One Of Us?
Michael Wolff assesses David Cameron:
Cameron was the clear winner in this race. Whatever instincts and prejudices he might harbor, he had, with great doggedness and ambition, transformed himself into something recognizable and, nearly, reassuring.
Cameron and I chatted with requisite interest and enthusiasm about Obama, but, like California, Obama actually seemed, I thought, quite foreign to him. Cameron’s interest in the president was more dutiful than natural.
His real interest, the point at which he picked up the story, where the story became about him, was when the conversation turned to Tony Blair and Bill Clinton, those artful dodgers, those all-things-to-as-many-people-as-possible men, those consummate politicians, those yuppies, those salesmen, those deft orchestrators of the modern psyche (stop me, please). Indeed, David Cameron, I’m sure, is utterly convinced he has the unique touchthe charm, the empathy, the savvyto hold a coalition together.
In this David Cameron is no doubt distasteful to left-wing and right-wing partisans. But to me, and I’ll bet to other no-wingers, he is very familiar and, I am tempted to believe, one of ours, for better or worse.
Oddly, I have never met him, and only heard from those close to him. I believe he has done an immensely difficult thing - he has tried to transcend his social class out of a sense of patriotic duty that is, in many ways, a function of his social class. And this, I think, is a deeply Tory instinct - where the elites take their broader responsibilities seriously, and act out of decency. I was moved by his gracious words yesterday about 13 years of Labour. He said the country had become fairer and he was glad for it.
And here is where he reminds me a little of Obama. Class in Britain is what race is in America. Cameron never denied his past and even engaged in some of its more obnoxious practices. But he loves his country, and endured great prejudice, as well as great privilege, because of his class. Yes, Etonians can be victims too. He both owned his identity - all of it - and yet sought to transcend it.
And his Toryism is also deeply connected to a pragmatic adjustment to modernity, rather than a furious and ignorant reaction to it. He takes climate change seriously; he understands the vital priority of fiscal responsibility; he seeks to limit the state by encouraging personal responsibility and civil society; he has not just talked the talk on inclusion of gay people, he has walked the walk, bringing a whole new generation into Tory politics. He has shown so far no enmity, no nastiness, no mean streak, although, in true British fashion, he has bashed his opponents in the Commons to a nicely-blended pulp.
I think he represents the future of conservatism, as well as the best of the Tory tradition of Disraeli and Butler and Baldwin. I think he is where the GOP will one day have to be, once they slowly find out the sheer depth of the abyss they have hurled themselves into.
(Photo: Prime Minister David Cameron (R) and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg hold their first joint press conference in the Downing Street garden on May 12, 2010 in London, England. By Christopher Furlong - WPA Pool /Getty Images)