What makes a great statesman?

By Mysterion

When asked what is most likely to blow governments off course, Harold Macmillan famously replied “Events, dear boy, events!” Unforeseen tragedies can have a dramatic effect on a leader’s popularity. One only has to look at the rise in approval for George W Bush after September 11, followed by a drop off after Hurricane Katrina.

The same can be seen in more recent events. The immense popularity of Prime Minister John Key could have been severely dented after the double blow in the South Island towards the end of 2010. Key’s speech after the deaths of the 29 Pike River miners were confirmed is fairly remarkable, and perhaps a pivotal moment in his Premiership. Times like these put politics into perspective, and Key performed admirably. The pain of the victims families was visibly shared by Key. Key rose above party politics at this point. Without being too mawkish, he was no longer the National Prime Minister, he was our Prime Minister.

A similar incident has occurred in the aftermath of the Tucson shooting incident. A tragedy such as this should not be about left and right, or red and blue. There is a time and place for a full discourse on why it happened, but now is not it. Bickering from both sides of the political spectrum has allowed President Obama to come in and rise above this. I may disagree with him on many points, but you can’t deny his oratory skills. His speech on the tragedy has been received warmly by many, even being praised by Fox News commentator Glenn Beck. It could also serve to boost his flagging Presidency.

As Obama would well know. As crass as it is, tragedies can be used to improve one’s standing in the polls. However there is a crucial difference between using a tragedy for your own ends and being seen to be using a tragedy for your own ends. It is all a matter of public perception. It’s why when John Key toured the damage after the Christchurch earthquake he was seen as a man of the people; but when the diminished Phil Goff does it, he is trying to capitalise.

I believe Queensland Premier Anna Bligh can expect a boost in her ratings in the next poll. The latest Newspoll has her disapproval rating at 67 percent, but she has performed with sincerity and grace in the face of the devastating Queensland floods. Not everyone can benefit from such situations of course. Julia Gillard seems to have a face and voice that is incapable of expressing simple human emotions, which isn’t a plus in events like these. Kevin Rudd had his faults as a Prime Minister, but I’m sure Gillard would kill for his common touch right now.

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Re: Re: Is there some objectivity in music and art?

by Leveret

A fascinating development as reported and reflected upon by Charles Moore: Continue reading

How to be Civil

by Leveret

Via Diane Ellis we have George Washington’s ‘Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation’ – a long list compiled by the second Cincinnatus, by derived from the writings of French Jesuits, of how to behave towards others.

The full, modernised list after the jump.

Continue reading

The Beloved Chairman of Pop!

by Leveret

The PLA band trades in Song of the Long March for Beat It.

General of the Army?

by Leveret

Okay, so one weird thing quitely bouncing around the news at the moment is the debate as to whether Gen. Petraeus should be given a 5th star – the American equivalent of being promoted to Field Marshall. See this WSJ op-ed by two of his 101st Airborne veterans.

This is an exceedingly rare honour in the American military – there have only been nine 5-star officers in US History, including such greats as ‘Generals of the Army’ Washington, Grant, MacArthur, Pershing, Bradley and ‘Fleet Admiral’ Nimitz.

Petraeus has rescued America from defeat in one war, and is currently working to turn around the Afghan theatre of the War on Terror, but is a fifth-star really merited. His veterans make the case thusly: Continue reading

Never use two spaces after a full stop.

by Leveret

Monday morning must read:

Every modern typographer agrees on the one-space rule. It’s one of the canonical rules of the profession, in the same way that waiters know that the salad fork goes to the left of the dinner fork and fashion designers know to put men’s shirt buttons on the right and women’s on the left. Every major style guide—including the Modern Language Association Style Manual and the Chicago Manual of Style—prescribes a single space after a period.

(via Hot Air Headlines)

Re: Is there some objectivity in music and art?

by Leveret

A few people have asked me what the below picture, featured in my post about the objective quality of art, was:

It’s My Bed, a conceptual ‘work’ by Tracey Emin. The content of My Bed is the artist’s unmade bed replete with sheets stained by bodily discharges and littered with used prophylactics, underwear stained by menstrual bleeding and empty booze bottles. Continue reading