Charles

Stop Hating Scrooge!

The 'Christmas Carol' curmudgeon is a forward-thinking liberal

Now that Christmas is safely behind us, and the mob atmosphere of virtue and piety has evaporated; now that, in the post-holiday doldrums, the stacks of wrapping paper have removed themselves to their ghastly translucent plastic bags and the dead trees have begun, one by one, to lie across the sidewalk, forming their final, horizontal forest, in premonition of the universal fate—now, at gloomy last, something should be said on behalf of Christmas's eternal victim, the ever-persecuted Scrooge, who, for all his failings, got one large thing right.

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The long and complicated relationship between the British royal family and the press.

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The release of The Dark Knight Rises, and the return to the screen of Bruce Wayne, has reminded us that fictional rich men love playing politics just as much as real ones. Wayne and his moneyed pals, after all, helped fill the reelection coffers of hope-and-change district attorney Harvey Dent like it was a party at George Clooney’s house.

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[Guest post by Alex Klein] The country of my birth is parodying itself. We’ve spun around the roundabout of funny and turned off directly into sad. The News of the World’s Pandora’s box is daily spilling out even fresher hells, so embarrassing in their corporate-journo-politico complicity that one could almost forgive Rupert Murdoch for burning a million emails worth of evidence — well, almost. Today, we learn that NOTW tried to hack Gordon Brown, Prince Charles, and 9/11 victims. Then they tried to buy the Queen’s phone number. In times like these, England rarely turns to the clergy.

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Princess Diana re-emerged in the news this week after a controversial Newsweek story imagined what she would be like at 50. Tina Brown speculated that, had Princess Diana survived the tragic car accident in 1997, she might have gone on to marry a “super-rich hedge fund guy,” date a “high-mindedly horny late-night talk-show host,” sue Rupert Murdoch, become friends with Prince Charles and Carole Middleton, throw herself into humanitarian causes and—of course—get Botox. Many people (including a few at TNR) reacted with horror.

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English Breakfast

English conservatives don’t really take to the streets, at least not with dispatch. In the United States, only eight weeks elapsed between the passage of the 2009 stimulus bill and half the country erupting into Tea Party-themed protests. In Great Britain, the first noteworthy rally in opposition to excessive spending and debt took place this spring, and the offending government, the Labour Party under Gordon Brown, had already been voted out of power a year ago.

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In what seemed like a rare moment of complete political transparency, David Cameron stepped out of 10 Downing Street last week to tell us that his ministers had cheered and banged the cabinet table when he announced the news of Prince William's engagement. And cheer they might. Grim news has dominated headlines here lately: strikes, government cuts, rising unemployment, and falling house prices.

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I. Trying political leaders: I do not mean trying them out, in advance, to see if we are likely to find their leadership disastrous, though that might be a good idea if we could find a way of doing it. In politics, judgment does not have to be, and often cannot be, after the fact. But it is post facto judgment that I wish to discuss: the morality and wisdom of putting political leaders on trial after we have endured their leadership and, perhaps, their crimes.

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I. Trying political leaders: I do not mean trying them out, in advance, to see if we are likely to find their leadership disastrous, though that might be a good idea if we could find a way of doing it. In politics, judgment does not have to be, and often cannot be, after the fact. But it is post facto judgment that I wish to discuss: the morality and wisdom of putting political leaders on trial after we have endured their leadership and, perhaps, their crimes.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. The present British attitude toward the United States seems to me jittery and touchy beyond any thing I can remember in past visits and protracted stays in England. The American attitude on the other hand seems to me almost arrogantly complacent. The atmosphere, broodingly explosive as a July sky before a storm, has brought Churchill and Eden to Washington. Take a concrete illustration. The State Department asked the right to search foreign ships to block aid to Guatemala.

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