“The era of big government is over”

Yesterday we took a trip to London – Simon wanted to visit the new Darwin Centre at the Natural History Museum. After that and a visit to the V&A, we did what I love to do most in cities, and especially in London – we just wandered around the streets, stopping once in a while for a cup of tea or some soup. At Grosvenor Square we stopped and said hello to the statue of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, last (first?) great liberal President of the America and one of my favourites.

The news this week is dominated by analyses of Obamas first year, and about the fall of Ted Kennedy’s Seante seat to the Republicans. On this side of the Atlantic the main parties appear to be locked into some great pre-election race to see who can make the most cuts in public spending, while all the while spouting aspiration after aspiration in their manifesto pledges.

All this puts me in mind of one of my favourite West Wing episodes. Toby, when writing Bartlet’s State of the Union address completely reverses the current policy of an administration too scared by the power of the Senate to do what they wanted to do. Toby rejects that “the era of big government is over” invoking the spirit of FDR’s new deal and endowments for the arts. Obama’s State of the Union is in a couple of weeks. The people may have spoken but it doesn’t mean they are right. He just hasn’t convinced them yet.

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