“You know, when they forced Khruschev out, he sat down and wrote two letters to his successor. He said – ‘When you get yourself into a situation you can’t get out of, open the first letter, and you’ll be safe. When you get yourself into another situation you can’t get out of, open the second letter’. Well, soon enough, this guy found himself into a tight place, so he opened the first letter. Which said – ‘Blame everything on me’. So he blames the old man, it worked like a charm. He got himself into a second situation he couldn’t get out of, he opened the second letter. It said – ‘Sit down, and write two letters’” – An old anecdote, quoted in Traffic
Barack Obama needed a response to the loss of Teddy Kennedy’s old seat to the Republicans, and while he talked about being more direct with the voters, and, as per the advice from Khruschev (or was it Stalin?), he landed a punch on the old guy as well: “Here’s my assessment of not just the vote in Massachusetts but the mood around the country — the same thing that swept Scott Brown into office swept me into office…. People are angry and they are frustrated. Not just because of what’s happened in the last year or two years, but what’s happened over the last eight years.”
Fine stuff, but it’s the first part of Obama’s reply that’s really interesting – and perhaps shows his true character, an incisive, but remote observer comfortable with theory, even at his own expense. To be a compelling politician, to achieve his remarkable victory, he needed to be an expression of cultural forces, views and desires.
So what then, is David Cameron – who at times has tried to harness some of the Obama magic – an expression of?