Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Obama, Brown, and Cameron Today

Jonathan Freedland: Obama was off form, but Brown was still basking | Comment is free |

As for Brown... This was the moment he had been waiting for, at least since Obama's election last November. He had craved this chance, to stand alongside the world's most popular leader; indeed, his strategy for re-election appears to be all but built on it. . So, when Obama praised Brown's "extraordinary initiative and leadership" and then said the world owed him "an extraordinary debt of gratitude", the PM was a picture of delight. Later, just watching Obama speak, apparently in no hurry for the press conference ever to end, Brown leaned on his lectern wearing an expression that he may never before have revealed in public: simple contentment.

I thought Brown looked pretty silly. He really did grin like a Cheshire cat. And it all seemed so misjudged. British voters may like Obama, but they don't associate Brown with Obama, and will not vote for Brown because of Obama.

What made Brown look good today was when David Cameron appeared in the media saying:

"I welcome those countries that can have a fiscal stimulus, that can afford it, then that's good for them, good for the world economy. But everyone should know that countries can only do what countries can afford to do, and the governor of the Bank of England has said that here in Britain we cannot afford a further discretionary stimulus."

This made Cameron simply look even sillier. It may be that there is no solution to this financial crisis, but the only one on offer is applied Keynesianism. Since Keynesian measures failed in Britain the 1970s there are serious reasons for rejecting them. At the moment, however, no one is proposing an alternative approach, and the US has already embarked on the Keynsian gamble. There is no alternative, and Cameron must have come across as a lightweight to Obama.

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