Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Wednesday 5 November 2008

Welcome back, America!

My facetious query about Obama's prospects turned out to be resoundingly inept (there might be a connection with my having spent far too many years beavering away for the party that can never quite).

This looks at one level like our 1997 election: a predictable and predicted landslide against a discredited and exhausted government, where the winning campaign was predicated on a considerable amount of caution and dampening down of expectations. At another, it's more like our 1945: a wholesale rejection of the conventional thinking of decades, even generations, with voters fully conscious of how historic a shift they were creating.

I'm in the middle of reading his early book about his search for identity. I'm not bothering with his campaign-y book, since manifestos are a recipe for disappointment, and the really interesting thing about any politician is what they will do when confronted with the unexpected and unhoped for, the kind of thing you don't want to mention in manifestoes.

So far, I'm getting a strong sense of someone having to invent himself in a way most people don't have to: something he might have in common with Tony Blair, who might not have had to, but certainly did, invent himself. I just hope Obama's obvious ability to connect isn't just Blair's ability to make himself a receptacle for people's hopes. And thank goodness he has verbs in his sentences.

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