American politics

Is Gone with the Wind to blame for Trumpism?

‘America is merely a story the nation tells itself,’ the historian and cultural critic Sarah Churchwell writes in The Wrath to Come. Of the many American stories, few are more disturbing than the complex one represented by the rioter Kevin Seefried inside the Capitol on 6 January 2020. He carried the Confederate battle flag to a place it had never before been: the hall outside the United States Senate chamber. There is a photograph of him standing between two portraits – one of Charles Sumner, an abolitionist beaten half to death on the Senate floor for his views; the other of Senator John Calhoun, one of the South’s most ardent

This Trump satire is too soft on Sleepy Joe and Cackling Kamala: The 47th at the Old Vic reviewed

Trump is said to be a gift for bad satirists and a problem for good ones. He dominates Mike Bartlett’s new play, The 47th, which predicts that the 2024 presidential election will be a run-off between Trump and Kamala Harris. Bertie Carvel’s Orangeman is a subtle and highly amusing spoof that never descends into exaggeration or grotesquery. The visuals are convincing: the sandy blond wig, the baggy golfing outfits, the spare tyre around the midriff. Excellent design work. And Bartlett captures the repetitive lullaby pulse of Trump’s rhetoric. Like a lot of liberals, he seems to admire Trump and this show reflects a perverse fascination with its target. The script

AOC, America’s youngest congresswoman, has already been compared with FDR and JFK

‘Who is AOC?’ the back cover of this book asks. ‘A wack job!’ says Donald Trump. ‘She needs to run for president when she turns 35,’ Cardi B explains. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest congresswoman in America. She goes by her initials (like FDR and JFK) and is a Latina from the Bronx and Westchester, with no background in policy making, a bartender. She has a boyfriend; she uses social media to communicate with fans and fight with political foes, and also to cook ramen noodles in front of millions of people while chatting with them about structural inequality and mass incarceration. And every one of these things winds up

Where are the Henry Kissingers when we need them?

It was not until I went to Harvard in 1988 to take a year out from the Foreign Office that I came to realise how riven by ideology the world of US foreign policy had become. For 20 years I had been moulded by the resolute pragmatism of British diplomacy. My American sabbatical threw open the door to intellectual conflict in the study and practice of international relations unlike anything I had experienced. Two great warring clans — the realists and the idealists, those who took the world as they found it and those who saw the world as they would like it to be — were at each other’s

You’ll keep saying ‘I’m sorry, did I hear that correctly?’: Fiasco reviewed

Kevin Katke was quite a man. He had no military training, no political background and no espionage experience. Nonetheless, his hatred of communists and can-do attitude made him the pre-eminent idiot savant of private American intelligence throughout the Reagan administration. It was a peripatetic career that culminated with him spearheading a bungled plot to oust a leftist regime in Grenada while holding down a full-time job at Macy’s. Call it the American dream. I learnt this — along with dozens of other things to make you say, ‘I’m sorry, did I hear that correctly?’ — listening to Fiasco (Luminary), a political-history podcast whose second season retells the bizarre and shambolic

Oracles, perverts and the Dirtbag Left

For 500 years the State Oracle of Tibet has worked as a kind of angry immortal advisor to the Dalai Lama, a Tibetan hybrid of Dominic Cummings and John Dee. The current incumbent, like all previous ones, alternates between his human incarnation and his spirit version. ‘In Tibetan Buddhism, the unseen parallel world of spirits is not to be taken lightly,’ explains anthropologist David Sneath on Heart and Soul (BBC World Service). ‘There are so many other living species,’ the Minister of Religion and Culture tells Sneath, ‘many of which we don’t even see.’ Sneath interviews the cheerful sixty-something State Oracle (living in exile in Dharamsala), various government ministers, sincere