opinion web
Conservative Opinion General Opinion
Alexander Cockburn
Alexander Cockburn
13 Jul 2012
The End of America's Armies

Retired Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, bounced out of his job for revels in Paris as witnessed by Rolling Stone, … Read More.

5 Jul 2012
Epitaph to a Dead Movement

It was very hard not to be swept away by the Occupy movement, which established itself in New York's Zuccotti … Read More.

29 Jun 2012
The Affordable Care Act: Decision Effects

It's tempting to say the Affordable Care Act decision spells the end of the Romney candidacy. The Mormon … Read More.

Will Palin Run? Who Knows? Who Cares?


Will Palin run? Who knows? Who cares?

The press is agog because the ci-devant Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential candidate is in the midst of her bus tour up and down the East Coast. A girl has to keep an eye on her TV ratings.

It's a safe bet that Palin will be playing the "Will She/Won't She?" game as far as the elastic will stretch without breaking. But actually, the elastic is already broken. It's a safe to say that Palin will never be the presidential candidate of the Republican Party, however much the Obamians yearn to have her to kick around until November 2012.

The Republican Party has been on a suicide mission in the months since the midterm elections handed them the House of Representatives last fall, with the U.S. Senate almost within their grasp.

As victorious tea party candidates surged into Washington, D.C., they swore mighty oaths that rather than add a single zero to the debt of the U.S. government, they would fast until death, or make a histrionic lunge in that direction, or make a big stink or a sort of stink. By God, they would draw a line, if only to get pushed off it.

The establishment press wrote encouraging editorials about newly elected U.S. Republican Sen. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, hailing this throwback to the economic dark ages as a man of prudent principle, taking on social programs reckoned by well-heeled press magnates as fiscally imprudent.

Ryan was duly installed as the new Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee and lost no time in announcing his plan to change Medicare from what it is now — a federal medical insurance plan for America's seniors — into a privatized affair run by insurance companies, which, given the slightest chance, would pare back services to what these same insurance companies conceive to be fiscal prudence.

It took about 30 seconds for America's seniors to realize that Ryan's plan represented an overt onslaught on one of the two federal programs left — the other is Social Security — that keep them barely afloat. On May 25, Democrat Kathy Hochul used the Medicare issue to win what had been a safe Republican House seat in the 26th Congressional District in western New York state.

Since then, the wind has been whistling out of the Ryan balloon. Republicans who only a month ago were roaring their support for the man have scuttled for cover. As Ryan whimpers at Democratic opportunism and "demagoguery," his prime defenders are the above-mentioned press magnates and their hired opinion formers at The New York Times and Washington Post solemnly urging the Democrats not to overuse the Medicare bludgeon and to remember that Ryan had at least advanced a plan that had not shirked Prudence and Responsibility.

Prudence and responsibility don't carry much weight when seniors with cancer are suddenly faced with the prospect of bills of $2,500 every couple of months for the treatments keeping them alive. Seniors vote. The Democrats will run on defense of Medicare and Social Security all the way to 2012.

At the moment, the Republican presidential candidates in the field are scarcely convincing, whether it be the Mormon Romney, who failed in 2008, or the Passionaria of Tea Partydom, the fiery madwoman U.S.

Rep. Michele Bachmann.

My current favorite is a man touted solemnly in the Washington Post as a hot newcomer, Herman Cain, the black founder of Godfather's Pizza. Here he was, on Fox with Chris Wallace, who suddenly popped Cain a question about the Palestinians' right of return, freshly rejected by Netanyahu.

CAIN: "Right of return? Right of return?"

WALLACE: "The Palestinian right of return."

CAIN: "That's something that should be negotiated."

Quizzed again, Cain seemed foggy about the Israeli position on the matter, as well as his own.

CAIN: "Yes, but under — but not under — Palestinian conditions. Yes. They should have a right to come back if that is a decision that Israel wants to make. ... I don't think they have a big problem with people returning."

Of course, this was immediately pounced upon by the commentariat as evidence that Cain is not a serious candidate. But Cain stuck to his guns on an ensuing appearance on Fox:

"Chris (Wallace) caught me off-guard. I didn't understand the right of return. That came out of left field, out of all the questions I anticipated him asking me, I didn't even conceive of him asking me about the right of return. I now know what that is. The thing that you're going to learn about Herman Cain, if he doesn't know something, he's not going to try and fake it or give an answer that he doesn't know what he's talking about. Now here's the thing about that right of return that I've learned since Sunday. It wasn't that they were kicked out of Israel by the Jews, no! Their Arab leaders asked them to leave because they thought they were going to annihilate what was left, and then they're going to go back. So yes, I still stick by my answer."

A man of principle, evidently, but as unlikely as Palin or Bachmann ever to stick a "buck stops here" on the Oval Office desk.

Scenting opportunity, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani is now making moves consonant with a possible bid. He's testing the waters in New Hampshire. The problem is that Giuliani's candidacy in 2008 — much touted by the press — fell apart amid bizarre tactical missteps, endless publicity about his wives and mistresses, charges of corruption and the evident fact, rendered more obvious with each debate, that the guy is a vindictive asshole.

As the mayor of New York during the attack on the World Trade towers, Giuliani's prime card was leadership in crisis, a man who wouldn't hesitate to send a team of SEALS anywhere, anytime to bring back the head of Osama bin Laden. But that card is no longer his to play. In 2008, Obama was vulnerable to attacks from Giuliani and his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, that he was soft on terror. Hard to make that case now. George Bush brought America's enemies to Guantanamo. Obama just has them murdered in place.

This is not to say Obama is a shoo-in in 2012. It's not barely worth citing the polls right now. Not too many states that handed the Obama-Biden ticket its victories in 2008 have to drop out of the Democratic column for the Electoral College math to make it a squeaker. These are early days. You bettors, keep your money in your pockets awhile.

Alexander Cockburn is co-editor with Jeffrey St. Clair of the muckraking newsletter CounterPunch. He is also co-author of the new book "Dime's Worth of Difference: Beyond the Lesser of Two Evils," available through To find out more about Alexander Cockburn and read features by other columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



3 Comments | Post Comment
"... that the guy is a vindictive asshole."

Must be wiser to sit back amidst 9% unemployment, energy and food inflation, a rising jobless class, and tell yourself what a great job Obama is doing. Yeah, this is what America should be! Nice use of adjectives, too.

Comment: #1
Posted by: Tom
Fri Jun 3, 2011 4:57 AM
Obama campaigned on CHANGE.
We get it.
But once elected he continued and expanded Bush's war policies, drone strikes,seceret renditions,
Guantanamo Bay, kept on his payroll Bush's architects of war and financial meltdown, Bernake and Gates,
surounded himself with wall street shills, rammed through a bougus stimulus bill that was really a States bailout that did not create new jobs,

Worst are his BROKEN promises:
- End income tax for seniors making less than $50,000
- Introduce a comprehensive immigration bill in the first year
- Create a public option health plan for a new National Health Insurance Exchange.
- Centralize ethics and lobbying information for voters
- Allow five days of public comment before signing bills
- Tougher rules against revolving door for lobbyists and former officials
- Allow bankruptcy judges to modify terms of a home mortgage
- Allow penalty-free hardship withdrawals from retirement accounts in 2008 and 2009
- No family making less than $250,000 will see "any form of tax increase."
- Expand the child and dependent care credit
- Create a foreclosure prevention fund for homeowners
- Allow imported prescription drugs
- Forbid companies in bankruptcy from giving executives bonuses

Why do we distrust him?
Because he claimed to be different, claimed to be 'better', but he sold out faster than the new I-Phone (to Big Pharma, Big Military,Wallstreet)
Comment: #2
Posted by: Soothsayer
Fri Jun 3, 2011 7:30 PM
First, Paul Ryan is a congressman, not senator. He is, however, a total shill for the big money interests that both parties support, if in different ways,
The Repubs do not need a candidate as they already occupy the office of the president in the form of that "socialist" community organizing "Arab", Barack Obama.
For all you people out there who still vote for the Dems, can you imagine any Repub elected president under the same circumstances as Obama who would have caved as he has to the "opposition?"
When the economy retanks as it must due to irrational tax, trade and fiscal policies, and the Middlle East and Afghanistan blow up in our faces, what will we do and say to each other to explain our failures? This country is on on the way out, kicking and screaming like all empires in their last days have always done.
As for Sarah Palin, please. She is a shameless self promoter who takes advantage of the most gullible and ignorant of our population, many of them being the same people who thought the world would end May 21.
Comment: #3
Posted by: michael nola
Sat Jun 4, 2011 8:09 AM
Already have an account? Log in.
New Account  
Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Your Password:
Confirm Your Password:

Please allow a few minutes for your comment to be posted.

Enter the numbers to the right: comments policy
Alexander Cockburn
Jul. `12
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31 1 2 3 4
About the author About the author
Write the author Write the author
Printer friendly format Printer friendly format
Email to friend Email to friend
View by Month
Authorís Podcast
Marc Dion
Marc DionUpdated 8 Feb 2016
Mark Shields
Mark ShieldsUpdated 6 Feb 2016
Susan EstrichUpdated 5 Feb 2016

20 Oct 2011 Welcome to Our Banana Republic and Its Global Panopticon

4 Aug 2011 The Lesson for Democrats: Any Republican Will Do

4 Dec 2009 War Cries from a Defeated Man