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Having recently suffered visa problems, I get back into the US the week after the presidential election, relieved not to have to enter illegally via the Mexican border.

While solving my visa issue I came to the conclusion that it is only the frontline of American government that is appalling. Everything behind it works rather wonderfully. It is exactly the inverse of the situation in most European countries. In Italy, for example, the frontline of government is marvellous: only everything behind it is catastrophic.

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Travelling across six states in a week, I increasingly suspect that Obama's fate will be that of Tony Blair. In 1997 Blair promised us the world. He left office having lavished billions on many things while improving none. Only in foreign policy did he find meaning. He left office slightly amazed at having been in power for so long yet having achieved so little. I predict that in four years Obama will leave nothing but an electorate just as jaded by overhyped political promises as its British counterpart.

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Hate the sin, yet love the sinner is the traditional Christian doctrine regarding wrongdoing. As the story of the CIA chief David Petraeus and his extramarital affair develops, I am left wondering. Celebrations of infidelity are almost the sole subject of American popular culture. Yet whenever individuals in public life do what their popular culture advertises so lavishly they are punished to the utmost. Is the new American morality that one should love the sin yet hate the sinner?

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