Thursday, January 14, 2010

Rory Stewart Follow-up

On my January 4 post, Rory Stewart -- Remember This Name, I suggested that this 37-year old wunderkind was headed for the highest levels of British government -- maybe even the highest. (No, not king. Just prime minister.)

The yet-to-be called British election is still perhaps four months away, but the assumption in the British press is that this first-time candidate for M.P. in the "safe" constituency of Penrith and the Border will be elected and will become a national force. Just read these excerpts from a remarkably adulatory 2,500-word piece published in today's Guardian:

"...Among the ranks of all the new ­parliamentary candidates on offer, from all parties, Stewart is blessed – or cursed – by standing out as being by a long way the most extraordinary..."

"...Whether Cameron will be able to listen to someone as honest and unusual as Rory Stewart is unclear. How Stewart will deal with the realities of life in Westminster is anyone's guess. That he will be Britain's most fascinating and most watched new MP is not in doubt..." [Emphasis added.]

The Guardian article is a good read.  And soon, in this country, there will be another good read -- The New Yorker is working on a profile of Stewart.

It's reminds me of the drumbeat crescendo that accompanied another politician, a young American, as he rose in a relatively short time from near obscurity to President. 


  1. I look forward to reading The New Yorker piece -- knowing that I read all about him from you, first! Although, hmm... I admit that something in my feminist sensibilities cringes with the "boy wonder" aspect... I'm thinking, a little life experience (to include some political gaffes, perhaps?) would do him some good.

  2. "Boy Wonder" no problem here. And experiences already seem to be A Few Of His Favorite Things. Gaffes, political and other, are pretty much assured unless he dies tomorrow.

  3. i have got a feeling that you might be right about this one in the same way you were right about visicalc.
    i agreed with you in 1979 and i agree with you on this one.

  4. Two years ago after just finishing his first book "The Places In Between", I attended a brunch in Santa Barbara, where I met someone who had had dinner with Stewart and his parents while visiting friends in England/Scotland. She assuredly said he wasn't crazy(after making that hairy albeit edifying trek detailed in the book) but charming and brilliant and that I should read his second book. A week later, I was at a party in LA. His book came up again. I was sitting next to a Brit who had attended Eton and Oxford with Stewart. I again jokingly said "He's crazy right?" and this person said "oh no, he's very charming - great guy, very bright." So, that week I bought the second book("Prince of the Marshes") and half way through it thought, "This guy is going to be Prime Minister of England someday"...NOT because he reminded me of Obama(and what a snoozefest/ECON 101 lecture that was last night!)but someone who also like Stewart, had accrued a lot of EXPERIENCE and DISCERNMENT at a young age: Winston Churchill. If there is any question about his foreign policy experience/mastery of Afghan/Iraqi issues, see his interview with Lynn Sherr on Bill Moyers PBS Journal/show or read "Prince of the Marshes" his account of governing an Iraqi province during the US Invasion - that should settle it. Very interesting - especially with regards to what Stewart had to say about sending more US troops to Afghanistan.

  5. It is much easier for a maverick to reach high office in the USA than in Britain. (Why, there were 3 such in the final 4 candidates for US President and Vice-President in 2008!) If elected to Westminster, Stewart will need to contend with the British party system, which does not favour and does not reward mavericks or intelligent, original thinkers.

    Winston Chuchill is a good example - first elected to Parliament in 1900, he did not become Prime Minister until 1940, at the age of 65! He spent many of the intervening years on the backbenches, out of favour with his own party. And he was only elected PM because of the existential crisis faced by Britain at the time. Even so, he faced opposition from within his own cabinet for some time afterwards!

    I expect Rory Stewart to have a similarly rough ride.

  6. And now the profile has appeared.

    It presents Stewart as someone with airs of entitlement borrowed from his patron Prince Charles -- and with the span of attention of Buzzy the Hummingbird.

    More politicians should subject themselves to observation by NEW YORKER staff writers. The rest of us would profit.

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