Monday, 5 November 2012


”Did you hear the one about the Mormon underpants?”

I’ve been watching the US Presidential Election in fascination. It started (it seemed) as Sonny Liston against Cassius Clay and then Cassius began to show feet of clay and a kind of sterile aloofness.  David Clark who used to advise Robin Cook in the late 1990s put it well:-

“I still care about the election result, but not in the way I used to. A decade ago….decisions taken in the White House were life-changing…. but all of that is now for the history books, because …America is now a country in decline…. the most important world-changing events today are happening in spite of America, not because of it.”

It’s hard to judge things from this distance although I recall driving across Massachusetts and Virginia in 1992 and hearing Ross Perot beating up Bush and Clinton on the radio and beginning to think (fantastically) that Ross could win. Being close to the trees doesn’t mean you see the wood.

Unelectable with those ears

It was in 1992 that James Carvill, Clinton’s campaign manager coined the campaign slogan, “the economy, stupid”. It turned out to be a winning thought. And I’ve been somewhat in a minority (actually the only person I’ve recently met) who though Romney really ought to win….so long as his focus was on the economy, jobs and reclaiming American pride.

He put it quite well when he said:-

“And this President wakes up every morning, looks out across America and is proud to announce, 'It could be worse.' It could be worse? Is that what it means to be an American? It could be worse? Of course not….. What defines us as Americans is our unwavering conviction that we know it must be better.”
In truth he – master of outsourcing at Bain – could plausibly claim to know his way around the jobs scene and be capable of being an equally adept master on insourcing which is precisely what the USA needs as unemployment remains at around 8%.

Worthy of Don Draper

Obama’s trouble is he’s too worldly and urbane for a lot of Americans. Strangely in a land where the Buffetts, Trumps and Gates are such formidable wealth accumulators Obama seems strangely unmoved by money and in this respect he’s very un-American. His faux pas – they happen on the campaign trail – is ironic because in a way he does think America has to move forward not back:-

"My friends, we live in the greatest nation in the history of the world.
I hope you'll join with me as we try to change it."

He’ll probably win, helped by a commanding storm-performance and because of what Nick Curtis of the Evening Standard discovered in his recent trip to America

“Everywhere we met voiced opinions more nuanced and thoughtful than anything uttered in the campaign.”

But I still have the funny feeling that “the economy stupid” could pull it off.

Here’s the real story about America

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