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Palin into insignificance?

Our resident American takes a look at some of the gaffes and ignorance that made up Sarah Palin's co

“Maybe in eight years,” Sarah Palin said over the phone when it was suggested that she would make a good president. The call, which she thought was from Nicolas Sarkozy, was actually from a Canadian comedian.

As a reminder, here is a list of the more outrageous things she said while campaigning for the vice presidency -

In her first TV interview,with Charlie Gibson, she displayed holes in her understanding of foreign policy and that she had seen little of the world outside of the US. She told Gibson that her travel outside of the US included “Canada. Mexico. And then, that trip that was a trip of a lifetime, to visit troops in Kuwait and stop and visit injured soldiers in Germany. That was a trip of a lifetime. And it changed my life.”

Gibson asked her: “What insight into Russian actions particularly in the last couple weeks does the proximity of the state give you?” Her response, mocked by Tina Fey on Saturday Night Live, was: “They're our next door neighbours. And you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska.”

She was a bit stumped when asked by him if she agreed with the Bush doctrine. She asked “In what respect, Charlie?” and then talked about democracy. Gibson told her “The Bush doctrine as I understand it is that we have the right of anticipatory self-defence, that we have the right to a pre-emptive strike against any country that we think is going to attack us.”

Her interview with Katie Couric went much worse, perhaps, as McCain aides have alleged following the election, because of a lack of preparation.

Couric asked her four times to name examples of McCain “leading the charge for more oversight” of businesses. After saying “I'm just going to ask you one more time - not to belabour the point. Specific examples in his 26 years of pushing for more regulation,” Palin responded, “I'll try to find you some and I'll bring them to you.”

When Couric asks her if there are any Supreme Court decisions that she disagrees with she couldn't name any besides Roe v. Wade, which the two had already discussed.

Couric asked her what newspapers she read to help her form her world view which Palin responded "all of them.” She continued but did not name a single paper's name.

A high number of TV viewers watched the vice presidential debate, some hoping no doubt that she would say something unintelligent. They were disappointed for the most part partially because Palin refused to answer questions she didn't like. The moderator Gwen Ifill asked her, “Would you like to have an opportunity to answer that before we move on?" to which she responded, “I may not answer the questions the way that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I'm going to talk straight to the American people and let 'em know my track record also."

To some people some of Palin's charm was that she did not speak like an East coast elite. Others thought her folksy wording such as her opening to Sen. Joe Biden “Can I call you Joe?” and later comments like “Say it ain't so, Joe,” and “Now doggone it, let's look ahead” had no place in a politcal debate.

Perhaps one of the silliest mistakes she made was scheduling and then going through with what turned out to be a prank phone call from a Canadian comedian, Marc-Antoine Audette, posing as Nicholas Sarkozy the French president.

She did not catch onto his exaggerated accent, informal speaking manner or references to Stef Carse, who is actually a singer and not Canada's prime minister...

She agreed to go hunting with 'Sarkozy' saying “Well, I think we could have a lot of fun together while we're getting work done. We can kill two birds with one stone that way.” Audette said “Gov. Palin, I love the documentary they made on your life. You know Hustler's Nailin' Paylin?” Though this is the title of a spoof porn video, she responded “Ohh, good, thank you, yes.”

After McCain's defeat, aides talked about difficulties with Palin. According to Fox News, the information had been off the record until after the election. Fox news reported “We were told by folks that she didn't know what countries were in NAFTA – that being the US, Canada and Mexico - and that she didn't know that Africa was a continent rather than a country all in itself.”

We wait to see just what Sarah Palin plans next...

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The New Times: Brexit, globalisation, the crisis in Labour and the future of the left

With essays by David Miliband, Paul Mason, John Harris, Lisa Nandy, Vince Cable and more.

Once again the “new times” are associated with the ascendancy of the right. The financial crash of 2007-2008 – and the Great Recession and sovereign debt crises that were a consequence of it – were meant to have marked the end of an era of runaway “turbocapitalism”. It never came close to happening. The crash was a crisis of capitalism but not the crisis of capitalism. As Lenin observed, there is “no such thing as an absolutely hopeless situation” for capitalism, and so we discovered again. Instead, the greatest burden of the period of fiscal retrenchment that followed the crash was carried by the poorest in society, those most directly affected by austerity, and this in turn has contributed to a deepening distrust of elites and a wider crisis of governance.

Where are we now and in which direction are we heading?

Some of the contributors to this special issue believe that we have reached the end of the “neoliberal” era. I am more sceptical. In any event, the end of neoliberalism, however you define it, will not lead to a social-democratic revival: it looks as if, in many Western countries, we are entering an age in which centre-left parties cannot form ruling majorities, having leaked support to nationalists, populists and more radical alternatives.

Certainly the British Labour Party, riven by a war between its parliamentary representatives and much of its membership, is in a critical condition. At the same time, Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership has inspired a remarkable re-engagement with left-wing politics, even as his party slumps in the polls. His own views may seem frozen in time, but hundreds of thousands of people, many of them young graduates, have responded to his anti-austerity rhetoric, his candour and his shambolic, unspun style.

The EU referendum, in which as much as one-third of Labour supporters voted for Brexit, exposed another chasm in Labour – this time between educated metropolitan liberals and the more socially conservative white working class on whose loyalty the party has long depended. This no longer looks like a viable election-winning coalition, especially after the collapse of Labour in Scotland and the concomitant rise of nationalism in England.

In Marxism Today’s “New Times” issue of October 1988, Stuart Hall wrote: “The left seems not just displaced by Thatcherism, but disabled, flattened, becalmed by the very prospect of change; afraid of rooting itself in ‘the new’ and unable to make the leap of imagination required to engage the future.” Something similar could be said of the left today as it confronts Brexit, the disunities within the United Kingdom, and, in Theresa May, a prime minister who has indicated that she might be prepared to break with the orthodoxies of the past three decades.

The Labour leadership contest between Corbyn and Owen Smith was largely an exercise in nostalgia, both candidates seeking to revive policies that defined an era of mass production and working-class solidarity when Labour was strong. On matters such as immigration, digital disruption, the new gig economy or the power of networks, they had little to say. They proposed a politics of opposition – against austerity, against grammar schools. But what were they for? Neither man seemed capable of embracing the “leading edge of change” or of making the imaginative leap necessary to engage the future.

So is there a politics of the left that will allow us to ride with the currents of these turbulent “new times” and thus shape rather than be flattened by them? Over the next 34 pages 18 writers, offering many perspectives, attempt to answer this and related questions as they analyse the forces shaping a world in which power is shifting to the East, wars rage unchecked in the Middle East, refugees drown en masse in the Mediterranean, technology is outstripping our capacity to understand it, and globalisation begins to fragment.

— Jason Cowley, Editor 

Tom Kibasi on what the left fails to see

Philip Collins on why it's time for Labour to end its crisis

John Harris on why Labour is losing its heartland

Lisa Nandy on how Labour has been halted and hollowed out

David Runciman on networks and the digital revolution

John Gray on why the right, not the left, has grasped the new times

Mariana Mazzucato on why it's time for progressives to rethink capitalism

Robert Ford on why the left must reckon with the anger of those left behind

Ros Wynne-Jones on the people who need a Labour government most

Gary Gerstle on Corbyn, Sanders and the populist surge

Nick Pearce on why the left is haunted by the ghosts of the 1930s

Paul Mason on why the left must be ready to cause a commotion

Neal Lawson on what the new, 21st-century left needs now

Charles Leadbeater explains why we are all existentialists now

John Bew mourns the lost left

Marc Stears on why democracy is a long, hard, slow business

Vince Cable on how a financial crisis empowered the right

David Miliband on why the left needs to move forward, not back

This article first appeared in the 22 September 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The New Times