Magazine article The Spectator

I Have Seen Your Future, America, and It Doesn't Work

Magazine article The Spectator

I Have Seen Your Future, America, and It Doesn't Work

Article excerpt

No matter how excited you may be about Barack Obama's inauguration on Tuesday, I bet you're not as pleased as I am. Never have I wished more devoutly for a presidential victory than the one won by this mighty intellect-cum-healercum-fashion-model-cum-general-all-roundMessiah -- a man so conscious of his own merit that, unlike any president before him, he plans to swear his inaugural oath on the Lincoln bible.

But this wasn't because I nurtured a burning desire to see the first ever AfricanAmerican made US president. Nor because I'd bought into his speeches or that lovely, confident, articulate speaking voice he has.

Nor yet because I had the remotest faith in Obama's ability to change America for the better. Quite the opposite, actually. The reason I wanted him to win was because I was halfway through writing a book called Welcome To Obamaland: I've Seen Your Future And It Doesn't Work. The title just wouldn't have had the same ring under a President John McCain.

When I tell them about the book, most of my Conservative friends go: 'Wow! That is such a good idea.' But all the credit here belongs to a brilliant US publishing vice president named Harry Crocker III who contacted me out of the blue one day with the nicest email I've ever received. 'Dear James, ' it went, 'as a longstanding Spectator reader and fan of your column I wondered whether you might be interested in writing a book for us...' I've been pinching myself in disbelief ever since. Mind you, there were a couple of obstacles which at first seemed insurmountable. The first was that Harry wanted the book delivered in a month and the second was that, it being published only in America for a US audience, the project seemed to require rather more knowledge about US politics than I have or ever will possess.

'We'll help you out with all the US detail as necessary, ' replied Harry. 'But you're already far better qualified to write this book than most Americans.' 'Why's that?' I said.

'Because unlike us, you've already spent 12 years living under socialism, ' he replied.

At which point, it all made such perfect sense that the write-in-a-month part ceased to be a problem. 'But of course!' I realised. 'It's like May 1997 all over again.

Same euphoria. Same sense -- even among many Conservatives -- that this time it's different, that this guy's The One who's going to change everything. Same subtly bullying, post-Diana's-death-style atmosphere where if you don't subscribe to the popular consensus you're a freak and a cynic and you're wrong and you should probably be shot.'

Crikey, they were scary times for those few of us who, right from day one, refused to give any credence to the Blair project. It was like the second half of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers, where pretty much every human alive has been taken over by the evil, gelatinous pod-creatures, and you no longer know which, if any, of your friends you can trust. Remember the awful final scene in the classic 1978 remake where the sweet girl goes up to nice Donald Sutherland only to have him reveal with that blood-curdling scream that, yes, he too has been got by the bodysnatchers? Well that's just how I felt when my hitherto sound friend Damian confided to me that he too now held out high hopes for the new regime.

How did I know -- when the majority of media 'experts' didn't -- that the Blair project was doomed from the off? Look, I'm not trying to claim any special political insight here.

Anyone with eyes to see could tell that the man was a snake oil salesman. You only had to pause to think for more than half a second about the very notion of the 'Third Way'. As with 'excellence for all', it was always going to be a non-starter. In politics you can only have more of the left way or more of the right way.

Yes, you can find middle ground between those two positions, but it doesn't transport you to some hitherto uncharted and wondrous territory where the paradigm changes and perfection is reached. …

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