Are Americans now thinking they’d prefer a beer with Romney?
Opinion digest: Obama and Romney’s beer and burger competition, plus Turkish-Syrian relations
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US ELECTIONS ALL ABOUT BEER AND BURGERS
BEN MACINTYRE ON THE ROMNEY-OBAMA CONTEST
US presidential elections hang on a simple calculation: the ‘beer and hamburger test’, writes Ben Macintyre in The Times. The winning candidate is always the one whom most Americans would prefer to sit down and have a beer with, and the one who serves up ‘plain hamburger’. Until this week, the Romney-Obama contest fitted a familiar template: the president was the “younger, loose-limbed communicator with the ready smile and easy manner”, whilst his challenger was the “boring, buttoned-up candidate of privilege with an unclear message”. The first presidential debate turned this template inside out. Now, Romney is the easy-going candidate and Obama looks more like the aloof outsider. Debates rarely transform elections, but they do set the tone for the final weeks. Many Americans may now be wondering whether they might like to have a beer with the Republican contender.
TIME FOR TORIES TO RECONNECT
LIAM FOX ON THE CONSERVATIVE CONFERENCE
The Conservatives have two tasks at next week’s party conference: to be honest with the public about the national predicament, and to be honest with itself about the party’s disconnection from its core supporters, writes Liam Fox in The Daily Telegraph. Despite all the rhetoric, Britain has “not had a period of great austerity, or anything like it”, says Fox. Yet few seem to have woken up to the realities of what promises to be a long slog for structural corrections in the economy. This will take at least a decade to work through. In addition, the Conservative Party must reconnect with its voters. The Tories have a chance to produce a defining Conservative position as the truly national party at the next election. It needs a renegotiated relationship within a defined time and a referendum at the end. There is no point trying to engineer the party to appeal to one set of voters on the political spectrum, just to see others fall off the other end.
ANKARA MUST TREAD CAREFULLY
MOHAMMED AYOOB ON TURKEY AND SYRIA
Turkish involvement in Syria is becoming increasingly costly at home, writes Mohammed Ayoob in The Guardian. At first, Turkish backing for Syria's democratic movement was both idealistic and realistic, buttressing the democratic credentials of its ruling party. But the Turks were unable to predict either the increasingly militant nature of Syria’s opposition groups, or the staying power of President Bashar al-Assad. Turkey has also found itself caught in a regional cold war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Assad's staunchest supporter, and it is becoming increasingly wary of the domestic consequences of support for the Syrian rebels. This has exacerbated underlying sectarian tensions at home, and strengthened the hand of militant Kurdish factions in northern Turkey. Yesterday’s border skirmish made this dangerous situation even more combustible. It is crucial that Ankara now treads carefully. Otherwise, the Syrian mess could become a Turkish mess as well.