x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Palin 'playing for her own future'

As McCain campaign aides accuse Sarah Palin of 'going rogue' and being 'a diva' 'who takes no advice from anyone', some suggest she has her eyes on a bid to become president in 2012. An Islamophobic video is sent to voters in 28 million homes in swing states across America. As a military resolution to the Afghan war appears unattainable, the question isn't whether but when to negotiate with the Taliban.

"The campaign for the presidency isn't yet over, but people are already discussing whether Sarah Palin will be the Republican Party nominee four years from now," said New York Magazine. "It seems strange, to say the least, that a politician with such a rocky and, so far, largely unsuccessful introduction on the national stage would merit such speculation. After all, she's currently the number one concern voters have about John McCain, her unfavorable numbers outweigh her favorables, and she's solidified her place as a late-night punch line. Even many Republicans see her selection as McCain's running mate as a fatal mistake. But in a party and campaign already splitting at its seams, many people think Palin will come out of this campaign clean, and emerge as the Republican front-runner for 2012." "Sarah Palin is the rogue elephant in the GOP war room," declared the New York Post.

"A McCain insider told The Post that relations between Palin and some of the campaign aides with her have soured. 'She's lost faith with the staff. She knows the $150,000- wardrobe story damaged her,' the insider said. "But the novice vice-presidential candidate is partly to blame, the campaign official sniped. 'She's an adult. She didn't ask questions about where the clothes came from?' the source said. "'She's now positioning herself for her own future. Of course, this is bad for John. It looks like no one is in charge.' " According to CNN: "McCain sources say Palin has gone off-message several times, and they privately wonder whether the incidents were deliberate. They cited an instance in which she labeled robocalls - recorded messages often used to attack a candidate's opponent - 'irritating' even as the campaign defended their use. Also, they pointed to her telling reporters she disagreed with the campaign's decision to pull out of Michigan. "A second McCain source says she appears to be looking out for herself more than the McCain campaign. " 'She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone,' said this McCain adviser. 'She does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else. " 'Also, she is playing for her own future and sees herself as the next leader of the party. Remember: Divas trust only unto themselves, as they see themselves as the beginning and end of all wisdom.' "A Palin associate defended her, saying that she is 'not good at process questions' and that her comments on Michigan and the robocalls were answers to process questions."

In The Observer, Paul Harris wrote: "Rarely has a figure emerged so suddenly and spectacularly on to the American political scene as Sarah Palin. Equally rare is the way she has since been buried by an avalanche of scandal and mistakes. "From the shock of being chosen as John McCain's running mate and her stunning speech at the Republican National Convention to the almost daily update of gaffes, it has been a rollercoaster ride. "Palin brought things that had rarely or never been seen before on a presidential campaign. Moose-hunting. Her husband Todd as Alaska's First Dude. Her supporters proudly touting lipstick as a political weapon. Hockey moms and pitbulls. But away from the gimmicks, there was the historic nature of her place as a woman on the Republican ticket. "Yet, after almost two months on the campaign trail, her net impact is the greatest surprise: zero. Palin has reverted to the traditional role of the Vice-President. It is the one that Joe Biden has played for the Democrats to considerably less attention. That role is to be an attack dog. 'In the end, her impact is going to be neutral. The base loves her, but she is not going to bring many people on board for McCain who aren't there already,' said Professor Tracy Osborn, a political scientist and expert on women in politics at the University of Iowa." As if to underline Mrs Palin's lack of influence in shifting the course of the election, her hometown newspaper, the Anchorage Daily News decided to endorse her opponent. "Gov Palin's nomination clearly alters the landscape for Alaskans as we survey this race for the presidency - but it does not overwhelm all other judgment. The election, after all is said and done, is not about Sarah Palin, and our sober view is that her running mate, Sen John McCain, is the wrong choice for president at this critical time for our nation. "Sen Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee, brings far more promise to the office. In a time of grave economic crisis, he displays thoughtful analysis, enlists wise counsel and operates with a cool, steady hand. The same cannot be said of Sen McCain."

"A New York-based organisation has sent copies of a movie about Islamist extremism to more than 28 million houses and religious institutions in presidential election battleground states over the past several weeks," The Washington Post reported. "The 60-minute documentary-style production, Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West, includes images of terrorist attacks from around the world, historic footage of Nazi rallies and modern-day scenes of Muslim children reciting poetry that celebrates suicide bombings. The costs of producing and distributing the film, through mass mailings and newspaper inserts - an effort that one Muslim advocacy group estimates at $50 million - were paid by the Clarion Fund, a nonprofit group that says it is seeking 'to educate Americans about issues of national security to influence voters'. "Members of several Muslim groups have condemned the film, saying that it is inflammatory and that it could incite violence against them. " 'It's a mind-boggling massive campaign. When you send material like this almost exclusively to presidential swing states that sends a message that you are trying to influence the election,' said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations. 'It's inappropriate as a nonprofit for the Clarion Fund to do.' " In the London Review of Books, Adam Shatz wrote: "The Clarion Fund is a front for neoconservative and Israeli pressure groups. It has an office, or at least an address, in Manhattan at Grace Corporate Park Executive Suites, which rents out 'virtual office identity packages' for $75 a month. Its website, clarionfund.org, provides neither a list of staff nor a board of directors, and the group still hasn't disclosed where it gets its money, as required by the IRS. Who paid to make Obsession isn't clear - it cost $400,000. According to Rabbi Raphael Shore, the film's Canadian-Israeli producer, 80 per cent of the money came from the executive producer 'Peter Mier', but that's just an alias, as is the name of the film's production manager, 'Brett Halperin'. Shore claims 'Mier' and 'Halperin', whoever they are, are simply taking precautions, though it isn't clear against what. The danger (whatever it is) hasn't stopped Shore - or the director, Wayne Kopping, a South African neocon - from going on television to promote their work. "The 60-minute film was first released in 2006 and shown during the mid-term elections on Fox News. Since then it has received top billing at 'Islamo-Fascism Awareness' week on American campuses, at Christian-Zionist conferences and at events organised by Republican politicians in Florida. It has found a powerful backer in the real estate magnate Sheldon Adelson, who describes himself as 'the world's richest Jew'." CNN reported: "Clarion said neither the campaign of GOP candidate Sen John McCain or of Obama had anything to do with the DVD that has outraged some Muslim groups. Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations, called the film anti-Muslim and politically motivated. Holding up promotional material that came with the video, Awad pointed out, 'It says clearly that, "It's our responsibility to ensure that we can all make an informed vote in November" '. "The Council on American-Islamic Relations, or Cair, a group that includes some Democratic donors, has filed complaints with the Internal Revenue Service and Federal Elections Commission, saying Clarion has violated its tax-exempt status. " 'A nonprofit organization getting involved in political campaigning, promoting candidates and scaring people and influencing voters for the election in November is something that needs to be looked into seriously,' said Awad. "The Clarion Fund would not say who its donors are or how much they are giving. A records search comes up empty. "Muslim advocates from the Islamic relations council said the money is coming from the prominent Jewish educational group Aish Hatorah, which has headquarters in Israel. " 'It seems that this campaign is well funded and directed by a foreign entity to influence the US presidential elections,' Awad said. "Clarion's spokesman called it 'totally ludicrous'. " 'We do not accept donations from foreign entities. The accusations by Cair are totally unfounded,' said Ross. 'We are responding to the FEC complaint. However, there is no substance to that whatsoever.' "Aish Hatorah denied donating money to Clarion for its DVD campaign, though a spokesman said the filmmaker and other Clarion staffers worked for Aish Hatorah. The filmmaker, Raphael Shore, is employed by Aish Hatorah. His brother, Rabbi Ephraim Shore, is listed as an executive with the organisation."

"The Taliban and al Qa'eda have enjoyed a long alliance in Afghanistan. Their relationship, based on a seemingly shared brand of severe and militant Islam, even survived the US-led toppling of the Taliban in 2001, which came after leader Mullah Omar famously refused to turn over to the Americans his al Qa'eda ally, Osama bin Laden," RFE/RL reported. "To this day, that relationship endures. But will it last? Rifts and tensions between the Taliban and Arab al Qa'eda, as well as vastly different Islamic traditions, suggest that a basis for separation exists. Whether it occurs could determine whether peace negotiations between the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his Taliban foes ever get off the ground. "Afghan Muslim traditions, including the Taliban, are culturally and historically distinct from al Qa'eda's Saudi-rooted Salafist Islam, says Francesco Zannini, an expert on modern Islam. In that sense, the two Sunni movements have always been awkward bedfellows. " 'The whole Indian subcontinent, including Afghanistan, still lives an Islam that is profoundly rooted in local customs,' says Zannini, author of the recently published Islam In The Heart Of Asia: From The Caucasus To Thailand. 'So they have always found themselves ill at ease with the strictly Arab Wahhabist doctrine and the entire Salafist movement.' "With the Afghan war worsening, Nato officers and political leaders have made it clear that the seven-year conflict won't be resolved militarily." In The Washington Post, David Ignatius wrote: "As US and European officials ponder what to do about the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, they are coming to a perhaps surprising conclusion: The simplest way to stabilise the country may be to negotiate a truce with the Taliban fundamentalists who were driven from power by the United States in 2001. The question policymakers are pondering, in fact, isn't whether to negotiate with the Taliban but when. There's a widespread view among Bush administration officials and US military commanders that it's too soon for serious talks, because any negotiation now would be from a position of weakness. Some argue for a US troop buildup and an aggressive military campaign next year to secure Afghan population centers, followed by negotiations. "How the worm turns: A few years ago, it would have been unthinkable that the United States would consider any rapprochement with the Taliban militants who gave sanctuary to Osama bin Laden as he planned the devastating attacks of Sept 11, 2001. But the painful experience of Iraq and Afghanistan has convinced many US commanders that if you can take an enemy off the battlefield through negotiations, that's better than getting pinned down in protracted combat."

pwoodward@thenational.ae