On Sunday mornings, as I knife my way through the papers, my mind turns to the week ahead: which stories will “have legs”, in the newsroom parlance, and be of interest to i’s readers.
This week attention will start to turn to the United States, where Republican Congressmen – enraged by President Obama’s insistence on providing better, cheaper healthcare to the American people – intend to drive the nation to the brink of defaulting on its debts. The deadline for preventing fiscal chaos falls next Thursday, 17 October.
The stand-off deepened last night (as we report on page 10), with the Republican House Speaker, John Boehner, warning Obama to give ground or let the American economy take the consequences. Democrats retaliated that it was reckless to raise the possibility of a US default.
This week was supposed to see Obama garlanded through Asia, as he toured Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines to make good the promise two years ago that Asia would become the new focus of American foreign and economic policy. Instead, after Obama cancelled the welcome committees and complimentary fruit bowls, it was China’s leader Xi Jinping feted in south-east Asian capitals, as he sprayed around tens of billions of dollars in trade and development.
America’s allies there are increasingly dubious that the US can counterbalance Beijing’s march. Obama’s no-show, coming after the bungling on Syria, leaves friends questioning Uncle Sam’s ability to come to their help in times of need. What is the rest of the world to make of a President paralysed by grotesque squabbling? As the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, warned at the weekend, the shutdown sends the message that “we can’t get our own act together”.Reuse content