“’Two nations, divided by a common language’ is how somebody once described Britain and America. ‘Two nations, divided by a common politics’ is another way to put it. Ever since the days of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, the political fortunes of the United States and Britain have tracked and reflected one another in odd ways. For many years they moved in tandem: The harmonious center-right union of Thatcher-Reagan was followed by the equally harmonious, if less affectionate, center-left union of Tony Blair and Bill Clinton. But then came Blair-Bush, which worked out rather badly for Blair. Now we have Brown-Obama, who barely speak to each other. And even though in Gordon Brown and Barack Obama we once again have two ‘center-left’ candidates in charge, a distinct lack of harmony characterizes transatlantic political debates. Our health-care conversations, for example, are totally different. This became apparent last year when Republicans held up the British health-care system as an example of the nightmare that might await America if Obama's health-care proposals were passed. British conservatives -- who had been bashing their centralized system for years -- immediately rallied to its defense.”