Quote of the day

This one issued from the keyboard of Edward Luce, a Washington correspondent for the Financial Times:

But these are fluid times. Leaders do not so much lead as dance to the unexpected tunes of others. Record numbers of Americans are pessimistic about their economic future and say their political system is broken. They seem to have developed an accordingly higher tolerance than normal for the politics of street protest.

That also adds to the volatility. A few months ago it looked like the 2012 debate would pivot around which candidate could show the least unpalatable path to fiscal discipline. That dimension remains. But others are being added. Take Mitt Romney, a trusty barometer of public opinion, and the least unlikely Republican nominee. Mr Romney initially dismissed the Wall Street protesters as “dangerous”. Then he changed his emphasis: “I worry about the 99 per cent,” he said. “I understand how those people feel.”

The protesters have already rebalanced the national conversation. Brace for a grand debate in 2012 in which both the Tea Partiers and the Occupy crowd are likely to be setting the pace.

Is it not amazing that street protest gains popular legitimacy as the economic crisis endures? No, it isn’t!

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