David and Barack be warned: nothing corrupts like friendship
Cameron came dangerously close to endorsing President Obama's re-election, says Tom Utley
CONTINUING a new service from The Week online – a daily wrap-up of the best comment and opinion articles from the morning papers and the top political bloggers. Posted mid-morning Mondays to Fridays. If you think we've missed a good one, please let us know. Contact us via Twitter or Facebook, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
DAVE AND BARACK: A DANGEROUS PRECEDENT
TOM UTLEY ON PHONEY FRIENDLINESS
Starbucks has introduced a new policy of addressing customers by their first names, because "everything seems a little impersonal nowadays". The problem is quite the opposite, says Tom Utley in the Daily Mail: "If you ask me, one of the countless irritations of modern life is that everything is getting too damn personal by half." Utley doesn't want to be called Tom by people who don't know him – though he forgives Mail readers who write to him as such – and he doesn't like Cameron and Obama calling each other ‘David' and ‘Barack' either. "Nothing corrupts like friendship, after all. And it is all too easy to see how David might be tempted to do something for his mate Barack which it would be entirely improper for the Prime Minister of the UK to do for the President of the USA." As an example, Utley claims Cameron came close to endorsing Obama's candidature for re-election, when he "gushingly" praised the President's moral authority and wisdom. "Where will this leave the UK's interests, if we find ourselves having to deal with President Romney, Gingrich or Santorum?"
HEARTS FLUTTER FOR KAUTO STAR
THE TIMES ON THE CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP
If Kauto Star wins the Cheltenham Gold Cup for the third time today, he might rank as the best chaser ever, says a Times Leader. Nevertheless, such a victory is extremely unlikely. Quite apart from the after effects of a recent accident, Kauto is 12 years old – two years older than any Gold Cup winner since 1969. "But the world is not too troubled by reason. 'The heart', Pascal noticed, 'has its reasons which reason knows nothing of.' And in Kauto Star the heart has its reasons in spades." Like Desert Orchid, Red Rum and Arkle, Kauto has "cantered from the back pages of newspapers to vie for space with all the news at the front." Kauto has won £2.4 million in prize money and in 2009 became the first horse to regain the Gold Cup. "When the heart flutters for Kauto Star, it also has some cause to."
ASSAD EMAILS COULD BACKFIRE ON REBELS
PETER BEAUMONT ON EVIDENCE OF ASSAD'S HUMANITY
The leaking of emails purportedly written by President Bashar al-Assad and his wife could backfire on the Syrian rebels, writes Peter Beaumont in The Guardian. "If the opposition had hoped to make Assad seem more monstrous, then they have failed. Instead, the emails they have leaked have made a man responsible for terrible crimes seem less distant and oddly more human if not less culpable." Rather than exposing a plot to smuggle in weapons of mass destruction, the emails reveal Assad, signing off messages to his wife with "love u", is a devoted husband. He plays with his iPad and buys New Order songs from iTunes. But it is this which makes the emails seem more chilling and unsettling, "reminding us that it is ordinary men who commit and order atrocities".
WHY DESPOTS BEHAVE LIKE FOOTBALLERS' WIVES
THEODORE DALRYMPLE ON THE ASSAD EMAILS
The Assads' expenditure on chandeliers, jewellery and other fripperies (revealed in the Guardian's cache of private emails), while all around them Syrians have been dying, comes as no surprise to Theodore Dalrymple, writing in The Daily Telegraph. "Dictators and their consorts behave, at least from the point of view of interior decoration and the other trappings of success, like footballers' wives who have been elevated into a position in which the availability of money exerts no constraint on their fantasy of the good life," Dalrymple writes. "If you want to bathe in an ivory bath with platinum taps, then you just send out for one, even if it has to be to the uttermost ends of the earth (in practice, usually Paris or Harrods). And such is the wickedness of the human mind, that extreme luxury is the more enjoyable in proportion to the hardships of everyone else. Who wants to be a billionaire if everyone else is a billionaire?"