Break a Clegg
May 19, 2011
For Bismarck, politics was the art of the possible, while Napoleon would always ask of any general, “But is he lucky?” Put the two together and we can see politics as a game somewhere between chess and poker. Any politician has to gamble and take risks. He needs judgment, he needs nerve, but he also needs luck. Over the first weekend of May last year, Nick Clegg showed considerable skill in playing a poor hand. The voters had just delivered a somewhat oracular verdict in the British general election.
April 22, 2011
I must have seen ten articles in the last week explaining why President Obama will lose the November 2012 election; or at the least, how he could lose. Most have been by conservative pundits, but a few have also been by Democrats. I certainly agree that he could lose, but it’s a question of how. I want to consider one of these articles—by Salon’s news editor Steve Kornacki.
Real Conservatives Don’t Slash Foreign Aid
February 22, 2011
As House Republicans press for deeper budget cuts, one of their top targets is foreign aid. It is a tempting candidate for draconian cuts—a soft priority in today’s hard fiscal times and a budget line with no strong domestic constituency. Before Republican budget hawks wield their knife, however, they should take a lesson from their conservative cousins in the United Kingdom: When belt-tightening gets serious, foreign aid should be improved, not gutted. After coming to power last summer, British conservatives have not just talked about slashing Britain’s budget, they have delivered.
The Little Emirate and the World Cup
December 01, 2010
[Guest post by James Downie] Today, the talk of the soccer world is Barcelona’s sublime 5-0 destruction of Real Madrid. Come Thursday, though, for a brief moment at least, international soccer will grab the spotlight once again, as FIFA announces the hosts for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
Can William and Kate’s Wedding Really Save the British Economy?
November 27, 2010
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.
There Will Always Be An England
November 16, 2010
[Guest post by Isaac Chotiner] Sarah Lyall's New York Times write-up of the news that Prince William is engaged goes through the predictable handwringing over the bride-to-be's relatively "modest" upbringing before giving an account of how David Cameron and his cabinet reacted to the announcement. Prime Minister David Cameron said that when he announced the news, members of his cabinet responded with a “great cheer” and “banging of the table.”
Slashing Spending and Boosting Infrastructure in the U.K.
October 26, 2010
British Prime Minister David Cameron’s announcement last week of the U.K.’s plan to balance its books by slashing spending raised eyebrows across the globe. With an average drop of nearly 20 percent across all British agencies--from defense, to housing, to education--one commenter noted, “Little is spared.” But not everything was cut. Recognizing the “difficult decisions” that Britain has deferred in recent years, the prime minister followed up last week’s budget announcement with a major speech yesterday to the Confederation of British Industry (Britain’s rough equivalent of the U.S.
What the Chilean Miners and a Dead Scotswoman Tell Us About the Future of American Power
October 19, 2010
When a story about survival and life wipes another story about disaster and death off the news channels and front pages, it should be a cause for joy. The fate of the Chilean miners terrified, excited, and finally exhilarated billions of people like nothing else I can remember for years. It was the ultimate human-interest story, the happy ending beyond Hollywood’s most frantic dreams. No one planned that this should eclipse the death of Linda Norgrove, the 36-year-old British—more exactly Scottish, from the beautiful Hebridean island of Lewis—aid worker.
What Was David Cameron Thinking?
September 08, 2010
An article in The New York Times Magazine doesn’t becomes the big political story in London every week, but the Times piece “Tabloid Hack Attack on Royals, and Beyond” has been a front-pager and led on the TV news here. The tabloid in question is the News of the World, one of whose reporters was imprisoned a few years ago for “phone-hacking,” or intercepting cell phone calls, most notably from the two young princes, William and Harry. Although Andy Coulson, the editor of the paper at the time, was forced to leave his job, he denied any knowledge of malfeasance.
The Primary Differences
August 26, 2010
Washington—Republicans are in the midst of an insurrection. Democrats are not. This vast gulf between the situations of the two parties—not some grand revolt against "the establishment" or "incumbents"—explains the year's primary results, including Tuesday's jarring outcomes in Florida and Alaska. The agitation among Republicans is not surprising, given the trauma of the final years of George W. Bush's presidency.