Monday, February 12, 2007

Howard Employing Familiar Tactics

John Howard (the loonies choice for US President) is making a bit of a name for himself as a future senior spokesman for the imperialists (come the end of the Bu$h years). His latest statement was aimed to destabilise a candidate running for election in another country (a bit of a no-no unless you are a loony). Howard has said of Barak Obama's presidential campaign:

"I think that will just encourage those who want to completely destabilise and destroy Iraq, and create chaos and a victory for the terrorists to hang on and hope for an Obama victory. If I were running al-Qaida in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008 and be praying ... for a victory, not only for Obama but also for the Democrats."

Of course, this kind of comment is a gross mis-judgement by Howard. Public opinion in America is moving away from the pro-war rhetoric of Bush and his allies (of which Howard is one of the more vocal), and towards a less aggressive policy. By highlighting the difference between Bush and Obama, Howard might actually help voters swing towards the Democrats. Whatever an ally of Bush has to say now would be widely ignored as the public shift away from the disastrous policies of the past six years. Even Republicans have recognised this statement for what it is, outside interference in the political process. Jon Cornyn, a Republican senator from Texas, said:

"I would prefer that Mr. Howard stay out of our domestic politics, and we'll stay out of his domestic politics."
However, Howard isn't only attempting to criticise a US presidential candidate, it is an attempt to frame the debate leading up to the Australian elections at the end of the year. Howard is in a spot of bother in Australia at the moment. His main opponent, Kevin Rudd (an opponent of the Iraq war), is in a very commanding position in the most recent polls. According to an ACNielsen poll, Rudd has the highest approval rating of any opposition leader for 35 years. Rudd is also leading Howard as preferred prime minister by 48% to 43%. Furthermore, the poll found that, if an election were held now, the Labor party would lead the government by 58% to 42%. It doesn't take a genius to see what Howard's preferred tactic is. He will use the same tactics as the Republicans used in the 2004 elections, a vote for the opposition is a vote for the terrorists. Howard will attempt to scare the Australian public into voting for him, rather than his opponent. There is no doubt that Howard is gearing himself towards a vicious election campaign, and this opening salvo is just the tip of the iceberg.