James Fenton is an English poet who has always defied the stereotype. He is a splendid poet, who comes to us via Auden by way of John Fuller, and he served as Oxford Professor of Poetry for five years in 1990s -- as high an honor as the British academic establishment knows. But he is nothing if not versatile: he has been an influential London theater critic, has worked on musicals, and has written stimulating articles and books about the political turmoil he witnessed at first hand in Asia
The once and future political journalist, New York-based at present, is weighing in on the American scene for the London Evening Standard. I will past an excerpt from his report of July 15. You may read the whole piece here.
. . . the stalemate cannot hold any longer. We see this in the murmurings from the ratings agencies Moody's and Standard & Poor's. America's credit-worthiness is, predictably, at risk of a downgrade. We see it also in the surprising readiness of certain figures on the Right to listen to a creative proposal from Mitch McConnell, which hands over to the President the ability to approve the raising of the debt ceiling, in such a way as - it must be hoped -will saddle him with the obloquy for doing so.
There is nothing middle-of-the-road about McConnell. He's the one who, at the mid-term elections, claimed that the Republicans' chief priority from now on was simply to destroy Obama. He modified his language later, but his message remained sternly negative.
Now, however, he seems ready to jump before the train is wrecked. Someone appears to have read him a lecture on the price of intransigence and given him, perhaps, a salutary fright.
Please attend the New School poetry forum featuring James Fenton on Monday, October 3, 2011 at 6:30 PM in The Bark Room, 2 West 13 Street. Fenton will read for about thirty minutes, then takes questions from moderator David Lehman.