Magazine article Management Today

The Mt Diary

Magazine article Management Today

The Mt Diary

Article excerpt

Washington's Straw poll; PC for dummies; shoeless in the buffet bar; tilting at Branson.

A trip to New York and Washington in the autumn is always pleasant. This year, the mid-term elections approach, and the continued high death toll in Iraq provides an uncomfortable backdrop for the Republicans.

Jack Straw re-ignited public debate here on Iraq when he described the situation in Baghdad as 'dire'. That would be polite language in the US, where it is hard to find anyone who supports President Bush's policy - except Democrat Joe Lieberman, who was de-selected by his party as a result.

The difference in Washington, of course, is that the Republican right are also opposed to the Bush strategy. They favour a far larger American military commitment on the lines that proved so successful in Vietnam.

Fortunately, there are few takers for that argument in Britain, even in Downing Street.

Another big transatlantic difference is that supporters of the administration argue that at least the war has had the effect of exporting terrorist killing to the Middle East, and no-one is dying in the States. This is a rather unappealing line, but it does take some tricks in Middle America. The Department of Homeland Security, although unpopular with legit visitors to the US, has not had a major domestic incident to handle since 9/11.

But not everyone in America is impressed. Down in Washington Square you can buy a T-shirt decorated with a photograph of 19th-century Indian braves, armed with ancient rifles, and the legend 'Homeland Security - fighting terrorism since 1492'.

Did I say Indians? Whoops. I refer, of course, to Native Americans. We might quarrel with some PC formulations in America, but this one makes a meaningful point. As, indeed, does another similar designation that I came across on Broadway. There's an American ventriloquist with a show near Times Square (called The Two and Only) whose dummy has objected to what is, frankly, an insulting designation.

He and his kind now prefer 'wooden Americans', which is both descriptive and inoffensive.

Broadway is not a good place to stay in Manhattan, but West Broadway certainly is. SoHo and Tribeca are more sympathetic locations than mid-town, despite their closeness to Wall Street.

And the Tribeca and Soho Grands are lively places to stay. The wine in the rooms is by Francis Ford Coppola and there are no irritating floor butlers asking sir if there is anything else he desires. I can never think of anything except to be told how to switch off the muzak and to be left alone.

The Grands are mercifully free of high-cost 'service'. …

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