Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Ambassador and the Senator

The Telegraph has published a leaked internal letter from the British Ambassador to the US, Sir Nigel Sheinwald, to Prime Minister Gordon Brown, in which he briefs the PM on the background, temperament, and character of Senator Barack Obama. Sir Nigel's opinion is particularly relevant in that he is precisely the sort of person we have been assured Senator Obama will be able to dazzle. Now, much has already been made of the Ambassador's characterization of Obama as relatively inexperienced and "aloof". But those are some valid criticisms picked from a document that is also full of honest praise. We're all by now so invested in this partisan contest, it feels a bit strange to read such a dispassionate assessment of a candidate, and this is precisely why I think everyone ought to read it, just to cool some heads. Is Sir Nigel a wild-eyed Obamaniac? Certainly not. But neither does he seem to dread the thought of an Obama presidency. A recurring theme is that -- as far as the British government is concerned -- while an Obama presidency is a bit of a wildcard due to his political pragmatism and lack of defining experience, he is without a doubt an intelligent man surrounding himself with very intelligent people. Over all, I think most Obama voters will find that Sir Nigel points out many of the things they like about him, while many McCain voters will find that those are the very same things they dislike. Now I wish they'd leak the matching brief on McCain. I'd be really curious to read it.

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