William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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BRITAIN HAS A NEW P.M., LOVES AMERICA, HAS A HOUSE IN SANTA MONICA – FROM THE WASHINGTON POST: 

It is a nice coincidence that Rishi Sunak has won the leadership of the Conservative Party, and hence the prime ministership, on the most important day of Diwali, the “festival of light” celebrated by Hindus, along with Sikhs, Jains and some Buddhists. Diwali supposedly marks the triumph of “light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance.” It is also associated with wealth and prosperity. In February 2020, Sunak took his oath of office as chancellor of the exchequer holding a copy of the Bhagavad Gita and celebrated Diwali by putting lights outside his official residence at Number 11 Downing Street. He will now be the first Hindu to become UK prime minister. His time in office will hinge on his ability to deliver a reasonable measure of prosperity to a country that is in dire economic straits.

Sunak has a fighting chance of restoring order to the Conservative Party and the UK government. Certainly better than Penny Mordaunt, who dropped out of the race at the very last moment. While popular, she is relatively inexperienced, having only served for a few months in the cabinet as defense secretary. We don’t have to recite the resume of Boris Johnson, a one-man wrecking ball. Perfectly turned out in a suit and narrow tie, Sunak cuts a commanding presence compared to Johnson. Fitting the two men into Max Weber’s equation, Sunak is “ethic of responsibility” made flesh while Johnson is his “ethic of irresponsibility.”

In many ways, Sunak is a completely conventional British prime minister. He was educated at Winchester College (where he was head boy or “Sen. Co. Prae” in the idiosyncratic language of that institution) followed by Lincoln College, Oxford where he read PPE (that is, received a degree in philosophy, politics and economics, the staple subject or aspiring politicians and civil servants). He is inordinately fond of football. If the naughtiest thing that Theresa May did while growing up was to run through a field of wheat, the naughtiest thing that Sunak did as a schoolboy was to smuggle a handheld television into the school so that he did not miss any key Euro 96 matches. On his 18th birthday, he received a card signed by the entire squad of his favorite team, Southampton, a gift that became one of his most prized possessions.

COMMENT:  Read the whole thing.  Fascinating.  He will have to wait a while for us to have a Republican president, but the two will get on famously.

October 23, 2022