Today the big news for me is that Fareed Zakaria has been allowed to inform his listeners that the best countries to live in are those of Scandinavia! And this was no passing remark. The CNN talk show host used the United States’ low grades in everything from education to health care compared to other countries to explain that although Sweden, Denmark and Norway tax more than other developed countries, their citizens are better educated and have the highest standard of living in the world. Departing from the decades-long dismissal of the northern welfare states as both unsustainable and too expensive, Zakaria admitted that taxes are high, but in return no one is left in need. At a time when austerity is rampant elsewhere these countries would not consider putting limits on unemployment compensation or other supports to those in need.
The fact that a widely watched TV host can now provide these facts without being obligated to add a strong of negatives or condemnation is the equivalent of a ship initiating a one hundred and eighty degree turn. We know this can only be done gradually because ships are cumbersome, but hopefully, this ship represents a different second term for Obama.
An ever so slight change in Hillary Clinton’s and Obama’s tone vis a vis Israel following the UN decision to grant Palestine non-member observer status - which implies recognition - was con-demned by the U.S., however that condemnation was followed by an equally unmistakable condemnation of Israel for initiating building 3,000 new settlements which would cut the occupied West Bank in two, virtually foreclosing any possibility of a two-state solution.
Although mainstream television can talk of nothing but the fiscal cliff, the real news these days is that notwithstanding very scary contradictions, the American ship of state may at last be slowly beginning to turn toward the rest of the world.