Conventional racing wisdom has it that speed, rather than an abundance of stamina, is the most important attribute in a potential King George VI Chase winner, hence the proliferation of specialists over shorter distances than three miles lining up at Kempton on Boxing Day.

Courage and Consequence, By Karl Rove

Dubya's top aide refutes his rep for dirty tricks

Larry Sabato: A moment of truth for the Democrats

As the most crucial day of his young presidency approaches, Barack Obama is privately confident that he will prevail on healthcare reform. He has every reason to be.

David Usborne: Policy is the victim in Washington's bloodsport

For anyone who watches American politics as if it were a competitive sport, the healthcare summit at Blair House was the Winter Olympics and the Super Bowl rolled into one. It was live on TV, there was a half-time break (though no Janet Jackson or The Who to keep us amused), and more than a few collisions and crashes.

DJ Taylor: The art of running

How politicians grin, flatter and emote in an election race; mislaid memories of a rocker yet to run his course; why British literature seems slow out of the blocks; and Coe vs Ovett...and class

McCain ruined my life, says Joe the Plumber

He became the the square-shouldered mascot of John McCain's campaign for the White House in 2008, but all these months later the man they christened "Joe the Plumber" has suddenly lashed out at the veteran US senator from Arizona for "screwing up" his life.

Race of a Lifetime, By Mark Halperin & John Heilemann

Books on elections are a whole different art form in the US. They are not the fact-filled, policy-laden tomes about British general elections you find on the library shelves in politics departments. In America, they write human dramas. The genre seems to have begun with Norman Mailer's Miami and the Seige of Chicago, which turned the 1968 election into something halfway between a historical account and a novel, but which was trumped four years later by Hunter S Thompson's Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail. This year's contribution comed from two seasoned reporters, John Heilemann and Mark Halperin who have figuratively climbed into the bedrooms of the 2008 contenders to produce an account that is great fun to read even if you are left wondering about its depth and accuracy.

Barack Obama: The power of the US lobbyists is increasing and must be resisted

One of the reasons I ran for President was because I believed so strongly that the voices of everyday Americans, hard-working folks doing everything they can to stay afloat, just weren't being heard over the powerful voices of the special interests in Washington. And the result was a national agenda too often skewed in favor of those with the power to tilt the tables.

Obama's year in power: Healthcare was tough, but the future is tougher

With energy policy, financial regulation and immigration on the agenda, it will be a daunting second year, writes Rupert Cornwell

Obama: a year in black & white. Who says race doesn't matter?

The election of Barack Obama was meant to signal the birth of a ‘post-racial’ America; the moment when the long struggle for equality would finally be over. But as Baratunde Thurston argues, colour has become the defining issue of his presidency

Fox News presents: a much paler Palin

Unable to drop her politician's persona, the Republican pin-up made a dull debut as TV pundit, reports David Usborne

Palin's daughter loses fight for secret custody hearing

The daughter of former vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin has lost her bid to keep a bitter custody dispute over her year-old son confidential.

Matthew Norman: Politics needs bringing to life. And this might just do the trick

A TV debate makes the next election even more fascinating and hard to call

Colonel Jack Pitchford

Colonel Jack Pitchford, who died on 2 December aged 82, was a fighter pilot from Mississippi who survived seven years in the notorious Vietnamese prison camp known as the Hanoi Hilton.

Sarah Palin: The media have been unfair to me, but that's the price of democracy

To paraphrase John F Kennedy, this has to be the most extraordinary collection of people who have gathered to viciously attack me since the last corporate gathering at CBS. A lot has been made of a few campaign relationships (in the media coverage of my autobiography). The closeness. The warm fuzzy feelings. John (McCain) and I both agree all those staffers should just move past it. It's history.

Going Rogue: an American life, By Sarah Palin

Off the leash at last: the pitbull bites back in style
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Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits