It's interesting to observe politics and ask oneself who makes a good leader, and why.
As GW Bush approaches the last stretch of his presidency, Andrew Roberts writes an historian's assessment of his time in office. He opens with one of those so-easy-to-mess up accounts where he is actually describing another President, also unpopular at the time, but now well regarded. He focusses mainly on the international agenda, as has the President most of the time. What emerges is a nascent narrative of success, concealed by personal unpopularity.
Potentially Bush's Presidency could become seen as a rare triumph for humanity in politics- achieved in the teeth of the failing political machine of Congress and under the incurious eyes of the fouth estate. I like this idea. I watched Adam Boulton interview the President and his wife last weekend, and I found myself wishing there'd been more of Bush to be seen over the last few years in such settings. It has always been the hostile press conference, or the stiff formal occasion, that has been Bush's staple and his responsibility. In the Boulton interview, the high pitched guffaw which I am sure has got the goat of many a BBC journalist (eg. Matt Frei??) was in evidence, and with it, a quick and fundamentally sound mind sought to get a high vantage point to deal responsibly and with vigour and optimism with the relatively reasonable probing of Sky's top man. It was both fun and real- qualities generally appreciated by ordinary people but so uninteresting to the studiously polticised elite.
So much for character- Bush's character and his personality are at one, which is his fundamental strength.
By contrast Gordon Brown has received many a sympathetic treatment from the BBC. At one time the in depth cosy chat with Andrew Marr was virtually bi-weekly, as Gordon sought to recreate the image of Uncle Harold (Wilson) to reassure voters and burnish his credentials as a man of depth. The whole thing was image-based, even after Gordon had pledged an end to spin as he entered Downing Street.
Now Guido Fawkes and the Conservative media team have given Gordon a complete makeover of their own. Fawkes (who is evidently quite a brilliant man) highlights the Conservative take up of his idea and says "Destroying the reputation of Gordon was easy once they tried - because he had a false reputation"
Sunday, June 22, 2008