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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Real honest politics, American style

Jeremy Paxman's clash with Ann Coulter on Newsnight last night was a classic. In case you don't know she is the outspoken Republican supporter billed as the right-wing's Michael Moore who specialises in lefty-baiting and courting general controversy. To promote herself, of course. As you may expect she was greeted with the BBC's typically left-establishment bent from the beginning of her interview with Paxman. She then demonstrated just what I find refreshing about politics in America: people will say what they think and the real differences in approach, which I'm sure are just as pronounced, although hidden, over here, are allowed to shine through. She was happy to front up to Paxman, to flag up what his presumed beliefs are and to call them such, before unashamedly placing them in contrast to her own.

The absolute highlight was when she was badgered by Paxman about her claim that there was a leftist hegemony in the mass media: surely the fact she had been invited onto ABC, CNN and the BBC showed this wasn't true? "Yes, of course," she replied "after the warm welcome you just extended shows that must be the case." Paxman cringed, visibly wilting. He knew he'd been completely outflanked by someone who wasn't scared to call some shots or be honest about her beliefs.

Leftist bias in the media, particularly the BBC, and our somewhat associated irrational disdain in the UK for American politics seems to be something of a recurring theme. Simon Heffer, in an uncharacteristically excellent article about the continuing resentment of Thatcher by the left, flags up the Corporation's orthodox standpoint. Iain Dale makes a convincing case that America, far from being the navel-gazing home of zealotry that many wish to think it is, actually often engages in a more wide-ranging discussion of events around the world than ourselves. They are perhaps just more honest about what they think or feel about issues both at home and beyond their own shores. When you see how meaningless our "more sophisticated" politics feels at times a bit more direct honesty, US-style, is surely a good thing.


At 1:32 am, Blogger NelC said...

Paxman was puzzled by her non-sequitor. I mean, if there was a hegemony, what's the point of it if Coulter's allowed to say what she likes? I do hope her feelings weren't hurt by Paxman's introduction. Oh, those evil European liberals!

At 1:39 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Er I just don't see this at all.

The issue of Darwinism is not per se about politics but about a scientific theory. It should be held in a non-political atmosphere. It is the right wing in US politics that seem to have made it a political issue in order to try to ensure that the majority of Americans, who indeed call themselves Christian, align themselves with Republican politics. The sham started many years ago and just seems to have run like topsy. The same debate cannot be had in Europe... not because we have a "liberal" or "establishment" press, but because we Europeans have a brain in our collective head and can see the following false argument

1. I am Christian
2. therefore I believe in the bible
3. Evolution contradicts the bible
4. The right wing supports biblical truth over evolution
5. Ergo I must be right wing.

...for exactly what it is.. a false dichotomy. Only the right wing dominated talk radio in the US could keep this up until it became a mass hysteria.

Personally I find it more offensive to see "In God We Trust" on the currency. Who are the "We" that this statement is alluding to? The separation of Church and State is fundamentally a correct thing, but it has gone to incredible extremes in the US on both sides of the debate. The UK has no separation of Church and State (though some like me might argue that there should be) and children can pray in schools and it offends no-one. But the activity is not forced on anyone and muslims, jews, christians, and most non-believers are not offended. The US extremes force up the deliverance of people like Coulter, when in reality, some common sense is what is really needed.

People like Coulter deserve to be exposed and I for one think that Paxo did just that for the British audience, most of whom had never heard of her.

If he was disarmed it is only because his interview skills are adept when ised towards people who use logic to persue their case and he can devestate an interview with sheer logic. Coulter just does not use logic to support her case... she just asserts.


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