Anglo-Saxon Intrigue

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
July 25 2012 1:31 PM

Anglo-Saxon Intrigue

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LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 17: A set of partial dentures made for Winston Churchill are displayed in Bonhams Gentleman's Library sale on January 17, 2011 in London, England. The teeth were made just before the start of World War II and worn by him until a few months before his death in 1965. The sale, now in its 11th year, features all kind of objects that may have been found in a Victorian or Edwardian gentleman's library. The sale will take place at Bonhams New Bond Street in London on January 19, 2011. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

If we are condemned to discuss Jon Swaine's* story about Mitt Romney's "adviser" -- if, for example, the Vice President of the United States is going to jazz dance with an anonymous quotester -- maybe we can provide some context. Here's Swaine's quote.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

In remarks that may prompt accusations of racial insensitivity, one suggested that Mr Romney was better placed to understand the depth of ties between the two countries than Mr Obama, whose father was from Africa.
“We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special,” the adviser said of Mr Romney, adding: “The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have."

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Nowhere does the mystery man make a reference to Obama's racial heritage. That's Swaine. The Anglo-Saxon reference can be understood as part of a multi-year campaign to argue that Britain, Australia, and the United States are part of an "anglosphere" that should naturally stay aligned on foreign and military policy. My late Slate colleague Christopher Hitchens wrote about this frequently, blending the history (revisionism, if you want to be mean about it) of Andrew Roberts et al with the goals of interventionists.

To a remarkable extent, Americans continue to assume a deep understanding with the English—one that, in their view, reflects a common heritage much more than it does anything as mundane as a common interest. This assumption, at least as exemplified in the Bush-Blair alliance that sent expeditionary forces to Afghanistan and Mesopotamia, has recently taken a severe bruising on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as north of the U.S. border and in the countries of the antipodes: the historical homelands of the “English-speaking” adventure... [Andrew Roberts] and I believe that the “Anglosphere,” to give it a recently updated name, may have a future as well as a past.

In the conservative media, there is beaucoups proof that Obama is moving away from the Anglosphere. It started with him moving the bust of Winston Churchill out of the oval office. Dinesh D'Souza, whose articles and book about Obama have trafficked widely, attributed this to Obama's anti-colonial thinking. And it's been a mainstay of British conservative coverage of the president.

Anyway -- that's the context. You'd have to be naive to think it's lost on the larger Romney campaign as it heads to London.

*Nothing personal against Swaine, whose reporting is solid and ahead-of-the-news. It's personal when it comes to the adviser. Man up and make your accusation.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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