I've always liked Christmas. There seems to be a genuine sense that the world stops turning and the normal ugliness is suspended. Probably my unbounded optimism and general blindness to things I don't want to see, but the fact is it gives me a feeling of goodwill towards people.
Why then, the title of this post? Because as the year ends, it is worth remembering what we have and what we don't have. And some of the reasons why. Nobody ever entered politics to make other people richer or freer. The supporters of a certain Mr Obama will be discovering this in the next few months. Those of us who have to live under Labour governments, or in my case Rodríguez Zapatero, are reminded of it constantly.
One of the most obvious traits of the three just named is that they are bureaucrats, not leaders. Tony Blair led, briefly, while his charisma lasted, but he did not lead anywhere in particular. The same, I am sure, will happen to Obama. It will be a case of 'Follow Barack, he's right behind us.' Even so, let's wait until he actually makes a mess of things before condemning him. Brown and Zapatero are not leaders, and it is only the decadence and irrelevance of politics in these countries that has allowed them to get where they are. George Bush had moments of genuine leadership. There were times when, with no theatre, no posing, no spin, no self-conscious rhetoric, but rather with simple words and good example, he led his nation. There were few such moments, certainly, but it is more than most achieve.
So this is my Christmas wish: May those who think they lead us do as little as possible, and may real leaders appear only where they are needed.
A very Happy Christmas and New Year to anyone who drops by here.
Subdisciplines of Linguistics.
9 hours ago