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Saturday, September 13, 2008

The bullshit factor

"Americans fully expect bullshit from their politicians. It only matters that it's the right kind. And Sarah Palin, as we learned last night, is frighteningly full of it."

That's Bob Moser in "The Nation". It's easy for Brits to feel that this kind of thing doesn't apply to us. As a breed our leaders can't be bothered pretending to curry favour with us. They're secure in the knowledge that they know better than we do. I quite like that about them.

But they all ask us to buy into the greater bullshit, which is that they're in a position to do much about things. John McCain says he's going to clean up Washington. Barack Obama says he's going to free the better angels of our nature. Gordon Brown says he's keeping an eye on what Russia is up to in Georgia. (Got that, Mr Putin?) David Cameron is going to make people more polite. It's all the kind of hot air that they think will play. It bears no relation to what they will actually do when it comes down to grisly reality. Ask Bush and Brown whether, even in their worst nightmares, they expected to have to nationalise building societies. Tommy Carcetti would be laughing, were he not a fictional character.

If they were genuinely candid they would admit that they are volunteering for a short ride on the bucking bronco that Harold Macmillan called "events, dear boy" and if they're very lucky by the time they are thrown they won't actually have done anything.