Alex Massie

President Micawber speaks!

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George W Bush's speech on Iraq and Petraeus and all the rest of it yesterday had a pretty simple message. Hold tight. Stay patient. Endure. Something extraordinary will turn up.

Since the President's transformation into Mr Micawber seems complete, this passage from David Copperfield seems somewhat troublesomely apposite. If Mr Bush is Mr Micawber; then the American (and Iraqi) people are the other Micawbers:

Mr Micawber...then addressed himself to me, and proffered me the satisfaction of "witnessing the re-establishment of mutual confidence between himself and Mrs Micawber". After which, he invited the company generally to the contemplation of that affecting spectacle.

"The veil that has long been interposed between Mrs Micawber and myself, is now withdrawn,' said Mr Micawber; "and my children and the Author of their Being can once more come in contact on equal terms"...

...His house was not far off;and as the street door opened into the sitting-room, and he bolted in with a precipitation quite his own, we found ourselves at once in the bosom of the family. Mr Micawber exclaiming, "Emma! My life!" rushed into Mrs Micawber's arms...

"Emma!" said Mr Micawber. "The cloud is past from my mind. Mutual confidence, so long preserved between us once, is restored, to know no further interruption. Now, welcome poverty!" cried Mr Micawber, shedding tears. "Welcome misery, welcome homelessness, welcome hunger, rags, tempest, and beggary! Mutual confidence will sustain us to the end!"

With these expressions, Mr Micawber placed Mrs Micawber in a chair, and embraced the family all round; welcoming a variety of bleak prospects, which appeared, to the best of my judgement, to be anything but welcome to them; and calling upon them to come out to Canterbury and sing a chorus, as nothing else was left for their support.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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