On Thursday, I listened to the BBC News at seven in the morning after the first of the Obama/Romney US presidential debates three hours earlier. The report of the debate was only the third item on the news. So I knew, without having to hear any more, that Mitt Romney must have won. If Mr Obama had come out on top, the BBC would have led with the story.
Then I watched the debate. It was true that Mr Romney seemed energised and Mr Obama seemed tired. But the most significant thing – and the reason for the Governor’s victory over the President – is that Mr Romney actually seemed interested in the economic crisis, and its social effects. He gave the impression of wanting to put it right and of knowing how to.
It is weird how few politicians do give that impression. Since recession/credit crunch/deficits/cuts/banking crisis are the dominant subject not just of the year but of the era, you would think that the leaders of the Western world would address these questions with the zeal that an oncologist applies to treating cancer. But it is not so. Most of our countries are governed by people in whom economic problems induce a migraine. They long to talk about something else.