I wrote yesterday about my recovery from political depression after the British General Election in May this year. I’ve kept my thoughts to myself about politicians ever since but, if I’m going to talk about the new Brits on the block, I might as well confess admiration for some overseas politicos too. Politicians are mostly unpopular and derided – it is probably easier to say horrid things about them than nice ones. To show that I can, occasionally, be generous-hearted, here goes.
I’ve always admired Barrack Obama, the US President even if I’m worried about his wobbly policy over Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. I’ve written a lot about him over the years but, sufficient to say, he’s been impressive with his cool, his dignity and his thoughtful and eloquent words at important moments of crisis. I shall miss him when he leaves at the end of his term.
Just when I thought well any Democrat is better than any Republican, even if she is the only candidate, along came the wonderful Bernie Sanders. Well, far be it for me to second guess the next American presidential elections but it is truly amazing to hear an ancient American politician talking like a modern man of the left. Hey, you guys aren’t meant to talk like that over there or so I’d thought. Anyway, I suppose, I’d be happy to have Hillary Clinton as the next President rather than any of those scary Republican candidates. Donald Trump! You’re kiddin’ me, America, he isn’t really a front runner, Come on!
The shameful way Greece has been treated by its European partners is another political story that I’ve shirked in my self-imposed silence. It’s been a bad year for the European Union with the bullying of Greece and the fracturing of its membership’s will over the fate of thousands of refugees. I’m a fan of the EU but if I had my reservations about its short-comings, I now have some more and I’m now scared that its current record is going to encourage, wrongly in my opinion, too many Brits to vote No in David Cameron’s misguided EU Referendum when it comes along. Out of the politicians, I’ve loved Yanis Varoufakis, well, I always go for the losers these days. He might love himself a bit too much but he’s stuck to his ideals and made some biting comments about the great European hierarchy – ones that we should all take on board. With or without Mr Varoufakis, I send all of my best wishes to Greece.
Angela Merkel might have been the bad guy over the Greek crisis – her intransigence was a genuine obstacle to a sensible European compromise and sensible compromises are what the EU is supposed to be about. Well, so bad marks there to Chancellor Merkel but, who would of thought it, full marks for her out-spoken defence of all those refugees and, in one stroke, elevating herself to become the conscience of Europe in one of its worst moments of crisis since the formation of the EU. When Britain’s leadership is almost invisible in Europe and the World these days, it is to Frau Merkel that we have to look for vision and compassion. Wow! Did I really say that? It shows how desperate the situation in Europe really is.
Oh yes, and then there’s Pope Francis. What am I saying? Even if I’m no fan of the Roman Catholic church’s position on all those well-debated liberal issues, you have to hand it to him. He really does live what he believes and he says it too – face to face with anyone and everyone. It would be a stoney-heart indeed that could disagree with his words to the United Nations last week. Maybe these days with so many profound issues pressing on the World from Global Warming to Syria and its displaced citizens, it is important for us all to hear this gentle voice reminding us that it is always the poorest who suffer the most. As the Pope suggested in his charming speech to UN workers, if we can’t pray for him at least we can wish him well.