GNN

Politics

There’s Something About Sarah

Politics is different across the pond. You’d never catch an ex beauty queen or a film star running for election in the UK. Over here, parliament just isn’t sexy. In 2008, when Palin was campaigning for the VP ticket I sniggered along with everyone else at her apparent incompetence – the crib notes on her hand, the “I can see Russia from my house!!” comment, and that infamous disaster of an interview with Katie Couric.

But now, something has changed and I have to swallow my pride, and confess that I’m becoming increasingly pro-Palin. I still wouldn’t want her in charge of a country; in spite of her executive experience and the competency she displayed as governor of Alaska, to my mind she still hasn’t really seemed to get to grips with foreign policy issues and though on the domestic front she could be an effective leader, myopia and an apparent ignorance of world history would not make an effective world leader. This of course pits her in direct opposition with President Obama, whose campaign European tour stands in stark contrast with the Palin ‘One Nation’ bus tour.

And yet…I’ve grown accustomed to her face. But it’s really more than that – she is somehow rather impressive. An effective mother, a career woman who radiates positivity and patriotism and  shows a real resilience when many other candidates would have buckled under the character assassination she has faced from the mainstream media over the past few years. She is, in many ways a smart woman, if not intellectually, then at least socially and politically. In this world, it really seems that is what counts.

When I compare Sarah Palin to prominent UK politicians, there really is nobody as charismatic or as capable of connecting with people on a grassroots level. Perhaps this is a consequence of the history of America – a meritocratic society where anyone can succeed if they are strong and persistent enough, and if they believe in themselves. In the UK, we’re still holding onto the age of empire as the remnants of what made us ‘great’, we’re still ruled by an elite government far out of touch from everyday people, and many in the middle classes  cannot even conceive of the possibility of social mobility. The queen has expressed concern over the ramifications of an independent Scotland – the last vestiges of the British Empire slipping away. And as millions moan about the lack of opportunity in the current economic climate, we would do well to abandon our Anti-Americanism and to move with the times by embracing our freedom, realising our potential and embracing a little of the “Momma Grizzly” attitude.

Photo: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/

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Learning to Love The Big Society…

In media on February 14, 2011 at 8:41 pm

David’s Cameron’s ‘big society’ plan should be making the British public go weak at the knees. The Prime Minister’s “mission” to encourage civic engagement through schemes for social improvement – empowering local communities, forging collaborative ventures, and insisting that power in public services be decentralised-  seems sound enough in theory.  However, his agenda has been much maligned by both the right and the left. Why are we so opposed to the “Big Society”?

The fact is, Cameron’s pet project is just too vague for many people to allow for the possibility of any substantive changes arising from his plan to fix our “broken society”.  The government’s budget cuts have already forced tough decisions on local authorities who are having to cut back on funding to charities, and the potential closure of dozens of local libraries across London, in areas such as Brent, Lambeth and Ealing are a casualty of said cuts. Is it any wonder we’re sceptical of such Big Ideas? The creation of the Big Society bank sounds great, but again it will cost.

If we’re cynical, it’s not because we don’t like the potential of “social recovery as well as an economic recovery” which Cameron’s “absolute passion” promises. It’s maybe more because we’re the wife of a philandering husband who brings us flowers and chocolates on Valentine’s, and promises year after year “never again, baby”. So, we take him back because it’s Valentine’s Day in the hope that this year he will behave differently, and keep his promise.

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US ELECTION 2008

Image courtesy of:-
www.examiner.com/x-1051-Independent-Examiner~…

Being There- A Grassroots Look at Obamania in Germany…

Watching international punditry is about as telling as internal punditry or a victory column in Wolf Blitzer’s Situation Room. Anyway you cut it, the believability is muted.

Some would say belief is what it`s all about. This victor of change is propped up on the colossal columns of his predecessors. The throngs of gatherers danced furiously, drank domestic German lager and chanted popular tomes in an anarchic queue known as the Berlin Fan Mile. Flicking, surfing or zapping around the dial will tell you two things in Germany. One, Obama is like Schröder, and skeptics do not dance.

But don’t believe what you see. With a measured wariness of rhetorical flourishes and ‘an eye’ to the past, Germans have learnt a valuable lesson from slick Willies, be it Brandt or Clinton. So it’s no wonder that OBAMANIA is perceived as an invention of the AMERICAN PUNDIT.

Some would say belief is what you need. Some wouldn’t realise it if it baptised them on the head. Punditry gave us the German skepticism that any foreign luminary receives upon visiting Germany; be it Heiligdamm or Davos-which admittedly is only German-speaking. The punditry was abuzz abroad and above with talk of Obama’s visit, yet Merkel’s remarks and Wowereit’s invitations really proved no more significant than the lambaste of the few broadcast news stations available on terrestrial television; namely CNN and BBC.

But it’s not important. You don’t see that many cool people at the Brandenburg Gate. Sure every New Year they sing Auld Lang Syne completely obscure to the lyrics of that fine Scotsman, or now and then the lyrics of that Englishman who was nearly Bond. Three columns of political power have now graced the Berliner Stage, all whose most famous words are all but soundbites from a forgotten turning point.

Large Jumbotrons beam the projection of Obama’s All-American charm straight from the Brandenburg Gate to the Victory Column where he delivers his much anticipated speech. America and NATO and Germany must draw together. Shared destiny is a burden to us all and a communal responsibility and America makes mistakes.

Senator Obama was a little bit late arriving to his venue. He was in the Adlon Hotel pumping iron, where another pop star once all but baptized his newest rock star baby boy before a crowd of adoring on-lookers. When rhetoric flies or when babies are dangled, the majority of Germans are not dancing in the streets or gushing in frenzied anticipation. Photo-ops are common here too.

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