petit Satan" israélien ou le "Grand Satan" américain) comme les manœuvres militaires d’intimidation dans le détroit d’Ormuz et la Mer d’Oman (où transite 20% de la production mondiale de pétrole), est justement au cœur de la question.

Mais qui prend la peine, en dehors d’un site d’opposants iraniens comme Iran-Resist, de rappeler :

Que, derrière l’actuel fou furieux qui lui sert de président (ayant dès 1979 brillamment commencé sa carrière de chef terroriste comme l’un des étudiants qui ont pris en otage, pendant près de quinze mois, 52 diplomates américains puis étant impliqué en tant que membre des Pasdarans dans l’assassinat de trois opposants kurdes à Vienne en 1989), son ancien président, régulièrement présenté comme modéré et pragmatique (Rafsandjani, dont Total vient d’être reconnu coupable d’avoir, via son fils, graissé la patte) est sous le coup d’un mandat international pour l’assassinat, lui aussi, de quatre militants kurdes dont le secrétaire général du parti démocratique du Kurdistan de l’Iran dans un restaurant berlinois (le Mykonos) en 1992?

Qu’en fait depuis sa propre révolution islamique de 1980, Téhéran prétend, comme avant lui Moscou pour le prolétariat mondial, représenter et libérer les "damnés" de la planète entière et a créé à cet effet la version islamiste du Komintern qui (avec statut ministériel et projet analogue de "combattre par tous les moyens disponibles, y compris la force armée, pour le renversement de la bourgeoisie internationale et la création d’une république islamique internationale") finance et arme, comme les mouvements de libération du feu empire soviétique, toute une série d’organisations terroristes de par le monde?

Que l’Iran est de ce fait présent dans toutes les zones de crise régionales: le Caucase, l’Asie centrale, l’Afghanistan, le Liban, l’Irak (élimination dès 2003 des chefs religieux les plus modérés Mohammed Bakr al-Hakim et Majid al-Khoei et financement des plus radicaux comme Moqtada al-Sadr), la Syrie, les territoires palestiniens (deux navires bourrés d’armes Karine-A et Santorini – interceptés – en janvier et mai 2002; armes antichars dernier cri – saisies – à l’automne dernier, 30 millions de dollars au gouvernement du Hamas en décembre, remplacement de Saddam pour le subventionnement du terrorisme: 50 000 dollars aux familles des terroristes-suicide), le Golfe, même l’Egypte (où il soutient les Frères musulmans, mais aussi en Somalie?

Que son principal affidé, le Hezbollah, est, après une mémorable série d’attentats depuis 82 (attentats-suicides, véhicules piégés, enlèvements, assassinats contre diplomates, soldats, journalistes ou simples citoyens français ou américains, dont 241 Marines et 58 soldats français) devenu une menace terroriste globale depuis le Moyen-Orient (dont la courageuse "guerre" de l’été dernier contre les civils israéliens avec moult boucliers humains libanais et roquettes cachées dans les écoles, les hôpitaux et les mosquées!) jusqu’à l’Europe, l’Afrique (Sahel comme Tanzanie, Kenya, Ouganda, Zimbawe, Afrique du sud) mais aussi l’Amérique du sud?

Et qu’enfin, derrière l’opposition chiite-sunnite dont nos journaleux nous rebattent les oreilles, les mollahs (qui, via leur commune et commode haine des Juifs, ont depuis longtemps des contacts et collaborent avec Al Qaeda sur des projets ponctuels comme l’attentat des tours de Khobar en Arabie Saoudite en 1996 et qui, avant et après les attentats du 11/9 et suite à la guerre d’Afghanista ont logé et soutenu certains de leurs hauts dirigeants – dont ils ont même fait arrêter des membres pour éviter les soupçons – mais aussi Zarqawi en Irak) sont en discussion de fusion avec ladite Al Qaeda, à la recherche, on le sait pour ses prochains méga-attentats post 11/9, de la capacité nucléaire ou de matières sales?

Comme en témoigne justement… le groupe terroriste algérien GSPC (Groupe Salafiste pour la Prédication et le Combat), récemment rebaptisé Al Qaeda Maghreb et menaçant, on l’a vu, notre prochaine élection, et lui aussi dûment financé par la République islamique?

Les organisations terroristes financées par les Mollahs
Iran-Resist
25.07.2005

L’Iran a créé, en février 1980 un Cercle des Mouvements de Libérations. Avec un statut ministériel, le Cercle a pour vocation de soutenir matériellement et financièrement les mouvements islamiques dans le tiers-monde. Radiographie du Terrorisme d’Etat en Iran.

AFGHNISTAN

Front Islamique Uni pour le Salut de l’Afghnistan ou Alliance du Nord

Org. créée à Rome, le 28 sept. 2001, avec pour but le renversement du pouvoir des Talibans. L’Alliance du Nord est d’abord dirigée par le Commandant Massoud (assassiné le 9 sept. 2001) et, ensuite, par le général Mohammad Fahim qui dirigeait le service de renseignement.

Harakat-i-Islami Mouvement Islamique, Org. dirigée par l’Ayatollah Mohammed Assef Mohsen. Mouvement de guérilla chi’ite fondé en 1973 à Kandakar.

Hezb-i-Islami Parti de l’Islam Mouvement sunnite de guérilla apparu en 1974, dirigé par patchou Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, basé à Peshawar, au Pakistan.

Hezb-i-Wahdat Mouvement chi’ite de guérilla, dirigé par Jalalluddin Haqqani

Hezb-e Wahdat-e Islami Parti de l’Unité Islamique Org. fondamentaliste chiite de l’ethnie Hazaras, a rejoint les rangs de l’Alliance du Nord

Jumbesh-i-Melli Islami Mouvement National Islamique Organisation dirigée par général Abdul Rashid Dostom et composée essentiellement par des Ouzbeks et des Turkmènes, a rejoint les forces de l’Alliance du Nord

Sazman-e Nasr Organisation de la Victoire Mouvement de guérilla fondé à Herat en 1978, dirigé par l’Hojatoleslam Mir Hussein Sadeghi, Gorban Ali Irfani et Mohammed Abdulkarim Khalili

Sepah-i-Pasdaran Armée des Gardiens (de la Révoltion) Mouvement chi’ite de guérilla dirigé par Morad Ali Ehsari et composé, en partie, de Pasdarans iraniens (Gardiens de la révolution), fondée en 1983 en Iran

Shura-e-Itehad Union du Front Islamique Mouvement chi’ite,de guérilla, dirigé par Seyyed Beheshti

ALGERIE

Groupe Islamique Armé ou GIA
Org. terroriste islamique très probablement liée au F.I.S., responsable de nombreux attentats meurtriers visant, notamment, les étrangers vivant en Algérie et les intellectuels algériens. Le but du G.I.A.est d’établir un gouvernement islamique

Groupe Salafiste pour la Prédication et le Combat ou GSPC
Org. terroriste islamiste, dirigé par Nabil Sahraoui proche d’Al Qaïda

CACHEMIRE

Jun’d Allah Armée d’Allah Org.de guérilla musulmane

Jamma-et-Kashmir Liberation Front J.K.L.F. Front de Libération Jamaa-et-Cachemire Mouvement de guérilla séparatiste, fondé en 1965, dispose d’une branche féminine, Dukktaran e-Millat e-Kashmir D.M.K. Les Filles de la Nation du Cachemire) et d’une branche étudiante, le Front Etudiant de Libération du Jamma et-Kashmir (F.E.L.J.K.), liens avec les Tigres d’Allah

IRAK

Ansar al-IslamLes partisans de l’islam Org. terroriste islamique qui agit dans la zone du Kurdistan iraqien, suspecté d’entretenir des liens avec Al Qaïda

Conseil Suprême de la Révolution Islamique Mouvement coordonnant les actions de plusieurs organisations fondamentalistes chi’ites, fondé en 1980, dirigée par l’Hojatoleslam Mohammed-Bakr Al-Hakim, l’hojatoleslam Mahmoud Hachemi et l’hojatoleslam Ahmad Salek Kachani, a une branche armée connue sous le nom de Division Badr-9

Ligue Islamique du Kurdistan Org. de guérilla kurde chi’ite, apparue en 1986, revendique ses actions sous le nom d’Hezbollah du Kurdistan, installé en 1988 à Sanandaj, dans le Kurdistan iranien, et a pris le nom de Mouvement Islamique du Kurdistan

Organisation de l’Action Islamique Mouv. terroriste chi’ite, dirigée par l’Hojatoleslam Seyyed Mohammed-Taqui Modarressi

LIBAN

Conseil Supérieur Chi’ite Org. fondamentaliste chi’ite, lié à Amal, au Hezbollah

F.P.L.P.-Commandement Général (Front Populaire de Libération de la Palestine) Org. terroriste nationaliste, créée en 1968 et dirigée par Ahmed Jibril, soutenu également par l’Iraq et la Syrie.

-H-A-M-A-S- Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya Filastin ou HAMAS (signifie « enthousiasme » arabe).

Le HAMAS est une organisation terroriste islamiste créée en le 9 décembre 1987 par le Cheikh Ahmed Yassin. Cette organisation a des liens avec les Frères Musulmans. Il est actif sur tout le territoire de la Cisjordanie et représente aujourd’hui l’une des branches terroristes les plus virulents. Le Hamas a aussi des liens avec le Hezb-i Islami afghan de Gulbuddin Hekmatyar et utilise les bases d’entraînement de ce Parti Islamiste Sunnite à Peshawar au Pakistan. Le Hamas et le Hezb-i Islami sont financés par le régime des mollahs.

Financement du Hamas – Suite aux directives du Director of National Intelligence (DNI), John Negroponte, en septembre 2005, la CIA a renforcé sa présence et ses réseaux dans certains ports et zones franches des pays du Golfe, pour mieux lutter contre les circuits clandestins de financement du terrorisme.

L’agence a ainsi détecté récemment des mouvements de fonds transitant par des sociétés implantées dans les zones franches du Koweït, du Qatar et des Emirats arabes unis, en provenance d’Iran et à destination de trois mouvements palestiniens : le Hamas, le Jihad islamique et les Comités de résistance nationale, une faction radicale, dissidente du Fatah (Source : Intelligence Online).

Hezbollah de Palestine Org. fondamentaliste chi’ite apparue au mois d’août 1989.

Hezbollah

Parti de Dieu, mouvement fondamentaliste chi’ite, installé à Baalbek, liens avec le Parti du Cheikh Fadlallah, et Amal Islamique.

C’est en 1982 (ou 83) qu’Ali Akbar Mohtashami-pour (auj. un réformateur), l’ambassadeur la République Islamique en Syrie qui devint plus tard ministre des Affaires intérieures a fondé l’organisation chiite extrémiste « Hezbollah » au Liban.

Il faut également citer l’Organisation de la Justice Révolutionnaire ou le Djihad islamique, noms sous lequel l’Hezbollah négociait les otages.

L’on reconnaît des liens entre l’Hezbollah et Al Qaïda, le Jihad islamique égyptien, l’organisation afghane islamique des Talibans, l’organisation de guérilla somalienne du général Aïdid

Jama’a Islamique Org. islamique sunnite, installée à Saida, dispose d’une branche militaire, la Résistance Islamique – Force du Fajr, laquelle entretient des liens avec l’Hezbollah et le Jihad islamique palestinien

Parti du Cheikh Fadlallah Milice terroriste fondamentaliste chi’ite, dirigée par le Cheikh Fadlallah. Cette milice était très active à Bir Abed, la banlieue sud de Beyrouth

MAROC

Parti de la Libération Islamique Org. terroriste chi’ite, dont les membres agressent régulièrement, au couteau ou au vitriol, les personnes qui vivent à l’occidentale

ÉGYPTE

Jihad Islamique Org. terroriste qui vise à s’emparer du pouvoir pour instaurer une république islamique. Cette organisation a été dirigée entre autres par Al Zawahiri.

PAKISTAN

Liberation Army of Balouchistan Armée de Libération du Balouchistan Org. séparatiste musulmane, probablement soutenue par l’Iran, attentats terroristes

MIXTE

Comité de Solidarité avec les Prisonniers Politiques Arabes (C.S.P.P.A.) Anis Naccache, terroriste libanais, Varoujian Garbidjian (Asala), et Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, (F.A.R.L.), des attentats organisés en France.

Attentats exécutés par les Syriens avec le soutien de l’Iran et de la Libye afin de forcer la France à honorer sa dette d’Eurodif et pour obtenir la cessation des fournitures d’armes à l’Iraq ; la Libye afin d’obtenir le désengagement français du conflit tchadien, et la Syrie pour faire partir les Français du Liban.

L’Iran lance une OPA sur AL Qaeda
Iran-Resist
15.11.2006

Non content de se servir de la terreur contre ses propres ressortissants, non content de financer et d’armer les terroristes islamistes et ou palestiniens, et de subvenir aux besoins des milices terroristes en Irak ou en Afghanistan, le régime des mollahs serait en passe de lancer une OPA sur AL Qaeda.

La fusion totale entre ces deux entités qui se sont associées à plusieurs reprises pour des opérations ponctuelles comme l’Attentat de Khobar en Arabie Saoudite [1], est d’autant plus inquiétant que la nébuleuse à Ben Laden dit ouvertement qu’elle est à la recherche de la capacité nucléaire ou de matières sales.

Si la république islamique pouvait réussir à se doter d’un arsenal nucléaire [2], nul doute qu’avoir l’appui d’une organisation de l’envergure d’Al Qaeda lui permettrait de mener à bien ses funestes desseins qu’elle caresse depuis sa création : reversement des monarchies Marocaine [3], Jordanienne et Saoudienne (conformément au Testament de Khomeiny), islamisation révolutionnaire de tous « les états musulmans » et surtout de l’Egypte (conformément au Testament de Khomeiny), destruction d’Israël (Testament de Khomeiny) et mainmise sur les mosquées d’occident …

En effet, selon divers services de renseignement occidentaux, le régime de Téhéran serait en train de déployer tous ses efforts pour que Seyf Al Adel (l’épée du juste), un égyptien de 46 ans devienne le numéro 3 du réseau terroriste après le fantomatique Ben Laden et son dauphin Al Zawahiri.

Les raisons qui poussent Téhéran à se montrer si empressé pour défendre cet homme sont extrêmement simples : l’égyptien est un ardent défenseur du régime islamique de Téhéran et selon certaines rumeurs serait même un agent des services iraniens. Le fait de l’avoir en numéro 3 serait aussi l’emplacement idéal pour qu’il devienne rapidement numéro 2, l’espérance de vie des deux autres susnommés étant soit limitée, soit déjà dépassée.

Par le passé Téhéran a déjà tenté ce genre d’approche en apportant son soutien à Al Zarqawi en Irak. Par le passé, Téhéran a logé et aidé les membres d’Al Qaeda à plusieurs reprises sur son territoire et leur a fourni divers appuis logistiques. Le fils de Ben Laden ? Mohammad, ainsi que 24 autres haut-dirigeants du réseau ont vécu en Iran et ont même planifié l’attaque du 11 septembre depuis le territoire iranien. Afin de ne pas être soupçonné de collaboration avec Al Qaeda, Téhéran a même fait arrêter des membres de ce groupe terroriste.

Mais le régime islamique iranien n’a jamais donné de plus amples nouvelles sur le lieu de détention ni les raisons et pour beaucoup, ces gens ne seraient pas prisonniers mais simplement à l’abri dans des maisons aux alentours de Téhéran sous la « protection » de Pasdarans. Quant à l’égyptien, c’est en Iran, et plus précisément à Téhéran qu’il a trouvé refuge après avoir fui l’Afghanistan en 2001 en compagnie de Mohamad Ben Laden.

Le Daily Telegraph de Londres sur le même sujet annonce pour sa part que les responsables d’Al Qaeda sont actuellement réunis en Iran pour des discussions. Selon le Telegraph, si Al Qaeda accède à la demande de l’Iran, alors le régime de Téhéran permettra à cette organisation terroriste islamique de bénéficier des infrastructures et capacités des forces des Gardiens de la révolution. Une offre qui ne se refuse pas facilement.

Le Hamas, financé par l’Iran, préparerait des attaques chimiques contre Israël
Iran-Resist
07.06.2006

Par Alexandre Yudkewicz – Arouts. L’Iran joue à présent un rôle majeur dans le soutien financier apporté au Hamas. Par le biais de fonds transférés à des organisations dites de bienfaisance, Téhéran apporte sa contribution aux effort que le groupe terroriste, qui dirige à présent l’AP, déploie pour maintenir sa popularité auprès de la population locale.

Dans son édition du 1er juin, le quotidien quasi-officiel de l’Autorité palestinienne, le Al Hayat Al Jadida, révélait comment une seule de ces organisations, Al Ansar, avait distribué 1.8 millions de dollars de dons à 2900 familles de terroristes suicides dans la Bande de Gaza.

De plus, rien qu’au cours des trois derniers mois, l’Iran a contribué à hauteur de 1.3 millions de dollars au financement de 2 020 familles de terroristes vivant en Judée-Samarie. Des organisations telles que Al Ansar contribuent substantiellement au niveau de soutien dont bénéficie le Hamas, réduisant d’autant l’efficacité des sanctions économiques instituées par l’Occident. Outre le développement social et économique que favorise le financement iranien, Téhéran soutient également le terrorisme de façon directe.

Selon le quotidien Haaretz, des responsables terroristes du Hamas en Judée-Samarie auraient procédé à des essais afin de produire une bombe sale, une bombe chimique, en ajoutant des produits toxiques à leurs explosifs traditionnels. L’organisation ne serait pas en mesure de produire des explosifs chimiques complexes à l’heure actuelle, mais la tendance est à la préparation de méga-attentats qui créeraient un nouvel équilibre des forces, selon une source issue des milieux sécuritaires israéliens citée par le Haaretz.

Ainsi, le Shin Bet a annoncé lundi l’arrestation d’un haut responsable du Hamas à Ramallah qui planifiait précisément plusieurs méga-attaques. Ibrahim Hamed, chef de la branche dite militaire du Hamas en Judée-Samarie, prévoyait de faire exploser des lignes de chemin de fer et le complexe de stockage de gaz de Pi Glilot.

Enfin, toujours selon la même source, le Hamas s’attellerait en particulier à l’accumulation d’armes et d’explosifs, de façon à se tenir prêt au cas où l’échelon politique donnerait le feu vert pour mettre fin au statut-quo sécuritaire.

« A ce stade, les terroristes de la ‘branche armée’ du Hamas n’ont pas reçu d’ordres opérationnels, puisque le recours au terrorisme à ce stade desservirait les intérêts du gouvernement de l’AP sous son contrôle », indique-t-on côté israélien. Toutefois, ces hommes ont reçu l’ordre de se tenir prêts et d’élaborer des plans d’actions afin de pouvoir passer à l’acte dès que l’ordre en sera donné.

Les livres scolaires iraniens préparent la guerre
Iran-Resist
23.08.2006

Une étude des 115 textes scolaires iranien a permis de conclure que la république islamique d’Iran prépare les enfants iraniens à la guerre, mais aussi qu’elle est prête à risquer de nombreuses vies pour avoir l’opportunité de vaincre l’Amérique au cours d’une confrontation globale et planétaire.

« L’Iran est dans un processus de guerre », conclut l’étude. Le régime des mollahs prépare les élèves du primaire à combattre l’Occident (et notamment les USA) dans une « phase complémentaire à sa révolution ». Selon cette étude, dans les livres scolaires, le régime révolutionnaire iranien se décrit comme le champion de toutes les nations non-occidentales, musulmanes et non musulmanes, dans la lutte contre l’hégémonie occidentale à travers le monde. Selon les mollahs qui endoctrinent les iraniens dès leur plus jeune âge, les musulmans et les pays opprimés dans leur ensemble doivent conduire une guerre contre l’oppresseur infidèle, et spécialement contre l’Amérique explique l’étude en utilisant le vocabulaire repris dans les livres scolaires.

C’est la première étude approfondie sur les méthodes d’endoctrinements infantiles utilisées par la république islamique d’Iran depuis deux générations. Jusqu’à présent de nombreuses analyses avaient été faites sur les propos des dirigeants iraniens, dont Ahmadinejad, qui relevaient le caractère profondément anti-occidentaliste des propos. Mais cette étude montre clairement que la guerre contre l’Amérique fait partie des objectifs du régime islamo fasciste depuis son avènement.

L’islamologue Bernard Lewis à qui nous devons le projet de la balkanisation islamiste du Moyen-Orient a été mis à contribution dans cette étude. Aujourd’hui âgé de plus de 85 ans, Lewis ne cesse depuis 1 an seulement de mettre en garde l’opinion internationale sur le régime des mollahs. Selon Lewis, Ahmadinejad et ses « disciples » ne sont pas des fanatiques sauvages mais la représentation de la révolution islamique de 1979.

Le vieux chercheur qui a aidé la clique de Khomeiny veut sans doute réparer son erreur ou se soulager sa conscience. Après 27 ans de complicité silencieuse, Lewis cite enfin la promesse de Khomeiny, déclaration que l’on trouve dans les livres du primaire depuis 27 ans. « J’annonce au monde entier que si les infidèles font obstacle à notre religion, nous nous opposerons au monde entier et nous ne cesserons pas avant leur anéantissement, nous en sortirons tous libérés ou nous obtiendrons une plus grande liberté qui est le martyr. Soit nous nous serrerons les uns aux autres pour célébrer la victoire de l’islam sur le monde ou bien nous aurons tous la vie éternelle grâce au martyr. Dans les deux cas, la victoire et le succès seront à nous. »

Ce texte et d’autres du même style, révélateurs des intentions profondes du régime des mollahs, sont visibles dans les livres scolaires des petits iraniens. De fait, la principale conclusion que l’on puisse tirer de l’étude des livres scolaires iraniens est que l’éducation toute entière est tournée vers la lutte contre l’Amérique au nom de l’islam. L’étude pointe deux thèmes récurrents au sein d’un Jihad mondial contre l’Occident : un effort massif dans les livres pour dépeindre l’Occident (avec les USA à sa tête) comme l’incarnation du diable et un appel constant à se préparer à faire la guerre, le Jihad et devenir martyr.

Les rapporteurs de cette étude notent que la lutte contre les USA n’est pas plus religieuse que culturelle mais politique. Dans les ouvrages scolaires iraniens, la menace américaine est présentée comme imminente et nécessitant une préparation à l’échelle nationale. La combinaison de ce genre d’éducation avec le projet de l’acquisition de l’arme nucléaire ouvre le champ de possibilités : Voici ma bombe, voici mes armées de jeunes gens conditionnés. Pas si simple ! L’étude a ses défauts…

Cette étude néglige de prendre en compte l’effet pédagogique réel de ce genre de manuels. Il y a la preuve de leur inefficacité. Le nombre des jeunes iraniens prêts à s’engager dans le conflit au Liban était si peu que le régime a proposé de fortes primes. Une majorité écrasante des jeunes iraniens reste imperméable aux propos des livres scolaires et c’est la Pauvreté de leurs parents, très hostiles à l’incapacité des mollahs, qui en est la cause. Les jeunes iraniens ne vivent pas dans un environnement sain voué aux études mais dans un milieu hostile, pauvre et ils nourrissent d’énormes rancoeurs contre le régime qui consacre les revenus pétroliers au Hezbollah plutôt qu’à leur bien être. De ce point de vue, l’étude s’est montrée délibérément négligente, mais il n’en reste pas moins vrai qu’un très petit nombre de jeunes iraniens sera happé par cette propagande simpliste et Hezbollahi. Il faudrait pour cela que la recrue n’appartienne pas à la classe moyenne qui vit avec des revenus en dessous du seuil de la pauvreté. Les partisans de la guerre avec les Etats-Unis appartiennent à la classe aisée en Iran et on les retrouve souvent comme étudiants aux Etats-Unis ou en Europe. Si les livres scolaires s’attaquent à l’éducation terroriste des plus jeunes, ce ne sont pas des enfants qui seront au cœur de l’offensive contre les USA mais de jeunes adultes imperméables au charme de l’Internet et à la liberté qui y règne.

Par ailleurs, la participation de Lewis nous chagrine : cet homme n’est pas déontologiquement qualifié pour parler du régime des mollahs en essayant de diaboliser les Iraniens : un petit nombre d’entre eux sont concernés mais la plupart ne sont pas des zombies nourris au charabia islamiste des livres scolaires mis au point par la Révolution Culturelle menée par Khatami.

L’étude a certainement ses propres objectifs dont nous imaginons certains avec aisance : « les iraniens sont en retard dans le domaine démocratique, il faut leur donner le temps d’évoluer à leur rythme et surtout respecter leur croyance (désormais encrée profondément) tout en combattant l’extrémisme ». Le thème d’évolution lente est la doctrine des réformateurs du régime des mollahs.

Ces mêmes livres (anti-occidentaux) étaient publiés et lus sous Khatami mais à l’époque les auteurs de l’étude et ce cher Bernard Lewis ne se manifestaient pas ! Des propos sur l’anéantissement d’Israël ont été nombreux depuis l’avènement du régime et surtout sous Khatami… Cette étude qui se base sur des faits réels a cependant un objectif politique particulier : nous rappeler la merveilleuse époque de Khatami qui fut un véritable ange comparé à Ahmadinejad !

Alors que Khatami se prépare pour se rendre à New York et y faire un discours sur la paix et l’amitié entre les nations [1], de fausses études comme cette dernière apparaissent pour orienter le débat et donner l’illusion qu’il existe deux républiques islamiques, l’une rigoriste et l’autre évoluée. L’autre objectif est d’affaiblir les opposants laïques et renforcer Khatami. On comprend mieux alors la participation de Bernard Lewis à la rédaction de cette étude. Il s’agit de préserver le régime tout en dénonçant des accès de ses factions les plus intégristes.

Or les faits sont têtus, le contenu des livres qui racontent la méchanceté de l’Amérique n’est pas le principal danger du régime des mollahs : les mêmes livres racontent également les grandes réussites économiques et industrielles de la révolution islamique ! C’est ce qui rend ces livres risibles et c’est pourquoi personne y compris les enfants ne croient guère au bien fondé de leur propos, surtout s’ils appartiennent à cette masse de la classe moyenne broyée par la révolution de Khomeiny.

Le danger ne vient pas des livres scolaires des mollahs. Il y aussi un autre danger et on le trouve dans les livres scolaires français où l’on se garde bien d’associer le nom de l’Islam à celui du terrorisme [2] et on éduque des générations d’Européens pacifistes et naïves. Ces concepts dirigent l’opinion publique et forcent les états à se comporter en parfait munichois. Ainsi l’imminence de la menace d’une république islamique nucléaire est gommée au profit d’une approche diplomatique ! On croirait être revenu à l’époque de Hitler quand les dirigeants occidentaux comme Daladier et Chamberlain estimaient qu’il y avait encore de la place pour un espace de paix… Même l’administration Bush pressée par une opinion sensible au discours pacifiste d’inspiration européenne a décidé de laisser une chance à la diplomatie en optant pour le Conseil de Sécurité qui n’a rien résolu depuis sa création !

Les USA et leurs alliés ont raté l’opportunité d’utiliser la meilleure des armes à leur disposition pour empêcher l’Iran de se nucléariser, ils ont omis d’aider les forces laïques qui se sont exilés pour lutter contre le régime religieux. Si demain Ahmadinejad et ses gardiens de la révolution obtiennent l’arme nucléaire, la seule solution possible qui restera pour leur faire face sera la guerre ! Si les livres scolaires iraniens préparent à la guerre, en l’absence d’adhésion populaire à un régime impopulaire et corrompu, la victoire sera à leur portée par un concours inattendu des circonstances ! Car à la différence la république islamique qui n’a pas su faire des livres convaincants, l’Europe a éduqué des générations de pacifistes et d’alter-mondialistes qui seront les véritables alliés actifs des mollahs!

L’étude des livres scolaires iraniens est certes instructive, mais il serait judicieux de savoir si les adultes européens ne seraient pas finalement pire que les jeunes iraniens élevés dans la haine de l’occident.

[1] Discours de Khtami à New York , le 7 septembre 2006

[2] L’Union Européenne élabore actuellement un lexique interne destiné à la communication publique de ses politiciens et fonctionnaires. Elle y précise quels mots utiliser en matière de terrorisme afin de souligner que l’islam ne justifie pas les attentats terroristes. Seront bannis de ce lexique les termes « islamiste », « fondamentaliste » et « Jihad ». Cette complaisance ne profite qu’aux terroristes qui ont pris en otage un milliard de coreligionnaires musulmans.

Voir l’article du Monde:

Dix enjeux de politique étrangère
Le Monde
16.04.07

LE NUCLÉAIRE IRANIEN

Si les Etats-Unis ou Israël décident à un moment donné que la seule façon d’empêcher l’Iran d’acquérir la bombe atomique est de procéder à des frappes militaires sur ses sites nucléaires, considérez-vous que la France devra s’opposer à ce scénario ? De quelle façon ?

François Bayrou : Alors que la société politique iranienne est de plus en plus divisée et que les provocations d’Ahmadinejad la marginalisent, une intervention militaire ressouderait instantanément la nation iranienne derrière son président et plongerait l’ensemble du Moyen-Orient dans le chaos. Il ne s’agit pas de "s’opposer" aux Etats-Unis, car je doute qu’ils solliciteraient dans cette hypothèse l’aval de la communauté internationale, il s’agit de les dissuader de s’engager dans une nouvelle impasse. Je fais confiance à la majorité du peuple américain, telle qu’elle s’est exprimée à l’automne 2006, pour faire échec aux tentations aventuristes.

Ségolène Royal : J’ai été la première, en France, à prendre une position très ferme sur le dossier iranien. Nous devons impérativement obtenir de l’Iran l’arrêt de l’enrichissement d’uranium et la reprise des inspections de l’AIEA (Agence internationale de l’énergie atomique). L’accès de l’Iran au nucléaire militaire déstabiliserait la région. Pour autant, je refuse toute initiative unilatérale. Les pressions sur l’Iran doivent s’exercer par l’intermédiaire de résolutions du Conseil de sécurité et l’action du groupe 5+1. L’Iran doit entendre la voix de la raison et comprendre qu’il ne pourra jouer dans cette région le rôle auquel la géographie et l’histoire lui permettent de prétendre que s’il respecte la légalité internationale.

Nicolas Sarkozy : Je suis convaincu qu’une solution diplomatique est possible si la communauté internationale reste ferme sur ses principes et dans ses demandes. Un nouveau conflit aurait des conséquences très graves pour la région. L’accès de l’Iran à l’arme nucléaire est inacceptable, mais le règlement de la crise avec l’Iran doit être recherché par la négociation et dans un cadre multilatéral. La France doit agir pour que la communauté internationale reste unie, comme elle l’a été en adoptant à l’unanimité les résolutions 1 737 et 1 747.

Etes-vous favorable, au cas où l’Iran continuerait à refuser de se conformer aux demandes de l’ONU et de l’AIEA, à ce que les grandes puissances mettent en place un embargo sur les ventes de produits pétroliers raffinés à l’Iran ? Accepteriez-vous l’idée de sanctions adoptées en dehors du cadre de l’ONU, sur la base d’une "coalition de pays volontaires" ?

F. B. : Il ne faut pas sous-estimer la dépendance de l’économie iranienne par rapport à l’Occident. La politique d’Ahmadinejad a échoué et c’est ce qui explique ses provocations répétées. Les principaux responsables de l’économie iranienne sont, pour cette raison, soucieux d’éviter des mesures de rétorsion américaines et européennes, dans le secteur financier autant que dans le secteur pétrolier. Je crois donc qu’il faut procéder à un examen précis de tous les instruments de pression économiques dont nous disposons. Le pire serait que la communauté internationale se divise sur une querelle théologique sur le droit d’ingérence. Nous devons être assez déterminés pour faire plier l’Iran et assez intelligents pour ne pas nous opposer frontalement à la Chine et à la Russie.

S. R. : Si l’Iran persiste à ne pas se conformer à ses obligations, nous devrons monter d’un cran dans les sanctions. Mais je n’accepte pas l’idée de "coalition de pays volontaires" qui a été utilisée par l’administration américaine lors de l’intervention en Irak, avec les résultats que l’on sait.

N. S. : Si l’Iran continue à ne pas respecter les résolutions du Conseil de sécurité, il faudra aller plus loin dans les sanctions pour faire comprendre au régime que nous n’acceptons pas le fait accompli d’un Iran nucléaire. Dans ce cas, nous rechercherons en priorité l’unité du Conseil de sécurité sur de nouvelles mesures. Rien n’est exclu, a priori, ce qui compte, c’est l’efficacité. S’agissant de sanctions en dehors du Conseil de sécurité, ce n’est pas un problème de principe. Mais il est, bien sûr, préférable d’avoir une résolution de l’ONU.

Seriez-vous d’accord pour que l’Iran soit autorisé à mener sur son territoire, et sous contrôle étroit de l’AIEA, des activités de recherche et développement dans le domaine de l’enrichissement d’uranium comme compromis éventuel pour sortir de l’impasse diplomatique ?

F. B. : Il serait à la fois illusoire et inéquitable d’interdire à l’Iran l’accès au nucléaire civil. Le traité de non-prolifération ne proscrit pas formellement les activités d’enrichissement, sous réserve qu’elles ne débouchent pas sur la fabrication d’armes nucléaires. Tout le problème est dans l’efficacité du contrôle, et les Iraniens ne nous ont pas habitués à beaucoup de bonne foi en ce domaine. Toute la question est donc de savoir ce que pourrait être un "contrôle étroit". Nous ne pouvons pas cautionner un simple habillage juridique de la marche iranienne au nucléaire militaire.

S. R. : La question est aujourd’hui que l’Iran arrête son processus d’enrichissement sans contrôle. C’est seulement ainsi que la confiance indispensable à la bonne application du traité de non-prolifération pourra revenir. Et je redis que la meilleure solution me paraît être la proposition faite par la Russie de fournir l’uranium enrichi à l’Iran, ce qui écarterait le risque de prolifération, tout en permettant à ce pays d’accéder à l’électricité d’origine nucléaire.

N. S. : Ce programme d’enrichissement iranien est dangereux car il n’a pas d’utilisation pacifique identifiable. Le Conseil de sécurité a donc exigé de l’Iran qu’il suspende y compris ce qu’il appelle ses "activités de recherche et développement". Téhéran doit coopérer sans réserve avec l’AIEA, pour faire toute la lumière sur des années d’activités clandestines. La communauté internationale a fait des propositions ambitieuses, en particulier la possibilité pour l’Iran de développer un programme nucléaire clairement civil. Mais pour cela, l’Iran doit démontrer ses intentions pacifiques.

CRISE AU DARFOUR

Etes-vous favorable à l’adoption de nouvelles sanctions contre le régime soudanais, si ce dernier continue de refuser le déploiement d’un contingent de casques bleus de l’ONU au Darfour, ainsi que le demande la résolution 1 706 du Conseil de sécurité ? Quelles sanctions exactement ?

F. B. : Les sanctions doivent être immédiates et couvrir l’exportation des produits pétroliers, le gel des avoirs financiers des dignitaires du régime et le lancement de nouvelles poursuites pénales aux plus hauts niveaux. Ces sanctions doivent avoir un double objectif : d’abord pousser Khartoum à accepter les résolutions du Conseil de sécurité votées depuis trois ans et en urgence l’application du cessez-le-feu et l’accès total, sans condition, à l’ensemble des populations civiles par les agences humanitaires. Ensuite, reconnaître l’échec de l’accord de paix du 5 mai et faire accepter au gouvernement soudanais une réouverture réelle de négociations politiques avec l’ensemble des groupes rebelles, notamment ceux qui n’ont pas signé l’accord d’Abuja (entre le gouvernement et une partie des factions, en mai 2006).

S. R. : Ce drame humain est totalement intolérable : 300 000 victimes, deux millions de déplacés. Personne ne pourra prétendre l’avoir ignoré. Et en face il y a une forme de mollesse diplomatique, que rien ne saurait excuser et certainement pas la présence de pétrole dans le sous-sol ! Il faut que la communauté internationale se mobilise plus énergiquement, et je souhaite que la France, au Conseil de sécurité, fasse des propositions, notamment de sanctions, si le Soudan continue à tergiverser.

Ces sanctions pourraient être le gel des avoirs ou l’embargo sur les exportations de pétrole soudanais. Il est indispensable qu’une force conjointe de l’Union africaine et des Nations unies se déploie rapidement. Je souhaite aussi qu’il y ait une dimension européenne à cette action : voilà un sujet sur lequel l’Europe pourrait exister sur le plan diplomatique en parlant d’une même voix.

N. S. : Au Darfour, je n’accepte pas que la mauvaise volonté du gouvernement soudanais à appliquer la résolution 1 706 et sa complaisance à l’égard des milices djandjawids nous transforment en témoins impuissants de l’horreur. Si je suis élu, je n’hésiterai pas à militer pour un durcissement décisif des sanctions contre tous les responsables de la prolongation du conflit. Des mesures immédiates s’imposent, comme le gel des avoirs ou le refus de délivrer des visas pour les individus impliqués dans les massacres. La France appliquera au besoin ces mesures avec ses partenaires européens ou à titre national.

VENTES D’ARMES À LA CHINE

Etes-vous favorable à une levée de l’embargo européen sur les ventes d’armes à la Chine ?

F. B. : Je ne suis pas favorable à une levée sans contrepartie de l’embargo sur les armes en direction de la Chine. Cet embargo a été décidé à la suite du massacre de Tiananmen, c’est-à-dire au refus de toute libéralisation politique en Chine. Les économies française et chinoise prospèrent ensemble. Les échanges culturels nous enrichissent mutuellement. Qu’il s’agisse du Darfour, de Taïwan, de l’Iran, de la protection de la préservation des minorités et du respect des droits de la personne, nous sommes en droit d’attendre une forte inflexion de la politique chinoise avant d’envisager de normaliser la situation.

S. R. : La Chine a changé depuis 1989, date des événements de la place Tienanmen et de la décision d’embargo prise par l’Union européenne. Il reste toutefois beaucoup de progrès à faire dans le domaine de la démocratie et du respect des droits de l’homme. En outre, la Chine accroît fortement ses capacités militaires depuis quelques années, ce qui commence à inquiéter les pays de la région. Je pense donc que la levée de l’embargo est prématurée.

N. S. : La levée de l’embargo est une décision collective, qui doit être prise par l’ensemble des partenaires européens. La Chine est un partenaire de première importance pour la France et l’Europe. Nos relations se sont beaucoup développées au cours des dernières années, et c’est une très bonne chose. Mais l’embargo sur les armes a une signification bien particulière, liée notamment à la situation des droits de l’homme dans ce pays. Dans ce domaine, la Chine peut encore faire des progrès. C’est à l’aune de cette question que nous devons continuer de discuter avec nos partenaires chinois.

BOUCLIER ANTIMISSILE AMÉRICAIN

Etes-vous favorable à l’installation en Pologne et en République tchèque d’éléments du bouclier antimissile que veulent mettre en place les Etats-Unis ? Considérez-vous que ce projet a un sens, face au risque que l’Iran se dote à l’avenir de missiles pouvant atteindre le territoire européen ?
F. B. : Je suis favorable sur ce point à une attitude commune de tous les Européens. Nous devons penser cette question dans le cadre d’une refondation de la relation atlantique. Les Européens doivent disposer d’un instrument d’analyse des menaces, de prospective stratégique et de programmation de leurs moyens militaires communs. Rien ne serait pire que des décisions prises en ordre dispersé selon que les uns et les autres sont ou pas sensibles à la pression américaine. C’est le politique qui détermine le militaire et non l’inverse : commençons par discuter avec les Etats-Unis de notre conception de l’ordre international souhaitable et nous verrons alors dans quelle mesure nous pouvons partager leurs options militaires.

S. R. : La France est dotée de forces nucléaires qui garantissent en dernier ressort notre liberté. Je veillerai à ce que cet outil indispensable de notre indépendance politique et diplomatique garde en permanence sa crédibilité.

Le projet américain de bouclier antimissile pose beaucoup de questions. Son efficacité reste hypothétique, sa crédibilité incertaine : les Européens seraient-ils protégés par un parapluie américain dont ils n’auraient pas la maîtrise ? Il faut que les Américains répondent à ces questions dans le cadre de l’OTAN. Il faut aussi que les Européens en discutent entre eux. Je crois surtout que nous devons relancer la politique européenne de défense.

N. S. : Je trouve quand même préoccupant de ne pas discuter ensemble, avec nos partenaires européens, du système de défense antimissile que les Etats-Unis sont en train de mettre en place. Je ne vois pas comment on peut dire que c’est simplement le problème de la République tchèque ou de la Pologne et que ce n’est pas du tout celui de l’Europe, sauf à renoncer à toute ambition d’une politique européenne de la défense.

L’EUROPE FACE À LA RUSSIE

Etes-vous favorable à l’entrée, un jour, de l’Ukraine et de la Géorgie dans l’OTAN ? Dans l’Union européenne ?

F. B. : Il ne peut y avoir de nouvelles adhésions tant que nous n’aurons pas redéfini précisément la vocation de l’Union et redessiné son architecture institutionnelle. Ensuite, nous devrons tenir compte de la volonté de ces pays, comme des liens qu’ils entretiennent avec la Russie.

S. R. : Inviter un pays dans l’OTAN, c’est élargir une alliance de défense et étendre une garantie de sécurité. C’est un engagement qui ne se prend pas à la légère. Il suppose bien sûr des valeurs communes et des garanties sur sa pérennité comme sur sa crédibilité. Il faut aussi que l’adhésion contribue à la sécurité et à la stabilité du continent européen. Au regard de ces critères, les candidatures actuelles posent encore beaucoup de questions.

S’agissant d’une éventuelle entrée dans l’Union européenne, non seulement ces deux pays ne remplissent pas les critères d’adhésion, mais il est nécessaire de faire une pause dans le processus d’élargissement.

N. S. : Avec l’Ukraine et la Géorgie, je souhaite que nous progressions d’abord dans la voie du partenariat privilégié avec l’Union qui permettra à ces pays de prendre part au grand marché et de participer à certaines politiques européennes, par exemple dans le domaine commercial ou en matière d’éducation et de recherche. Concernant l’OTAN, je souhaite que le rapprochement amorcé avec l’Ukraine et la Géorgie se poursuive. Le "dialogue intensifié" peut être un premier pas vers une éventuelle intégration. Mais l’adhésion doit aussi refléter la volonté des pays concernés et de leurs citoyens.

Seriez-vous prêt à accélérer le projet de gazoduc Nabucco qui vise à permettre à l’Europe de réduire sa dépendance aux approvisionnements en gaz russe, en ouvrant une voie d’acheminement des hydrocarbures d’Asie centrale qui éviterait le territoire russe ?

F. B. : Tout ce qui contribue à réduire la dépendance de l’Europe en matière d’approvisionnement énergétique doit être encouragé. Ce type de projet ne doit pas être perçu comme l’expression politique d’une hostilité à la Russie mais comme un instrument bienvenu de diversification économique.

S. R. : L’Union européenne aura besoin à l’horizon 2025 de 250 à 300 milliards de mètres cubes par an de gaz supplémentaires, par rapport aux 500 milliards consommés actuellement. Dans ce contexte, il est normal que les Etats membres cherchent à équilibrer leurs sources d’approvisionnement. C’est une question d’indépendance énergétique.

N. S. : Oui, car ce gazoduc est un projet d’infrastructure énergétique particulièrement important pour l’Union européenne ; c’est également un outil pour développer la coopération avec notre voisin turc ainsi qu’avec les pays producteurs de gaz, en particulier de la Caspienne. La question n’est pas de réduire notre dépendance vis-à-vis de tel ou tel pays en particulier, il s’agit d’organiser un approvisionnement stable et diversifié sur le long terme pour les besoins énergétiques de l’Europe. Le développement d’une véritable politique européenne de l’énergie est un des principaux défis pour les prochaines années ; le projet Nabucco s’inscrit bien dans cet objectif.

Etes-vous favorable à l’augmentation des capitaux russes dans la société EADS, où ils sont présents actuellement à hauteur de 5 % ?

F. B. : Non, j’y suis hostile, compte tenu de la contribution d’EADS à l’équipement militaire de la France. Plus généralement, je crois que les Européens doivent être beaucoup plus vigilants qu’ils ne le sont en matière de contrôle des offres publiques d’achat. Je n’admets pas que nos industries puissent être achetées par des firmes qui elles-mêmes, selon des modalités d’ordre juridique ou culturel, ne sont pas achetables.

S. R. : EADS peut tirer profit de coopérations avec les grands groupes russes spécialisés dans l’aéronautique et la défense. Je ne souhaite pas, en revanche, qu’on aille vers une intégration financière. L’autonomie de décision d’EADS doit être préservée.

N. S. : Non, pour une raison très simple : EADS est une entreprise stratégique, liée aux impératifs de la défense française et européenne. Une augmentation de la participation de l’Etat russe au capital d’EADS – ou d’actionnaires qui en dépendraient en réalité – pourrait, surtout si elle devait tendre vers une minorité de blocage, remettre en cause notre indépendance et notre souveraineté nationale.

Voir enfin le dernier ouvrage de Thérèse Delpech ("Le grand perturbateur", Réflexions sur la question iranienne"):

Le grand perturbateur

Evene

Résumé du livre

Contrairement à la plupart des pays qui cherchent à contrecarrer ses projets, l’Iran a une idée précise de ce qu’il souhaite : devenir la puissance majeure du Moyen-Orient au XXIe siècle, ce qui n’est pas un crime en soi. A chaque période de l’histoire, les rapports de pouvoir évoluent, et il est essentiel de savoir le comprendre pour que ces changements se produisent de façon pacifique. Mais pour parvenir à ses fins, Téhéran reprend le projet révolutionnaire de la fin des années 1970. Il compte à nouveau sur un bouleversement régional de grande ampleur qui dépasse les distinctions entre les Perses et les Arabes, ou entre les chiites et les sunnites… Son influence régionale s’exerce au moyen de discours violemment anti-israéliens, dont s’abstenaient les capitales de la région depuis de nombreuses années. Téhéran compte aussi sur l’infiltration de ses agents dans l’ensemble de sa périphérie. Celle-ci est perceptible non seulement au Liban et en Irak, mais aussi en Asie centrale et au Caucase. Téhéran compte enfin sur une militarisation du régime, dont les manoeuvres d’intimidation ont donné une illustration convaincante au printemps et à l’automne 2006, et sur son programme nucléaire et balistique. Ceux-ci connaissent une accélération au moment même où le Conseil de Sécurité demande enfin, avec la résolution 1696, une suspension complète de toute activité liée à l’enrichissement et au retraitement de l’uranium.

Les extraits

Morceau choisi

Après avoir consacré beaucoup d’encre à critiquer le projet américain de ‘Grand Moyen-Orient’, un exercice qui ne coûte pas cher – tant il faut l’unanimité – il serait prudent de se pencher sur le seul véritable plan concurrent, celui de l’Iran, qui, contrairement au précédent, progresse, même si les résultats des élections de décembre ne sont pas favorables au président iranien. Au moment où Téhéran continue d’afficher une politique de confrontation avec la communauté internationale, où l’Europe est ouvertement menacée par des représentants du régime, où les manoeuvres dans le Golfe et la mer d’Oman se multiplient et où l’armement des milices chiites se perfectionnent, on pourrait ainsi percevoir les vrais risques de bouleversements pour la région voire pour le reste du monde.
– chapitre : Le Projet de Mahmoud Ahmadinejad pour le Grand Moyen-Orient – page : 25 – éditeur : Grasset – date d’édition : 2007 -

Morceau choisi

Certains prétendent que le XXIe siècle a commencé le 11 septembre 2001. Les historiens en décideront. Mais on peut aussi bien soutenir que ce sont les explosions nucléaires indiennes et pakistanaises de 1998 qui ont donné le coup d’envoi du siècle. Elles montraient en effet que pour toute une partie du monde l’arme nucléaire, qui avait tant contribué à définir la guerre froide, était une arme d’avenir, non un simple reliquat du passé. Elles attiraient aussi l’attention sur la vaste Asie, appelée à remplacer l’Europe comme centre des affaires stratégiques de la nouvelle ère. Elles annonçaient enfin quelques difficultés supplémentaires pour l’exercice de la dissuasion : les deux pays qui déclaraient ainsi ouvertement leurs capacités n’avaient pas de frontières internationalement reconnues depuis la création du Pakistan en 1947, ils avaient combattu à trois reprises depuis cette date, leur proximité réduisait dangereusement les temps d’alerte en augmentant simultanément les risques de malentendu, et il fallait de surcroît compter avec un troisième acteur nucléaire dans la région, majeure celui-ci, la Chine.
– chapitre : L’Arme nucléaire au XXIe siècle – page : 179 – éditeur : Grasset – date d’édition : 2007 -


Présidentielle américaine/2012: Mais qui a encore besoin d’électeurs quand on a Nate Silver? (Did Voter of the year Nate Silver help Obama’s reelection?)

11 novembre, 2012
Soudain, Norman se sentit fier. Tout s’imposait à lui, avec force. Il était fier. Dans ce monde imparfait, les citoyens souverains de la première et de la plus grande Démocratie Electronique avaient, par l’intermédiaire de Norman Muller (par lui), exercé une fois de plus leur libre et inaliénable droit de vote. Le Votant (Isaac Asimov, 1955)
Le fait même de poser une question peut inventer un résultat car elle fait appel à l’imaginaire du sondé qui n’y avait pas encore réfléchi. Alain Garrigou
D’après les journaux, les sondages montrent que la plupart des gens croient les journaux qui déclarent que la plupart des gens croient les sondages qui montrent que la plupart des gens ont lu les journaux qui conviennent que les sondages montrent qu’il va gagner. Mark Steyn
Le premier ordinateur est livré à l’United States Census Bureau le 30 mars 1951 et mis en service le 14 juin. Le cinquième (construit pour l’Atomic Energy Commission) a été utilisé par CBS pour prédire l’issue de l’élection présidentielle de 1952 (alors que les sondages réalisés "humainement" donnaient Eisenhower perdant). À partir d’un échantillon d’un pour cent des votants il prédit qu’Eisenhower aurait été élu président, chose que personne n’aurait pu croire, mais UNIVAC avait vu juste. Wikipedia
UNIVAC I came to the public’s attention in 1952, when CBS used one to predict the outcome of the presidential election. The computer correctly predicted the Eisenhower victory, but CBS did not release that information until after the election because the race was thought to be close. CNN
What accounts for the persistent and often wide ranging divergence between polls? The most common answer is that there are fundamental variations in the pool of respondents sampled. For example, polls typically target a particular population: adults at large, registered voters, likely voters, actual voters, and all these categories can be infinitely subdivided and, in labyrinthine ways, overlap. Further muddying already turbid waters, each one of these populations tends to be more or less Republican or Democrat so every poll relies upon some algorithmic method to account for these variations and extrapolate results calibrated in light of them. These methods are themselves borne out of a multiplicity of veiled political assumptions driving the purportedly objective analysis in one direction or another, potentially tincturing the purity of mathematical data with ideological agenda. Math doesn’t lie but those who make decisions about what to count and how to count it surely do. Another problem is that voter self-identification, a crucial ingredient in any poll, is both fluid and deceptive. Consider that while approximately 35% of all voters classify themselves as “independents”, only 10% of these actually have no party affiliation. In other words, in any given year, voters registered with a certain party might be inspired to vote independently or even switch sides without surrendering their party membership. These episodic fits of quasi-independence can create the illusion that there are grand tectonic shifts in the ideological makeup of the voting public. It’s worth noting that the vast majority of so-called independents pretty reliably vote with their party of registration. The problem of self-identification is symptomatic of the larger difficulty that polling, for all its mathematical pretensions, depends on the human formulation of questions to be interpreted and then answered by other human beings. Just as the questions posed can be loaded with hidden premises and implicit political judgments, the responses solicited can be more or less honest, clear, and well-considered. It seems methodologically cheap to proudly claim scientific exactitude after counting the yeas and nays generated by the hidden complexity of these exchanges. Measuring what are basically anecdotal reports with number doesn’t magically transform a species of hearsay into irrefragable evidence any more than it would my mother’s homespun grapevine of gossip. The ambiguous contours of human language resist the charms of arithmetic. The ultimate value of any polling is always a matter to be contextually determined, especially in light of our peculiar electoral college which isolates the impact of a voting population within its state. So the oft cited fact that 35% of voters consider themselves independent might seem like a count of great magnitude but most of those reside in states, like California and New York, whose distribution of its electoral college votes is a foregone conclusion. When true independent voters in actual swing states are specifically considered, then only 3-5% of the voting population is, in any meaningful sense, genuinely undecided. Despite their incessant production, it is far from clear how informative we can consider polls that generally track the popular vote since, in and of itself, the popular vote decides nothing. Ivan Kenneally

Attention: un bruit peut en cacher un autre !

Mais qui parlera de l’influence médiatique et donc proprement électorale de nos Nate Silver?

Alors qu’au lendemain de la relativement courte réélection du Père Noël de Chicago, où, entre la désaffection apparemment inattendue d’une partie d’électeurs républicains et d’hispaniques et sans compter la "surprise d’octobre" de l’ouragan Sandy, les Américains ont "une fois de plus exercé leur libre et inaliénable droit de vote", la planète progressiste se félicite de la leçon que viennent d’asséner aux sondeurs et stratèges du GOP les ordinateurs du petit génie de la statistique Nate Silver et son blog du NYT (comme d’ailleurs ceux de Sam Wang ou d’Intrade) …

Comment ne pas repenser (merci Dr Goulu) à cette nouvelle de politique-fiction de 1955 d’Isaac Asimov ("Franchise", "droit de vote" mais traduit par "Le Votant" en français) sur la "démocratie électronique" dans laquelle les États-Unis de 2008 (première année du premier succès de Nate!) se sont déchargés du devoir électoral sur un ordinateur géant (MULTIVAC) permettant de réduire toute la consultation électorale au questionnaire d’un seul électeur, simple employé de magasin de son état?

Mais aussi à l’histoire réelle qui l’avait inspirée, à savoir la prédiction il y a exactement 60 ans par le premier superordinateur (UNIVAC I) qu’avait livré la firme Remington Rand au Bureau du recensement américain et qui, à partir d’un échantillon d’un pour cent de la population et contre les sondages humains, avait prédit pour CBS le succès du républicain Eisenhower contre le démocrate Stevenson?

Information que CBS avait d’ailleurs, contrairement au NYT de 2012, gardé cachée pour ne pas interférer dans une élection elle aussi annoncée très serrée ?

5 leçons scientifiques du succès de Nate Silver

Tom Roud

Café sciences

Le 07/11/2012

La communauté scientifico-geek s’est trouvée un nouveau héros au cours de cette élection présidentielle américaine: Nate Silver, l’auteur du formidable blog 538, qui, à l’heure où je vous parle, a fait un sans faute au niveau de la prédiction des résultats état par état (la Floride restant indéterminée, ce qu’il avait d’ailleurs aussi prévu).

On peut tirer 5 leçons de ce succès de Silver:

ce n’est pas la première fois que Silver réussit à prédire le résultat d’une élection présidentielle état par état. C’est en réalité la seconde fois après 2008. On dit parfois en science qu’un seul résultat spectaculaire ne vaut rien sans sa confirmation, l’élection de 2012 confirme à mon sens qu’il ne s’agit pas d’un coup de chance, et donc que ses modèles sont capables de correctement capturer une réalité.

pour qu’un modèle marche, il faut se baser sur des données multiples, bonnes et moins bonnes. Dans le cas présent, tous les sondages accumulés. Le modèle de Silver pondère parfaitement tous ces sondages, et surtout permet de nuancer tous les « outliers ». Par exemple, le 18 Octobre, un sondage Gallup très commenté politiquement donnait Romney 7 points devant Obama. Silver a tout de suite dit qu’il s’agissait de bruit (« polls that look like outliers normally prove to be so »). Une approche raisonnée identifie les tendances, là où le commentaire politique se focalise sur le bruit.

Inspiré de http://xkcd.com/904. Oui, je sais, c’est du Comic Sans.

un modèle hyper simple peut pourtant être étonnamment prédictif. Les modèles de Silver reposent sur l’idée que les populations socio-économiquement similaires votent de la même façon. En couplant cette idée avec les données de la démographie et les sondages disponibles, Silver a pu « projeter » les résultats des états même en l’absence de sondage sur ceux-ci. Comme disait quelqu’un sur ma TL ce matin, le modèle tient sur une feuille Excel. Les modèles les plus simples ne sont donc pas les moins efficaces, un principe de parcimonie scientifique souvent absent de nombreuses modélisations (oui, je pense à toi, « systems biology »)

le corollaire, c’est qu’un système complexe est modélisable tant qu’on identifie correctement des « causes premières ». Nul ne peut contester que les déterminants du vote sont multiples, et que la nature humaine est complexe; pourtant, le modèle de Silver prouve qu’ on peut manifestement arriver à comprendre et prédire relativement finement des comportements. Une leçon à retenir à chaque fois qu’on vous dira que nul ne peut modéliser un système complexe multifactoriels (comme au hasard le climat)

enfin, la science, ce sont des prédictions. Silver s’est mouillé (allant jusque parier avec un éditorialiste critiquant son modèle), a été critiqué pour cela y compris dans son propre journal. C’est la grosse différence entre une approche quantitative et le reste: on sort des prédictions, on les valide ou on les réfute, et on améliore ainsi le modèle au cours du temps. Processus totalement inconnu des nombreux éditorialistes.

Grâce soit donc rendue au premier psychohistorien !

Voir aussi:

US elections 2012

The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver – review

Nate Silver made headlines predicting Obama’s win. Ruth Scurr learns how he did it

Ruth Scurr

The Guardian

9 November 2012

Obama aside, the indubitable hero of the 2012 US presidential election was the statistician and political forecaster Nate Silver. His blog, FiveThirtyEight.com, syndicated by the New York Times since 2010, correctly predicted the results of the election in 50 out of 50 states. When the worldwide media was universally proclaiming the race too close to call and the pundits were deriding mathematical models, FiveThirtyEight.com steadily argued that the odds made clear that Obama would win. On election day, Silver’s final forecast was that Obama had a 90.9% chance of winning.

The Signal and the Noise: The Art and Science of Prediction

Nate Silver

the Guardian

Reflecting on the electoral impact of Hurricane Sandy, Silver was the voice of sanity in the last few days of the race. On 5 November he suggested that "historical memory" might consider Sandy pivotal, but in fact Obama had been rebounding slowly but surely in the polls since his lows in early October. Listing eight alternative explanations for Obama’s gains after the storm hit – including recent encouraging economic news – Silver concluded that the gains were "over-determined": a lot of variables might have contributed to the one result.

As the votes were counted and the states declared themselves, vindicating the FiveThirtyEight.com predictions in every single case, Silver’s newly published book became an overnight bestseller.

The first thing to note about The Signal and the Noise is that it is modest – not lacking in confidence or pointlessly self-effacing, but calm and honest about the limits to what the author or anyone else can know about what is going to happen next. Across a wide range of subjects about which people make professional predictions – the housing market, the stock market, elections, baseball, the weather, earthquakes, terrorist attacks – Silver argues for a sharper recognition of "the difference between what we know and what we think we know" and recommends a strategy for closing the gap.

Recognition of the gap is not new: there are plenty of political theorists and scientists droning on about it already, in the manner of the automated voice on the tube when train and platform don’t quite meet. Strategies for closing, or at least narrowing, the gap between what we know and what we think we know in specific contexts, are rarer, specialised, and probably pretty hard for anyone outside a small circle of experts to understand.

What Silver has to offer is a lucid explanation of how to think probabilistically. In a promising start, he claims that his model – based on a theorem inspired by Thomas Bayes, the 18th-century English mathematician – has more in common with how soldiers and doctors think than with the cognitive habits of TV pundits. "Much of the most thoughtful work I have found on the use and abuse of statistical models, and on the proper role of prediction, comes from people in the medical profession," Silver reports. You can quite easily get away with a stupid model if you are a political scientist, but in medicine as in war, "stupid models kill people. It has a sobering effect".

Silver is not a medical doctor, even if a version of the Hippocratic oath – Primum non nocere (First, do no harm) – is the guiding principle of his probabilistic thinking: "If you can’t make a good prediction, it is very often harmful to pretend that you can." After graduating from Chicago with a degree in economics in 2000, he worked as a transfer-pricing consultant for the accounting firm KPMG: "The pay was honest and I felt secure," but he soon became bored. In his spare time, on long flights and in airports, he started compiling spreadsheets of baseball statistics that later became the basis for a predictive system called Pecota.

Silver delivers a candid account of the hits and misses of Pecota, the lessons learned and the system’s limitations: "It’s hard to have an idea that nobody else has thought of. It’s even harder to have a good idea – and when you do, it will soon be duplicated."

After his interest in baseball peaked, he moved on to predicting electoral politics. The idea for FiveThirtyEight (named after the 538 votes in the electoral college) arrived while Silver was waiting for a delayed flight at New Orleans airport in 2008. Initially, he made predictions about the electoral winners simply by taking an average of the polls after weighting them according to past accuracy. The model gradually became more intricate: his method centres on crunching the data from as many previous examples as possible; imagine a really enormous spreadsheet. He accurately forecast the outcome of 49 out of 50 states in the 2008 presidential election and the winner of all 35 senate races.

Challenged by the economist Justin Wolfers and his star student David Rothschild as to why he continues to make forecasts through FiveThirtyEight despite fierce competition from larger prediction websites such as Intrade (which covers "everything from who will win the Academy Award for Best Picture to the chance of an Israeli air strike on Iran") Silver replies: "I find making the forecasts intellectually interesting – and they help to produce traffic for my blog." His unabashed honesty seems the open secret of his success.

Bayes, who lends his name to Silver’s theorem, was "probably born in 1701 – although it might have been 1702". Silver is a statistician, not a historian, so he reports the fact of the uncertainty without elaboration. As a Nonconformist, Bayes could not go to Oxford or Cambridge, but was eventually elected a fellow of the Royal Society. His most famous work, "An Essay toward Solving a Problem in the Doctrine of Chances", was published posthumously in 1763. Silver summarises it as: "a statement – expressed both mathematically and philosophically – about how we learn about the universe: that we learn about it through approximation, getting closer and closer to the truth as we gather more evidence."

The attraction of Bayes’s theorem, as Silver presents it, is that it concerns conditional probability: the probability that a theory or hypothesis is true if some event has happened. He applies the theorem to 9/11. Prior to the first plane striking the twin towers, the initial estimate of how likely it was that terrorists would crash planes into Manhattan skyscrapers is given as 0.005%. After the first plane hit, the revised probability of a terror attack comes out at 38%. Following the second plane hitting the revised estimate that it was a deliberate act jumps to 99.99%. "One accident on a bright sunny day in New York was unlikely enough, but a second one was almost a literal impossibility, as we all horribly deduced."

Fastidiously aware of the gap between what we know and what we think we know, Silver proceeds wryly to delineate the limits of what he has achieved with this application of Bayes theorem to 9/11: "It’s not that much of an accomplishment, however, to describe history in statistical terms."

Silver ends by advocating a balance between curiosity and scepticism when it comes to making predictions: "The more eagerly we commit to scrutinising and testing our theories, the more readily we accept that our knowledge of the world is uncertain, the more willingly we acknowledge that perfect prediction is impossible, the less we will live in fear of our failures, and the more freedom we will have to let our minds flow freely. By knowing more about what we don’t know, we may get a few more predictions right."

More modesty and effort, in other words, would improve the predictive performance of everyone from the TV pundits to the political scientists, and members of the public trying to understand what is likely to happen next. Just do not expect, Silver warns, to fit a decent prediction on a bumper sticker. "Prediction is difficult for us for the same reason that it is so important: it is where objective and subjective reality intersect." You would probably need to be a stat geek to drive around with that on the back of your car, but it might just fit if the lettering were small.

• Ruth Scurr’s Fatal Purity: Robespierre and the French Revolution is published by Vintage.

 Voir également:

FiveThirtyEight – Nate Silver\’s Political Calculus

Methodology

Our Senate forecasts proceed in seven distinct stages, each of which is described in detail below. For more detail on some of the terms below please see our FiveThirtyEight glossary.

Stage 1. Weighted Polling Average

Polls released into the public domain are collected together and averaged, with the components weighted on three factors:

* Recency. More recent polls receive a higher weight. The formula for discounting older polling is based on an exponential decay formula, with the premium on newness increasing the closer the forecast is made to the election. In addition, when the same polling firm has released multiple polls of a particular race, polls other than its most recent one receive an additional discount. (We do not, however, simply discard an older poll simply because a firm has come out with a newer one in the same race.)

* Sample size. Polls with larger sample sizes receive higher weights. (Note: no sample size can make up for poor methodology. Our model accounts for diminishing returns as sample size increases, especially for less reliable pollsters.)

* Pollster rating. Lastly, each survey is rated based on the past accuracy of “horse race” polls commissioned by the polling firm in elections from 1998 to the present. The procedure for calculating the pollster ratings is described at length here, and the most recent set of pollster ratings can be found here. All else being equal, polling organizations that, like The New York Times, have staff that belong to The American Association for Public Opinion Research (A.A.P.O.R.), or that have committed to the disclosure and transparency standards advanced by the National Council on Public Polls, receive higher ratings, as we have found that membership in one of these organizations is a positive predictor of the accuracy of a firm’s polling on a going-forward basis

The procedure for combining these three factors is modestly complex, and is described in more detail here. But, in general, the weight assigned to a poll is designed to be proportional to the predictive power that it should have in anticipating the results of upcoming elections. Note that it is quite common for a particular survey from a mediocre pollster to receive a higher weight than one from a strong pollster, if its poll happens to be significantly more recent or if it uses a significantly larger sample size.

Certain types of polls are not assigned a weight at all, but are instead dropped from consideration entirely, and not used in FiveThirtyEight’s forecasts nor listed in its polling database. from the firms Strategic Vision and Research 2000, which have been accused – with compelling statistical evidence in each case – of having fabricated some or all of their polling, are excluded. So are interactive (Internet) polls conducted by the firm Zogby, which are associated with by far the worst pollster rating, and which probably should not be considered scientific polls, as their sample consists of volunteers who sign up to take their polls, rather than a randomly-derived sample. (Traditional telephone polls conducted by Zogby are included in the averages, as are Internet polls from firms other than Zogby.)

Polls are also excluded from the Senate model if they are deemed to meet FiveThirtyEight’s definition of being “partisan.” FiveThirtyEight’s definition of a partisan poll is quite narrow, and is limited to polls conducted on behalf of political candidates, campaign committees, political parties, registered PACs, or registered 527 groups. We do not exclude polls simply because the pollster happens to be a Democrat or a Republican, because the pollster has conducted polling for Democratic or Republican candidate in the past, or because the media organization it is polling for is deemed to be liberal or conservative. The designation is based on who the poll was conducted for, and not who conducted it. Note, however, that there are other protections in place (see Stage 2) if a polling firm produces consistently biased results.

Stage 2. Adjusted Polling Average

After the weighted polling average is calculated, it is subject to three additional types of adjustments.

* The trendline adjustment. An estimate of the overall momentum in the national political environment is determined based on a detailed evaluation of trends within generic congressional ballot polling. (The procedure, which was adopted from our Presidential forecasting model, is described at more length here.) The idea behind the adjustment is that, to the extent that out-of-date polls are used at all in the model (because of a lack of more recent polling, for example), we do not simply assume that they reflect the present state of the race. For example, if the Democrats have lost 5 points on the generic ballot since the last time a state was polled, the model assumes, in the absence of other evidence, that they have lost 5 points in that state as well. In practice, the trendline adjustment is designed to be fairly gentle, and so it has relatively little effect unless there has been especially sharp change in the national environment or if the polling in a particular state is especially out-of-date.

* The house effects adjustment. Sometimes, polls from a particular polling firm tend consistently to be more favorable toward one or the other political party. Polls from the firm Rasmussen Reports, for example, have shown results that are about 2 points more favorable to the Republican candidate than average during this election cycle. It is not necessarily correct to equate a house effect with “bias” – there have been certain past elections in which pollsters with large house effects proved to be more accurate than pollsters without them – and systematic differences in polling may result from a whole host of methodological factors unrelated to political bias. This nevertheless may be quite useful to account for: Rasmussen showing a Republican with a 1-point lead in a particular state might be equivalent to a Democratic-leaning pollster showing a 4-point lead for the Democrat in the same state. The procedure for calculating the house effects adjustment is described in more detail here. A key aspect of the house effects adjustment is that a firm is not rewarded by the model simply because it happens to produce more polling than others; the adjustment is calibrated based on what the highest-quality polling firms are saying about the race.

* The likely voter adjustment. Throughout the course of an election year, polls may be conducted among a variety of population samples. Some survey all American adults, some survey only registered voters, and others are based on responses from respondents deemed to be “likely voters,” as determined based on past voting behavior or present voting intentions. Sometimes, there are predictable differences between likely voter and registered voter polls. In 2010, for instance, polls of likely voters are about 4 points more favorable to the Republican candidate, on average, than those of registered voters, perhaps reflecting enthusiasm among Republican voters. And surveys conducted among likely voters are about 7 points more favorable to the Republican than those conducted among all adults, whether registered to vote or not.

By the end of the election cycle, the majority of pollsters employ a likely voter model of some kind. Additionally, there is evidence that likely voter polls are more accurate, especially in Congressional elections. Therefore, polls of registered voters (or adults) are adjusted to be equivalent to likely voter polls; the magnitude of the adjustment is based on a regression analysis of the differences between registered voter polls and likely voter polls throughout the polling database, holding other factors like the identity of the pollster constant.

Step 3: FiveThirtyEight Regression

In spite of the several steps that we undertake to improve the reliability of the polling data, sometimes there just isn’t very much good polling in a race, or all of the polling may tend to be biased in one direction or another. (As often as not, when one poll winds up on the wrong side of a race, so do most of the others). In addition, we have found that electoral forecasts can be improved when polling is supplemented by other types of information about the candidates and the contest. Therefore, we augment the polling average by using a linear regression analysis that attempts to predict the candidates’ standing according to several non-poll factors:

A state’s Partisan Voting Index

The composition of party identification in the state’s electorate (as determined through Gallup polling)

The sum of individual contributions received by each candidate as of the last F.E.C. reporting period (this variable is omitted if one or both candidates are new to the race and have yet to complete an FEC filing period)

Incumbency status

For incumbent Senators, an average of recent approval and favorability ratings

A variable representing stature, based on the highest elected office that the candidate has held. It takes on the value of 3 for candidates who have been Senators or Governors in the past; 2 for U.S. Representatives, statewide officeholders like Attorneys General, and mayors of cities of at least 300,000 persons; 1 for state senators, state representatives, and other material elected officeholders (like county commissioners or mayors of small cities), and 0 for candidates who have not held a material elected office before.

Variables are dropped from the analysis if they are not statistically significant at the 90 percent confidence threshold.

Step 4: FiveThirtyEight Snapshot

This is the most straightforward step: the adjusted polling average and the regression are combined into a ‘snapshot’ that provides the most comprehensive evaluation of the candidates’ electoral standing at the present time. This is accomplished by treating the regression result as though it were a poll: in fact, it is assigned a poll weight equal to a poll of average quality (typically around 0.60) and re-combined with the other polls of the state.

If there are several good polls in race, the regression result will be just one of many such “polls”, and will have relatively little impact on the forecast. But in cases where there are just one or two polls, it can be more influential. The regression analysis can also be used to provide a crude forecast of races in which there is no polling at all, although with a high margin of error.

Step 5. Election Day projection

It is not necessarily the case, however, that the current standing of the candidates – as captured by the snapshot — represents the most accurate forecast of where they will finish on Election Day. (This is one of the areas in which we’ve done a significant amount of work in transitioning FiveThirtyEight’s forecast model to The Times.) For instance, large polling leads have a systematic tendency to diminish in races with a large number of undecided voters, especially early in an election cycle. A lead of 48 percent to 25 percent with a high number of undecided voters, for example, will more often than not decrease as Election Day approaches. Under other circumstances (such an incumbent who is leading a race in which there are few undecided voters), a candidate’s lead might actually be expected to expand slightly.

Separate equations are used for incumbent and open-seat races, the formula for the former being somewhat more aggressive. There are certain circumstances in which an incumbent might actually be a slight underdog to retain a seat despite of having a narrow polling lead — for instance, if there are a large number of undecided voters — although this tendency can sometimes be overstated.

Implicit in this process is distributing the undecided vote; thus, the combined result for the Democratic and the Republican candidate will usually reflect close to 100 percent of the vote, although a small reservoir is reserved for independent candidates in races where they are on the ballot. In races featuring three or more viable candidates (that is, three candidates with a tangible chance of winning the lection), however, such as the Florida Senate election in 2010, there is little empirical basis on which to make a “creative” vote allocation, and so the undecided voters are simply divided evenly among the three candidates.

Step 6. Error analysis

Just as important as estimating the most likely finish of the two candidates is determining the degree of uncertainty intrinsic to the forecast.

For a variety of reasons, the magnitude of error associated with elections outcomes is higher than what pollsters usually report. For instance, in polls of Senate elections since 1998 conducted in the final three weeks of the campaign, the average error in predicting the margin between the two candidates has been about 5 points, which would translate into a roughly 6-point margin of error. This may be twice as high as the 3- or 4-percent margins of error that pollsters typically report, which reflects only sample variance, but not other ambiguities inherent to polling. Combining polls together may diminish this margin of error, but their errors are sometimes correlated, and they are nevertheless not as accurate as their margins-of-error would imply.

Instead of relying on any sort of theoretical calculation of the margin of error, therefore, we instead model it directly based on the past performance of our forecasting model in Senatorial elections since 1998. Our analysis has found that certain factors are predictably associated with a greater degree of uncertainty. For instance:

The error is higher in races with fewer polls

The error is higher in races where the polls disagree with one another.

The error is higher when there are a larger number of undecided voters.

The error is higher when the margin between the two candidates is lopsided.

The error is higher the further one is from Election Day.

Depending on the mixture of these circumstances, a lead that is quite safe under certain conditions may be quite vulnerable in others. Our goal is simply to model the error explicitly, rather than to take a one-size-fits-all approach.

Step 7. Simulation.

Knowing the mean forecast for the margin between the two candidates, and the standard error associated with it, suffices mathematically to provide a probabilistic assessment of the outcome of any one given race. For instance, a candidate with a 7-point lead, in a race where the standard error on the forecast estimate is 5 points, will win her race 92 percent of the time.

However, this is not the only piece of information that we are interested in. Instead, we might want to know how the results of particular Senate contests are related to one another, in order to determine for example the likelihood of a party gaining a majority, or a supermajority.

Therefore, the error associated with a forecast is decomposed into local and national components by means of a sum-of-squares formula. For Congressional elections, the ‘national’ component of the error is derived from a historical analysis of generic ballot polls: how accurately the generic ballot forecasts election outcomes, and how much the generic ballot changes between Election Day and the period before Election Day. The local component of the error is then assumed to be the residual of the national error from the sum-of-squares formula, i.e.:

The local and national components of the error calculation are then randomly generated (according to a normal distribution) over the course of 100,000 simulation runs. In each simulation run, the degree of national movement is assumed to be the same for all candidates: for instance, all the Republican candidates might receive a 3-point bonus in one simulation, or all the Democrats a 4-point bonus in another. The local error component, meanwhile, is calculated separately for each individual candidate or state. In this way, we avoid the misleading assumption that the results of each election are uncorrelated with one another.

A final step in calculating the error is in randomly assigning a small percentage of the vote to minor-party candidates, which is assumed to follow a gamma distribution.

A separate process is followed where three or more candidates are deemed by FiveThirtyEight to be viable in a particular race, which simulates exchanges of voting preferences between each pairing of candidates. This process is structured such that the margins of error associated with multi-candidate races are assumed to be quite high, as there is evidence that such races are quite volatile.

Voir encore:

50th anniversary of the UNIVAC I

CNN

BLUE BELL, Pennsylvania (CNN) — Fifty years ago — on June 14, 1951 — the U.S. Census Bureau officially put into service what it calls the world’s first commercial computer, known as UNIVAC I.

UNIVAC stands for Universal Automatic Computer. The first model was built by the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corp., which was purchased by Remington Rand shortly before the UNIVAC went on sale.

Rights to the UNIVAC name are currently held by Unisys.

Unisys spokesmen Guy Isnous and Ron Smith say other early users of UNIVACs included the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Army, the Atomic Energy Commission, General Electric, Metropolitan Life, US Steel, and DuPont.

The UNIVAC was not the first computer ever built. A host of companies, including Eckert-Mauchly, Remington Rand, IBM, and others, all were developing computers for commercial applications at the same time.

Perhaps the most famous computer of the era was the ENIAC, a computer developed for the U.S. military during World War II. Other computers developed in the 1940s were mostly used by academia.

But the UNIVAC I was the first computer to be widely used for commercial purposes — 46 machines were built, for about $1 million each.

Compared to other computers of the era, the UNIVAC I machines were small — about the size of a one-car garage. Each contained about 5,000 vacuum tubes, all of which had to be easily accessible for replacement because they burned out frequently.

Keeping all those vacuum tubes cool was also a major design challenge. The machines were riddled with pipes that circulated cold water to keep the temperature down.

Each unit was so bulky and needed so much maintenance that some of the companies that bought them never moved them to their own facility, instead leaving them on-site at Remington Rand.

UNIVAC I came to the public’s attention in 1952, when CBS used one to predict the outcome of the presidential election. The computer correctly predicted the Eisenhower victory, but CBS did not release that information until after the election because the race was thought to be close.

Voir enfin:

Polling Opinion: More Sorcery Than Science

Ivan Kenneally

November 5, 2012

At first glance, political opinion polls seems like the nadir of modern liberal democracy. In their special alchemy they congeal a sensitivity to the will of the people and an emphasis on mathematical exactitude. The poll is the culmination of the peculiar modern marriage of science and popular sovereignty, the technocratic and the democratic. To borrow from Hamilton, and by borrow I mean disfigure, the poll is the ultimate success of our “grand experiment in self-governance.”

Of course, on another interpretation, they are completely useless.

As the estimable Jay Cost points out in the Weekly Standard, the polls this year simply don’t seem to add up, collectively defeated by the strident arithmetic that underwrites their purported value. Depending on what pollster you ask, Romney is poised for an explosive landslide of a victory, or about to win a historically close election, or is about to lose decisively, in a fit of humiliation. If you ask Paul Krugman, and I don’t advise that you should unless you’ve been inoculated against shrill, he will call you stupid for suggesting Romney has any chance at victory.

What all these positions have in common is an appeal to the unassailability of mathematics, that last frontier that resists our postmodern inclinations to promiscuously construct and deconstruct the truth like a pile of lego pieces.

What accounts for the persistent and often wide ranging divergence between polls? The most common answer is that there are fundamental variations in the pool of respondents sampled. For example, polls typically target a particular population: adults at large, registered voters, likely voters, actual voters, and all these categories can be infinitely subdivided and, in labyrinthine ways, overlap. Further muddying already turbid waters, each one of these populations tends to be more or less Republican or Democrat so every poll relies upon some algorithmic method to account for these variations and extrapolate results calibrated in light of them. These methods are themselves borne out of a multiplicity of veiled political assumptions driving the purportedly objective analysis in one direction or another, potentially tincturing the purity of mathematical data with ideological agenda. Math doesn’t lie but those who make decisions about what to count and how to count it surely do.

Another problem is that voter self-identification, a crucial ingredient in any poll, is both fluid and deceptive. Consider that while approximately 35% of all voters classify themselves as “independents”, only 10% of these actually have no party affiliation. In other words, in any given year, voters registered with a certain party might be inspired to vote independently or even switch sides without surrendering their party membership. These episodic fits of quasi-independence can create the illusion that there are grand tectonic shifts in the ideological makeup of the voting public. It’s worth noting that the vast majority of so-called independents pretty reliably vote with their party of registration.

The problem of self-identification is symptomatic of the larger difficulty that polling, for all its mathematical pretensions, depends on the human formulation of questions to be interpreted and then answered by other human beings. Just as the questions posed can be loaded with hidden premises and implicit political judgments, the responses solicited can be more or less honest, clear, and well-considered. It seems methodologically cheap to proudly claim scientific exactitude after counting the yeas and nays generated by the hidden complexity of these exchanges. Measuring what are basically anecdotal reports with number doesn’t magically transform a species of hearsay into irrefragable evidence any more than it would my mother’s homespun grapevine of gossip. The ambiguous contours of human language resist the charms of arithmetic.

The ultimate value of any polling is always a matter to be contextually determined, especially in light of our peculiar electoral college which isolates the impact of a voting population within its state. So the oft cited fact that 35% of voters consider themselves independent might seem like a count of great magnitude but most of those reside in states, like California and New York, whose distribution of its electoral college votes is a foregone conclusion. When true independent voters in actual swing states are specifically considered, then only 3-5% of the voting population is, in any meaningful sense, genuinely undecided. Despite their incessant production, it is far from clear how informative we can consider polls that generally track the popular vote since, in and of itself, the popular vote decides nothing.

So the mathematical scaffolding of polls all presume non-mathematical foundations, stated and unstated assumptions, partisan inclinations and non-partisan miscalculations. When the vertiginous maelstrom of numbers fails in its most fundamental task, alighting disorder with order, bringing sense to a wilderness of senselessness, then where can we turn for guidance? I can’t just wait for the results Tuesday night–the modern in my marrow craves not just certainty but prediction, absolute knowledge as prologue. There’s no technocratic frisson in finding anything out after the fact, without the prescience of science, which appeals just as much to our desire to be clever as it does to our craving for knowledge.

I will suggest what no political scientist in America is suggesting: set aside the numbing numbers and the conflicting claims to polling precision and follow me follow Aristotle. We must survey what is available to us in ordinary experience, what we can confirm as a matter of pre-scientific perception, the ancient realism that appealed not to computational models, but the evidence I can see with my own eyes.

What do I see with these eyes? A president running as a challenger, pretending he wasn’t in charge the last four years of blight and disappointment. I see a less than commanding Commander in Chief trying to slither past a gathering scandal that calls into suspicion his character and competence to protect his country. I see a wheezing economy, so infirm our president celebrated a palsied jobs report as evidence of our march to prosperity. I see transparent class warfare that insidiously assumes our embattled middle class resents the rich more than they resent their own shrinking economic opportunity and that women feel flattered and emboldened when condescendingly drawn into a magically conjured cultural war.

I see enthusiastic crowds form around the man they think will deliver them from four years of gruesome ineffectiveness and a defeated left, dispirited and weary, unlikely to convert but less likely to surge. I see ads about Big Bird and and a terror of confronting big issues and a president who seems as bored by his performance as we are. Obama does not look like a winner, not to these eyes.

So in an election year hyper-charged with ideological heat, and polling data potentially varnished by self-fulfilling prophecy and partisan wishful thinking, I tend to rely upon an old school conception of realism: what I can see and what I can modestly infer from what I see. Today, as I write this, I see a Romney victory, however narrowly achieved. This would also be a big victory for the common sense of ordinary political perception over the tortured numbers games that aim to capture it precisely, or to mold it presumptuously.


Présidentielle américaine/2012: C’était bien la participation, imbécile ! (Romney even got fewer votes than McCain)

8 novembre, 2012
En 2012, la participation frôle les 80 %, ce qui est important. Si elle est de 4 points inférieure à celle de 2007, elle est très supérieure à ce que les instituts de sondage prévoyaient : un effondrement proche de 10 points ! A mon sens, on doit y voir la très forte mobilisation de la gauche dans son rejet du sarkozysme. L’autre manifestation de cette colère à l’égard du président sortant s’est traduite par une plus faible participation des villes où Nicolas Sarkozy avait fait le plein en 2007. Typiquement, le retraité qui a voté pour le candidat UMP, il y a cinq ans, s’est abstenu au premier tour cette fois-ci. Ce qui laisse une certaine marge de progression pour le convaincre de se déplacer au second tour. En revanche, François Hollande semble ne disposer que de peu de réserve parmi les abstentionnistes du premier tour. (…)  Si l’on met l’accent sur sa deuxième place, on pourrait conclure à un échec par rapport aux présidents sortants tous arrivés en tête. Seulement, en 2002, Jacques Chirac, dont le bilan est jugé comme inexistant, a certes respecté la règle en s’offrant la première marche du podium, mais en ne captant que moins de 20% des voix. Aussi dire que la stratégie Buisson, ou plutôt Buisson-Guaino a échoué, est-il, à mon sens une erreur d’analyse. Christophe Guilluy
Dans de nombreux milieux académiques, artistiques et éduqués, il est impossible d’afficher son soutien éventuel à Nicolas Sarkozy, tellement l’antisarkozysme y est explicitement hurlé, ce qui évidemment empêche toute discussion entre amis. On se doit d’y adhérer par le silence. Il suffirait que lors des prochains jours, un petit pourcent de ces personnes retranchées dans leur civilité « osent » leur opinion, et se mettent à débattre pour contribuer à ce petit fléchissement d’inflexibles qui, toujours d’après les équations, provoquerait un effet de levier brutal et soudain, amenant le jour de l’élection la victoire surprise de Nicolas Sarkozy comme illustré sur la figure où seule une différence de 1% d’inflexibles différencie les deux courbes ci-dessous.
Les « inflexibles », ceux qui ont fait un choix et n’en démordront pas quoi qu’il arrive (…) ont un effet démultiplicateur énorme sur la dynamique de changements d’opinion des flexibles. Ainsi, ce ne sont pas des millions d’électeurs qu’il faut convaincre, mais former une petite minorité d’inflexibles, qui par le simple fait du débat entre amis, va produire par un effet viral la « contamination » d’un grand nombre d’électeurs flexibles. Ces inflexibles ne se forment pas par un coup de baguette magique, mais en l’occurrence de nombreux inflexibles favorables à Nicolas Sarkozy sont aujourd’hui silencieux. C’est leurs paroles locales qu’il s’agit de libérer pour Nicolas Sarkozy. Comme pour François Hollande, l’enjeu est au contraire de les maintenir silencieux. Serge Galam
Au-delà du phénomène traditionnel de non-révélation des préférences, deux paramètres peuvent échapper aux enquêtes des sondeurs. D’abord les reports très fluctuants et dispersés d’un institut à l’autre, rappelons-le, reposent sur une participation inconnue au second tour. Or, on ignore aujourd’hui quel camp a le plus de réserves. Par ailleurs, les participants du premier tour ne sont jamais tout à fait les mêmes qu’au second tour, même si la participation reste en apparence constante. Enfin, les instituts insistent sur la mauvaise qualité (postulée) des reports à droite et fort peu sur celle des reports à gauche. Or, la grande inconnue réside dans le comportement des électeurs du front de gauche dont l’électorat dépasse largement les contours du seul parti communiste, qui de son côté, est généralement discipliné. (…) Si les « vrais » votes du 6 mai sont influencés par un ou plusieurs des paramètres précédents, l’écart entre F. Hollande et de N. Sarkozy pourrait être beaucoup plus serré qu’attendu par les instituts de sondages voire même réserver un énorme surprise …du point de vue des commentateurs…mais pas du point de vue de l’arithmétique électorale et de l’observation empirique. Bruno Jérôme et Véronique Jérôme-Speziari
According to exit polls, the partisan breakdown on Election Day was 38 percent Democratic, 30 percent Republican, and 31 percent independent. That gave Democrats an 8-point advantage — the same they enjoyed in 2008. (In 2004, Republicans had a 5-point advantage in the Buckeye state.) NRO
The increased share of the minority vote as a percent of the total vote is not the result of a large increase in minorities in the numerator, it is a function of many fewer whites in the denominator. So who were these whites and why did they stay home? My first instinct was that they might be conservative evangelicals turned off by Romney’s Mormonism or moderate past. But the decline didn’t seem to be concentrated in Southern states with high evangelical populations. So instead, I looked at my current home state of Ohio, which has counted almost all of its votes (absentees are counted first here). (…) Where things drop off are in the rural portions of Ohio, especially in the southeast. These represent areas still hard-hit by the recession. Unemployment is high there, and the area has seen almost no growth in recent years. My sense is these voters were unhappy with Obama. But his negative ad campaign relentlessly emphasizing Romney’s wealth and tenure at Bain Capital may have turned them off to the Republican nominee as well. The Romney campaign exacerbated this through the challenger’s failure to articulate a clear, positive agenda to address these voters’ fears, and self-inflicted wounds like the “47 percent” gaffe. Given a choice between two unpalatable options, these voters simply stayed home. (…) Had Latino and African-American voters turned out in massive numbers, we might really be talking about a realignment of sorts, although we would have to see if the Democrats could sustain it with someone other than Obama atop the ticket (they could not do so in 2010). As it stands, the bigger puzzle for figuring out the path of American politics is who these non-voters are, why they stayed home, and whether they might be reactivated in 2016 (by either party). Sean Trende

C’était bien la participation, imbécile !

Moins de voix que McCain en 2008? Moins de voix que Bush en 2004? Obama à 92% de ses voix de 2008?

Alors qu’un peu comme en France il y a cinq mois et avec le même résultat, certains observateurs dont le spécialiste républicain Karl Rove lui-même pensaient que les chiffres des sondeurs sureprésentaient les démocrates en s’appuyant sur les chiffres de participation particulièrement élevés de 2008 censés être nettement en baisse cette année face à des électeurs républicains supposés nettement plus motivés …

Retour sur les premiers chiffres de sortie des urnes …

Et la plus que surprenante réaité: la participation a effectivement compté mais pas dans le sens anticipé:

Les Républicains semblant être largement restés chez eux, privant de fait leur candidat d’une victoire théoriquement à sa portée  …

Alright… so… what happened?

The AnarchAngel

November 7, 2012

So how did Obama win?

Well.. as it happens, so did Romney.

Get less votes than McCain that is… About 3 million less actually.

In fact, Romney lost to Obama, by fewer votes (about 2.6 million) than the difference between McCain and Romney from 2008 to 2012.

If Romney had achieved the same number of votes McCain did in 2008, he probably would have won.

It really did come down to turnout… But not in the way we expected.

Those of us who believed that Romney was going to win, assumed that that while almost no-one actually loved Romney… or even particularly liked the idea of him as president; that those voters dislike of Obama would cause them to vote for Romney, to get Obama out of office.

They didn’t.

Instead, they just didn’t vote.

Polls showed a large independent break for Romney. up to 20%

But the turnout models were wrong, and the likely voter models were wrong. Romney only ended up with a 5% advantage among independents.

Those 15% ?

They just decided not to vote.

In fact, not only did both Romney AND Obama get less votes than 2008… they also both got less than their counterparts in 2004.

Absolute turnout hasn’t been this low since 2000, when the country had 35 million fewer people in it.

As a percentage, turnout hasn’t been this bad since 1948.

Yes, seriously, we haven’t had turnout this bad in 64 years.

So, where did Romney lose support from McCain?

Actually, in most demographic categories, Romney gained support over McCain as a percentage… But in a few critical groups, he lost substantially:

Fiscal conservatives (more than 10% loss)

Libertarians (more than 20% loss)

Latinos (Romney lost 6%, Obama gained 3%, 3% less voted)

Asians (Romney lost 9%, Obama gained 11%, 2% more voted)

The elderly (Romney lost 3%, Obama picked up 1%, 2% less voted)

He also lost HUGE on “shares my values” (over 10%), and “cares about people like me” (over 6%).

Basically, Romney was successfully portrayed as an uncaring and detached rich guy to “centrists” and “independents”; and he actually IS a big government Republican, which other independents, fiscal conservatives, and libertarians didn’t want to vote for.

The Republican party (and most everyone else for that matter) simply assumed that by choosing Romney as their nominee, people would vote for him as the lesser of two evils…

They didn’t.

Instead, they just didn’t vote.

What were we tellling ourselves in the runup to the election: Oh, that’s right, that for a lot of voters, the choice was either Romney or not voting at all. Apparently, though, back in the real world, voters thought the choice was either Obama or not voting at all.

Voir aussi:

Turnout Shaping Up to Be Lower Than 2008

Josh Lederman

November 7, 2012
WASHINGTON (AP) — A drop in voter turnout in Tuesday’s election didn’t keep President Barack Obama from winning a second term in the White House.

Preliminary figures suggest fewer people voted this year than four years ago, when voters shattered turnout records as they elected Obama to his first term.

In most states, the numbers are shaping up to be even lower than in 2004, said Curtis Gans, the director of American University’s Center for the Study of the American Electorate. Still, the full picture may not be known for weeks, because much of the counting takes place after Election Day.

"By and large, people didn’t show up," Gans said.

In Texas, turnout for the presidential race dropped almost 11 percent from 2008. Vermont and South Carolina saw declines that were almost as large. The drop-off was more than 7 percent in Maryland, where voters approved a ballot measure allowing gay marriage.

With 95 percent of precincts reporting, The Associated Press figures showed more than 117 million people had voted in the White House race, but that number will go up as more votes are counted. In 2008, 131 million people voted, according to the Federal Election Commission.

Experts calculate turnout in different ways based on who they consider eligible voters. A separate, preliminary estimate from George Mason University’s Michael McDonald put the 2012 turnout rate at 60 percent of eligible voters. That figure was expected to be revised as more precincts reported and absentee votes were counted.

The biggest plunge by far, according to the American University analysis, came in Eastern Seaboard states still reeling from the devastation from Superstorm Sandy, which wiped out power for millions and disrupted usual voting routines. Fifteen percent fewer voters cast ballots in New York this year than in 2008. In New Jersey, it was almost 12 percent. The gap in New Jersey could narrow in the coming days because elections officials have given displaced residents in some areas until Friday to cast special email ballots.

Best efforts be darned, making it to the polls in the wake of Sandy may have simply been too much for some affected voters. In Hoboken, N.J., Anthony Morrone said he’s never missed a vote — until now.

"No time, no time to vote, too much to do," said Morrone, 76, as he surveyed the exterior of his home: a pile of junked refrigerators, a car destroyed by flooding and a curbside mountain of waterlogged debris.

In other areas not affected by the storm, a host of factors could have contributed to waning voter enthusiasm, Gans said. The 2012 race was one of the nastiest in recent memory, leaving many voters feeling turned off.

With Democrats weary from a difficult four years and Republicans splintered by a divisive primary, neither party was particularly enthused about their own candidate. Stricter voting restrictions adopted by many states may also have kept some voters away from the polls.

"Beyond the people with passion, we have a disengaged electorate," Gans said. "This was a very tight race, there were serious things to be decided."

Decided they were — by the millions of voters who, in many cases, braved all kinds of inconveniences to make sure their voices were heard.

Some voters in South Carolina’s Richland County waited more than four hours to cast their votes, and leaders from both parties blamed the delays on broken voting machines. Officials in Virginia and New Hampshire reported many voters were still waiting to vote when polls closed in the evening. In major battleground states like Ohio and Florida, lines snaked back and forth as voters waited patiently to cast their ballots.

"I’ve been waiting for four years to cast this vote," said Robert Dan Perry, 64, as he cast his vote for Romney in Zebulon, N.C.

Both Obama and Republican Mitt Romney made voter turnout a top priority in the waning days of an intensely close race. But for months leading up to Election Day, both candidates were obsessed with that tiny sliver of undecided voters.

It may be that those who were still undecided Tuesday decided just not to show up, said Kyle Kondik, a political analyst at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.

"Everyone was talking about how the Democrats are unenthusiastic and the Republicans are fired up," Kondik said. "It sounds like that was all talk."

One bright spot in this year’s voting was the number of early and mail-in ballots cast. Before polls opened on Election Day, more than 32 million people had voted, either by mail or in person, in 34 states and the District of Columbia. In a number of states, including Iowa, Maryland and Montana, early voting appeared to far exceed totals from 2008.

___

Associated Press writers Jeffrey Collins in Zebulon, N.C., and Samantha Henry in Hoboken, N.J., contributed to this report.

Voir encore:

Fox News Conservatives Lose Credibility

Cliff Kincaid

Fox news

November 7, 2012

Although Republican Mitt Romney lost an easily winnable election, many conservative commentators and analysts took a beating as well. They were determined to believe that Romney would win no matter what Obama threw at him. They underestimated the aggressive nature of the Obama political machine and its ability to exploit economic, class, and cultural divisions in society for political gain.

Except for Juan Williams, the liberal Fox News commentator who predicted an Obama win, the personalities on Fox News were wildly off the mark in their predictions for the election. Karl Rove, Fred Barnes, Michael Barone and Dick Morris had all predicted a Romney win. Generally speaking, they thought Republicans were more excited about Romney than Democrats were about Obama. This turned out to be a fatal miscalculation.

One of the obvious and immediate conclusions is that Romney failed to get enough of the social conservative vote. Exit polls show Obama getting more of the Catholic vote, 50 percent, than Romney, who got 48 percent. Catholics make up approximately one in four U.S. voters.

Although Catholic leaders were emphasizing the themes of “life and liberty,” a reference to Catholic teachings being challenged by the Obama Administration’s pro-abortion mandates, Romney largely avoided the issue during the campaign. It was a strange omission. Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, said, “The collision course of the Obama Administration with the Catholic Church could have been averted yesterday, but now it is assured instead.”

In Maryland, a very liberal state, gay marriage won, but 47 percent voted against it. That was ten points more people than voted for Romney in Maryland. He lost the state 61-37 percent. Again, reflecting his aversion to social issues, Romney stayed out of the controversy, preferring to run a campaign based almost exclusively on economics.

On the matter of the numbers alone, Juan Williams had predicted Obama winning with 298 Electoral College votes to Romney-Ryan’s 240. The total now looks like 303-206 for Obama, though the figure is likely to rise to 332 for Obama.

On November 5, Rove, who raised $330 million for Romney, had predicted Romney winning with 285 Electoral College votes and Obama losing with 253. He said at the time that he believed that Nevada, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania were “in play and very winnable” for Romney. “If crowds at his recent stops in these states are any indication of his supporters’ enthusiasm, Mr. Romney will likely be able to claim victory in these states as well,” he added.

In fact, Obama beat Romney by six points in Nevada, seven points in Wisconsin, and five points in Pennsylvania.

“The tie in the polls goes to the challenger,” Fred Barnes had said, in a Weekly Standard article headlined, “Why Romney Will Win.” He explained, “The Obama get-out-the-vote drive (GOTV) is not quite the powerful juggernaut it was in 2008 and the Republican effort is far better than four years ago.”

Barone, the anchor of Fox News election coverage, had predicted Romney winning 315 Electoral College votes and Obama only 223. “Fundamentals usually prevail in American elections. That’s bad news for Barack Obama… most voters oppose Obama’s major policies and consider unsatisfactory the very sluggish economic recovery.”

In this Fox News video, Barone, who is also the senior political analyst at the Washington Examiner, talked about a possible “hidden vote” that could lead to a Romney landslide. He said the polls showing an Obama edge were characterized by a “systemic problem” of failing to reach the actual electorate.

Morris’s prediction was Romney 325, Obama 213. “That’s right,” Morris said. “A landslide for Romney approaching the magnitude of Obama’s against McCain.” Obama beat McCain 53-46 percent.

In this video of a Morris appearance on the Fox News Greta Van Susteren show, Morris explained why he believes Mitt Romney could decisively defeat Obama and seal his fate as a one-term president. Morris said, “In the popular vote, he [Romney] is going to win by more than five points.” He said he came to this conclusion through an analysis of how the polls were overestimating Democratic turnout. “You have me back on the show,” Morris said. “You hold me accountable.”

He left no room for debate. “I’ve done this for a living,” he said, emphasizing his credentials as a political analyst.

On radio, Rush Limbaugh was convinced that more Republicans would vote for Romney in 2012 than voted for McCain in 2008, thus propelling Romney to victory over Obama. Limbaugh also emphasized that Romney was getting huge crowds at his rallies and that early voting for Romney was up. He said, “…my thoughts, my intellectual analysis of this—factoring everything I see plus the polling data—it’s not even close. Three hundred-plus electoral votes for Romney.”

In fact, Romney got only 48 percent of the vote, just two points over McCain’s total in 2008. Romney lost his home state of Massachusetts by 61-37 percent and Wisconsin, which is Paul Ryan’s home state, by 53-46.

In the end, prominent conservative news personalities made major miscalculations about where the election was heading and the nature of the two candidates and their campaigns. As Dick Morris says, they should be held accountable.

Voir enfin:

The Case of the Missing White Voters

Sean Trende

Real Clear politics

November 8, 2012

One of the more intriguing narratives for election 2012 was proposed by political scientist Brendan Nyhan fairly early on: that it was "Bizarro 2004." The parallels to that year certainly were eerie: An incumbent adored by his base but with middling approval ratings nationally faces off against an uncharismatic, wishy-washy official from Massachusetts. The race is tight during the summer until the president breaks open a significant lead after his convention. Then, after a tepid first debate for the incumbent, the contest tightens, bringing the opposition tantalizingly close to a win, but not quite close enough.

The Election Day returns actually continued the similarities. George W. Bush won by 2.4 percent of the popular vote, which is probably about what Obama’s victory margin will be once all the ballots are counted. Republicans in 2004 won some surprising Senate seats, and picked up a handful of House seats as well. The GOP was cheered, claiming a broad mandate as a result of voters’ decision to ratify clear, unified Republican control of Congress and the presidency for the first time since 1928. As Bush famously put it, “I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it.”

Democrats, like Republicans today, were despondent. Aside from having a president they loathed in the White House for four more years, they were terrified by what seemed to be an emerging Republican majority. John Kerry had, after all, hit all of his turnout targets, only to be swamped by the Republican re-election effort. “Values voters” was the catchphrase, and an inordinate number of keystrokes were expended trying to figure out how, as Howard Dean had memorably put it before the election, Democrats could reconnect with “guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks.”

For Republicans, that despair now comes from an electorate that seems to have undergone a sea change. In the 2008 final exit polls (unavailable online), the electorate was 75 percent white, 12.2 percent African-American, 8.4 percent Latino, with 4.5 percent distributed to other ethnicities. We’ll have to wait for this year’s absolute final exit polls to come in to know the exact estimate of the composition this time, but right now it appears to be pegged at about 72 percent white, 13 percent black, 10 percent Latino and 5 percent “other.”

Obviously, this surge in the non-white vote is troubling to Republicans, who are increasingly almost as reliant upon the white vote to win as Democrats are on the non-white vote. With the white vote decreasing as a share of the electorate over time, it becomes harder and harder for Republicans to prevail.

This supposed surge in minority voting has sparked discussions about the GOP’s renewed need to draw in minority voters, especially Latinos, usually by agreeing to comprehensive immigration reform. Continuing the “Bizarro 2004” theme, Democrats are encouraging the GOP to move leftward, just as the 2004 GOP insisted that Democrats needed to abandon their opposition to the Iraq War, adopt less liberal economics, and shift more to the right on social issues in order to win.

Setting aside completely the sometimes-considerable merits of various immigration reform measures, I think these analyses are off base. First, there are real questions about the degree to which immigration policies — rather than deeper issues such as income and ideology — drive the rift between the GOP and Latinos. Remember, passage of Simpson-Mazzoli in 1986 was actually followed two years later by one of the worst GOP showings among Latinos in recent history.

Moreover, the simple fact is that the Democrats aren’t going to readily let Republicans get to their left on the issue in an attempt to poach an increasing portion of the Democratic base. If the GOP embraces things such as the DREAM Act, the Democrats can always up the ante. There are plenty of other issues on which Latinos agree with the GOP, but at a bare minimum the party will have to learn to sharply change its rhetoric on immigration before it can credibly make the case for these policies.

But most importantly, the 2012 elections actually weren’t about a demographic explosion with non-white voters. Instead, they were about a large group of white voters not showing up.

As of this writing, Barack Obama has received a bit more than 60 million votes. Mitt Romney has received 57 million votes. Although the gap between Republicans and Democrats has closed considerably since 2008, Romney is still running about 2.5 million votes behind John McCain; the gap has closed simply because Obama is running about 9 million votes behind his 2008 totals.

Of course, there are an unknown number of ballots outstanding. If we guesstimate the total at 7 million (3 million in California, 1.5 million or so in Oregon and Washington, and another 2.5 million or so spread throughout the country), that would bring the total number of votes cast in 2012 to about 125 million: 5 million votes shy of the number cast four years ago.

With this base line, and armed with the exit-poll data, we can get a pretty good estimate of how many whites, blacks, and Latinos cast ballots in both 2008 and 2012. Assuming the 72/13/10/5 percentage split described above for 2012, that would equate to about 91.6 million votes cast by whites, 16.6 million by blacks, 12.7 million by Latinos, with the balance of 6.3 million votes spread among other groups.

Compare this with 2008, when the numbers were 98.6 million whites, 16.3 million blacks, 11 million Latinos, and 5.9 million from other groups.

In other words, if our underlying assumption — that there are 7 million votes outstanding — is correct, then the African-American vote only increased by about 300,000 votes, or 0.2 percent, from 2008 to 2012. The Latino vote increased by a healthier 1.7 million votes, while the “other” category increased by about 470,000 votes.

This is nothing to sneeze at, but in terms of the effect on the electorate, it is dwarfed by the decline in the number of whites. Again, if our assumption about the total number of votes cast is correct, almost 7 million fewer whites voted in 2012 than in 2008. This isn’t readily explainable by demographic shifts either; although whites are declining as a share of the voting-age population, their raw numbers are not.

Moreover, we should have expected these populations to increase on their own, as a result of overall population growth. If we build in an estimate for the growth of the various voting-age populations over the past four years and assume 55 percent voter turnout, we find ourselves with about 8 million fewer white voters than we would expect given turnout in the 2008 elections and population growth.

Had the same number of white voters cast ballots in 2012 as did in 2008, the 2012 electorate would have been about 74 percent white, 12 percent black, and 9 percent Latino (the same result occurs if you build in expectations for population growth among all these groups). In other words, the reason this electorate looked so different from the 2008 electorate is almost entirely attributable to white voters staying home. The other groups increased their vote, but by less than we would have expected simply from population growth.

Put another way: The increased share of the minority vote as a percent of the total vote is not the result of a large increase in minorities in the numerator, it is a function of many fewer whites in the denominator.

So who were these whites and why did they stay home? My first instinct was that they might be conservative evangelicals turned off by Romney’s Mormonism or moderate past. But the decline didn’t seem to be concentrated in Southern states with high evangelical populations.

So instead, I looked at my current home state of Ohio, which has counted almost all of its votes (absentees are counted first here). The following map shows how turnout presently stands relative to 2008. The brightest red counties met or exceeded 2008 turnout. Each gradation of lighter red represents a 1 percent drop in the percentage of votes cast from 2008. Blue counties are at less than 90 percent of the 2008 vote.

We can see that the counties clustered around Columbus in the center of the state turned out in full force, as did the suburban counties near Cincinnati in the southwest. These heavily Republican counties are the growing areas of the state, filled with white-collar workers.

Where things drop off are in the rural portions of Ohio, especially in the southeast. These represent areas still hard-hit by the recession. Unemployment is high there, and the area has seen almost no growth in recent years.

My sense is these voters were unhappy with Obama. But his negative ad campaign relentlessly emphasizing Romney’s wealth and tenure at Bain Capital may have turned them off to the Republican nominee as well. The Romney campaign exacerbated this through the challenger’s failure to articulate a clear, positive agenda to address these voters’ fears, and self-inflicted wounds like the “47 percent” gaffe. Given a choice between two unpalatable options, these voters simply stayed home.

We’ll have a better sense of how this holds up when the final exit-poll data is released, and we can generate some very detailed crosstabs. And it may be that my estimate of the number of votes outstanding is low, though I think it is more likely to be high.

Of course, none of this is intended to place any sort of asterisk on Obama’s win: Some of these missing voters might well have voted for him had they opted to participate in the election. Moreover, there are still huge reservoirs of African-Americans and Latinos who don’t register and vote every election. Elections are decided on who shows up, not on who might have shown up.

But in terms of interpreting elections, and analyzing the future, the substantial drop-off in the white vote is a significant data point. Had Latino and African-American voters turned out in massive numbers, we might really be talking about a realignment of sorts, although we would have to see if the Democrats could sustain it with someone other than Obama atop the ticket (they could not do so in 2010). As it stands, the bigger puzzle for figuring out the path of American politics is who these non-voters are, why they stayed home, and whether they might be reactivated in 2016 (by either party).

//

Sean Trende is Senior Elections Analyst for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at strende@realclearpolitics.com.


Présidentielle américaine/2012: Le père Noël était une ordure et nous le savions ! (In a nation of children, Santa Claus wins)

8 novembre, 2012
Mitt Romney and his family would have been the essence of exactly what this country needs. But what was Romney’s recipe? Romney’s recipe was the old standby: American route to success, hard work. That gets sneered at. I’m sorry. In a country of children where the option is Santa Claus or work, what wins? And say what you want, but Romney did offer a vision of traditional America. In his way, he put forth a great vision of traditional America, and it was rejected. It was rejected in favor of a guy who thinks that those who are working aren’t doing enough to help those who aren’t. And that resonated. The Obama campaign was about small stuff. War on Women, binders, Big Bird, this kind of stuff. The Romney campaign was about big things, was about America. (…) One of the greatest misunderstandings in this country, if you boil all this down, is what creates prosperity. The Romney campaign was essentially about that, and the Romney campaign was devoted to the traditional American view and history — vision, as well — of what creates prosperity. The old capitalism, the old arguments of hard work, stick-to-itiveness, self-reliance, charity, helping out in the community. All of these things that define the traditional institutions that made this country great, that’s what the Romney campaign was about. It was rejected. That way, or that route to prosperity was sneered at. That route to prosperity was rejected. The people who voted for Obama don’t believe in it. They don’t think it’s possible. They think the game’s rigged. They think the deck is stacked against them. They think that the only way they’re gonna have a chance for anything is if somebody comes along and takes from somebody else and gives it to them. Santa Claus! And it’s hard to beat Santa Claus. Especially it’s hard to beat Santa Claus when the alternative is, "You be your own Santa Claus." (…) There is no rising to responsibility. There is no accepting responsibility. There’s just a demand that the gravy train continue, and we have an administration that’s promising an endless gravy train. All you have to do to stay on that gravy train is vote. Rush Limbaugh
We have never quite had the present perfect storm of nearly half not paying federal income taxes, nearly 50 million on food stamps, and almost half the population on some sort of federal largess — and a sophistic elite that promotes it and at the same time finds ways to be exempt from its social and cultural consequences. For an Obama, Biden, Kerry, Pelosi, or Feinstein, the psychological cost for living like 18th-century French royalty is the promotion of the welfare state for millions of others who for now will be kept far away, in places like Bakersfield or Mendota. The solution, I fear, may be near-insolvency along the Wisconsin model, and self-correction after some dark Greek-like years, or, in contrast, in extremis blue politicians having to deal with the consequences of their own policies. In the manner that an Obama can vastly expand drones and renditions without a whimper of liberal angst, so too someone like him will have to deal with bounced Medicare reimbursements or free cell phones that can’t be replaced when they break, or long lines in federal health clinics emptied of doctors who have gone elsewhere. The laws of physics ultimately prevail. In Michigan in September I had a talk with a retired auto worker who did not care that the bailout cost $25 billion, was not sustainable, shorted the legal first-in-line creditors, shorted politically incorrect managerial pensioners, or ensured the Volt debacle. He simply said to me, “Obama saved my son’s job and I don’t care about much else.” That’s the rub in the short term that seems to the norm in at least the past and future few years. It means that the Republicans, without a once-in-a-lifetime Reagan-like perfect candidate — or some sort of national crisis in the manner that Iran once derailed Jimmy Carter, or Ross Perot once caused incumbent George H. W. Bush to implode — can’t quite get that extra 2 to 3 percentage points they need on the national scene to succeed. Victor Davis Hanson
Barack Obama n’avait (…) pas hésité à jouer sur la peur d’un retour au pouvoir d’un parti républicain particulièrement rétrograde sur des questions de société tels que les droits des femmes ou encore le mariage gay. L’enjeu était d’autant plus important que, en plus de l’élection présidentielle, se tenaient les élections législatives ainsi qu’une série de votes par référendum dans plusieurs Etats sur des sujets tels que l’euthanasie, le cannabis ou l’union homosexuelle (qui) de leur côté ont également donné des résultats qui, hors période d’élection présidentielle, auraient fait la une des journaux nationaux. Les militants de la dépénalisation du cannabis ont en effet pu célébrer les résultats des votes dans les Etats du Colorado et l’Etat Washington dont les électeurs ont voté en faveur d’une proposition visant à légaliser l’usage récréatif. Concernant les droits des homosexuels, les électeurs des Etats du Maine, de Washington et du Maryland ont été les premiers à approuver par référendum le principe du mariage, créant ainsi une énorme brèche dans ce débat au niveau national. Autant que la réélection de Barack Obama en elle-même, ces différentes victoires ont contribué à créer un véritable sentiment de renouveau progressiste. Pour le site Buzzfeed, nous pourrions même assister à l’avènement de « l’Amérique libérale ». (…) grâce à ces différentes victoires, Barack Obama pourrait même endosser le rôle historique de leader idéologique d’une nouvelle ère progressiste, comme son prédécesseur Ronald Reagan l’avait fait pour les conservateurs dans les années 80. Le Nouvel observateur
Je rêve que mes quatre petits enfants vivront un jour dans un pays où on ne les jugera pas à la couleur de leur peau mais à la nature de leur caractère. Martin Luther King
Si Obama était blanc, il ne serait pas dans cette position. Et s’il était une femme, il ne serait pas dans cette position. Il a beaucoup de chance d’être ce qu’il est. Et le pays est pris par le concept. Geraldine Ferraro (ex-colistière du candidat démocrate de 1984 Walter Mondale et proche d’Hillary Clinton, Daily Breeze, 07.03.08)
En 1984, si je m’étais appelée Gerard Ferraro au lieu  de Geraldine Ferraro, je n’aurais jamais été choisie comme candidate à la vice-présidence. Cela n’a rien à voir avec mes qualifications. Geraldine Ferraro
Ma propre ville de Chicago a compté parmi les villes à la politique locale la plus corrompue de l’histoire américaine, du népotisme institutionnalisé aux élections douteuses. Barack Obama (Nairobi, Kenya, août 2006)
Though Obama, the son of a Kenyan immigrant, lagged in polls as late as mid-February, he surged to the front of the pack in recent weeks after he began airing television commercials and the black community rallied behind him. He also was the beneficiary of the most inglorious campaign implosion in Illinois political history, when multimillionaire Blair Hull plummeted from front-runner status amid revelations that an ex-wife had alleged in divorce papers that he had physically and verbally abused her. After spending more than $29 million of his own money, Hull, a former securities trader, finished third, garnering about 10 percent of the vote. (…) Obama ascended to front-runner status in early March as Hull’s candidacy went up in flames amid the divorce revelations, as well as Hull’s acknowledgment that he had used cocaine in the 1980s and had been evaluated for alcohol abuse. The Chicago Tribune (17.03.04)
Axelrod is known for operating in this gray area, part idealist, part hired muscle. It is difficult to discuss Axelrod in certain circles in Chicago without the matter of the Blair Hull divorce papers coming up. As the 2004 Senate primary neared, it was clear that it was a contest between two people: the millionaire liberal, Hull, who was leading in the polls, and Obama, who had built an impressive grass-roots campaign. About a month before the vote, The Chicago Tribune revealed, near the bottom of a long profile of Hull, that during a divorce proceeding, Hull’s second wife filed for an order of protection. In the following few days, the matter erupted into a full-fledged scandal that ended up destroying the Hull campaign and handing Obama an easy primary victory. The Tribune reporter who wrote the original piece later acknowledged in print that the Obama camp had  »worked aggressively behind the scenes » to push the story. But there are those in Chicago who believe that Axelrod had an even more significant role — that he leaked the initial story. They note that before signing on with Obama, Axelrod interviewed with Hull. They also point out that Obama’s TV ad campaign started at almost the same time. The NYT (01.04.07)
One lesson, however, has not fully sunk in and awaits final elucidation in the 2012 election: that of the Chicago style of Barack Obama’s politicking. In 2008 few of the true believers accepted that, in his first political race, in 1996, Barack Obama sued successfully to remove his opponents from the ballot. Or that in his race for the US Senate eight years later, sealed divorced records for both his primary- and general-election opponents were mysteriously leaked by unnamed Chicagoans, leading to the implosions of both candidates’ campaigns. Or that Obama was the first presidential candidate in the history of public campaign financing to reject it, or that he was also the largest recipient of cash from Wall Street in general, and from BP and Goldman Sachs in particular. Or that Obama was the first presidential candidate in recent memory not to disclose either undergraduate records or even partial medical. Or that remarks like “typical white person,” the clingers speech, and the spread-the-wealth quip would soon prove to be characteristic rather than anomalous. Few American presidents have dashed so many popular, deeply embedded illusions as has Barack Obama. And for that, we owe him a strange sort of thanks. Victor Davis Hanson
La condamnation de M. Blagojevich met une fois de plus la lumière sur la scène politique corrompue de l’Etat dont la plus grande ville est Chicago. Cinq des neuf gouverneurs précédents de l’Illinois ont été accusés ou arrêtés pour fraude ou corruption. Le prédécesseur de M. Blagojevich, le républicain George Ryan, purge actuellement une peine de six ans et demi de prison pour fraude et racket. M. Blagojevich, qui devra se présenter à la prison le 16 février et verser des amendes de près de 22 000 dollars, détient le triste record de la peine la plus lourde jamais infligée à un ex-gouverneur de l’Illinois. Ses avocats ont imploré le juge de ne pas chercher à faire un exemple avec leur client, notant que ce dernier n’avait pas amassé d’enrichissement personnel et avait seulement tenté d’obtenir des fonds de campagne ainsi que des postes bien rémunérés. En plein scandale, M. Blagojevich était passé outre aux appels à la démission venus de son propre parti et avait nommé procédé à la nomination d’un sénateur avant d’être destitué. Mais le scandale a porté un coup à la réputation des démocrates dans l’Illinois et c’est un républicain qui a été élu l’an dernier pour occuper l’ancien siège de M. Obama. AFP (08.12.11)
C’est un système pourri, une toile d’araignée qui organise sa survie en nommant ses amis à des postes clés de l’administration en échange de leur soutien politique et financier.  Anthony Peraica
Selon le professeur Dick Simpson, chef du département de science politique de l’université d’Illinois, «c’est à la fin du XIXe siècle et au début du XXe que le système prend racine». L’arrivée de larges populations immigrées peinant à faire leur chemin à Chicago pousse les politiciens à «mobiliser le vote des communautés en échange d’avantages substantiels». Dans les années 1930, le Parti démocrate assoit peu à peu sa domination grâce à cette politique «raciale». Le système va se solidifier sous le règne de Richard J. Daley, grande figure qui régnera sur la ville pendant 21 ans. Aujourd’hui, c’est son fils Richard M. Daley qui est aux affaires depuis 18 ans et qui «perpétue le pouvoir du Parti démocrate à Chicago, en accordant emplois d’État, faveurs et contrats, en échange de soutiens politiques et financiers», raconte John McCormick. «Si on vous donne un permis de construction, vous êtes censés “payer en retour”», explique-t-il. «Cela s’appelle payer pour jouer», résume John Kass, un autre éditorialiste. Les initiés affirment que Rod Blagojevich ne serait jamais devenu gouverneur s’il n’avait croisé le chemin de sa future femme, Patricia Mell, fille de Dick Mell, un conseiller municipal très influent, considéré comme un rouage essentiel de la machine. Le Figaro
Dans ce contexte local plus que trouble, Peraica affirme que la montée au firmament d’Obama n’a pu se faire «par miracle».«Il a été aidé par la machine qui l’a adoubé, il est cerné par cette machine qui produit de la corruption et le risque existe qu’elle monte de Chicago vers Washington», va-t-il même jusqu’à prédire. Le conseiller régional républicain cite notamment le nom d’Emil Jones, l’un des piliers du Parti démocrate de l’Illinois, qui a apporté son soutien à Obama lors de son élection au Sénat en 2004. Il évoque aussi les connexions du président élu avec Anthony Rezko, cet homme d’affaires véreux, proche de Blagojevich et condamné pour corruption, qui fut aussi le principal responsable de la levée de fonds privés pour le compte d’Obama pendant sa course au siège de sénateur et qui l’aida à acheter sa maison à Chicago. «La presse a protégé Barack Obama comme un petit bébé. Elle n’a pas sorti les histoires liées à ses liens avec Rezko», s’indigne Peraica, qui cite toutefois un article du Los Angeles Times faisant état d’une affaire de financement d’un tournoi international de ping-pong qui aurait éclaboussé le président élu. (…) L’équipe du président élu «n’en est pas moins très embarrassée par le scandale», affirme le politologue Ola Adeyoje, spécialiste de la politique locale à Chicago. Les écoutes téléphoniques révèlent en effet un gouverneur persuadé d’être en contact et en négociation quasi directe avec Barack Obama pour la désignation d’un successeur au Sénat. Sentant venir la polémique, le nouveau chef de l’État a donc promis de passer au crible les discussions que son entourage aurait pu avoir avec Blagojevich. À ce titre, le directeur de cabinet d’Obama, Rahm Emanuel, est dans la ligne de mire des républicains car il apparaît qu’il a été en contact avec le gouverneur sur ce thème, selon le Chicago Tribune. Lundi, les deux chambres du Parlement de l’Illinois se sont rassemblées pour décider d’une éventuelle procédure de destitution du gouverneur, qui ne se presse pas de démissionner. La plupart des leaders démocrates jugent impensable qu’il puisse rester à son poste et décider de la nomination d’un nouveau sénateur. Mais une procédure de destitution d’un gouverneur, phénomène rarissime dans l’histoire des États-Unis où cela ne s’est produit qu’en Californie et au Dakota du Nord, risque de durer des mois… empoisonnant le climat politique, de Chicago à Washington. Le Figaro (décembre 2008)

Invalidations systématiques, dès son premier casse électoral de Chicago de 1996  pour les sénatoriales d’état, des candidatures de ses rivaux sur les plus subtils points de procédure (la qualité des signatures) jusqu’à se retrouver seul en lice …

Déballages forcés,  quatre ans plus tard aux élections sénatoriales fédérales de 2004, des problèmes de couple (un cas apparemment de violence domestique) ou frasques supposées (des soirées dans des club échangistes) de ses adversaires, que ce soit son propre collègue Blair Hull aux primaires ou le Républicain Jack Ryan à la générale de manière à se retrouver sans opposition devant les électeurs …

Tentative de rebelote, lors des primaires de 2008, contre sa rivale démocrate malheureuse Hillary Clinton …

A l’heure où, quatre ans après le holdup du siècle et devant la remontée de son adversaire républicain et les millions d’Hollywood, l’Imposteur en chef de Chicago nous ressort, après le coup du "mariage homosexuel" et celui de la "surprise d’octobre" sans compter le manque de motivation républicain, le 2e casse du siècle

Comment ne pas repenser, avec Rush Limbaugh (merci sil) et tous les petits mais à terme coûteux cadeaux du nouveau réélu aux minorités, homos et autres amateurs de drogues récréatives, à la stratégie père Noël qui avait permis il y a cinq mois à une « gauche champagne«   alliée avec une extrême gauche ouvertement totalitaire  de faire passer pour victoire l’auto-sabordage d’une droite divisée  par le plus violent des terrorismes intellectuels ?

Mais aussi à la formidable imposture entretenue (comme toutes proportions gardées pour notre François Hollande national) depuis quatre ans par nos journaux et médias de révérence, sur la réalité de la tristement fameuse machine politique de Chicago dont est issu, comme il l’avait une fois reconnu lui-même, l’auteur du 2e casse du siècle et squatter renouvelé de la Maison Blanche ?

Dans les bas-fonds politiques de Chicago

Laure Mandeville, envoyée spéciale à Chicago

16/12/2008

Rod Blagojevich, aujourd’hui accusé de corruption, prête serment lors de sa prise de fonction en tant que gouverneur de l’Illinois en août 2007. Pour la plupart des commentateurs, Barack Obama a su naviguer à travers la politique locale «sans se compromettre».

Le scandale de corruption qui frappe le gouverneur de l’Illinois Rod Blagojevich révèle le système de connivence et de passe-droits niché au cœur du fief politique d’Obama.

Des manches de chemise re­troussées. Une courte barbe grise. Des lunettes qui laissent entrevoir des yeux scrutateurs et malicieux. Voici donc John McCormick, le fameux journaliste dont le gouverneur de l’Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, voulait la tête. Celui qu’il rêvait de faire limoger du comité éditorial du Chicago Tribune. En échange de la mise à l’écart de plusieurs éditorialistes critiques, «Blago» se proposait de donner son feu vert à l’octroi d’une aide financière de 100 millions de dollars au propriétaire du journal, Sam Zell, pour que ce dernier puisse procéder à la vente du terrain de base-ball de Wrigley, et éponger ses dettes. «Je constate surtout que cela n’a pas marché !, précise John, en riant. Je me sens plutôt honoré d’être mis en balance avec 100 millions de dollars. Et surtout reconnaissant à mon employeur, si les allégations portées par le procureur Patrick Fitzgerald sont réelles.»

Dans les étages supérieurs d’une tour néogothique inspirée de Notre-Dame de Paris, qui abrite depuis plus de cent cinquante ans le vénérable journal, «l’enc… de journaliste», dont les éditoriaux irritaient le gouverneur, est en plein travail. Depuis que le scandale a rattrapé Rod Blagojevich, accusé par le procureur des États-Unis Patrick Fitzgerald d’avoir tissé une véritable toile de corruption autour de son poste, le journal est mobilisé vingt-quatre heures sur vingt-quatre. «J’ai sept pages débats à boucler», explique McCormick, chef adjoint du comité éditorial. Il dit avoir reçu un coup de fil d’un ancien professeur de journalisme. «Elle m’a dit :“100 millions ? Je n’aurais pas misé deux dollars sur toi !”», raconte-t-il en riant.

«Je veux faire de l’argent»

Le scandale qui a éclaté mardi dernier a provoqué un véritable séisme aux États-Unis, chassant de la une des journaux les questions liées à la transition Bush-Obama. Il est vrai qu’outre l’affaire des journalistes, dont John McCormick est devenu le héros involontaire, de graves accusations ont été portées par le procureur Fitzgerald sur la manière dont Blagojevich entendait négocier son pouvoir exclusif de désignation du successeur d’Obama au Sénat. Les écoutes téléphoniques menées par le FBI, et consignées dans un rapport de 76 pages dont Le Figaro a obtenu copie, révèlent son obsession d’arracher un poste lucratif pour lui ou son épouse. «Je veux faire de l’argent», lâche-t-il carrément au téléphone. «C’est du p… d’or», insiste-t-il. Le caractère vulgaire et brutal de ses conversations a choqué l’opinion américaine. Dans le bus qui promène les touristes à travers les hauts lieux mafieux de l’époque de la prohibition, un retraité confie sa stupeur devant tant de grossièreté, car «nous aimons à penser que nous sommes dirigés par des gens de haute tenue». «C’est surtout un imbécile, note le guide de l’excursion. Comment a-t-il pu parler de son désir de vendre un siège de sénateur alors qu’il faisait l’objet d’une enquête fédérale ? Al Capone était plus intelligent !»

Mais est-ce vraiment de la stupidité ? Ou ce mode de fonctionnement paraissait-il si naturel à Blagojevich qu’il en est venu à perdre le sens de la réalité ? Ce qui frappe dans le rapport du FBI, c’est qu’il accuse le gouverneur d’avoir usé de telles pratiques dès son arrivée aux affaires, en 2002, alors qu’il s’était fait élire sur une plate-forme de chevalier anticorruption. L’accusation révèle que le gouverneur aurait systématiquement monnayé sa position d’influence, levant des fonds privés pour l’organisation «Les amis de Blagojevich» en échange d’octrois de contrats ou de privilèges. Les multiples témoignages d’hommes véreux, condamnés depuis à la prison ferme, ajoutent au tableau une crédibilité dérangeante. Même si Blagojevich reste présumé innocent, les charges réunies dessinent les contours d’un monde incroyablement obscur et corrompu. «C’est la machine politique de Chicago», résument les journalistes locaux. Dans son édition de dimanche, le Chicago Tribune attaque carrément : «Il y a une raison pour laquelle l’Illinois a une longue histoire de scandale, dénonce le quotidien à la une. La machine politique carbure à l’argent.»

«Cela s’appelle payer pour jouer»

Selon le professeur Dick Simpson, chef du département de science politique de l’université d’Illinois, «c’est à la fin du XIXe siècle et au début du XXe que le système prend racine». L’arrivée de larges populations immigrées peinant à faire leur chemin à Chicago pousse les politiciens à «mobiliser le vote des communautés en échange d’avantages substantiels». Dans les années 1930, le Parti démocrate assoit peu à peu sa domination grâce à cette politique «raciale». Le système va se solidifier sous le règne de Richard J. Daley, grande figure qui régnera sur la ville pendant 21 ans. Aujourd’hui, c’est son fils Richard M. Daley qui est aux affaires depuis 18 ans et qui «perpétue le pouvoir du Parti démocrate à Chicago, en accordant emplois d’État, faveurs et contrats, en échange de soutiens politiques et financiers», raconte John McCormick. «Si on vous donne un permis de construction, vous êtes censés “payer en retour”», explique-t-il. «Cela s’appelle payer pour jouer», résume John Kass, un autre éditorialiste. Les initiés affirment que Rod Blagojevich ne serait jamais devenu gouverneur s’il n’avait croisé le chemin de sa future femme, Patricia Mell, fille de Dick Mell, un conseiller municipal très influent, considéré comme un rouage essentiel de la machine.

Anthony Peraica, un immigrant croate, débarqué aux États-Unis à l’âge de 13 ans, qui a fait de brillantes études de droit avant de se lancer en politique, affirme être bien placé pour raconter le système. Originaire du district de Bridgeport, le cœur de la machine Daley, ce conseiller régional républicain du comté de Chicago dit avoir été lui-même happé par le Parti démocrate avant de le quitter «écœuré» par les passe-droits qu’il y avait découverts. «C’est un système pourri, une toile d’araignée qui organise sa survie en nommant ses amis à des postes clés de l’administration en échange de leur soutien politique et financier», accuse-t-il. Anthony Peraica, qui a raté de peu la présidence du conseil régional du comté, affirme que seule l’intervention d’un syndicat ayant mis des millions de dollars dans la bataille médiatique pour le discréditer l’a empêché de gagner. «Les donateurs privés que je sollicite ont peur de me financer car ils craignent pour leurs avantages», poursuit-il. «Il n’y pas de système bipartisan ici, c’est une autocratie», dit le républicain, qui affirme que des inconnus ont plusieurs fois forcé ses bureaux d’avocat, dans la partie sud de Chicago, «sans doute pour m’intimider». «La seule chose qui pourrait changer le système, c’est un financement public des campagnes à l’européenne, et des temps d’accès aux médias réglementés.»

Dans ce contexte local plus que trouble, Peraica affirme que la montée au firmament d’Obama n’a pu se faire «par miracle».«Il a été aidé par la machine qui l’a adoubé, il est cerné par cette machine qui produit de la corruption et le risque existe qu’elle monte de Chicago vers Washington», va-t-il même jusqu’à prédire. Le conseiller régional républicain cite notamment le nom d’Emil Jones, l’un des piliers du Parti démocrate de l’Illinois, qui a apporté son soutien à Obama lors de son élection au Sénat en 2004. Il évoque aussi les connexions du président élu avec Anthony Rezko, cet homme d’affaires véreux, proche de Blagojevich et condamné pour corruption, qui fut aussi le principal responsable de la levée de fonds privés pour le compte d’Obama pendant sa course au siège de sénateur et qui l’aida à acheter sa maison à Chicago. «La presse a protégé Barack Obama comme un petit bébé. Elle n’a pas sorti les histoires liées à ses liens avec Rezko», s’indigne Peraica, qui cite toutefois un article du Los Angeles Times faisant état d’une affaire de financement d’un tournoi international de ping-pong qui aurait éclaboussé le président élu.

Rahm Emanuel dans la ligne de mire

La plupart des commentateurs, dont John McCormick, ne souscrivent pas à cette analyse. Pour eux, le président élu a su naviguer à travers la politique locale «sans se compromettre». Il s’est dissocié de Rezko avant sa dernière campagne. Il est aussi celui qui a fait passer une législation éthique qui devrait mieux contrôler les donations privées à partir du 1er janvier 2009 dans l’Illinois.

L’équipe du président élu «n’en est pas moins très embarrassée par le scandale», affirme le politologue Ola Adeyoje, spécialiste de la politique locale à Chicago. Les écoutes téléphoniques révèlent en effet un gouverneur persuadé d’être en contact et en négociation quasi directe avec Barack Obama pour la désignation d’un successeur au Sénat. Sentant venir la polémique, le nouveau chef de l’État a donc promis de passer au crible les discussions que son entourage aurait pu avoir avec Blagojevich. À ce titre, le directeur de cabinet d’Obama, Rahm Emanuel, est dans la ligne de mire des républicains car il apparaît qu’il a été en contact avec le gouverneur sur ce thème, selon le Chicago Tribune. Lundi, les deux chambres du Parlement de l’Illinois se sont rassemblées pour décider d’une éventuelle procédure de destitution du gouverneur, qui ne se presse pas de démissionner. La plupart des leaders démocrates jugent impensable qu’il puisse rester à son poste et décider de la nomination d’un nouveau sénateur. Mais une procédure de destitution d’un gouverneur, phénomène rarissime dans l’histoire des États-Unis où cela ne s’est produit qu’en Californie et au Dakota du Nord, risque de durer des mois… empoisonnant le climat politique, de Chicago à Washington.

Voir aussi:

In a Nation of Children, Santa Claus Wins

Rush Limbaugh

November 07, 2012

Listen to it Button

RUSH: Hey, any of you guys in there want to come sit in my chair today? Anybody? Nobody wants to come sit in my chair here? None of you? I mean, I’m giving you a golden opportunity to speak to, what, 50 million people.

(interruption)

I can handle it. Okay, all right. So nobody wants to come sit in my chair today. Greetings, my friends. What happened? That’s what we’re going to try to find out. We’re not gotta be able to explain this away in one day. We’re gonna get close. We are not gonna be able to come up with all the answers and solutions in one day, but I want to try to take you through the night for me last night, various thoughts that I had as things happened, beginning with my getting and receiving the exit polls at five o’clock.

But first, let me tell you, small things beat big things yesterday. Conservatism, in my humble opinion, did not lose last night. It’s just very difficult to beat Santa Claus. It is practically impossible to beat Santa Claus. People are not going to vote against Santa Claus, especially if the alternative is being your own Santa Claus.

Now, everybody is jumping on Romney’s chain today, getting in his chili. Look, he may have not been the most optimal candidate, but he’s a fine man. He would have been great for this country. Mitt Romney and his family would have been the essence of exactly what this country needs. But what was Romney’s recipe? Romney’s recipe was the old standby: American route to success, hard work. That gets sneered at. I’m sorry. In a country of children where the option is Santa Claus or work, what wins? And say what you want, but Romney did offer a vision of traditional America. In his way, he put forth a great vision of traditional America, and it was rejected. It was rejected in favor of a guy who thinks that those who are working aren’t doing enough to help those who aren’t. And that resonated.

The Obama campaign was about small stuff. War on Women, binders, Big Bird, this kind of stuff. The Romney campaign was about big things, was about America. It’s mind-boggling to go through these exit polls. You want to hear a statistic that is somewhat surprising? Romney received two and a half million fewer votes than McCain did. Now, who would have called that? Who in the world would have? I think Obama’s vote tally was down ten million from 2008, and we still lost. We lost 50 to 48 nationally. We were not able to build a turnout model that looked like 2004. Very puzzling.

Something else. Just stream of consciousness here. The usual suspects are out, and they’re saying, "Rush, we gotta reach out now to the Hispanics and reach out to the minorities, blacks." Okay, let me remind you of something. Just ask you a question. And we will be getting your phone calls of course today, you weigh in on this, 800-282-2882 is the number. Let me take you back to the Republican convention. We had Suzanne Martinez, female Hispanic governor, New Mexico. We had Condoleezza Rice, African-American, former secretary of state. Both of those people imminently qualified, terrifically achieved. They have reached the pinnacles of their profession.

We had Marco Rubio. We had a parade of minorities who have become successful Americans. And they all had a common story: up from nothing, hard work, their parents sacrificed for them. Now, why didn’t that work, folks? The answer to that is our future. Why didn’t it work? Some people say, "Well, Rush, we pandered." No, we didn’t pander. Everybody says that we need to reach out to minorities. We have plenty of highly achieved minorities in our party, and they are in prominent positions, and they all have a common story. They all came from nothing. Their parents came from nothing. They worked hard. They told those stories with great pride. Those stories evoked tears. It didn’t work. And don’t tell me that people didn’t watch the convention or people didn’t see it. I mean, there’s a reason it doesn’t work.

I went to bed last night thinking we’re outnumbered. I went to bed last night thinking all this discussion we’d had about this election being the election that will tell us whether or not we’ve lost the country. I went to bed last night thinking we’ve lost the country. I don’t know how else you look at this. The first wave of exit polls came in at 5 p.m. I looked at it, I read the first two pages, and I said to myself, "This is utter BS." And I forwarded the exit poll data that I had to three or four people, and my message to each of them, "This is utter BS, and if it isn’t, then we’ve lost the country." Let me take you through some of it.

Based on early exit polls, Obama is locked in a tight race with Governor Romney. Nationally we believe the race to be as tight as it could be, and to the extent that Obama is running strong and can win, it is because they see him as someone who cares about people like them. They feel he did a very good job in the response to Hurricane Sandy. When I saw that, I thought this thing is starting to read like a Democrat campaign speech, this exit poll data. Hurricane Sandy and the aftermath and the way Obama handled that, what did Obama do? He showed up one day, he bear hugged Chris Christie, and then he left. The situation on the ground is devastating, and yet Obama triumphs in the exit polls with that.

He successfully painted Romney’s policies as caring primarily about the rich. He successfully convinced roughly half the country that his policies will favor the middle class. Now, measure that against reality. The reality is that the economy of this country is crumbling. The unemployment situation is worsening. The debt situation is worsening. Everything for the very people who think Obama’s gonna help them is getting worse, and yet they told the exit poll people that they thought Obama’s the best guy to handle

Obamacare.

A majority of people like Obamacare in the exit poll. That goes against everything we’ve ever heard in any poll. Voters trust him more than Romney in an international crisis. What? How in the world can that be? In a rational, intelligent world, how can that be? "He’s running very strong with African-Americans, Latinos, and women. If he wins, this data will be consistent with stories about the changing nature of US demographics."

And I saw this next one. This is the one that made me think this exit poll was BS. I just, intellectually, had trouble with this one. "More than half the people who voted yesterday said that they still blame Bush for the economy." More than half the people who…? After four years! Well, now, what is the answer to this? How in the world do you deal with this? There are ways, and we didn’t do them. There were too many assumptions made about what the American people thought, about what they knew.

Too many assumptions were made. But look, I don’t want to nitpick the campaign today. That’s not the point. There are larger things here at work. "Roughly half voters want the health care law as it is or expanded, and they are voting for Obama." Really? I haven’t seen a poll like that anywhere. Every poll — every poll! — I have seen on Obamacare features a majority and close to 60% who don’t like it, but this is an exit poll of people who voted.

"People who say they are looking for a strong leader and someone who has more of a vision for the future support Romney. Romney even wins among voters voting for ‘a candidate who shares my values.’ Voters believe the economy’s weak and Romney will be better able to manage the economy." Now, this is for people the exit pollers say, this is the reason if Romney wins. This is why. Well, obviously, those people were vastly outnumbered, which is where we are today.

We’re outnumbered.

One of the greatest misunderstandings in this country, if you boil all this down, is what creates prosperity. The Romney campaign was essentially about that, and the Romney campaign was devoted to the traditional American view and history — vision, as well — of what creates prosperity. The old capitalism, the old arguments of hard work, stick-to-itiveness, self-reliance, charity, helping out in the community.

All of these things that define the traditional institutions that made this country great, that’s what the Romney campaign was about. It was rejected. That way, or that route to prosperity was sneered at. That route to prosperity was rejected. The people who voted for Obama don’t believe in it. They don’t think it’s possible. They think the game’s rigged. They think the deck is stacked against them.

They think that the only way they’re gonna have a chance for anything is if somebody comes along and takes from somebody else and gives it to them. Santa Claus! And it’s hard to beat Santa Claus. Especially it’s hard to beat Santa Claus when the alternative is, "You be your own Santa Claus." "Oh, no! I’m not doing that. What do you mean, I have to be my own Santa Claus? No, no. No, no, no. I want to get up every day and go to the tree. You’re the elves," meaning us.

You throw Hurricane Sandy in here. I must admit, I am genuinely puzzled that Hurricane Sandy and the aftermath helped Obama and hurt Romney. But it did. According to the exit polls. I mean, what they say is what they say. The polls were right on the money, as it turned out. But until people understand why and how big government reduces prosperity for all, they’re gonna continue to be fooled by little things.

By marketing, by smooth talkers, by faux compassion. So we’ll see what happens with the economy as we go forward. Some people think, "Hey, Rush, the economy is resilient in this country, and it’s gonna naturally rebound. No matter what." There are people today scared the economy is going to rebound despite what’s happening in the stock market today and Obama’s policies are gonna get credit for it.

A bunch of libs are salivating over that. They think the economy is gonna come back no matter what, and that Obama’s big government is going to end up being the explanation for the rest of our lives as to how that happened. Just like in Japan, just like in Greece. But look, you bring up Greece and you bring up Europe, and they’re where we’re headed. Their problems are acute.

The difference is that none of those European countries are anywhere near the leading economy of the world like we are. The world depends on what happens here. The world does not depend on what happens in Spain or Greece or Italy. Not to put them down. But regardless, wherever you go… Look at Greece. Whenever necessary austerity measures are proposed, what happens?

"No, you don’t! You’re not taking it away from me!" There is no rising to responsibility. There is no accepting responsibility. There’s just a demand that the gravy train continue, and we have an administration that’s promising an endless gravy train. All you have to do to stay on that gravy train is vote. But it doesn’t matter.

The thing that’s mind-boggling is that there is no new prosperity in America. There is no improved standard of living. It’s all going down. "But Obama cares. He really cares! He cares much more than Romney. He really, really cares. In fact, he cares so much, we’re gonna give him a do-over. We’re gonna give him a second term to do what we know he wanted to do in the first term but wasn’t able to for whatever reason."

Voir également:

Three Ways of Explaining Defeat

Victor Davis Hanson

The National Review online

November 7, 2012

Conservatives are divided, acrimoniously so, over three schools of explaining The Defeat.

1. The Near Fatalists. Some are terrified that we are witnessing the final establishment of the long-feared dependency majority, where half the country is not paying federal income taxes and are on the receiving end of government largess and expect “them” to pay their fair share to pay for it;

2. The Should’ve, Could’ve, Would’ve What If-ers. The disappointed tacticians believe that should/would/could Romney have run differently (e.g., hit harder on Benghazi, mixed it up in the second and third debates, organized a Contract with America as a broad-based conservative crusade, etc.) he could have gotten the necessary 1 to 2 million extra votes in the swing states. Similarly, had the storm not arisen, or had Christie just been civil rather than going gaga over Obama/Springsteen, Romney’s momentum would not have been lost the last week;

3. The Big Tenters. The strategic centrists will now call for compromising on social issues, abortion, illegal immigration, fiscal policies, etc., to widen the tent in order to bring in young women, blacks, Latinos, gays, etc. and build “a new conservative majority.”

Not all these three positions, of course, are mutually exclusive. But I am not convinced by explanation (2): Romney was a good, and good enough, candidate to win. None of the other primary candidates would have done as well, and would have been far more easily Axelrodded. An especially well-informed Romney did well in the debates and spoke better each week. He raised lots of money, and he seemed presidential in comparison with a shrinking, Big Bird Obama. Similarly, while there were lots of Benghazi, Hurricane Sandy, and Chris Christie what-if moments that might have been better massaged, so were there for Obama as well: He blew the first debate; he needlessly lost his cool with stupid comments like bulls**tter, “revenge,” “you didn’t build that business,” etc. Biden was an unhinged disaster on the campaign trail. All these foul-ups would have been cited as what-ifs had Obama gotten 2 million votes less in key places and lost.

The problem with diagnosis (3) is that there were plenty of good minority kingpins in the party –Condoleezza Rice, Marco Rubio, and an entire new generation of Hispanic and Asian governors and senators. Allen West lost despite being black and because he was conservative. An independent, successful Michele Bachman or Sarah Palin is hated more than stay-at-home liberal housewives. Race matters, but not without ideology. For now, voting conservative is considered “acting white” or “docile,” and minorities and young women will only be considered legitimate when they vote for big government, which for many brings logical dividends.

Moreover, if Republicans would deal on illegal immigration, and propose paths to citizenship for the law-abiding who were brought here as children, the Latino leadership would still not, in turn, allow deportation for the felons and those not working and entirely on public assistance, or agree to close the border with finishing the fence, fining employers, and cross-checking federal documents. And why should they? A forever-blue California is their model, and many activists think it soon can be replicated in the American Southwest with sufficient cycles of open borders and cyclical euphemistic amnesties. As far as young unattached women, or the youth vote in general, the argument was made to them on economic terms (e.g., you are unemployed or underemployed and crushed by student loans in an ossified economy), and it went largely nowhere. Moreover, what does one do with a lily-white and well-off place like Washington, or the Connecticut suburbs, or the California coast, where blue counties of upscale yuppie married couples went overwhelmingly for Obama?

Instead, I fear exegesis (1) is, with each year, more telling. We have never quite had the present perfect storm of nearly half not paying federal income taxes, nearly 50 million on food stamps, and almost half the population on some sort of federal largess — and a sophistic elite that promotes it and at the same time finds ways to be exempt from its social and cultural consequences. For an Obama, Biden, Kerry, Pelosi, or Feinstein, the psychological cost for living like 18th-century French royalty is the promotion of the welfare state for millions of others who for now will be kept far away, in places like Bakersfield or Mendota.

The solution, I fear, may be near-insolvency along the Wisconsin model, and self-correction after some dark Greek-like years, or, in contrast, in extremis blue politicians having to deal with the consequences of their own policies. In the manner that an Obama can vastly expand drones and renditions without a whimper of liberal angst, so too someone like him will have to deal with bounced Medicare reimbursements or free cell phones that can’t be replaced when they break, or long lines in federal health clinics emptied of doctors who have gone elsewhere. The laws of physics ultimately prevail.

In Michigan in September I had a talk with a retired auto worker who did not care that the bailout cost $25 billion, was not sustainable, shorted the legal first-in-line creditors, shorted politically incorrect managerial pensioners, or ensured the Volt debacle. He simply said to me, “Obama saved my son’s job and I don’t care about much else.” That’s the rub in the short term that seems to the norm in at least the past and future few years. It means that the Republicans, without a once-in-a-lifetime Reagan-like perfect candidate — or some sort of national crisis in the manner that Iran once derailed Jimmy Carter, or Ross Perot once caused incumbent George H. W. Bush to implode — can’t quite get that extra 2 to 3 percentage points they need on the national scene to succeed.

Voir encore:

Obama played hardball in first Chicago campaign

Story Highlights

Sen. Barack Obama used the rule book to win first race for Illinois state Senate

Democrat challenged opponents’ petitions and forced them off the ballot

Opponent says Obama’s move « wasn’t honorable »

Drew Griffin and Kathleen Johnston

CNN

30.05.08

(CNN) — When the Democratic National Committee meets Saturday on the thorny issue of seating the Florida and Michigan delegations at its August convention, party officials will have to fashion a solution that satisfies supporters of Sen. Hillary Clinton and presidential nominee front-runner Sen. Barack Obama.

It may take a Solomon-like decision to appease both candidates.

Clinton has argued that the primary results of two of the nation’s largest states should count because, otherwise, millions of voters are being disenfranchised. Obama has said he is willing to work out some compromise.

But he is insistent that the primary results are invalid because the two states failed to follow party rules and that the rules are the rules.

The DNC has not seated the Florida and Michigan delegates because the two states violated party edicts in holding their primaries early.

Although neither candidate campaigned in the two states, Clinton won about 50 percent of the Florida vote, compared with 33 percent for Obama. She won 55 percent of the vote in Michigan, where Obama’s name was not on the ballot.

In his first race for office, seeking a state Senate seat on Chicago’s gritty South Side in 1996, Obama effectively used election rules to eliminate his Democratic competition.

As a community organizer, he had helped register thousands of voters. But when it came time to run for office, he employed Chicago rules to invalidate the voting petition signatures of three of his challengers.

The move denied each of them, including incumbent Alice Palmer, a longtime Chicago activist, a place on the ballot. It cleared the way for Obama to run unopposed on the Democratic ticket in a heavily Democrat district.

« That was Chicago politics, » said John Kass, a veteran Chicago Tribune columnist. « Knock out your opposition, challenge their petitions, destroy your enemy, right? It is how Barack Obama destroyed his enemies back in 1996 that conflicts with his message today. He may have gotten his start registering thousands of voters. But in that first race, he made sure voters had just one choice. » Watch how Obama shut out challengers in his first race »

Obama’s challenge was perfectly legal, said Jay Stewart of the Chicago’s Better Government Association. Although records of the challenges are no longer on file for review with the election board, Stewart said Obama is not the only politician to resort to petition challenges to eliminate the competition.

« He came from Chicago politics, » Stewart said. « Politics ain’t beanbag, as they say in Chicago. You play with your elbows up, and you’re pretty tough and ruthless when you have to be. Sen. Obama felt that’s what was necessary at the time, that’s what he did. Does it fit in with the rhetoric now? Perhaps not. »

The Obama campaign called this report « a hit job. » It insisted that CNN talk to a state representative who supports Obama, because, according to an Obama spokesman, she would be objective. But when we called her, she said she can’t recall details of petition challenges, who engineered them for the Obama campaign or why all the candidates were challenged.

But Will Burns does. Now running himself for a seat in the Illinois legislature, Burns was a young Obama volunteer during the presidential candidate’s first race.

Burns was one of the contingents of volunteers and lawyers who had the tedious task of going over each and every petition submitted by the other candidates, including those of Alice Palmer.

« The rules are there for a reason, » Burns said.

He said that challenging petitions is a smart way to avoid having to run a full-blown expensive race.

« One of the first things you do whenever you’re in the middle of a primary race, especially in primaries in Chicago, because if you don’t have signatures to get on the ballot, you save yourself a lot of time and effort from having to raise money and have a full-blown campaign effort against an incumbent, » Burns said.

Burns said he believed that Obama did not enjoy using the tactic to knock off Palmer.

« It was not something he particularly relished, » Burns said. « It was not something that I thought he was happy about doing. » Watch Burns describe how Obama used the rules to his advantage »

But Obama did it anyway, clearing the field of any real competition.

Obama’s staff would not comment on what the senator thinks about that petition challenge now. Instead, they referred CNN to this 2007 comment made by Obama to the Chicago Tribune.

« To my mind, we were just abiding by the rules that had been set up, » the senator is quoted as saying in the Tribune. « My conclusion was that if you couldn’t run a successful petition drive, then that raised questions in terms of how effective a representative you were going to be. »

But in that same newspaper story, Obama praised Palmer.

« I thought she was a good public servant, » he said.

Palmer, who has campaigned for Clinton, told CNN that she did not want to be part of this story.

Obama supporters claim that Palmer has only herself to blame because she indicated she would not run for the 1996 state Senate and instead aimed for Congress. After losing in that bid, she returned to running for the state Senate seat, a move Obama supporters claim amounted to reneging on a promise not to run.

But Palmer supporters, who did not want to be identified, said that she never anointed Obama as her successor and that the retelling of the story by Obama supporters is designed to distract from the fact he muscled his way into office.

One other opponent who Obama eliminated by challenging his petitions, Gha-is Askia, said he has no hard feelings today about the challenge and supports Obama’s presidential aspirations.

But back at the time he was running for state Senate, Askia said, he was dismayed Obama would use such tactics.

« It wasn’t honorable, » he said. « I wouldn’t have done it. »

He said the Obama team challenged every single one of his petitions on « technicalities. »

If names were printed instead of signed in cursive writing, they were declared invalid. If signatures were good but the person gathering the signatures wasn’t properly registered, those petitions also were thrown out.

Askia came up 69 signatures short of the required number to be on the ballot.

Kass, the Chicago Tribune columnist, said the national media are naive when it comes to Chicago politics, which is a serious business.

He said they have bought into a narrative that Obama is strictly a reformer. The truth, Kass says, is that he is a bare-knuckled politician. And using the rules to win his first office is part of who Obama is.

« It’s not the tactics of ‘let’s all people come together and put your best ideas forward and the best ideas win,’  » Kass said. « That’s the spin; that’s in the Kool-Aid. You can have some. Any flavor. But the real deal was, get rid of Alice Palmer.

« There are those who think that registering people to vote and getting them involved in politics and then using this tactic in terms of denying Alice Palmer the right to compete, that these things are inconsistent. And guess what? They are. They are inconsistent. But that’s the politics he plays. »

And this weekend, DNC delegates will have to decide what kind of rules it will invoke in helping choose its next candidate.

 Voir enfin:

Ryan quits race

State GOP scrambles to find replacement to face Obama

Republican Senate nominee cites fixation on divorce files

Liam Ford and Rudolph Bush, Tribune staff reporters. Tribune staff reporters Christi Parsons, Ray Long, John Chase, David Mendell and Rick Pearson contributed to this report

June 26, 2004

Beleaguered Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Jack Ryan ended his campaign Friday, leaving his party scrambling to find a replacement with enough money and magnetism to mount a serious challenge against Democratic candidate Barack Obama.

Ryan had been under attack by a wide range of party leaders for a lack of candor following the release this week of previously sealed records from his divorce from TV actress Jeri Ryan, giving rise to what one prominent Republican called « buyer’s remorse. »

Jack Ryan had fought the release, insisting he was trying only to protect his son and not to hide embarrassing information. But the files showed Jeri Ryan had accused her ex-husband of taking her to sex clubs and trying to pressure her into having sex in front of others.

Ryan met with staff Friday morning to inform them of his decision to quit the race. Later, he issued a statement explaining he was stepping down because a fixation on the divorce charges meant that a « debate between competing visions and philosophies » could not take place in the Senate race.

« What would take place, rather, is a brutal, scorched-earth campaign–the kind of campaign that has turned off so many voters, the kind of politics I refuse to play, » Ryan said.

Republican pressure on Ryan to step aside began Monday with the release of the files, including one document in which Ryan vigorously denied the allegations of his ex-wife.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Schnider released the information as the result of motions filed by the Chicago Tribune and WLS-Ch. 7.

Calls for Ryan’s withdrawal intensified throughout the week as party officials–saying Ryan misled them about the extent of his ex-wife’s allegations–warned of the damage he could do to an already struggling party’s chances in November.

On Thursday, U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert of Plano and state GOP chairwoman Judy Baar Topinka called U.S. Sen. George Allen, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. They asked him to pull the plug on Ryan’s campaign, according to a GOP source who spoke frequently with top Ryan campaign staffers.

Ryan held out until Friday, as U.S. Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, whom Ryan was seeking to replace, and some other GOP senators urged him to fight on. Even before the release of the court files, Ryan had trailed Obama by a wide margin in public opinion polls, and his decision to quit came after his campaign commissioned yet another poll to gauge public response to the growing divorce file controversy, the Republican source said.

The results arrived Friday morning and convinced Ryan that he had been too damaged by the revelations to recover, the source said.

On Friday, Topinka said Ryan’s « decision was a personal one. » She denied that the state Republican Party pressured Ryan to drop out, saying state leaders recently backed off to ensure Ryan felt it was his decision alone.

« He had a lot of great ideas, but they probably would have been overshadowed by this controversy, » Topinka said. « We appreciate what he did for the greater good of the party. »

Meanwhile, Obama, a Democratic state senator, praised the work Ryan has « done as a teacher and as a civic leader throughout the state. »

« What happened to him over the last three days was unfortunate, » Obama said. « It’s not something I certainly would wish on anybody. And having said that, from this point forward, I think we will be continuing to talk about the issues. »

Republicans will move quickly to replace Ryan, Topinka promised. The party’s 19 central committee members should « reach out » to constituents and try to have a replacement candidate within three weeks, she said.

But with its top ranks decimated by scandal and widespread electoral losses in 2002 that handed almost total control of state government to Democrats, the party may have difficulty finding a high-profile candidate with as deep pockets as had Ryan, whose personal fortune is estimated at up to $95 million.

Two former governors mentioned as possible candidates, James R. Thompson and Jim Edgar, have both indicated they will not run, said Topinka, who also ruled out her own candidacy. A leading contender who has not said no is Ron Gidwitz, 59, a wealthy businessman and the former chairman of the state Board of Education, according to several Republican sources.

On Friday, U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo also was making an open pitch for state Sen. Steve Rauschenberger (R-Elgin), one of several candidates who lost to Ryan in the primary.

« Steve entered the primary against three millionaires, and two more weeks [of campaigning] and he would have won it, » Manzullo said.

U.S. Rep. John Shimkus said Ryan’s departure has led to « a sense of relief and a little bit of excitement, » at moving past the scandal.

State Sen. Kirk Dillard, chairman of the DuPage County Republican Party, said calls to his party headquarters were almost unanimously against Ryan staying in the race.

« It wasn’t really over the substance of what he did or did not do with his wife, » Dillard said. « It was, they thought that he deliberately withheld information before the March primary and we had a lot of buyer’s remorse. »

Ryan’s demise came after years of groundwork carefully laid by the Wilmette native, who several years ago began attending Republican party Lincoln Day dinners throughout the state to gauge reaction to his entering the political arena.

Ryan entered the race more than a year ago, weeks after Fitzgerald said he would not seek re-election. A former investment banker who took a job as a teacher at Hales Franciscan High School on the South Side, Ryan had also been courted by the national GOP as a possible opponent for U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin in 2002. Ryan opted not to make that run.

The divorce file issue first surfaced for Ryan during the March primary campaign as an outgrowth of a flap that sank the once front-running campaign in the Democratic Senate primary of millionaire Blair Hull. Under pressure, Hull released sealed divorce files which showed one of his ex-wives had accused him of abusive behavior.

Unlike Hull, Ryan refused to release his files, assuring state party officials that there was nothing embarrassing in them and to do so would only hurt his 9-year-old son.

As he exited the race Friday, Ryan singled out the Tribune for criticism because it went to court to force release of the custody files.

« The media has gotten out of control, » Ryan complained. « The fact that the Chicago Tribune sues for access to sealed custody documents and then takes unto itself the right to publish details of a custody dispute over the objections of two parents who agree that the re-airing of their arguments will hurt their ability to co-parent their child and will hurt their child is truly outrageous. »

Conservative backers, including Fitzgerald, were dismayed by Ryan’s announcement. Fitzgerald lashed out at the state Republican leadership for abandoning Ryan. « The piranhas were circling, » he said. « It was not the Democrats; it was the Illinois party brass. »

But the state’s Republican national committeeman, Robert Kjellander, said Ryan’s departure frees the party to try to focus on election issues–and Obama’s record.

« Yes, it’s certainly a setback, » Kjellander said. « But it’s not one that’s fatal and both the Senate campaign committee and the president’s campaign see Illinois as an opportunity and we’re going to move ahead. »


Présidentielle américaine/2012: Pour la joie d’avoir un président qui ne s’excuse plus d’être américain (Why O should go)

5 novembre, 2012

Et je vais être honnête avec vous, c’est une joie de servir avec un président qui ne s’excuse pas pour les États-Unis d’Amérique. George H. W. Bush (1984)
Son visage sérigraphié était devenu une icône, son slogan «Yes we can» l’énoncé d’une nouvelle Amérique. Candidat courageux, Barack Obama avait choisi de s’adresser à l’intelligence de ses électeurs, et non à leurs tripes. Jeune, noir, il était devenu le président de la jeunesse, des femmes et des minorités. (…) Son rival est pourtant une caricature de républicain milliardaire, blanc et conservateur, sans souffle, ni programme. (…) Mitt Romney représente l’aile dure tendance taliban du Parti républicain, prête à faire régresser leur pays à l’âge de pierre. Mais (…) Obama, pour son pays (mais aussi pour nous autres étrangers), demeure sa meilleure promesse. Libération
Nous vivons dans le pays qui détient le record d’«Obamania», selon une étude d’opinons mondiale faite par la BBC, où il ressort que le président américain sortant recueille l’adhésion de 2 Français sur 3, dont moins de 5% en faveur de Mitt Romney. Les Français, comme les autres Européens, ont raison: nous avons intérêt à la continuité, à la réélection de Barack Obama, et beaucoup à craindre de l’élection de Mitt Romney. Jean-Marie Colombani
Comment imaginer un seul instant que Michelle Obama puisse "nous" quitter le soir du 6 novembre? (…) Alors à la First aux bras nus, la femme noire, la militante, la mère de Malia et Sasha, la femme de Barack, la protectrice des familles de militaires au front, la combattante de l’obésité des ados ,on ne sait même plus à laquelle nous demandons de rester. Allez encore quatre ans… c’est si vite passé pour nous! Le Figaro
 Barack Obama peut être fier de son bilan (…) Je ne regrette pas, pour ma part, d’avoir, dès 2004, soit quatre ans avant sa première élection, pressenti le prodigieux destin de celui que je baptisai aussitôt le « Kennedy noir ». Pas de raisons d’être déçu ! L’espoir est là. Plus que jamais là. Et le combat continue. BHL
Si vous n’aviez pas eu la tempête, la campagne de Romney aurait eu une meilleure chance de parler du déficit, de la dette, de l’économie. Il y a eu un bégaiement dans la campagne. Quand l’attention est détournée vers autre chose, ce n’est pas à son avantage. Karl Rove
The bottom line is this: If Obama wins, we’ll probably get small-bore stasis; if Romney wins, we’re more likely to get bipartisan reform. Romney is more of a flexible flip-flopper than Obama. He has more influence over the most intransigent element in the Washington equation House Republicans. He’s more likely to get big stuff done. David Brooks
Government grows in size and power as the individual shrinks into dependency. Until the tipping point where dependency becomes the new norm — as it is in Europe, where even minor retrenchment of the entitlement state has led to despair and, for the more energetic, rioting. An Obama second term means that the movement toward European-style social democracy continues, in part by legislation, in part by executive decree. The American experiment — the more individualistic, energetic, innovative, risk-taking model of democratic governance — continues to recede, yielding to the supervised life of the entitlement state. If Obama loses, however, his presidency becomes a historical parenthesis, a passing interlude of overreaching hyper-liberalism, rejected by a center-right country that is 80 percent nonliberal. Should they summon the skill and dexterity, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan could guide the country to the restoration of a more austere and modest government with more restrained entitlements and a more equitable and efficient tax code. Those achievements alone would mark a new trajectory — a return to what Reagan started three decades ago. Every four years we are told that the coming election is the most important of one’s life. This time it might actually be true. At stake is the relation between citizen and state, the very nature of the American social contract. Charles Krauthammer
I vote Republican because I support the party’s core message of individualism, patriotism, and respect for tradition, in contrast to the core Democratic message of dependence, self-criticism, and "progress." I am inspired by the original reading of the U.S. Constitution, by ideals of personal freedom and American exceptionalism. I vote for small government, for a return of power to the states, for a strong military, and an assertive pursuit of national interests. Daniel Pipes
Les Américains votent pour une meilleure économie. L’“Obamania” en Europe est étouffante et élude les résultats catastrophiques du président démocrate américain, tant aux niveaux économique que diplomatique. Pendant son mandat, Barack Obama a affaibli la puissance américaine. Avec lui, l’Amérique n’est plus crainte. Les Sud-Coréens, les Japonais ou les Israéliens l’ont compris et le déplorent. Avec Mitt Romney et son colistier Paul Ryan, les États-Unis renoueront avec leur rôle de locomotive du monde. Avec eux, l’État ne sera pas gras mais musclé, concentré sur ses fonctions régaliennes. Le président sortant, lui, défend un projet européen, social-démocrate pour les États-Unis, contraire à ce qui fait l’exception et la grandeur de ce pays. Philippe Karsenty (maire adjoint de Neuilly-sur-Seine, en charge de la politique étrangère au Parti libéral)
Un mois de pillules contraceptives coûte 15 dollars. Est-ce une somme exhorbitante pour 30 jours de liberté sexuelle ? J’emploie ce mot à dessein. Les républicains pensent que l’individu doit être responsable de ses actes et que l’État ou les compagnies d’assurance maladie n’ont pas le devoir de payer la pillule. Ceux qui veulent pratiquer telle ou telle forme de contraception, sont libres de le faire pour un coût dérisoire, dixit les républicains. Être contre la gratuité de la contraception, ne veut pas dire que l’on veut interdire la contraception. Pierre-Yves Dugua
Comment se fait-il qu’une écrasante majorité de Français souhaitent que les solutions qui ont échoué chez eux, soient mises en oeuvre en Amérique ? Pourquoi rejettent-ils François Hollande mais embrassent-ils Barack Obama ? Il y a une explication "psychanalytique" à l’obamania française: le français ferait un transfert sur l’Amérique. Incapable d’élire un jeune noir président dans son pays, le Français se rassurerait en "votant" pour une jeune noir dans un autre pays. Ça ne coûte rien effectivement. Il y a l’explication médiatique: l’écrasante majorité de ce que les Français savent de l’Amérique et de Barack Obama provient de récits caricaturant l’Amérique, glorifiant le parti démocrate et dénigrant les républicains. Il y a aussi l’explication historico-culturelle: le Français n’a jamais été capitaliste. Il n’aime pas le marché. Même à droite en France, il n’y a pas de libéraux. Mitt Romney est pour le Français un extra-terrestre dangereux car il vient du monde de la finance. En outre il a été missionnaire. Pire: il a été missionnaire en France ! Donc c’est un fou. Dire, comme Mitt Romney que l’initiative privée est créatrice de croissance alors que la réglementation, bien intentionnée, aboutit trop souvent à décourager l’embauche, est politiquement incorrect. Barack Obama, au contraire est une homme politique de carrière, un intellectuel, ignorant et surtout méprisant le monde de l’entreprise. Il est donc bien plus "français" dans son profil. That is the problem ! Pierre-Yves Dugua
Les deux seuls instituts de sondage fiables, Gallup et Rasmussen, donnent une avance de deux à six points à Mitt Romney à l’échelle nationale. Comme par hasard, mais ce n’est pas un hasard, les chiffres donnés par Gallup et Rasmussen ne sont à peu près jamais cités en France où les commentateurs se basent sur d’autres sondages, qui reposent sur des critères absurdes destinés à permettre à certains de prendre leurs désirs pour des réalités : gonfler le chiffre d’électeurs démocrates de huit ou neuf points permet de maquiller les chiffres, mais strictement aucune donnée n’indique qu’il y aura huit ou neuf pour cent de démocrates de plus que de républicains qui se rendront aux urnes. Il faudrait pour cela une vague d’enthousiasme irrépressible façon 2008, et cette vague n’existe pas : la motivation est très nettement aujourd’hui du côté républicain. (…) L’élection de Mitt Romney redonnera aux Etats-Unis un Président digne de ce nom. La plupart des Français ne comprendront pas. On n’a pas cessé de leur présenter Obama comme un modéré et comme un homme exemplaire. Seuls ceux qui auront lu mon livre Le désastre Obama sauront qui est Obama et quel est son bilan. On n’a pas cessé de leur présenter Mitt Romney comme un crétin ou comme un rapace. Que des gens qui se prétendent imprégnés de compassion et de préoccupation pour les pauvres mentent à ce degré m’indigne absolument. Obama est un extrémiste et ces gens le savent, tout comme ils savent que pendant la présidence Obama, le nombre de pauvres et de chômeurs s’est considérablement accru, la situation économique des Etats-Unis s’est profondément détériorée, le niveau de vie aux Etats-Unis a baissé. J’ajouterai : l’économie américaine est la locomotive économique du monde et ces gens le savent, tout comme ils savent que la détérioration de l’économie américaine a des conséquences destructrices pour les économies du reste du monde, dont les économies européennes. J’ajouterai aussi : l’abandon du monde à l’islam radical et à divers régimes dictatoriaux signifie un recul de la liberté, et ces gens le savent parfaitement. Guy Millière
L’échec d’Obama serait aussi celui des innombrables commentateurs qui, aux Etats-Unis comme en France, auront voulu juger l’homme en fonction de sa couleur de peau, en l’occurrence de son "métissage", érigé en symbole d’un nouveau monde, globalisé et plat. Les effets de ce raisonnement à courte vue, dénoncés ici dès le début, sont aujourd’hui connus : les Etats-Unis, pour avoir tenté d’imiter l’Europe déclinante, se sont affaiblis. Ivan Rioufol

Ah, la joie d’avoir un président qui ne s’excuse plus d’être américain!

A la veille d’une élection annoncée plus que serrée (sans parler de la "surprise d’octobre" de l’ouragan Sandy) mais aussi cruciale tant pour le pays leader du Monde libre que le reste du monde …

Qui risque de voir réélu pour quatre longues années de plus le calamiteux "candidat des journalistes et de la pensée dominante" ayant, derrière son prix Nobel de la paix, liquidé plus de monde que n’en a incarcéré Guantanamo …

Et surtout face à la désinformation hargneuse de tant de nos médias contre son adversaire républicain …

Pendant que, sous la démagogie socialiste, le Pays autoproclamé des droits de l’homme continue à glisser doucement mais sûrement dans l’anomie et l’insignifiance de la delanoïsation

Retour, avec quelques uns des rares esprits critiques des médias, sur quelques unes des raisons qui ne peuvent que faire souhaiter, avec toutes ses inévitables imperfections, la victoire du candidat de la liberté Mitt Romney …

Barack Obama, symbole déjà épuisé

Ivan Rioufol

22 octobre 2012

Barack Obama, candidat des journalistes et de la pensée dominante, peut perdre la présidentielle du 6 novembre. Les sondages le donnent au coude à coude avec Mitt Romney, qu’il affrontera ce lundi soir aux Etats-Unis pour un troisième et dernier débat consacré à la politique internationale. Le sort du président sortant est entre les mains d’une poignée d’Etats, tentés pour certains de basculer dans le camp républicain. Dès à présent, la désillusion qui entache celui qui était présenté, en 2008, comme le messie annonçant l’homme nouveau, met en lumière la vacuité que dissimulait la propagande médiatique mise à son service. L’échec d’Obama serait aussi celui des innombrables commentateurs qui, aux Etats-Unis comme en France, auront voulu juger l’homme en fonction de sa couleur de peau, en l’occurrence de son "métissage", érigé en symbole d’un nouveau monde, globalisé et plat. Les effets de ce raisonnement à courte vue, dénoncés ici dès le début, sont aujourd’hui connus : les Etats-Unis, pour avoir tenté d’imiter l’Europe déclinante, se sont affaiblis.

Le bilan d’Obama, c’est, pour les Américains, davantage de dettes publiques et de pauvreté. Seul le chômage a légèrement baissé ces derniers jours après avoir aussi augmenté. Au plan international, l’exécution de Ben Laden ne peut faire oublier l’humiliation que fait subir l’islam radical aux Etats-Unis, qui ont voulu jouer l’apaisement et la compréhension (discours du Caire du 4 juin 2009). Jamais l’islamisme ne s’est aussi bien porté que sous la doctrine du "soft power". Voilà pourquoi, pour ma part, j’espère en la victoire de Romney et de son coéquipier Paul Ryan. J’ai découvert, ces derniers temps, que le candidat républicain ne ressemblait pas à la caricature qu’en faisaient les journaux. Romney a visiblement les idées claires. Je le crois capable de redonner toute son autorité à son pays, en insufflant également une politique libérale qui s’imposera aussi à l’Europe étouffée par sa technocratie. En attendant : la délirante obamania d’hier n’a pas volé la nouvelle obamaphobie qui s‘observe aux Etats-Unis. Cela s’appelle un retour de bâton. J’en espère un second, dans quinze jours…

Voir aussi:

Barack Hussein Hollande ?

Pierre-Yves Dugua

26 octobre 2012

Si j’écoute bien Barack Obama, pour résoudre les problèmes de l’Amérique il faut augmenter les impôts des riches, réglementer les prix de la santé, réglementer davantage les banques, punir les spéculateurs, subventionner des technologies nouvelles, embaucher des enseignants, construire des ponts, des routes et des lignes de trains à grande vitesse.

Je connais déjà ce pays. Il s’appelle la France. Et c’est la raison pour laquelle je doute sincèrement que ces solutions social-démocrates réussissent au Amérique, alors qu’en France, et ailleurs en Europe, elles échouent. Leur principal succès est de faire grimper la dette publique. Elles ne créent pas durablement de croissance. Elles découragent la prise de risque et la création d’emplois privés.

L’obsession de la Maison blanche est la redistribution des richesses et la punition des millionnaires. Taxer les riches: c’est la grande proposition explicite de Barack Obama. Ne cherchez pas, il n’y en a pas d’autre aussi détaillée. Mais en Europe la fiscalité redistributive est la norme depuis au moins 40 ans. Quel est le résulat ? L’égalité a-t-elle été atteinte, depuis le temps qu’on redistribue…? En réduisant le nombre de riches, dope-t-on vraiment la classe moyenne ? réduit-on vraiment la pauvreté ? et à quel prix en termes de croissance, d’innovation et de compétitivité perdue ?

Si la France connaissait une croissance forte, si le nombre de pauvres y diminuait, si les classes moyennes s’y sentaient plus riches, si l’innovation – subventionnée par des fonctionnaires qui savent mieux que le secteur privé ce que seront les technologies d’avenir – créeait des emplois, si le chômage y reculait, si les jeunes Français se sentaient heureux optimistes, je dirais: banco ! Le modèle français marche. Il faut le copier.

Hélas, je ne vois pas ces tendances se développer en France. Je vois au contraire le chômage de longue durée s’aggraver. Je vois un système d’enseignement public inréformable qui produit des diplômés qui ne sont pas adaptés au marché du travail. Je vois une marginalisation de millions de jeunes dépendants de subsides publics et sans emploi ou perspective de formation. Je vois une jeune génération écrasée d’impôts pour des années du fait du poids de la dette publique contractée pour financer les "avantages sociaux" des plus âgés. Je vois un Président élu en mai sur des thèmes sociaux-démocrates, dont la cote de popularité tombe en dessous de 40%.

Et je ne comprends pas. Je suis interloqué. Comment se fait-il qu’une écrasante majorité de Français souhaitent que les solutions qui ont échoué chez eux, soient mises en oeuvre en Amérique ? Pourquoi rejettent-ils François Hollande mais embrassent-ils Barack Obama ?

Il y a une explication "psychanalytique" à l’obamania française: le français ferait un transfert sur l’Amérique. Incapable d’élire un jeune noir président dans son pays, le Français se rassurerait en "votant" pour une jeune noir dans un autre pays. Ça ne coûte rien effectivement.

Il y a l’explication médiatique: l’écrasante majorité de ce que les Français savent de l’Amérique et de Barack Obama provient de récits caricaturant l’Amérique, glorifiant le parti démocrate et dénigrant les républicains.

Il y a aussi l’explication historico-culturelle: le Français n’a jamais été capitaliste. Il n’aime pas le marché. Même à droite en France, il n’y a pas de libéraux. Mitt Romney est pour le Français un extra-terrestre dangereux car il vient du monde de la finance. En outre il a été missionnaire. Pire: il a été missionnaire en France ! Donc c’est un fou. Dire, comme Mitt Romney que l’initiative privée est créatrice de croissance alors que la réglementation, bien intentionnée, aboutit trop souvent à décourager l’embauche, est politiquement incorrect.

Barack Obama, au contraire est une homme politique de carrière, un intellectuel, ignorant et surtout méprisant le monde de l’entreprise. Il est donc bien plus "français" dans son profil. That is the problem !

 Voir également:

Pourquoi je pense que Mitt Romney sera élu président

Guy Millière

Dreuz.info

5 novembre 2012

Demain mardi, tard dans la soirée aux Etats-Unis, le nom de celui qui sera élu Président des Etats-Unis sera connu.

En France, les résultats commenceront à se dessiner, vu le décalage horaire, alentour de deux heures du matin, peut-être un peu plus tard.

Je m’en tiens à mes dernières prévisions. Je pense que Mitt Romney sera élu.

Et je pense qu’il ne reste qu’une infime chance à Barack Obama de faire un second mandat. J’ai dit une chance sur cent, et je m’y tiens.

Je me base pour écrire ce que je viens d’écrire sur les sondages : les deux seuls instituts de sondage fiables, Gallup et Rasmussen, donnent une avance de deux à six points à Mitt Romney à l’échelle nationale. Si je devais donner des chiffres en cet instant, je dirais : 51 pour cent pour Romney, 47 pour cent pour Obama, le reste des voix se portant sur des candidats marginaux, tels le candidat libertarien.

Comme par hasard, mais ce n’est pas un hasard, les chiffres donnés par Gallup et Rasmussen ne sont à peu près jamais cités en France où les commentateurs se basent sur d’autres sondages, qui reposent sur des critères absurdes destinés à permettre à certains de prendre leurs désirs pour des réalités : gonfler le chiffre d’électeurs démocrates de huit ou neuf points permet de maquiller les chiffres, mais strictement aucune donnée n’indique qu’il y aura huit ou neuf pour cent de démocrates de plus que de républicains qui se rendront aux urnes. Il faudrait pour cela une vague d’enthousiasme irrépressible façon 2008, et cette vague n’existe pas : la motivation est très nettement aujourd’hui du côté républicain.

Des chiffres de sondage semblant contredire les chiffres nationaux donnés par Gallup et Rasmussen circulent concernant divers Etats décisifs.

Romney remportera la Floride et la Virginie, tout comme il remportera la Caroline du Nord

Il en est même qui donnent Obama vainqueur en Floride et en Virginie : si le ridicule tuait, il y aurait des morts subites bien avant mardi. Romney remportera la Floride et la Virginie, tout comme il remportera la Caroline du Nord, et tous les commentateurs américains le savent, même si certains disent le contraire. En Ohio, les résultats seront plus serrés ; mais les études les plus sérieuses indiquent que Romney l’emportera aussi en Ohio.

Un très mauvais signe pour Barack Obama

Je me base pour écrire ce que j’écris aussi sur d’autres éléments : les votes effectués en avance. Voici une semaine, il se disait que ceux-ci montraient une avance écrasante d’Obama, ce qui aurait été logique au vu de l’intense campagne menée pour le vote effectué en avance par le camp Obama : ce qu’on sait désormais des résultats montre une avance très nette de Romney dans les votes effectués en avance. Et c’est vraiment un très mauvais signe pour Barack Obama.

Le fait que des spots publicitaires soient diffusés dans des Etats tels que le Wisconsin, le Michigan, la Pennsylvanie, le Nevada, montre que ces Etats sont en jeu et ne peuvent pas être placés avec certitude dans la colonne des Etats gagnés par Obama. Les politologues conservateurs les plus pessimistes prévoient une victoire de Romney, comme moi. Les plus optimistes prévoient une victoire très confortable de Romney.

Obama a traité Romney de « fouteur de merde » et de « traître »

Signe qui ne trompe pas, la campagne d’Obama et Obama lui-même ont montré des signes évidents de nervosité, typiques d’une campagne en train de perdre pied. On a montré en France des images d’Obama rendant visite aux sinistrés de la tempête Sandy : non seulement on n’a rien dit de l’affaire Benghazi, qui n’est pas achevé, mais on n’a pas relevé qu’Obama a traité Romney de « fouteur de merde » et de « traître ». On n’a pas relevé non plus l’arrogance colérique montrée par Obama lors de ses réunions publiques.

On n’a pas cité les publicités réalisées en faveur de Barack Obama, qui ont fait bien davantage que toucher le fond ces temps derniers : l’une montre une jeune fille qui parle de l’homme avec qui ce sera la « première fois », et cet homme ressemble à Barack Obama, bien sûr. Une autre montre une chorale d’enfants digne de la Corée du Nord chantant une chanson expliquant qu’en votant républicain, leurs parents seront responsables d’une planète où l’eau sera souillée et l’air irrespirable. Une troisième montre des octogénaires dans un hospice de vieillards menaçant Romney de coups de pieds dans les parties génitales. Heureusement que la campagne se termine, car on peut se demander à quel niveau tout cela pourrait descendre.

L’élection de Mitt Romney redonnera aux Etats-Unis un Président digne de ce nom.

La plupart des Français ne comprendront pas.

On n’a pas cessé de leur présenter Obama comme un modéré et comme un homme exemplaire. Seuls ceux qui auront lu mon livre Le désastre Obama sauront qui est Obama et quel est son bilan.

On n’a pas cessé de leur présenter Mitt Romney comme un crétin ou comme un rapace.

Que des gens qui se prétendent imprégnés de compassion et de préoccupation pour les pauvres mentent à ce degré m’indigne absolument.

Obama est un extrémiste et ces gens le savent, tout comme ils savent que pendant la présidence Obama, le nombre de pauvres et de chômeurs s’est considérablement accru, la situation économique des Etats-Unis s’est profondément détériorée, le niveau de vie aux Etats-Unis a baissé.

J’ajouterai : l’économie américaine est la locomotive économique du monde et ces gens le savent, tout comme ils savent que la détérioration de l’économie américaine a des conséquences destructrices pour les économies du reste du monde, dont les économies européennes.

J’ajouterai aussi : l’abandon du monde à l’islam radical et à divers régimes dictatoriaux signifie un recul de la liberté, et ces gens le savent parfaitement.

La grande majorité des journalistes français ne sont pas des journalistes mais des idéologues.

Le pluralisme n’existe plus en France. Je suis le seul à pouvoir exposer certains faits. J’ai disposé de cinq minutes sur France 3, et de huit minutes sur France 24. L’obamalatrie a disposé de milliers de minutes. Si ce n’est pas du totalitarisme, cela y ressemble.

Romney Président, je l’ai déjà dit et je le sais, sera traité par les médias français comme George Walker Bush l’a été. Ce n’est pas grave. Romney Président fera ce qui doit l’être, pour rétablir la sécurité dans le monde, redonner sa place à la liberté, remettre les Etats-Unis sur la voie de la prospérité.

Romney Président, ce sera le retour de l’Amérique.

Ce qui pourra paraître étonnant rétrospectivement, c’est qu’Obama ait eu une chance de l’emporter. J’ai donné les explications : Romney avait tous les grands médias contre lui. Obama avait des millions d’assistés votant pour celui qui envoie le chèque en fin de mois. Il avait la gauche caviar de Hollywood et de Beverly Hills, ceux dont le cerveau a été essoré par des professeurs gauchistes, les minorités ethniques chez qui on compte un grand nombre d’assistés. Obama va laisser un pays qu’il a profondément divisé. Romney a parlé en rassembleur : il a eu raison.

J’ai laissé une chance sur cent de l’emporter à Obama.

Je l’ai déjà dit : je n’ose imaginer ce qui résulterait d’une victoire éventuelle d’Obama.

Si elle survient, j’aurai la pénible tâche de le faire.

Mais je pense et je veux penser que je n’aurai pas à le faire, et que mardi soir, je pourrai me dire qu’il y a de nouveau un Président des Etats-Unis aux portes de la Maison Blanche.

Voir encore:

 

Why I Am Voting Republican

Daniel Pipes

November 4, 2012

Cross-posted from National Review Online, The Corner

Note the title is not "Why I am voting for Mitt Romney." That’s because the two major American parties, Democratic and Republican, represent contrasting outlooks and you vote for the one or other of them, not for a personality. The presidential candidate is captain of the team but its many other players act autonomously. The past half-century has seen a sharpening of the divide between the parties’ philosophical consistency which I (unlike most observers) see as a positive development; who needs Rockefeller Republicans, wets, or RINOs? And ticket-splitting increases gridlock.

The president as captain of his team: Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell in the White House, July 14, 2011.

I vote Republican because I support the party’s core message of individualism, patriotism, and respect for tradition, in contrast to the core Democratic message of dependence, self-criticism, and "progress." I am inspired by the original reading of the U.S. Constitution, by ideals of personal freedom and American exceptionalism. I vote for small government, for a return of power to the states, for a strong military, and an assertive pursuit of national interests.

And on my special issues, the Middle East and Islamism, Republicans consistently outperform Democrats. Extensive polling and many congressional actions establish this pattern for the Arab-Israeli conflict and a similar contrast exists also on other foreign policy issues, such as the Iranian nuclear buildup, energy policy, and the Arab upheavals. As for the new totalitarian ideology, Islamism, Democrats show a marked softness, just as they previously did vis-à-vis the communist one.

Finally, I worry that Barack Obama will do far more damage in a second term than he could in his first, that Obamacare will prove just the start of what, before his inauguration, I called the "fundamental restructuring of the relationship between state and society such as occurred under three of his Democratic predecessors of the past century – Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson."

And so I am voting the straight Republican ticket and urge readers to do likewise. (November 4, 2012)

Voir de plus:

The Choice

Charles Krauthammer

The National Review

November 1, 2012 8:00 P.M.

‘Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not.” That was Barack Obama in 2008. And he was right. Reagan was an ideological inflection point, ending a 50-year liberal ascendancy and beginning a 30-year conservative ascendancy.

It is common for one party to take control and enact its ideological agenda. Ascendancy, however, occurs only when the opposition inevitably regains power and then proceeds to accept the basic premises of the preceding revolution.

Thus, Republicans railed for 20 years against the New Deal. Yet when they regained the White House in 1953, they kept the New Deal intact.

And when Nixon followed LBJ’s Great Society — liberalism’s second wave — he didn’t repeal it. He actually expanded it. Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency, gave teeth to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and institutionalized affirmative action — major adornments of contemporary liberalism.

Until Reagan. Ten minutes into his presidency, Reagan declares that “government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.” Having thus rhetorically rejected the very premise of the New Deal/Great Society, he sets about attacking its foundations — with radical tax reduction, major deregulation, a frontal challenge to unionism (breaking the air-traffic controllers’ union for striking illegally), and an (only partially successful) attempt at restraining government growth.

Reaganism’s ascendancy was confirmed when the other guys came to power and their leader, Bill Clinton, declared (in his 1996 State of the Union address) that “the era of big government is over” — and then abolished welfare, the centerpiece “relief” program of modern liberalism.

In Britain, the same phenomenon: Tony Blair did to Thatcherism what Clinton did to Reaganism. He made it the norm.

Obama’s intention has always been to re-normalize, to reverse ideological course, to be the anti-Reagan — the author of a new liberal ascendancy. Nor did he hide his ambition. In his February 2009 address to Congress he declared his intention to transform America. This was no abstraction. He would do it in three areas: health care, education, and energy.

Think about that. Health care is one-sixth of the economy. Education is the future. And energy is the lifeblood of any advanced country — control pricing and production and you’ve controlled the industrial economy.

And it wasn’t just rhetoric. He enacted liberalism’s holy grail: the nationalization of health care. His $830 billion stimulus, by far the largest spending bill in U.S. history, massively injected government into the free market — lavishing immense amounts of tax dollars on favored companies and industries in a naked display of industrial policy.

And what Obama failed to pass through Congress, he enacted unilaterally by executive action. He could not pass cap-and-trade, but his EPA is killing coal. (No new coal-fired power plant would ever be built.) In 2006, liberals failed legislatively to gut welfare’s work requirement. Obama’s new HHS rules does that by fiat. Continued in a second term, his administration would abolish welfare reform as we know it — just as in a second term, natural gas will follow coal, as Obama’s EPA regulates fracking into noncompetitiveness.

Government grows in size and power as the individual shrinks into dependency. Until the tipping point where dependency becomes the new norm — as it is in Europe, where even minor retrenchment of the entitlement state has led to despair and, for the more energetic, rioting.

An Obama second term means that the movement toward European-style social democracy continues, in part by legislation, in part by executive decree. The American experiment — the more individualistic, energetic, innovative, risk-taking model of democratic governance — continues to recede, yielding to the supervised life of the entitlement state.

If Obama loses, however, his presidency becomes a historical parenthesis, a passing interlude of overreaching hyper-liberalism, rejected by a center-right country that is 80 percent nonliberal.

Should they summon the skill and dexterity, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan could guide the country to the restoration of a more austere and modest government with more restrained entitlements and a more equitable and efficient tax code. Those achievements alone would mark a new trajectory — a return to what Reagan started three decades ago.

Every four years we are told that the coming election is the most important of one’s life. This time it might actually be true. At stake is the relation between citizen and state, the very nature of the American social contract.

— Charles Krauthammer is a nationally syndicated columnist. © 2012 the Washington Post Writers Group.

Voir enfin:

For and Against

Jay Nordlinger

The NRO

November 1, 2012

I am voting for Romney and against Obama. (Not that anyone should care, especially. But opinion-giving is part of what I do.) I thought I would list my reasons. I will not list all of them, but some of them — certainly the basics.

I will first say why I will vote for Romney. And then say why I’ll vote against O. Here we go.

I’m voting for Romney because

He’s a good and decent man (as far as I can tell). An exceptionally good and decent man. (Though politics brings out elbows, to be sure. So does business.)

He understands the economy. He’s a free-marketeer. He understands the importance of employers. He has ample business experience — useful in a president, especially now.

When he says, “The economy is in my wheelhouse,” I believe that. I don’t think it’s merely a boast. During the primaries, he often said, “I’ll get that done.” Meaning the solving of some problem. “I’ll get that done.” I believe it.

He is a “turnaround artist,” and this country is in sore need of a turnaround. As my colleague Kevin Williamson says, no one has ever been sorry he hired Mitt Romney to do a job.

He is against abortion. He wasn’t always, apparently. I believe he is now. The testimony of Mary Ann Glendon, about his tenure in Massachusetts, is important. (Glendon is a professor of law at Harvard, and a leading opponent of abortion.)

He would certainly not have taxpayers pay for abortions, as Obama is.

Romney would respect the rule of law, I think. He’s very ambitious: Anyone who runs for president is. But I don’t think he’s power-mad. I think he would respect the rule of law — process; the Constitution.

I believe he’s serious — actually serious — about entitlement reform. (As George W. Bush was. But it’s hard to be as bold as Bush, on Social Security and other matters.)

I like his running mate, Congressman Ryan, a lot.

Romney appreciates the rightful position of America in the world. That is, I think he has a good understanding of what America’s position ought to be. He is not ready to accept American decline, at home or abroad. He certainly would not welcome that decline. He understands America to be a force for good. He appreciates, I think, that decline is a choice, not an inevitability. And he chooses against.

He knows the importance of Israel. He knows its vulnerability. He wants to do something about it.

He would confront Iran. He would not flinch before it. I think he knows the folly of appeasement — the horrible consequences that so often flow from appeasement.

While properly “realistic,” he appreciates democracy and human rights. And knows that America can, and should, be helpful in furthering those things.

At the end of the 1984 vice-presidential debate, George Bush said, “I can’t tell you what a joy it is to serve with a president who will not apologize for the United States of America.” Geraldine Ferraro had the most perplexed look on her face. I knew exactly what Bush meant. I believe Romney would be the same kind of president.

That does not mean he’d be arrogant, about America. We’re not perfect (as I spend almost every day writing). But we do a lot of good in the world

He would cancel Obama’s softness on the Castros — the kinder, gentler approach that has yielded absolutely nothing. (An American aid worker, Alan Gross, has been held hostage in Cuba for three years.)

He would not be pushed around by the U.N. He would not crave the approval of the U.N. He would recognize the Human Rights Council for the sham it is

He would pursue missile defense, which Obama has stalled.

He appreciates the helpfulness of a market — of competitiveness — in health care.

He does not think that transferring certain responsibilities from the federal government to the states is some moral abdication.

He has a sensible view of the environment: He wants to be a good steward, but at the same time is not an earth-worshiper. He does not think that man is automatically a rapist of the earth. I have a feeling he thinks the earth should actually serve man — which is heresy today, of course.

He is willing to unleash American energy — or “legalize American energy,” in Michele Bachmann’s phrase.

He is not beholden to the teachers’ unions. When he thinks of education, he thinks of young people, students — not unions.

He does not go in for divisiveness. He doesn’t hate. He grants the humanity of the other side (even if the other side is unwilling to do the same).

I like that he’s religious. There are plenty of wicked religious people, and plenty of saintly secular people. But I count his religious outlook and devotion as a good.

I love — love — that he was willing to tell a left-wing heckler, “Corporations are people, my friend” — which they are. He calmly explained why. One of the best things I have ever seen in a campaign. (Watch it here.)

I like his occasional goofiness, his squareness. His 1950s language, which the Left loves to mock and revile. Makes me admire Mitt all the more.

In office, he would talk plainly. He would not call the War on Terror “overseas contingency operations,” or terrorism “man-made disaster.”

I think he’s the right man at the right time. A turnaround artist who ought to be hired by us, the people, to turn us around, before it’s too late.

Okay — enough of the positive (!). I’ll now dwell on the negative. I’m voting against Obama because

I think he’s been a lousy president. But also because he acts like we Republicans are bad people: inhumane and unpatriotic. I think he thinks we’re nuisances or threats, not fellow citizens to be engaged with.

I don’t believe that the “stimulus” was really and truly a response to the financial crisis. I think it was a whole mess o’ spending the Democrats had long wanted to do anyway.

Same with what we now call “Obamacare.” This has been the Democrats’ dream for ages. It has nothing to do with good times or bad times.

I don’t believe that Obama has any interest in reforming entitlements. I think he thinks those of us who want reform are motivated by the desire to hurt vulnerable people.

For him, businessmen are bogeymen. He demonizes them all too easily. I sense an underlying hostility to business.

I’m not convinced that President Obama doesn’t think American decline is a good thing — both for America and for the world. The world especially.

He is an abortion extremist: for public funding, for partial-birth abortion. Even unwilling to vote for the Born-Alive Infant-Protection Act.

Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan.

I’m not sure Obama is honest — about matters past and present. To take a present matter: the Benghazi attack. To take a past matter: the New Party. Stanley Kurtz has pretty much proven that Obama belonged to this party, a hard-Left organization. Obama and his camp have denied it up and down.

He has campaigned dirty, campaigned low — “Mitt Romney: Not one of us,” etc.

He is not telling the truth about Romney and taxation, about outsourcing, about Planned Parenthood and mammograms — about many things.

He will not stop caricaturing Republicans. He paints us as a bunch of plutocrats who gladly run over urchins as we’re chauffeured in our Rolls-Royces. This bears no relation to reality.

Bush handed him victory in the Iraq War. Obama just walked away from Iraq, because he couldn’t see any good in that war at all. At least, that is my impression. I believe he is willing to let Iraq go to the dogs, which would raise the question, Were our sacrifices in vain?

In 2008, he talked up Afghanistan as the good war. That was just a campaign trick. As president, Obama has wanted to “end” the war, not win it — big, terrible difference.

The Obama State Department expressed guilt to the Chinese Communists over the Arizona immigration law.

Democracy and human rights have been off the agenda — too George W. Bush-like, apparently. On the streets of Iran, democracy protesters chanted, “Obama, Obama! Either you’re with them [meaning the dictatorship] or you’re with us!” Obama stood silently by.

Sharansky called this “maybe one of the biggest betrayals of people’s freedom in modern history.”

Obama calls Iran “the Islamic Republic of Iran,” just as the mullahs want.

GWB sent Nowruz (New Year’s) greetings to the Iranian people. Obama has sent them to “the people and leaders of Iran.” He told Tehran he wanted “engagement that is honest and grounded in mutual respect.” Mutual respect? The Iranian government, bear in mind, is one that stones girls to death for the “crime” of having been gang-raped.

I’m nervous about the “flexibility” Obama promised in a second term. What does that mean?

With the French president, he griped about the Israeli prime minister.

He told American Jewish leaders that Israelis needed to “engage in some serious self-reflection.” The Israelis, of course, are the most seriously self-reflecting people in the history of peoples.

He had no respect for Honduran democracy. He sided with the Castroites and Chavezistas in that country.

He called Chávez “mi amigo,” his friend. Chávez is not a friend to any true democrat.

He has played nicey-nice with the Castros, and gotten nothing for it. An American aid worker, Alan Gross, has been held hostage in Cuba for three years. (Have I said that?)

Was it really necessary to have the Dalai Lama leave by a back door of the White House, next to piled-up garbage? Those photos sent a strong signal.

All of Obama’s bows have been unseemly. But the one to Chinese party boss Hu Jintao — disgusting.

The sight of American flags intertwined with Chinese Communist ones on Pennsylvania Avenue — disgusting.

Obama yanked missile defense from Poland and the Czech Republic. Worse, he put the program here at home on the back burner, if he didn’t take it off the stove altogether.

He gave the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson, the U.N. official who presided over the Durban Conference, that festival of Jew-hating.

He lent the prestige of the United States to the U.N. Human Rights Council, a body that serves the interests of human-rights abusers.

He called the War on Terror “overseas contingency operations,” and terrorism itself “man-made disaster.” (I’ve mentioned this, I know.)

He stood with the teachers’ unions against D.C. schoolchildren, who depended on vouchers for a decent education.

He has blocked American energy. He is bizarrely hostile to oil and gas, while favoring solar, wind, etc.

He is a central planner, picking winners and losers in an economy — meaning everyone loses, before long.

His vice president, Biden, is a joke, and sometimes a nasty one.

This president’s self-regard is too much: He knows more about Judaism than anyone else who ever held the office. He did more in his first two years than any other president — “with the possible exceptions of Johnson, FDR, and Lincoln.” “Possible”

Enough. I do not think Barack Obama is all bad. I really do not. I know Mitt Romney isn’t perfect. Anyway, you know how I’m voting, and my reasons, many of them. Happy democracy! We’re lucky to live in such a country.

To order Jay Nordlinger’s new book, Peace, They Say: A History of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Most Famous and Controversial Prize in the World, go here. To order his collection Here, There & Everywhere, go here.

Voir par ailleurs:

Hurricane Sandy helped Obama politically, Karl Rove says

Michael Leahy and Sean Sullivan

The Washington Post

November 2, 2012

Hurricane Sandy’s impact on the East Coast this week gave President Obama a political advantage during the final week of the campaign, Republican strategist Karl Rove said in an interview on Friday.

“If you hadn’t had the storm, there would have been more of a chance for the [Mitt] Romney campaign to talk about the deficit, the debt, the economy. There was a stutter in the campaign. When you have attention drawn away to somewhere else, to something else, it is not to his [Romney's] advantage,” Rove told The Washington Post.

Rove, who served as George W. Bush’s deputy White House chief of staff, said that in the wake of the storm, there are “advantages and a minor disadvantage” for the president as well as a “subtle disadvantage to Romney.”

“Obama has temporarily been a bipartisan figure this week. He has been the comforter-in-chief and that helps,” Rove said. The slight disadvantage for Obama, Rove said, “is that people in Eastern coastal communities are going to be preoccupied by issues of getting food to eat and having a roof over their heads; some of them won’t be thinking as much about the election.” But he conceded that those people reside in the Northeast, and not in the battleground states most likely to decide the election.

Hurricane Sandy slammed the Northeast late Monday, prompting the president to scrap his campaign schedule through the middle of the week, in order to monitor the storm. On Wednesday, Obama traveled to New Jersey to survey storm damage with Garden State Gov. Chris Christie (R), one of Romney’s top surrogates. The president resumed his campaign schedule on Thursday.

“It’s the October surprise,” Rove said of Sandy. “For once, the October surprise was a real surprise.”

Rove also opined on the relative importance of states that appear to favor Obama, but have attracted a late push from Romney and his allied groups. Pennsylvania and Minnesota are in play for Romney, Rove said. In those states, Obama has been leading in the polls, but Republicans have been surging. Romney and running mate Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) will campaign in Pennsylvania over the weekend.

Rove co-founded the conservative super PAC American Crossroads, which along with its affiliated non-profit Crossroads GPS has vowed to spend $300 million on the election. He said he thinks Romney will win Ohio, but can win the election even without carrying the Buckeye State – something no Republican has ever done. He also predicted a close national outcome on Tuesday.

“Nationally, it will be a point or two race,” said Rove.

Below is a transcript of the interview:

Question: Are Pennsylvania, Michigan and Michigan in play?

Rove: “I see Pennsylvania and Minnesota in play. Michigan is a little further down.”

Question: There’s a growing perception out there that Hurricane Sandy has had a significant effect on the race. Do you think that’s accurate?

Rove: “That’s absolutely true. There are advantages and a minor disadvantage to the President here — and a subtle disadvantage to Romney. Obama has temporarily been a bipartisan figure this week. He has been the Comforter-in-Chief and that helps. [The slight disadvantage for Obama] is that people in Eastern coastal communities are going to be preoccupied by issues of getting food to eat and having a roof over their heads; some of them won’t be thinking as much about the election…”

“…There’s a subtle disadvantage for Romney [in the wake of the hurricane]. For a five-day period, the country stopped talking about the presidential campaign really and people were talking only of the mega-storm.”

Question: In your view, has Sandy given Obama a chance to win that he otherwise wouldn’t have?

Rove: “Yes. If you hadn’t had the storm, there would have been more of a chance for the Romney campaign to talk about the deficit, the debt, the economy. There was a stutter in the campaign. When you have attention drawn away to somewhere else, to something else, it is not to his [Romney's] advantage.”

Question: Can Romney win without winning Ohio?

Rove: “I think he’s going to win Ohio. …. Yes, he can win without Ohio. … And, nationally, it will be a point or two race.”

Question: Going back to what you said earlier, it sounds like, in your judgment that Sandy has had a significant effect on this race. That is an interesting point. You think it’s had a significant effect. Is that accurate

Rove: “Yeah. It’s the October surprise. For once, the October surprise was a real surprise.”

Question: How does the Allen-Kaine race look to you?

Rove: “It’s tight. How big Romney wins Virginia will probably determine whether [Allen] will win.

Question: What should we make of the Romney campaign trying to put Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Michigan in play? Does that betray a worry that Ohio is slipping away for Romney, as some observers believe?

Rove: “No. We are just following the strategy of the 2008 Obama campaign, when it was going to states like North Carolina, Virginia and Indiana, all of which we’re going to win this year. You try to reach out. It’s the same strategy they used, four years ago. But I think we’re going to win Ohio.”


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