Palin’s futile foreign policy stunt

A recent poll shows that Sarah Palin is fighting a losing battle to win the presidency in 2012.

More bad news for Sarah Palin: only 23 per cent of the American public think she is qualified to be president of the United States, and 64 per cent say she is not. One possible reason for the results of this poll could be her lack of experience. She did, after all, serve only half of her gubernatorial term in Alaska. Arguably, one of the areas in which she is weakest is in the sphere of foreign policy.

This could explain her recent trip to Haiti. This was an apparent bid to bolster her foreign policy credentials ahead of an expected presidential campaign in 2012. She is also reportedly considering trips to Britain and Israel in 2011 to the same end.

It is very difficult to take news of this trip seriously. While she may be making these appearances to project a more credible stance on foreign policy, it really should not have that effect. Tightly scheduled and regulated media appearances are not enough to claim foreign policy experience. This seems like a repeat of her visit to the UN in the lead-up to the 2008 election.

Nobody outside of her already diehard supporters is going to be convinced that sporadic appearances in other countries are enough to qualify her for America's highest office. If she does end up running for the presidency in 2012, does she really expect to use these visits to show how serious she is about foreign policy? There is a reason that Tina Fey's hilarious impression of Palin ("I can see Russia from my house!") stuck in the public consciousness: it was perilously close to the truth.

Granted, Candidate Obama had little by way of foreign policy experience. This was compensated for with a huge depth of knowledge regarding US law and the constitution. Does Palin have that? Well, considering that she did not know what the vice-president's role was while running for that very office, or that she believes the US to be founded on Christianity, the answer appears to be no.

The line of separation between church and state would be severely blurred under Palin, should she get her way. This recent trip to Haiti is another example of her wilful ignorance of that separation. She went at the invitation of Franklin Graham's Samaritan's Purse organisation, which has been criticised for appearing to put a greater emphasis on proselytising than on helping people during humanitarian missions.

The Haiti trip does not give Palin any real foreign policy gravitas. In fact, it merely highlights the extent to which she is not a serious person. The very idea that such a stunt would make her more electable becomes even more laughable in the face of the latest Politico poll. Does anyone really expect such token appearances will persuade the 64 per cent that she is qualified? The current polling is clear: Sarah Palin will not be elected president in 2012.

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Recess confidential: Labour's liquid party

Sniffing out the best stories from Westminster, including Showsec, soames, and Smith-side splits.

If you are celebrating in a brewery, don’t ask Labour to provide the drinks. Because of the party’s continuing failure to secure a security contractor for its Liverpool conference, it is still uncertain whether the gathering will take place at all. Since boycotting G4S, the usual supplier, over its links with Israeli prisons, Labour has struggled to find an alternative. Of the five firms approached, only one – Showsec – offered its services. But the company’s non-union-recognition policy is inhibiting an agreement. The GMB, the firm’s antagonist, has threatened to picket the conference if Showsec is awarded the contract. In lieu of a breakthrough, sources suggest two alternatives: the police (at a cost of £59.65 per constable per hour), or the suspension of the G4S boycott. “We’ll soon find out which the Corbynites dislike the least,” an MP jested. Another feared that the Tories’ attack lines will write themselves: “How can Labour be trusted with national security if it can’t organise its own?”

Farewell, then, to Respect. The left-wing party founded in 2004 and joined by George Galloway after his expulsion from Labour has officially deregistered itself.

“We support Corbyn’s Labour Party,” the former MP explained, urging his 522,000 Facebook followers to sign up. “The Labour Party does not belong to one man,” replied Jess Phillips MP, who also pointed out in the same tweet that Respect had “massively failed”. Galloway, who won 1.4 per cent of the vote in this year’s London mayoral election, insists that he is not seeking to return to Labour. But he would surely be welcomed by Jeremy Corbyn’s director of communications, Seumas Milne, whom he once described as his “closest friend”. “We have spoken almost daily for 30 years,” Galloway boasted.

After Young Labour’s national committee voted to endorse Corbyn, its members were aggrieved to learn that they would not be permitted to promote his candidacy unless Owen Smith was given equal treatment. The leader’s supporters curse more “dirty tricks” from the Smith-sympathetic party machine.

Word reaches your mole of a Smith-side split between the ex-shadow cabinet ministers Lisa Nandy and Lucy Powell. The former is said to be encouraging the challenger’s left-wing platform, while the latter believes that he should make a more centrist pitch. If, as expected, Smith is beaten by Corbyn, it’s not only the divisions between the leader and his opponents that will be worth watching.

Nicholas Soames, the Tory grandee, has been slimming down – so much so, that he was congratulated by Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, on his weight loss. “Soon I’ll be able to give you my old suits!” Soames told the similarly rotund Watson. 

Kevin Maguire is away

I'm a mole, innit.

This article first appeared in the 25 August 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Cameron: the legacy of a loser