Friday, December 22, 2006

A Tale of Two Hills


England has David Cameron and Notting Hill. Here in America, we have John Edwards and Chapel Hill - currently my home town in North Carolina.

Both politicians affect a concern for the less fortunate. David talks of Compassionate Conservatism; John of Two Americas - the one rich, the other poor.

John Edwards will shortly be announcing his candidacy for the Democratic Presidential Nomination in 2008. He will be doing so from the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, the area worst affected by Hurricane Katrina. He tells all and sundry that this is reflective of his genuine concern for the poor in society.

However, what might be more reflective is where he has situated his new Campaign Headquarters: a suburban village in Chapel Hill, which I have lovingly christened the Upper Ninth. As in the houses you can buy there reach into the Upper $900K's; or the average income is in the Upper Ninth percentile of all Americans...

The HQ itself occupies the upper floor of what can only be described as a luxurious faux rendition of the sort of Mediterranean villa you might find in the smarter parts of Palm Beach, Florida.

The moral, I guess, is: beware politicians who affect concern for an issue, but then have a lifestyle that belies that affected concern.

We have an abundance of that in Chapel Hill, where the 'progressives' tend to be what we call Merlot Democrats. There used to be an equivalent in England - the Glenda Jackson, Hampstead set of Champagne Socialists. Have they been overtaken by the Cameron, Notting Hill set of Beaujolais Tories?