Just after I first moved to XXXXX report about the United States for The Observer, the Washington Post ran a piece about the various people who had tried to break into the White House. One might have supposed that they were all intent on harming the president. In fact it was quite the contrary: they mainly had grievances – a wrongfully jailed son; a wife dying of untreated cancer; a disputed sacking – and they felt that, if only they could explain their woes to the president himself, all their troubles would melt away.
The man who sits in the White House is the father of the nation, and successful presidents are those, like Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, who understand this. The lesson was rapidly brought home to me. My ‘first’ president during my reporting stint was Jimmy Carter, an intelligent