It has become well nigh impossible to read non-partisan analysis of the twists and turns in the US election count. Everything now seems to split on party lines: courts, columnists and popular opinion. A possible exception is Anthony Lewis‘s column in today’s New York Times. Lewis is one of the few people who has made a career out of understanding the Supreme Court and explaining it to the lay public.
“Whether Al Gore or George W. Bush becomes president will make a difference, but it has never been a cosmic question. Whoever wins, the country will survive. But now a truly profound interest is at stake in the election controversy. That is the public’s acceptance of the great power exercised by the Supreme Court of the United States.”
As a politically aware American (although one resident in Europe for 22 years), I’ve followed the election aftermath closely. Until this weekend, I was confident that the very essence of the US polity would be preserved: no country is more profoundly a nation built from laws than the US. The clearly partisan vote of the US Supreme Court makes that assumption very rocky. Today’s hearing will either confirm the dangerous, shifting sands or reinstate a more important solid foundation for the nation.
***Nice wasn’t so nice
Not that anyone outside Europe noticed, but the EU’s 15 governments met over the weekend in Nice to decide a raft of constitutional and strategic issues. On a dispassionate analysis, the prospect of expanding the EU to embrace another dozen or so states to the east should surely have ranked first in priorities. But in the national interest-obsessed world of the EU, hard political trading came first. In the end, success was achieved, but it did nothing to encourage faith in Europe’s political institutions
***Eddie or not
I recently lamented that Eddie George, governor of the Bank of England, wanted to be called Sir Edward. He told Sir David Frost (now do you see how nonsensical these titles are) yesterday, “Call me Eddie.” There are more sensible people around. My former cricket teammate, Howard Davies, was knighted at the same time as Eddie. But the Financial Services Authority chairman apparently charges his staff £1 a go if they use his title.
***Where did I put that walrus skull?
Nathan Myhrvold, one-time CTO of Microsoft, is a journalist’s godsend. He’s also immense fun, with a completely infectious laugh. Forbes captures well part of Nathan’s exuberance: “‘This is a helluva walrus,’ says Myhrvold jauntily, trying unsuccessfully to lift the large skull out of its box. ‘I looked at a bunch of them and, trust me, this is the pick of the litter.’”