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Three lessons for Cameron from Obama's first year

On AmericaInTheWorld I've listed the worrying weaknesses at the heart of Barack Obama's foreign policy.

Earlier this week, on the International blog, I noted Tuesday's bad results for the Democrats.

As Britain's Conservatives look across the Atlantic, what political lessons can be learnt from Obama's first year? Three stand out.

Cameron & Obama Be focused: Tories are keen to avoid the mistake of Tony Blair in coasting through their early years in office and so will begin reforms immediately. Deficit reduction and education reform will be two top priorities. Dramatic reform of corporation tax is looking a more and more important theme (see paragraph six of this Telegraph piece by Irwin Stelzer). But if they will be bolder than early Blair they should be more focused than Obama. America's 44th President has tried to do too many big things too quickly and there is a growing sense that he hasn't done enough of them well. Think of the biggest stimulus in US history, healthcare reform, Afghanistan, cap and trade, banning nuclear weapons, battling Fox News, making peace with the Muslim world, and a hundred smaller initiatives...

Reach across the aisle: Barack Obama has lost a lot of support of independent voters. This is for a variety of reasons but partly because he has failed to build the support of moderate Republicans. His attempted recruitment of New Hampshire Republican Senator Judd Gregg failed after Gregg objected to the size of Obama's stimulus package. Bipartisanship can't be cosmetic.

Promote experience: The new members of the real West Wing sometimes give the impression that they think they are starring in TV's West Wing. Embassies and foreign governments talk of a chaotic White House staff that is too focused on politics. The people good at running a campaign are not necessarily the right people to run the White House/ Downing Street.

Tim Montgomerie


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