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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Thursday, November 06, 2008
    A toast: to trust of the people tempered by prudence
     
    We were served a glass of champagne with our meal at St Deiniol's yesterday evening, in celebration of the American people's joyous decision to embrace hopeful change on the election of Barak Obama. A fine place to be, to welcome this bold shift in global politics: the library which William Gladstone gifted to the nation, (as the history tells) transporting most of the 32,000 books himself by wheelbarrow from his house a quarter of a mile away.

    Jonathan Freedland in today's Guardian reports on one aspect of Barak Obama's admirable approach to the serious business of governing.
    He would ask his policy advisers to convene the top experts in a given field for a dinner. Obama would make introductory remarks, then sit back and listen - hard. Similarly, when convening his own staff for a key decision, he might stretch out on a couch on his office, his eyes closed, listening. According to one account, "he asked everybody in the room to take turns sharing their advice, insisting on the participation of even his most quiet, junior staffers". He particularly encouraged internal argument among his advisers, thrashing out both sides of an argument.
    After eight years of a president who ostracised those advisers who dared tell him what he did not want to hear, the Obama style will mark quite a change.
    Gladstone famously described Liberalism as 'trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear.' So, on the day that the good people of America consigned Bush's deadly conservatism to its pitiless end, we raised our glasses to one we hope will become the best of liberals.