If a US presidential election has the potential to wear down foreign observers, let alone the American public, imagine what it must do to the candidates. The challenger must spend years campaigning for the endorsement of their own party — fighting rebellions and pandering to diehards — while the incumbent has to work equally hard just to keep in play, while also keeping up the presidential day-job.
Perhaps the effects this can have only really sunk in for the President’s supporters as they watched the first debate.
The 2012 US presidential election will long be remembered for the encounters between a sleepwalker and a ghost intent on breaking into the White House. Even now, after one vice-presidential debate and two presidential debates, it is by no means clear which will win.
Millions of astonished Americans watched the first televised encounter, which took place in Denver, Colorado on 4 October. Democratic supporters were apoplectic: their supercool and eloquent President, Barack Obama, was transformed into an unresisting somnambulist by a mysterious intruder.
The below is a response to a piece by Spectator columnist Matthew Parris
‘If you look for truth,’ counselled C.S. Lewis, ‘you may find comfort in the end.’ If, however, you look for comfort ‘you will not get either comfort or truth’. A patriotic politician should reflect on Lewis’s wisdom. In good times almost anyone can succeed in politics but in tough times voters expect more. Voters don’t look to elect politicians, but statesmen, and they can usually smell the difference between the two.
Few put a political argument better than Tim Montgomerie, the editor of ConservativeHome, and his latest column in the Times is no exception. Policies portrayed as priorities of the Tory right, he said, are also shared by the majority of the public. Some 70 per cent of Britons want a referendum on Europe and 80 per cent support a tougher approach to crime. He reprised Sir Keith Joseph’s argument about the ‘common ground’ which politicians ought to share with the public.
The slowest and most expensive museum refurbishment in world history must be that of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. It is taking longer and costing more than it took and cost to build it in the first place. Let us hope that the result will be magnificent, with all the interactive features that any modern child could desire.
For those who cannot wait for the re-opening, however, there is always the branch Rijksmuseum at Schipol Airport.
For some time we have known about the tension between George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith over welfare reform. The Chancellor wanted more welfare cuts, and the Work and Pensions Secretary resisted: real reform, he said, would cost money. So far, so understandable. But a new biography of the Chancellor by Janan Ganesh reveals another element behind the struggle. Ganesh writes that Osborne ‘questioned the analytical rigour of the Christian Conservatives who hovered behind the project’.
Beirut is usually a party town, capital of the Middle East’s most glamorous country where people from all over the region come to kick back — but this year’s been a little different. Kidnappings, bank robberies, roadblocks and gun battles — no wonder the free-spending and normally blasé Gulf Arabs have stayed at home, leaving us Lebanese to consider not only a decimated economy, but also the very real prospect of a descent into another civil conflict.
In the evenings the kidneys came. The helicopter, a bright yellow, would land on the grey cement disc, its blades chopping slower, slower, slow — stop. People in blue scurried from an opening in the building and ran towards the aircraft, hauling from it boxes and bags. These containers held hearts, lungs, livers. The organs were brought into the body of the main building then dispatched in all directions.
I could see all this from the high window of my room in Siena.