Leonardo"s Notebook by Mattheus Mei

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Obama's Dance Partner

David Cameron met a few weeks ago with Barack Obama. Their meeting was like a shy young couple on a blind first date, unsure of each other but recognizing the butterflies and potential, each testing the waters with the other as if making sure that they were on the same count before dancing together.

For the past few months there's been a growing curiosity amongst Britain's conservatives surrounding the prospects of Barack Obama. The Tories can't help but relish the notion that if the Americans are so sick and tired of the hawkish Repubs perhaps there's some hope for them at home against W's local patsy and rubber stamps in the name of Brown.

Despite Cameron's moderating effect on Conservative social policy and innovative new approach to what it means to be fiscally conservative in a decidedly (post)modern welfare state, which has helped the Tories poll well recently over the Labour Government no small thanks in part to the abysmal and ineffective leadership of Gordon Brown, ideologically and practically it's an awkward fit. Mr. Cameron espouses a compassionate conservatism, though one more real and tangible than the farce that W sold folks on.

There's no doubt that if Obama were to ascend to the Presidency and Cameron to the Premiership the Tenor of the Anglo-American relationship wouldn't change, and perhaps even some of the substantive realities of that relationship but there would be a marked reticence and asynchronization of certain issues. In short they would make a rather odd couple.

Enter David Milliband, the young Foreign Secretary who last week published a piece calling for a renewal, a rebirth of Labour.

His ideology his rhetoric is more akin to Obamas, and his personal narrative, like Obama's would seem just as exotic if this weren't Europe. Like Obama, too, he would seem to come out of nowhere if he weren't known to have been a scion of Blair (think the old Clinton-era Blair much like Obama surrounds himself with Clinton Veterans).

Already he's facing pressure from within his own party as a traitor and interloper against the Brown Government, similar to the flak Obama got for daring to stand up against the Clinton Machine, as well as criticisms on 'readiness to lead'.

But there's one large hurdle standing between Messrs. Obama and Milliband and their date to the dance, and that's elections. Both face increasing pressures from within and without as they navigate to November for Mr. Obama and to Party Conferences and an uphill leadership challenge for Mr. Milliband.

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