MARs attack

Donald Trump, billionaire property developer, casino owner and carnival barker – America’s answer to Julius Malema — has been the clear front runner for the Republican presidential nomination since mid-July. Not only is he well ahead of the pack nationally, polling consistently at around 30% of likely Republican primary voters, he is currently the clear favourite to collect the most nominating delegates in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina and Florida when the real voting begins.

Why?

The best short answer is supplied by Ronald Brownstein of the National Journal: “The blue-collar wing of the Republican primary electorate consolidated around one candidate. The party’s white collar wing remains fragmented.”

John Judis, another astute analyst, unpacks the Trump fan base as Middle American Radicals, or MARs, a category first proposed by sociologist Donald Warren in a 1976 monograph, “The Radical Centre: Middle Americans and the Political of Alienation.” Continue reading “MARs attack”

Goading the US on AGOA

Here’s a question I have about the time the South African government is taking to remove barriers to US chicken, pork and beef exports. Is Pretoria acting in good faith? Or is Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies deliberately trying to provoke the Obama administration into suspending South Africa’s benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act? Publicly, he keeps insisting that SA is doing every it can to get things resolved. And yet one hears that every time there’s a meeting, the SA side raises some new complication.

Davies sits on the central committee of the SA Communist Party whose fingerprints are all over a draft ANC policy document which all but declares the US a hostile power. The chapter on international relations asserts that Washington has launched a new cold war against China and Russia and accuses the US of working to destabilise SA’s “progressive” friends the world over. The SACP might well consider it a propaganda coup if the US were to reimpose tariffs on key SA exports for what Davies would claim was no good reason. Look, the wicked imperialists are trying to destabilise us too! Continue reading “Goading the US on AGOA”

Telephonic Air Guitar

Much has been read into the photo of Presidents Barack Obama and Jacob Zuma crossing paths at a UN lunch last week. We have no way of knowing what was going on in either man’s head. But it’s fun to guess.

Here’s what I hope. Mr Obama was table hopping, saw the South African leader and graciously stopped by to say hello. Mr Zuma, cell phone pressed to his ear with one hand, proffered the other. Mr Obama shook it, gestured “call me when you have a moment”, and moved on not wishing to interrupt.

What I fear is that Mr Obama, as he shook Mr Zuma’s hand, was amused to see a head of state on the phone at such an occasion, mimicked him by playing the telephonic equivalent of air guitar, and as he focused elsewhere, said to himself in his cool way, “What a strange little dude.” Continue reading “Telephonic Air Guitar”