Where Were You When President Kennedy Died?
50 years have passed since the assassination of President John F Kennedy. In that half century many of my childhood memories have faded into a vague, ghostly impression - largely unformed and more like 'feelings' than clear recollections. But for me and so many others who are old enough to remember that day – 22 November, 1963 - the sudden, violent death of JFK is still a moment in history where we can anchor ourselves - 'where were you when Kennedy died?
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Men and Women of Australia: The Decline of Great Speech Making
The first time I voted in an election was 1974. Gough Whitlam was about to be re-elected just 18 months after his historic 1972 victory. Like most of my friends, I was keen to see Labor returned and was caught up in a suitably watered down Australian version of a personality cult as we pulled behind the Whitlam Government. When I heard that he was going to address a midweek evening rally on Brisbane's north side, I had no hesitation in heading off to see the helmsman speak.
Lincoln Opens in Australia: a Must See Movie
I wrote this blog reviewing Steven Spielberg’s film "Lincoln" when I was in the United States last November. Now that the film has opened in Australia I thought it appropriate to post this blog again as I think it is one of the best films I have ever seen. And I hope everyone interested in politics gets to see it.
As you’ll see from the blog, some things have already improved in America – we’ve edged away from the fiscal cliff, at least for the time [...]
We the People: the Citizen President's Inauguration Speech
President Barack Obama's second inauguration speech left me in no doubt of his commitment to egalitarianism. His references to immigrants, women, gays and collective responsibility to achieve access for all to health care and education spelled out a vision he will strive to realise in the coming four years. It’s a vision he will struggle to achieve in the face of ongoing trenchant opposition from the ideologues who still hold sway in the Republican Party.
His speech was [...]
America and Australia: So Similar Yet So Different
Over the last few weeks I have had the opportunity to look at America and Americans up close. An election which focused the attention of a nation for months was run and won. But within days all eyes were turned to two issues about which we had heard surprisingly little in the campaign - the "fiscal cliff" and the Middle East. The President allowed himself an evening of celebration and it was back to work. It seems that honeymoons are for the marriage - not the renewal of the vows.
The Presidential Campaign Part 4: Polls, PACs and the People
In late 2010 I visited Washington to assess the likely impact on American political campaigning of a US Supreme Court decision known as "Citizens United". This decision paved the way for unrestricted fundraising by "independent" activists who set up Political Action Committees (PACs), Super PACs and other vehicles designed to get around US tax laws. Back then, every Democrat and union campaigner I spoke to was filled with dread. There was no way they could compete with the Republicans, [...]
US election offers lessons aplenty for Libs and Labor
This op-ed originally appeared in today's Australian.
How much can Australian political campaigners learn from the recent US presidential election for their own media strategies, before next year's federal poll?
There is quite a lot. For years the major parties in Australia have been taking their [...]
The Presidential Campaign Part 3: Political Discourse in the Times of Lincoln and Obama
Last week the new Steven Spielberg film, "Lincoln", opened in New York - just days after the re-election of the United States' first African-American President.
For anyone interested in the great, the awe inspiring and the terrible moments in American history, this film is essential viewing. And while I don't want to overstate the parallels, it also has a disturbingly contemporary feel as it explores a rancorous Congress and a divided nation.
Lessons From the Presidential Campaign Part 2: Who Voted and What Does it Mean for the Republican Party?
Barack Obama won a second term by identifying those groups who were "gettable" and then by going after their vote in a systematic way (I described this process in my last blog). But who were these "gettables" and why did they turn their backs on the [...]
Lessons From the Presidential Campaign. Part One: So That's What You Get for $6 Billion
I've been in the States since just before election day trying to get a feel for the American political mood and how it was reflected in the election results.
I'm also interested in seeing what, if any, lessons there are for Australian politicians coming out of this remarkable campaign.
Over the next few days I will look at various aspects of the campaign and try to draw some tentative conclusions as to what all this means for Australian politics.