Casting your eye around a troubled world a few years back and you'd have to admit that there were a few actually halfway competent leaders in view: Lula in Brazil, Manmohan Singh in India, Angela Merkel in Germany, Kevin Rudd in Australia, maybe (we held our breath) Barack Obama in the United States.
And where are we now? Lula is gone, albeit an honorable departure: his successor is still too new for an appraisal, I should say. Rudd vanished in a heartbeat--were we dazzled and confused by the fact that he speaks Mandarin? Merkel may have lost her nerve. Singh seems to have grown old and exhausted, although heaven knows he still looks better than the alternative. Obama has surely disappointed some of those who had highest hopes for him--though heaven knows that he (and Daffy Duck) still look better than any of the self-proposed supplanters.
And the new names are--? Have we come to the point where we are pointing to Naoto Kan of Japan as perhaps not as bad as we feared he might be?