At its most sententious, it should have been absurd, but it was not. If you listened properly - and they did talk very fast - you could learn an enormous amount, not only about how liberals would like to see themselves, but also about America's reverence for democratic institutions, an issue of immediate relevance to the global crisis in which we are now immersed.[snip]
What must have been thrilling, not to say startling, for British politicians was this view of politics - of the democratic process - as driven by an unembarrassed, overwhelming desire to do the right thing.
What must have been quite astonishing to a British audience was how seriously everybody in American politics appeared to take the concept of democratic government itself. Government of the people, by the people and for the people seemed to be engraved on the heart of every politician of every party.
There was no paternalistic noblesse oblige, no elitist assumption that an enlightened class had a right to take decisions for a benighted country - even though Bartlett himself was from the sort of privileged background that would almost inevitably give rise to such attitudes in Britain.