Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Friday, February 27, 2009

Political events

It's often difficult to know what events are political. If Putin's alleged enjoyment of a private ABBA-like concert can threaten the political reputation of a super-powerful guy, or if trying to bash a swimming rabbit with a boat oar can make a weakened president appear less powerful, who can tell?

The event described here is decidedly tragic, but the political ramifications are large.

Son’s Death Recasts Image of a British Leader

"Ivan Cameron was just 6, a boy with a lovely smile who was born with cerebral palsy and a severe form of epilepsy that deprived him of the ability to walk, talk or feed himself...

"Early Wednesday, when Ivan died... the news resonated deeply in Britain... For the first time in 15 years, the House of Commons canceled prime minister’s questions... and devoted the time instead to tributes to Ivan by Prime Minister Gordon Brown and other party leaders.

"What made Ivan headline news at his death, and a topic of widespread public sympathy while he was alive, was that he was the oldest child of David Cameron, the leader of the opposition Conservative Party and the man heavily favored by opinion polls to be Britain’s prime minister after an election that must be held by June 2010.

"But there was something more, and that was what the British public learned about Mr. Cameron and his wife, Samantha, through the prism of Ivan’s life.

"Many in Britain said those insights lent a powerful humanity to Mr. Cameron, who is Eton and Oxford educated, and his wife, the step-daughter of a viscount. This helped them shake the 'toff' image — the term is British slang for an upper-class person, often with sniffy views about the 'lower' classes — that might otherwise be fatal to Mr. Cameron’s chances of winning the keys to 10 Downing Street...

"On Wednesday, his death halted, for at least a day, the often acrimonious relationship between Mr. Cameron and Prime Minister Brown, who have made little secret of their antipathy for each other. Mr. Brown, too, lost a child — Jennifer, his first — in 2002 when she was only 10 days old.

"Mr. Brown, like Mr. Cameron, has two other small children, including a boy, Fraser, who has cystic fibrosis.

"Mr. Brown appeared deeply moved when he spoke in the House of Commons on Ivan’s death after personally intervening to have the scheduled round of prime minister’s questions called off..."

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At 7:43 AM, Blogger Ken Wedding said...

To lighten the mood a bit, here's Tom Paxton describing the swimming bunny incident.

I don't want a bunny in my little row boat


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