02 May 2019
Know Your Enemy
Nominations and nicknames.
By J R Thomas
Know your enemy indeed. That, Joe, is the person behind you, not the one currently sitting in the White House. Joe Biden finally announced that he would throw his hat (an elderly but well maintained trilby, we guess) in the ring for the Democrat nomination to run for the Presidency in November 2020. That makes twenty candidates for being potentially the most powerful person in the world (or possibly twenty-one, there seems to be some confusion among the ranks of the “who? who?” lesser rankers).
Joe is no lesser ranker. He is, as we noted here a few weeks ago, the leading contender for the position – and that was before he even announced that he was running. With him attracting around a quarter of Democrat-in-the-street preferences, and Bernie Sanders not far behind, that does not leave a lot of support for the other eighteen. But at the moment that does not seem to be putting anybody off and all the candidates are beginning that great march to the convention in Milwaukee in July next year. (The Republican one is in Charlotte, North Carolina in August, in case you are planning a two-centre vacation – that’s two places to avoid.) The Libertarian one, incidentally, is much more appealing – Austin, Texas, a beautiful city and the capital of country music, in May next year. Incidentally, we cannot resist sharing what the mayor of Milwaukee said on hearing the convention was coming his city’s way: “The Democratic Party is the party of working people, and Milwaukee is a city of working people.” There’s a man who has not been paying much attention to politics over the last four years.
Most of those candidates of course will never get to Milwaukee, not as candidates. Chances are that they will be winnowed down to just two and if you happen to be a betting person, there’s money to be made in backing the right two (we are not encouraging you to bet on anything, of course, there surely will be a law against that about to appear in the pipeline of our freedom and enterprise loving Tory government).
There are two things that will take most of them out of the race; one is money and the other is gossip. From now on the money looms larger and larger in any candidate’s life; running for the nomination is phenomenally expensive and beyond most candidate’s personal means (we know, Donald, we know, not beyond the means of all candidates), and that means raising it from generous backers. If you are lucky you may have adoring relatives or admiring friends, or simply have been around a long time and know how to locate and twist arms. Bernie last time discovered the wonders of crowd funding and not only raised lots and lots of small donations but also got lots and lots of workers to toil for him – and took firm occupation of the moral high ground as Hillary struggled with explaining where her dollars were coming from (big business mostly). But generally, raising money means hoping that you look more and more like a winner so that the money fountains will be pointed in your direction. But, oh horror of horrors, look like a loser, and abruptly the collecting account will be drier than the Mojave in August.
Which brings us to the other imponderable: gossip. Now, like writing a good sci-fi novel, gossip does not have to be true, it merely has to sound as though it could be true, or better, is likely to be true. Remember our story a few weeks ago about Bernie being criticised for liking to turn left when boarding aircraft, or even better, for having his very own? Is that true? Who knows? Most senior people in any walk of life fly first class (not Shaw Sheet correspondents, alas, Greyhound is luxury to us); it is easier to work and talk and have less risk of having rude remarks or red wine directed at you. The chances are that all the candidates in this race fly first class – unless they think there may be hostile journalists on their flight in which case they might move rearwards. Joe’s wandering hand stories, remember those? Just an old fashioned tactile friendly man? Well, no serious person has yet said that he ever went any further than a hug and glancing kiss. Pete Buttigieg? Doubts on record on race. Beto O’Rourke? Not very Latino. And Hillary; the woman has been involved in everything from fraud to murder if you listen to the gossip on her.
But here’s a way of determining how serious a threat a Democrat candidate might be. Has Donald come up with a nickname for them yet? Elizabeth Warren was a very early starter in the race, determined to seize the mantle of most eligible woman in the race the minute Mrs Clinton (that’s “Crooked Hillary”) put it down. Mr Trump skewed her within days of noticing her coming up on the left hand side. “Pocahontas” she is and Pocahontas we guess she always will be, and her chances of being the first woman in the Oval Office have severely diminished with it. You can work out who “Sleepy Joe” is, and “Crazy Bernie”. “Robert Francis” is not so obvious, maybe, until you look up Beto O’Rouke’s given names. In Washington the word is the President is working very hard (much harder than he does on policy matters, some will say) on trying to come up with something good for Kamala Harris; which suggests that may be where he thinks the biggest threat will come from next autumn.
Has Trump a nickname for Theresa May? If he had, it has likely been replaced by a much ruder one in the last few days. The President, much of Washington, both parties and not just Republicans, and many senior folks in the State Department are seriously offended and astonished by Mrs M’s overruling of seemingly practically all her advisors last week to progress discussions with Huawei in relation to the next generation roll-out in British telecoms and communication technology. Huawei may be one of the most advanced network technology companies in the world, and certainly able to compete on price with anybody, but the Americans do not trust them one little inch. Nothing is fully proven, and maybe this is all just gossip again, but whilst Huawei is an independent privately owned Chinese corporation, it has a legal duty to cooperate with the Chinese state, and its chairman has very close links with Chinese ministries and government ministers. Also, some earlier Huawei technology had some rather odd extra features the purpose of which was not entirely clear (mistake in specifying for overseas market apparently).
American security operatives at all levels tend to feel that it is not a great idea to have your communications and defence secrets too well understood by persons you might fall out with. You crazy Brits can do as you like, they tend to say, but don’t think we are going to share anything with you in the intelligence line that might just end up registered on a Huawei database somewhere. Prudence and all that. Which all goes to suggest that Donald’s nickname for Theresa is not going to be Prudence. In fact he may want to keep it to himself, just in case it might otherwise pop up on that database in Beijing.