Rupert Cornwell: End of the American Dream?
'TEN years ago we had Johnny Cash, Bob Hope and Steve Jobs," runs a sour joke that has been doing the rounds since Silicon Valley lost its most famous son. "Now there's no cash, no hope and no jobs." Perhaps not a contender for the Nobel Prize in side-splitters, but it catches America's dark mood -- a year to the day before the country delivers its verdict on whether Barack Obama merits a second term in the White House.
The year 2008 was supposed to be a new beginning -- not just in terms of the colour of the victor's skin, but in the vista of change, youth and renewal that seemed to open up, despite the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression that swept FDR into the Oval Office. But things didn't quite work out that way.
Great hopes can breed great anti-climaxes, and so it has been with Mr Obama. The shining promise has not been fulfilled, at least not yet: in part because of his own inexperience (he had served barely two years in the Senate when he announced his candidacy in 2007); in part because of the singular bloody-mindedness of his Republican opponents; but above all because of an economic crisis that has proved deeper and more intractable than almost anyone expected.