Saturday, December 1, 2007

Indian American Student hired by Presidential Hopeful

S.R. Sidarth, the University of Virginia student who exposed George Allen's use of the word "macaca" and doomed his presidential campaign, is now a paid staffer for Bill Richardson in Sante Fe, NM.

In 2006 Sidarth was working for Sen. Jim Webb's campaign by video tapping Allen's stump speeches, when Allen singled him out twice by calling him a "macaca" and saying the infamous phrase "Welcome to America kid". Ironically, Allen is not originally from Virgina, while Sidarth was born there.

Allen is currently working for Fred Thompson's presidential campaign.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

GOP Candidates Trade Barbs during CNN/You Tube Debate

The Republican Presidential candidates squared off tonight in Florida debating typical conservative issues such as illegal immigration, taxes, gun control, and gays in the military. However, with the unique You Tube format, candidates were grilled by ordinary Americans. One of the things that struck me was when a guy from Dallas, held up a copy of the Bible and asked, “All of you should be judge on one question only, do you believe every WORD in this book?” Giuliani answered first saying that many of the stories act as metaphors, however, Romney answered that he believes the Bible is the word of God, implying that he believes in the literal sense of the book.

Another question that stuck out was when a user asked what the Confederate Flag means to the candidates. Surprisingly, an issue I thought that could be pivotal for voters in the South was very answered decisively. Romney immediately argued that a symbol that divides the country so much should not be tolerated, even attacking John Edwards in the process. “Every time I hear Edwards talk about two Americas, I want to throw something at the TV. We are one country and should be united.” Knowing that South Carolina is a key primary state for him, it was sort of reassuring that a man who changes his mind quite a bit came out so strong. Former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson also spoke out against the flag, in a mush softer manner, saying that it should not be flown individually in public places.

The candidates were asked to create a 30 sec You Tube ad for their campaigns, but Thompson’s clearly stood out being the first and only attack ad. Many insiders afterwards sense this was a sign of desperation for his campaign.

Another interesting thing about the debate was that the name Bush was only mentioned twice. Virtually all the candidates, aside from Ron Paul, agree with Bush on the vast majority of things such as Iraq, taxes, gun control, religion in public life. It’s funny that though he still has over a year in the White House the candidates pretend he doesn’t exist (no credit to him). Given Bush’s popular rating, I think not differentiating themselves can come back to haunt the Republican candidates in the general election.

Finally, the winners of the debate were declared by CNN’s panel. Conservative commentators said that Romney came out the strongest, but all analysts voted Mike Huckabee (and I agree) the winner. Huckabee came out ready to answer challenging questions with thought provoking explanations, all in a funny/witty manner. In terms of losers, internet darling Ron Paul was extraordinarily weak today and there was a sigh of disappointed when he said he would not run as an independent (perhaps a sigh of relief as well.)

Stay tune for some video postings of the debate that we’ll post on the blog.

Anay Shah

Oprah Winfrey to Amitabh Bachan: Does celebrity campaigning work? By Sanjay Puri

Oprah Winfrey is supposed to be campaigning for Senator Obama for his Presidential Bid in key early states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina to give him a boost in these close contests. Does this work? Amitabh Bachan a star of Oprah’s magnitude in India recently campaigned very heavily for his friend Amar Singh and Mulayum Singh in the recent UP elections and they lost and Mayawati won the key state electons.

Does star power equal votes in India or the US?

Sanjay Puri is the Chairman of USINPAC

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Romney Slip-Up Offers Insight into His Politics

In an opinion piece in today's Christian Science Monitor, Mansoor Ijaz, an American-born Muslim American talks about a recent encounter with Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney. While at a private fund-raiser in Las Vegas, Ijaz asked Romney if he would consider appointing a Muslim to a national-security post to help curb radical jihad, which Romney has stated is the biggest threat to today's America. Romney quickly dismissed the thought saying that there are not enough Muslim Americans to "justify" a Cabinet post, but that he could "imagine" Muslims in lower offices in his administration.

"Romney, whose Mormon faith has become the subject of heated debate in Republican caucuses, wants America to be blind to his religious beliefs and judge him on merit instead," Ijaz writes. "Yet he seems to accept excluding Muslims because of their religion, claiming they're too much of a minority for a post in high-level policymaking. More ironic, that Islamic heritage is what qualifies them to best engage America's Arab and Muslim communities and to help deter Islamist threats."

Romney, interviewed Monday on CNN, was asked about diversity in his inner circle and in appointments.

"Suggesting that we have to fill spots based on checking off boxes of various ethnic groups is really a very inappropriate way to think about we staff positions," he said.

It seems to me that Romney is treading on dangerous grounds. He is going the way of many-a-politician on trying to toe both sides of the line. On one hand he states that he will not fill his administration based on quotas, on the other it is obvious that he won't even consider certain segments of the population for Cabinet posts. Over the past seven years we have seen what happens when a President chooses a Cabinet full of his cronies. We as Indian Americans need to make sure that we are not shut out of the political process by candidates like Romney who will not be open to ideas from people who are different than him.

Ronak Shah is the President of the USINPAC BU Campus Committee and a Senior studying Political Science at Boston University.