Saturday, 15 September 2012

Polarities and Punditry...

Well, it's Saturday morning and the end of a busy week. There seemed to be something in the London air (apart from the usual pollution) last night.

I doubt they'll be reading this but I hope the lesbian couple arguing in McDonald's in Cannon Street and the Sikh man and his girlfriend having a row in East Ham sorted it out. I'm reminded that, irrespective of one's sexual politics, relationships need a lot of work sometimes and perhaps Friday evenings, one of the few times people get to spend time with the people they want to instead of having to deal with colleagues and family, are perhaps the toughest of all.

Another thing that made Friday evening difficult for me was having to contend with the increasingly-incoherent London Evening Standard and its daily op-ed piece, usually penned by someone from the political Right. The Evening Standard has unfortunately become a dreadful Right-wing rag food only for the puzzles. Once a week, said paper has a piece on the American political scene and last night's piece of vacuous vitriol came from a particularly unpleasant character called Roger Kimball.

Now, let's be honest - if the British electorate could vote for who should be American President (a far more important and influential role than that of British Prime Minister), Obama would win a landslide. Apart from a few extreme Right-wingers and those who think American Conservative equals British Conservative, most people either like or are ambivalent toward Barack Obama.

In America, for example, conservatives have a formidable arsenal of media outlets and individuals prepared to spout their inane gibberish and in Preident Obama, they have created a real hate-figure. The conservatives in America, whether "Tea Party" or not, loathe Obama. Some hate him (and let's be honest) because they see him as a black man and they are so racially mal-adjusted that the concept of a black man as their President is anathema. Others hate his polcies which is fair enough and claim he is turning the US into a "quasi-socialist stste". Again, far-fetched drivel but it strikes a chord in some parts of the country.

Kimball is part of this legion of American conservative opinion. Apart from the pretentious New Criterion, he is the art critic for the deeply conservative and virulently anti-Obama outlet, the National Review. which features such level-headed thinkers (and frequent Fox News contributors) as Michelle Malkin and Charles Krauthammer.

Most of these conservative talkers and thinkers are white, middle or upper-middle class - the men are generally older, the women young and telegenic. In an America where demographics favour the hispanics and the African-Americans, they are sounding like the beleaguered minority of South Africa.

They are desperate for Obama to lose though have (in truth) little or no love for Romney who isn't conservative enough for most of them. They hope that Romney can be a liberal front surrounded by conservatives behind him.

The one problem they have is that their candidate is losing and could be losing badly. An NBC poll in three crucial swing states, Florida, Ohio and Virginia, showed Obama leading by 5-7 points which would see him returned to the White House with a comfortable majority of Electoral College Votes. One pollster, Rassmussen, who briefly polled in the UK and has a reputation for over-sampling Republicans, puts the race much closer and conservatives are latching on to every piece of half-good polling news.

The first Presidential debate in Denver is less than three weeks away. It probably represents Romney's best and last chance to change the agenda - if Obama "wins" the debate, the contest is as good as over.

Kimball of course doesn't believe such things. As he wrote last night "I continue to believe that Romney will not only win but win big.". Serious punters don't indulge in this "hope springs eternal" mantra if the evidence is stacked against them.

In 2008, the disappointment of Fox News when MvCain lost was palpable - conservatives hate to be on the losing side. They are bad winners and worse losers. If Obama is re-elected, Fox News will be most entertaining to watch as the conservatives squirm and prevaricate.

Kimball may of course believe Romney has won anyway. In the world of the National Review, conservatism always has to defeat the arch-enemy of libealism. Why let the truth get in the way of such a fine delusion?

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