- The Washington Times - Friday, August 7, 2009

MR. SMITH IS BACK

Daniel Hannan — the erudite conservative British politician who burst to international fame in March with a plucky rebuke of Prime Minister Gordon Brown that has drawn 2.4 million hits on YouTube— said Thursday that he is awestruck when he comes to Washington.

He told an admiring audience at the Heritage Foundation that he sometimes feels like the Jimmy Stewart character in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” the 1939 film about an idealistic young man appointed to fill a vacant seat in the U.S. Senate. He visited the Jefferson Memorial this week and admired the statue of the author of the Declaration of Independence.

“Mr. Smith, that’s me,” he said. “I cling to my idealized version of your history.”

Like Mr. Stewart, Mr. Hannan says he has a mission in Washington — to save Americans from themselves. He says he is alarmed that Congress is moving toward nationalizing health care and repeating Britain’s mistakes.

“You do not want to go down the road we went,” Mr. Hannan said. “The horror stories … We are no longer shocked by them.”

Mr. Hannan said long delays in medical treatment are routine in Britain’s National Health Service, operations are sometimes denied and some drugs that prevent pain are off the market because of costs.

“The system is economically inefficient and morally coercive,” he said.

Posing a question to himself, he asked why do the British continue to live with a system that is so bad? The answer is that they are used to it.

“It’s almost like battered-wife syndrome,” he said. “The British people cling to a system that abuses them.”

Mr. Hannan said the National Health Service, established in 1948, is one of the world’s largest employers, with 1.4 million employees. However most are bureaucrats.

“There are more managers than doctors and nurses put together,” he said.

Mr. Hannan warned that the health care measures the Obama administration is pushing will lead eventually to rationed care, more expensive care and life-and-death decisions by unelected officials on some health care board.

“It would be a betrayal of your founding ideals. It would be literally un-American,” he said, adding his admiration for the U.S. Constitution and the principles of individual liberty.

“That is a precious heritage you are in danger of throwing away.”

Mr. Hannan, 37, was a junior member of the European Parliament until March, when he denounced Mr. Brown, who had just addressed the chamber, and became an international star on the Internet.

He called Mr. Brown a “devalued prime minister of a devalued government.”

CANADA’S COMPLAINT

Canada’s 13 provincial and territorial leaders Thursday warned the incoming U.S. ambassador that Washington’s spending policies are risking a trade war with the United States’ closest business partner.

Ambassador [David] Jacobson is going to have his work cut out for him,” said New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham. “This could be the beginning of a slippery slope if [U.S.] protectionism takes root.”

The regional leaders at their annual meeting in Ottawa were complaining about the “Buy America” provisions in federal stimulus package, which encourage states and municipalities to purchase U.S. goods and services for projects financed by the money.

The United States and Canada are each other’s biggest trade partners, with more than $2 billion a day in business and more than 300,000 daily border crossings.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall warned that Canada might look for new partners.

“Canada has other options in terms of customers, and we need to diversify our [trade] relations,” he said.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison @washingtontimes.com.

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