Obama and the U.K.

In a world beset with fanciful notions of power and influence, Obama stands out as a voice of sanity. I love the fact that he went to the Globe to listen to extracts from Hamlet this morning (400 years to the day since Shakespeare’s death), and later on in an address to young people in London urged them to ‘reject pessimism and cynicism’ and ‘know that progress is possible and problems can be solved’. ‘Yes, we can’ for the next generation of voters.

There’s his welcome intervention in the EU debate, making clear the USA view that UK has and will have much greater influence as part of the EU, rather than outside. And pointing out that for the USA a trade deal with the UK wouldn’t be a priority – would come ‘at the back of the queue’. Waverers in the Brexit debate take note.

We’ve had as a response, ‘irrelevant’, from Liam Fox, ‘talking down Britain’ from Nigel Farage (Farage and I don’t live in the same country), and references to Obama’s part-Kenyan ancestry from Boris Johnson. To think that a fool such as Boris has aspirations to be prime minister of this country.

‘Take a longer, more optimistic view of history.’ That’s also from Obama’s speech this morning. I’m tired in the context of the EU debate of hearing about a disfunctioning country, and a disfunctioning institution over in Brussels, linked to an extraordinarily optimistic vision of a golden age that lies around the corner, or up in the sky, outside the EU.

(Malfunctions are addressed by imagination and time and hard grind – not by magic pills.)

Aristophanes in his play The Birds positioned Cloud Cuckoo Land up in the sky, a kingdom of the birds between earth and the gods, and that’s roughly where the Brexit campaigners would leave us.

Staying with Ancient Greece, there’s a creature in Greek mythology known as a chimaera, an assemblage of the parts of other animals, ‘a monstrous, fire-breathing hybrid creature’ (Wikipedia). It usually had the head of a lion, and the head of a goat sticking out of its back, and a tail of a snake ending in another head. I can’t resist imagining Boris as the lion, head and shaggy mane, and Nigel as the goat. Who might be worthy of the tail?

Answers, please, on a postcard.

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