What The West Wing taught us about politics.

Jed'll know what to do.

Jed'll know what to do.

A good PA is worth his/her weight in gold.

Sometimes your opponent’s ideals are as noble as yours.

Most problems can be solved by a good long walking conversation.

There’s a Latin quotation for every occasion.

Voters will let you do the vision thing as long as you deliver on the potholes.

Surround yourself with really smart people, especially if they occasionally get up your nose and disagree with you.

Good rousing theme music never hurt anyone.

Power means occasionally having a big block of cheese in your hallway.

You won’t get everything done. Do what you can.

It’s not the scandal that gets you as much as the cover-up.

Some things are more important than getting re-elected.

Decisions are made by those who show up.

Everybody needs a Leo.

Movie Review: Red State

Kevin Smith as a director tends to be very much of the marmite variety. His “Jay and Silent Bob” series of movies tend to comprise a certain type of humour that I find funny but can understand why others don’t. What’s interesting about “Red State” is that if no one told you that it was a Kevin Smith film, you’d probably never know, because it’s such a different style from what he’s done before.

Firstly, it’s not a slacker comedy but the story of three teenagers who get caught up with a fundamentalist christian church led by the charismatic Abin Cooper, and a raid on the church by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms. Smith tells the story well, keeping it dramatic and fast moving and the action sequences really are excellent. In fact, watching it, I couldn’t help thinking that if anything Smith has been constrained by his reputation as a writer/director of suburban mall comedies.

The cast is excellent, with Michael Parks really chewing up the scenery as the pastor, and the always watchable John Goodman as the lead BATF agent. Goodman is one of those actors whom whenever you see in a decent role you always wonder why he’s not playing a meaty character in an HBO series.

My one criticism of the movie, and this is more to do with my personal taste than any failing of the movie, is the utter cynicism displayed by Goodman’s BATF superiors during the movie. It just did not ring true for me.

Overall, I’d recommend it.

Enda’s fear epitomises the European leadership vacuum.

Enda: As ultra nervous as any other EU leader.

Enda: As ultra nervous as any other EU leader.

In fairness to him, Enda ruling out a European treaty change here is no different than any other EU leader. His reasons are the same as Cameron, Merkel or Sarkozy. Put simply, he doesn’t think he could win it, and he’s probably right.

But just think of what that says about this generation of European leaders. They know that they are living in unprecedented times. They know that the stakes, the potential breaking up of first the eurozone and then the European Union itself would have consequences far in excess of the situation we find ourselves in today. Yet despite that their default position is still to do as little as is possible and hope that the problem will fix itself?

One of the fascinating aspects of this crisis is that this generation of leaders has access, through polling, to the very gut instincts of the people who elect them. They know that the Irish and the Greeks don’t want a German-run fiscal union, and the Germans, French, Finns and Dutch don’t want to pay for it, and that if one of the leaders tries to drive it forward, he or she will become (even more) unpopular.

They must also know that ultimately, something of that measure is going to be necessary, and that whatever about hating that, their respective publics will never forgive them if they have to suffer the meltdown of a currency collapse, a breakup of the EU and the return of tariffs and protectionism and all the real daily consequences of that.

When Harry Truman left office in 1952 he was hated and regarded as a failure as president. Yet when history looked at what he did, from the Berlin airlift to ending the war with Japan to the Marshall plan and founding NATO and desegregating the army and facing down General MacArthur (an incredibly unpopular action), history realised that Truman was a great man whose actions would serve America well for decades after he had left office. Sometimes, as President Bartlet said, there are things more important than a second term.

What Europe needs now is a Truman, a leader willing to lose the next election because they recognise that his or her winning it is not the most important thing that has to be achieved.