Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
November 1, 2004
POLITICS: Putting His Chips Down
Mark Steyn's latest Spectator column is vintage Steyn, albeit a bit less laugh-out-loud than usual (and I like the new Spectator layout, for what it's worth, although you can't see it in the printer-friendly format). Steyn concludes by assuring his British audience that if he's wrong they can get a new analyst of the American scene:
The above prediction needs to be able to withstand Democrat fraud, which I’m nervous about. If Tuesday goes off as smoothly as the Afghan election, we’ll be very lucky.
Usually after making wild predictions I confidently toss my job on the line and say, if they don’t pan out, I’m outta here. I’ve done that a couple of times this campaign season — over Wes Clark (remember him?) — but it almost goes without saying in these circumstances. Were America to elect John Kerry president, it would be seen around the world as a repudiation not just of Bush and of Iraq but of the broader war. It would be a declaration by the people of American unexceptionalism — that they are a slightly butcher Belgium; they would be signing on to the wisdom of conventional transnationalism. Having failed to read correctly the mood of my own backyard, I could hardly continue to pass myself off as a plausible interpreter of the great geopolitical forces at play. Obviously that doesn’t bother a lot of chaps in this line of work — Sir Simon Jenkins, Robert ‘Mister Robert’ Fisk, etc., — and no doubt I could breeze through the next four years doing ketchup riffs on Teresa Heinz Kerry, but I feel a period of sober reflection far from the scene would be appropriate. My faith in the persuasive powers of journalism would be shattered; maybe it would be time to try something else — organising coups in Africa, like the alleged Sir Mark Thatcher is alleged to have allegedly done; maybe abseiling down the walls of the Presidential palace and garroting the guards personally.
But I don’t think it will come to that. This is the 9/11 election, a choice between pushing on or retreating to the polite fictions of September 10. I bet on reality.