This morning's papers

Simon is off in California this week, so i'll step up and post of few interesting stories from around the media this morning. First up, the Wall St Journal has a new poll. The President inches up to a mighty 39% approval rating. Other indicaters on the economy, iraq and the "right track / wrong track" look positive for the Democrats. And yet, as the paper points out, the party gets its lowest favourability rating for a decade or more, with only 32% viewing the party positively. Clearly, there is work to be done on convincing voters that Democrats are more than an anti-bush protest vote. Beyond the popular wedge issues - minimum wage, stem cells and so forth - there doesn't yet seem to be much traction on the party's alternative agenda. Whatever this might be. 

The Post has an intriguing piece about demography, profiling William Frey, a boffin at Brookings. Frey "has pinpointed three [future] Americas -- the multicultural "melting pot" states, the predominantly white heartlands and the "New Sunbelt" -- that are pulling in young suburbanites." Its worth a read, not least for its claim that ethnic differences will become less important, rather than more over the coming decades. This is deeply counterintuitive, but it makes sense on at least one level. Political scientists tend to believe that many cross-cutting social cleavages - or lots of groups with weak identities - tend to make for more stable social organisations than a few groups with a few very powerful cleavages. (Think about Northern Ireland, for instance.) So as America becomes much more of a mixed race society, perhaps the sharp divide of white, black and hispanic will fade? 

Finally, The rumbles and recriminations from the collapse of the Doha round continue. The consensus seems to be that agricultural interests on both side of the Atlantic are to blame. President Bush gnomically is reported as thinking that the talks are "neither dead nor alive.". Whatever this might mean, Jagdish Bhagwati - a respected and very sane economist- is quoted in the FT as saying that "There is no doubt that Mr Bush remains deeply committed to trade liberalisation and to Doha ... But he cannot afford to make himself hostage to the Democrats before the midterm elections. There can be little doubt he will try to revive Doha after that." Depressing that the issue could be construed in this way, but nice to see someone being optimistic that matters might be revived. And with that thought, let us set about the rest of the day.........


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