This morning, Barack Obama could be enjoying his
morning coffee in the Oval Office thinking that winning re-election will turn
out to be one of the easier tasks of his extended tenure. Now begins the really tough challenge, which
may be termed the Battle
of the Houses.
The combatants in their corners are already doing
their little skipping-step warm-up routines.
In the blue corner, the White House, still in Democratic hands, implores
its opponent to reach a compromise on the tax increases and spending cuts due
to take effect in the New Year. In the
red corner, the House of Representatives remains firmly under the control of the
Republicans, cowed by a fringe group of right-wingers that equates compromise
The outcome will determine the short-to-medium term
health of the American and world economies, and the signs aren’t terribly
promising. House Republicans with Tea
Party sympathies, having failed to get their man into the big mansion down the
street, may be more determined than ever to stick to their guns.
Such is the fear, evidently, of the American stock
market, which yesterday registered its biggest one-day fall of the year. Investors were far from comforted, either, by
television footage of Greeks rioting on the streets of Athens,
a stark pictorial reminder that the euro-zone impasse remains as unresolved as
domestic fiscal stalemate.
Haven’t American voters made their collective will clear
by returning Obama? Well, not exactly, because
even as they were doing that, and enhancing the Democratic majority in the
Senate, they were also returning Republicans in sufficient numbers to maintain
their dominion over the lower house.
Both sides in the divide have spouted the usual guff
about uniting, and healing, and extending hands across the aisle, but the
troops remain huddled in the trenches and no-man’s land still looks like a
bleak place into which nobody wants to venture.
As Europe and America sort themselves out, we
Brits can only watch and wait – though hardly in smug satisfaction, when our
own public deficit continues to defy all the austerity measures the government
throws at it.
Will someone please imitate the action of the
tiger and get this mess sorted out – before we all become Athenians.