One of the things that I enjoy most in the world is a new series of BBC Radio 4's The News Quiz, and the current episodes, thanks to the "miracle" of podcasting, arrive hot and fresh for my podding device each Friday during these happy times. Naturally, they've been enjoying the spectacle of the American elections, and who can blame them? It's been quite a ride.
The beauty of being a kind of independent commenter on the affairs of the day is that I really don't have much to guide me, apart from my own lights, as it were. In that sense, I'm no different from more recognisable and better remunerated figures; I just don't have their street cred, and that's fine. Perhaps I will, one day. Probably not. I'm nothing if not a realist.
Like the commenters on TNQ, though, and like Jeremy Hardy in particular, I have views, and they come from the reading that I have done over the years. I suffer from a severe case of curiosity. It makes me do strange things, like looking for new information when I don't understand something. And while I didn't have a privileged education or upbringing, I learned enough scientific method and have a sufficient understanding of what constitutes evidence to know the difference between demagoguery and claims that are backed by evidence.
We saw a lot of both during the election campaign, and I have to admit that I'm as surprised as anyone could be that for once, playing to people's baser instincts seems to have failed. Everyone further seems to agree that Senator McCain appears to have sold his proverbial soul (or at least mortgaged it rather heavily) in his failed effort to win. This is unfortunate for both him and his reputation, but it was an inevitable result of the kind of campaign he elected to run. 'Man yells at tree to get off his lawn' has always been a better story than 'man makes a reasonable argument', granted, but appearing to be a confused and elderly man shouting out bellicose infelicities was never going to win you anything but a special corner all to yourself in the IHOP.
As to the fact that
an attention-seeking cretin his former running mate, who is rapidly fading from the American national stage despite her best efforts, makes a ridiculous remarks about bloggers living in their parents' basements and writing in their pyjamas, what is there to say (especially that Rachel Maddow didn't already effectively lampoon on Tuesday)? This blogger, who lives in his own home and who until the beginning of this year had worked full-time for twenty years, doesn't recognise your authority on this matter, Mrs Governor. And yes, sometimes, I might be in my pyjamas when I write. The Bush / McCain economy saw to it that the company for which I had worked elected to start swinging the axe, and as a result, yes, sometimes, I'm up at odd hours, wearing some rather fetching sleep gear. But on the other hand, I've never opened the door to senior members of a national political campaign in a towel. Where does that leave us, comparatively?
Nevertheless, I resent the caricature attempted by someone who is, by definition and example, a caricature of both a human being and a political figure. I resent it on behalf of the people who exist in my world: people who work hard to try to keep home and family together, who struggle in this economy. I would also point this out: the current situation is self-inflicted. Nothing about the current state of the world was inevitable, and when we're portioning out the blame, guess where it goes? It doesn't take a media elite to figure that out. I'm certainly not an elitist, nor a member of any elite, by any definition. Is it elitist to be curious about the world, to read to learn more about it, and to form my views from seeking new information, rather than just pretending that I have all of the answers, that they were handed to me by some misguided deity or other? Is it elitist to find The News Quiz incredibly funny, and to be relieved by the refreshing perspective of the British on the woes wrought by America in the world? Well, then maybe I'm in an elite after all. Who would have thought?