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I Remember America

For a long time it's been hard to remember who we are, who we can be, as the thugs and schemers who stole our government have lied to us and frightened us and pitted us against one another. It's been hard to remember the nation of contentious immigrants who despite all our disagreements maintained a sense of common identity and purpose. Hard to remember a country where practicality and basic decency usually trumped ideology, where we usually encouraged each other to look beyond the superficial differences of background and opinion toward our common humanity, rather than inflaming them into "culture wars." It's been hard to remember in the past few months, as the political conversation has been driven by a spiteful old man who substitutes mockery for discussion and knee-jerks for thought.

But tonight Barack Obama reminded me of who we are, and who can be, with humor and toughness and simplicity and faith. And I remember America again.

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Political diversion

In Britain, we're suffering the same malaise. We have lost our identity in the hotch-potch of races and creeds packed on to this small island. We're so bogged down by cultural diversity, that Team GB seemed an alien notion concocted for the Olympics, a slick piece of hype.

Lamentably, we don't have anyone with the charisma, eloquence and apparent integrity of Barack Obama to remind us who we are. Or even to create a new vision. Perhaps America will set the tone.

On a lighter note, one trusts the book is progressing apace and that all this isn't a device for failing to confront the demons of literary industry!

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Diversity of origin has always been at the heart of the American identity...and I suspect it will have to become central to the evolving self-identities of Britain and Europe, too. I think Obama does have the opportunity and the vision to help us all look at ourselves afresh.

As for that book...don't ask!