What the world is reading

"Barack Obama was elected president in 2008 because he was not George W Bush... because he was the furthest thing possible from Mr Bush

Published: April 30, 2013 2:32:24 am

The Wall Street Journal

The return of bush

“Barack Obama was elected president in 2008 because he was not George W Bush… because he was the furthest thing possible from Mr Bush… This week something changed. George W Bush is back,for the unveiling of his presidential library. His numbers are dramatically up. You know why? Because he’s the furthest thing from Barack Obama,” Peggy Noonan writes. “Bush has been modest,humorous,proud but unassuming. No finger-pointing or scoring points. He didn’t attempt to manipulate. His sheer normality seemed like a relief,an echo of an older age. And all this felt like an antidote to Obama—to the imperious I,to the inability to execute,to the sense that he is trying to teach us,like an Ivy League instructor taken aback by the backwardness of his students… One thing Bush didn’t think he was was superior.”


America’s paranoiA

Andrew O’Hehir sees a parallel to the 1901 assassination of US President William McKinley by an unemployed anarchist of Polish descent in the reactions that have followed the Boston bombing. “Superficially,the America of McKinley’s time— dominated by an Anglo-Saxon Protestant elite,in which only a handful of non-Whites and women were even permitted to vote—has little in common with the America of Barack Obama. But the nativist paranoia about alien ideologies and alien religions remains strikingly familiar,as does the quest for ‘enemy combatants’ behind every door and under every sofa,” O’Hehir writes,adding,“The real enemy combatants,now as in 1901,are right here at home,ready and willing to surrender our remaining rights and freedoms in the name of rooting out the supposedly imported virus of evil.”

The Independent

Climate of contempt for rights

Tim Hancock (Amnesty’s Campaigns Director) writes about the UK government’s efforts to extradite alleged al-Qaeda terrorist Abu Qatada to Jordan,and the courts blocking the same,as well as rumours that Britain may pull out of the European Convention on Human Rights to achieve deportation. “Periodically my employers send me out to defend Abu Qatada’s human rights,” Hancock writes. “It’s a task that I carry out,not just because it’s in my job description,but because it’s fundamental to my ability to defend the human rights of all people around the world. Human rights are for the rest of us as well as the best of us and anything that approaches a sliding scale of entitlement is frightening. And this is the point. Basic principles are at stake. This is not just about Abu Qatada… The proposal is that we send someone to an unfair trial,where evidence obtained through torture might be used… Human rights cannot be served ‘pick and mix’ style — you’re either in or out.”


Tom Cruise through his films

Sam Adams wonders at who the real Cruise is,and says the answer may lie in his movies,discounting “superficial continuities,like a preference for wire-rimmed sunglasses,battered leather jackets,and fast,loud vehicles”. According to the article,Oblivion “resonates profoundly,if imprecisely,with the teachings of the Church of Scientology,for which Cruise is the world’s most public advocate.” Adams derives similar meanings from Cruise’s Mission Impossible films,and especially from the movie Jack Reacher. “Oblivion is simply the most concrete example of a theme that stretches back through Cruise’s entire filmography,in which knowing oneself and being known by others is not only profoundly difficult,but also frequently dangerous.”

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