Saturday, 12 April 2008

The big clunking fist strikes again

It appears that Gordon Brown, for all his vaunted affection for the USA, doesn't share my addiction to the American media. If he did, he would have known not to schedule an official visit to the States in the same week as the Pope, of all people, not to mention in the immediate run-up to the Pennsylvania primary. The chances of Gordon grabbing the headlines during his visit, and thus making up for his current familiarity-deficit among the American public, are consequently minimal, while the possibility of being overshadowed by the pontiff, and thus made to look second-rate rather than like a major world leader, is very real.

And what can you say about Brown's decision to hire Mark Penn to revive his political fortunes? Why would a left-of-centre leader, wishing to refresh his public image, look to a recently-discredited consultant who has not only mismanaged a presidential campaign but also been caught out in a money-making conflict of interest? Does Gordon think that British people don't follow events in the US and are unaware of Penn's sordid legacy? And if, as seems increasingly likely, Obama secures the nomination, what does it do for UK-US or Labour-Democrat relations if the PM has been consorting with the architect of Hillary Clinton's negative kitchen-sink campaign?

Gordon Brown has never been as deft an operator as his predecessor - the 'big clunking fist' was an unintentionally (?) accurate prediction by Blair - but he seems to be losing whatever political instincts he once had.

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