August 9, 2009

THERE HAVE BEEN 5 SUCCESSFUL ANGLO-AMERICAN LEADERS IN THE PAST 5 DECADES:

Blair Ghost Project: The haunting of Gordon Brown (Howard Jacobson, 8/12/09 , The New Republic)

At first, after a decade of Tony Blair's irrepressible, quicksilver self-satisfaction, a dismal prime minister, too lugubrious and lubberly to be evasive, seemed the answer to the country's prayers. They had been a double act--comic and straight man. And we'd had enough of the comic. Fair play came into it as well. It was widely believed that the two men had struck a deal that, if they ever made it to high office, they would share the spoils. Me first, no you. But Blair had liked it too much to part with. The years went by. And all along, in the dismal gloaming, Brown nursed his thwarted genius, convinced he could prance as airily as Tony if only Tony would give way. And then, Tony did. [...]

A now infamous joke tipped Brown into ridicule. Impatient with his dithering, yet again, in the matter of secret donations to the party, the Liberal Democrat MP Vincent Cable used Prime Minister's Question Time to describe Brown's "remarkable transformation in the past few weeks from Stalin to Mr. Bean." That Vincent Cable is a civil, mild-mannered, crestfallen man, only added to the torture. We couldn't even pity Brown's falling to a deadly assassin.

As the joke revealed more and more cruel felicities, the House laughed as though it meant never to stop. At a stroke, Brown was derided for the austere socialist heavyweight he had aspired to be, and for failing so spectacularly to be it. From Stalin to Mr. Bean is some descent. We heard Mr. Has-Been in the joke, and Mr. Never-Was. Blair might have laughed it off; Brown's face collapsed.

Mr. Bean's best-known misadventure has him with his head stuck up the unsavory end of a Christmas turkey. It is hard now to see Gordon Brown any other way. He has recently survived desperately bad local and European election results, a number of murmuring challenges to his premiership, and the scandal of MPs' expenses. But few expect him to win a general election. In a last bid to court popularity, he has packed himself around with celebrities from the world of reality television, inviting the judges of "Britain's Got Talent" and the host of "Strictly Come Dancing" to dinner. He is, as was Blair before him, a deeply uncultured man. It is regrettable that he should see salvation in making a virtue of that. At least when he was dismal, he seemed serious. His dismalness, he appears to think, is his only flaw. In this, he is tragically mistaken. His dismalness is his greatest virtue. His flaw is to suppose he can, and should, pass himself off as something lighter, someone more like Tony. Thus, Tony goes on exacting his terrible revenge.


The Tories distanced themselves from Thatcherism and, therefore, had to give way to Tony Blair who embraced it. Mr. Brown is in trouble precisely to the degree he has distanced himself and his party from both Mrs. Thatcher and Tony Blair. George HW Bush distanced himself from Ronald Reagan and lasted just one term. Al Gore distanced himself from Bill Clinton and lost an unloseable election. The congressional GOP turned on W and lost their majorities. The Unicorn Rider is doing best on those questions--like the WoT--where he's aping W and worst on those--stimulus, health care, cap & trade--where he's distancing himself. How hard is this to figure out?

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 9, 2009 1:14 PM
blog comments powered by Disqus
« HARD TO SHUT UP THE SOYLENT GREEN: | Main | WHICH IS WHY THE GOP NEEDS TO BANG ON SPENDING, NOT THE ECONOMY: »