Monday, April 19, 2010

Riders of the N8

Clegg promises to make the drivers of night buses let you get off between stops...

Consider the Obama-Clegg parallels. Obama's sensibility developed during a childhood dominated by the absence of his father and his struggles to fit into communities in Hawaii and Indonesia; Clegg's outlook was forged in the crucible of his hardscrabble origins in Chalfont St Giles, Buckinghamshire, his education at Westminster School in London, and his degree in archaeology and anthropology at Robinson College, Cambridge. Obama had "Yes, we can". Clegg has "I agree with Nick". Obama, as a youth, flirted with hard drugs. Clegg set fire to a cactus.

These parallels aren't perfect, of course. They may even strike some readers as absurd. But what Clegg's rightwing and leftwing critics miss, as do predictably sarcastic journalists, is that this is precisely the point. To say that Nick Clegg is the British Barack Obama is not to suggest that he is an exact duplicate of the original, American Obama, transplanted to our shores. He's a British version. The US likes its heroes to be inspiring underdogs who battle vast forces to realise their dreams. We like ours to be not-particularly-inspiring underdogs who never do quite realise their dreams – think Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards, or Mallory on Everest, or the Beagle 2 Mars probe. Thanks to various unfortunate psephological realities, Nick Clegg almost certainly won't realise his dreams either.

(Nick Clegg, The British Obama, from Oliver Burkeman in today's Guardian)

1 comment:

Jasper Milvain said...

Over in the comments at Diamond Geezer, riders of the N29 are sceptical.