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Sunday 29 May 2011

Toby Fails To Herd Those Primary Cats

The Maily Telegraph’s USA editor, Toby Harnden, was moved recently to look in on Zelo Street. And Tobe was not a happy bunny: he dismissed the idea that he was cheerleading for Sarah Palin, despite his post talking up the prospect of her declaring her candidacy for next year’s Presidential election.

This is, though, the bloke who had no problem joining in with the Telegraph’s bloggers renaming February “Sarah Palin month”, a truly lame concept only slightly livened up by James “Saviour of Western civilisation” Delingpole, whose adoration for the former half term Alaska Governor knows no bounds. Harnden earlier went in to bat for Palin, telling that “Sarah Palin deserves a media apology”.

And in April 2009 he managed the following not-too-sceptical observation: “Perhaps this is a tipping point for Twitter – conservative icon [my emphasis] Governor Sarah Palin is now tweeting”. O Tempora, O Google.

But fair play to Tobe: he’s now gone firmly Palin-sceptic, to the clear distress of many of those who comment in Telegraph blogland, those poor souls who enjoy a rather tenuous grip on reality. But he still hasn’t nailed the field for the GOP nomination for the honour of being beaten by Barack Obama.

For starters, Texas Governor Rick Perry could be tempted, and as the HuffPo has pointed out, not only is he a sitting Governor, but has also never lost an election. It’s also looking likely that Rep. Michelle Bachmann will join in, if only because God has told her to [update at end of post]. But Harnden has homed in instead on Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

Why so? Well, Ryan is chair of the House Budget Committee, and the proposed changes to Medicare that helped the GOP to lose the special election in NY26 recently started with him. And, although Ryan is much discussed on and around the Hill, he is – apart from in Wisconsin – little known and recognised outside the Beltway.

And the meeting with former Prez Bill Clinton, which Harnden finds so intriguing, may not be Bill undergoing a Damascene conversion on Medicare, but a routine fishing expedition disguised as flattery. As I’ve said before, the US’ debt problem can be sorted simply by reversing the Bush era tax cuts, and as the electorate sees the simple choice of that reverse versus the Ryan plan, they may think again.

Paul Ryan may be thought of as a rising star right now, but whether he is still standing after his budget plan has been tested in battle is not certain. Bill Clinton will remember his mid-term battle with the GOP: the rising Republican star then was Newt Gingrich, and Clinton saw him off. Obama may do the same to Ryan.

[UPDATE 1 June: God has now cleared Rep. Michelle Bachmann to run for the GOP Presidential nomination, according to Talking Points Memo. So, presumably, she's in]

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