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A different time 

Read Bob Greene’s commentary on the Wisconsin primary 44 years ago. “Kennedy and Humphrey – head-to-head in pursuit of their party’s nomination – moved through Wisconsin in splendid isolation, looking for individual votes in near silence.”

Surely democracy is better served by the intensive coverage we now have of the candidates. But that relentless tracking of the political process must partially explain the steady decline in voting participation in the US and many other advanced democracies.

I’ll wager, however, that the 2004 presidential election in the US will see a partial reversal of the trend. People on both sides are charged up: as The Decembrist recently observed, “How many people do you know who aren’t sure whether they will vote for George W. Bush’s reelection or not?”

Switched on 

Loïc Le Meur has some excellent reflections on how conferences need to evolve to become valuable and interactive.


I would love to have a regular column in a daily newspaper. It would worry me, however, that there would be days when I had nothing sensible to say.

Martin Kettle seems not to harbour such doubts. He fills a half page of The Guardian with speculative drivel today, with the rousing conclusion:

“If Bush is defeated in November, does that actually make Blair stronger or weaker? Would a Kerry victory give fresh credibility to Blair the Labour prime minister or toll the knell for Blair the Bush ally? Inside Downing Street there is much disagreement about all this. It is a mark of the political cancer caused by the Iraq war that it cannot be assumed that Blair wants Kerry to win. It is the ultimate pessimism that Blair may even prefer to see Bush re-elected.”

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