Has Mike Huckabee fallen foul of the curse of Michael Dukakis?

I was very disturbed by the cold-blooded killing of four police officers in Washington State. One really feels deeply for their families with Christmas coming up.

The man wanted for the murders had his sentence commuted and was released from jail in 2000 (having served 11 years of a 95 year sentence) in Arkansas by the then governor, Mike Huckabee.

So we may well see an increase in the down-peddling of Huckabee’s intention to run for President in 2012. After all, he will remember poor old Michael Dukakis and the way his presidential ambitions were stymied by adverts about his weekend release of Willy Horton. Huckabee can blame the parole board who recommended the release and point out that the fellow went back into jail for another offence shortly afterwards but the prosecution dropped his defence. But it will be very awkward to have to go through a presidential campaign having to explain all this.

It makes a refreshing change for a Republican and Fox News host to be criticised for his generosity with clemencies while a governor.

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Palin’s appalling web presence (or lack of it)

Do a Google for Mitt Romney, one of the key contenders for the 2012 US Presidential candidacy. There at search result Number 1 is his PAC – Presidential Action Committee where you can shell out your hard-earned (if you’re US citizen) to support his campaign. Do the same for Mike Huckabee, another contender and you get his own website mikehuckabee.com as number 1 result after some news items.

Now do the same for Sarah Palin. No 1 result, after some news items, is her Wikipedia biog. Number 2 is her Facebook page. An attractive campaign page it ain’t.Number 3 result is actually for Sean Parnell. Who he? – Ed. He’s the fellow who replaced her as Alaskan governor.

Sarah Palin does have a Presidential Action Committee website sarahpac.com but you have to go to result number 2 on the second page of a “Sarah Palin” Google search to get to it. And it’s pants – frankly. It’s just a holding page or four really.

For a Presidential contender it’s a pretty poor web presence. OK, she’s had some good publicity (or at least publicity) for her Facebook page. But to rely on a Facebook page, as she seemingly does, really is remarkably dire in web terms.

Hat-tip: The Hill:

Senate Republican Conference online communications director Sean Hackbarth lobbed this charge at Palin’s online presence this week: “I’m sorry, Sarah Palin has one of the lamest online efforts of any national political figure.”

Mind you, one site I did find very easily was this one – a hilarious mock-up of Sarah Palin in the White House. Click on the red phone!

Cheney for US President?

An article in Newsweek suggests a Dick Cheney candidacy for the US Presidency in 2012 would be good because he is ideologically “pure” and therefore the US would have a clear choice.

Oh dear. As a liberal, the article says I should be spitting out my latte at this prospect. If I had a latte, I would be.

But hold on a minute. Is Cheney really physically up to such a challenge? I always thought it was a miracle that he managed two terms as V-P. Indeed, he handed over his seals of office in a wheelchair. In 2012 he’ll be 71 years old with a history of heart problems including four heart attacks. OK, Ronald Reagan was 70 years old when he became President, but Reagan looked 50 and was as strong as an ox. Dick Cheney looks old.

Really, if the only viable candidates that the Grand Ol’ Party can produce for 2012 are Sarah Palin and Dick Cheney then Barack Obama needn’t get too concerned, and late night comedy can look forward to a very bright future.

Anyway, Mitt Romney and Mick Huckabee appear to be leading in the latest polls as potential Republican candidates. And if Lou Dobbs runs as an independent, he’ll split the vote and give Obama a shoe-in, according to pollingreport.com.

Inside the Richmond Tory candidate selection meeting…

It seems so incredible. Why would you consider standing for the UK parliament if you are a “non-domicile” of this country?

Why would you even want to be an MP if you are a “non-domicile”?

And what about the candidate selection procedure? We’ve had all that hoo-ha about Ms Truss in Norfolk, over alleged non-disclosure of an affair some years ago. What on earth was said at Zac Goldsmith’s selection meeting at Richmond?

Were the selection electorate aware that he was a “non-domicile”? Did he disclose it?

Often in the past, candidates have made solemn promises to move to the constituency if selected. But it seems quite outlandish that Mr Goldsmith may have been required to make a promise to become a full domicile of this country if selected as a candidate.

One wonders if perhaps Mr Goldsmith just sailed through the selection procedure without touching the sides.

Update from the Richmond and Twickenham Times Monday 30th November:

Zac Goldsmith today hit back at reports he had dodged taxes – and insisted he would not give up the chance to be Richmond’s next MP.

It had been reported Mr Goldsmith, Conservative candidate for Richmond Park, was avoiding large tax bills on his fortune, estimated to be about £200m, because he claimed non-domicile tax status.

Lord Oakeshott, Liberal Democrat treasury spokesman, said Mr Goldsmith was not fit to sit in Parliament because he had “claimed non-dom status all his life to keep his offshore hundreds of millions free of income, capital gains or inheritance tax”.

But the potential MP has described the reports as “misleading” and said any suggestion he owes large sums of tax were “defamatory”.

Non-domicile status is usually reserved for foreign nationals or people with roots overseas and allows them to avoid tax on money earned outside the UK unless they bring the money back into the country.

Mr Goldsmith explained his father, Anglo-French billionaire financier Sir James Goldsmith, created an international trust for all his children and his family has use of two homes that are owned by that trust. He said his non-domicile status was a reflection of his father’s international status but he had chosen to be tax resident in the UK.

He added: “Virtually everything I do is in the UK, and therefore the vast majority of my income comes to the UK, where I pay the full rate of tax on it.

“I do not derive any benefits as far as either capital gains tax or inheritance is concerned since I am registered for the latter in the UK.”

Mr Goldsmith, who hopes to win the parliamentary seat currently held by Liberal Democrat Susan Kramer at the next election, confirmed he had instructed his advisors to end his non-domicile status in April.

He added: “Because of choices I make, the status offers very few benefits.

“If there have been any savings at all, they are massively exceeded by the fact that a very large proportion of my post-tax income goes towards supporting environmental and charitable causes that I believe in.

“I do not believe family wealth accords any entitlement whatsoever in democratic politics.

“But nor do I believe it should be a barrier to my continuing to work for the things we all believe in.”

Scotland – freedom for a “small country”?

On the eve of St Andrews Day and the publication of a white paper on a referendum on Scottish independence, Radio Four’s The World this Weekend took a good look at opinions on a possible plebiscite. You can hear the piece here at 9.00′.

One thing that drives me crazy (but it has no right to, as a Cornishman) is that Nicola Sturgeon again repeats that Scotland is a “small country”. This echoes the posters which used to greet me at Glasgow airport saying “Welcome to the best small country in the world“.

Come off it, it’s hardly Lichenstein is it? Scotland ranks just below the Czech Republic in terms of physical size. It’s bigger than the Netherlands, Denmark, Georgia and Croatia) and just below Finland in terms of population (it has more people than Singapore, Norway and the United Arab Emirates). Do the Czechs or the Finns describe themselves as having a “small country”? And do people in Scotland really want to go round thinking how small they are? Over to you, brave hearts!