Mardell: Good reads for the weekend

President Barack Obama with Gov Mitt Romney after their first debate (4 Oct 2012)

Related Stories

There's a central mystery about the president - why this terrific orator, the self-invented narrator of his own life - can turn out such awful performances.

This unconvincing, unenthusiastic, wordy Obama was on display in the debate, as at the Democratic convention.

I suspect it is a combination of a lack of relish for the job ahead and a strategy of presidential calm gone somewhat awry.

But sometimes I think it must be something deeper and Garance Franke-Rutatre has some interesting thoughts on the president's lame performance.

It is also worth reading an article that James Fallows wrote, also in The Atlantic, before the debate. He's too good to gloat but he could afford to be smug - it is all about why Mitt Romney might prove to be formidable.

Gulf dividing society

Also, before the debate there was a brief media flurry about a five-year-old video of President Barack Obama, talking at a black college. The reaction displays the huge gulf that divides this society.

Some of this is pretend outrage for political purposes, but some of it is genuine.

High on the list of disputed interpretations is race. What seems an unexceptional description of the facts to most African Americans and liberals is seen by some white conservatives as whipping up racial anger.

Two articles illustrate the yawning gap.

Obama is talking frankly to a black audience about race. It's true that he hasn't talked like this as president. You can see why. This is why conservatives said it could lose Obama the election.

With a tone more of sadness than anger, one African American blogger unpicks what he sees as lying behind the rage: how some cope with their "cognitive dissonance" of seeing a black man in the White House.

The other big leadership battle

Which party does this critic of the American system come from, saying it produces "overly generous state welfare to inefficient endless politicking and confrontational party manoeuvring that never got anything"?

Republican? Democrat? No, the Chinese Communist Party.

The presidential election is not the only leadership battle going on this year, and the one inside China may be as important for America and the world as well as the one here. It is also horribly difficult to get a handle on.

That's why it was great to read this FT profile of ordinary party members and their who's who of the top ranks.

Essential reading for whoever wins the White House.

Mark Mardell, North America editor Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell North America editor

More on This Story

Related Stories


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    136:colonelartist:There have been substantial changes in the US due to elections throughout our history.

    137:lock stock and barrel:I am well aware that many people are not included in unemployment figures who should be. I presumed your %'s on unemployment were accurate, so I figured out what % of the American people those categories included based on what you gave me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    Congress has 10% approval rating, does that mean the people support them, or think they suck, or is it another biased poll against them another wicked anti-republicans conspiracy with a very negative unfair perception
    GOP got in Congress because of Tea Party but got no credibility now they shot themselves in the foot but they are the same people party anyway just the extremists

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    Instead of propoganding against Iran, and busy inciting war in Syria, and killing people with drones, instead of sending them to gitmo, coz that Obama shut down....hehehheh....Obama and co should sit down and think hard why they attacked afghanistan 11 yrs ago, or is the world save now, or are the taliban gone forever now...Countries which wage wars should remember the the anniversery date as well

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    They were sending Tea Party racist hate mail trash amongst themselves which my friend showed me when she got upset someone she knew used to send her it

    bull about Congress deception being honorable is your lies

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    The idelogical extreme wing of the Dem party which Obama and Pelsoi belong has hurt the country by their inflexbility.

    Instead of trying to work with the Republican house they have played gold while we have suffered.

    There has not been a more polarizing and arrogant President in modern history than Obama


Comments 5 of 143



  • RihannaCloud caution

    After celebrity leaks, what can you do to safeguard your photos?

  • Cesc FabregasFair price?

    Have some football clubs overpaid for their new players?

  • Woman and hairdryerBlow back

    Would banning high-power appliances actually save energy?

  • Rack of lambFavourite feast

    Is the UK unusually fond of lamb and potatoes?

  • Members of staff at James Stevenson Flags hold a Union Jack and Saltire flag UK minus Scotland

    Does the rest of the UK care if the Scots become independent?

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.