Thursday 9 October 2008

The Survival of the Thickest

There's an anti-intellectual strand in US politics, and also to a lesser extent in Britain.
For years politicians have accused the media of dumbing down political coverage, while the media argue that what the politicians want them to report is so dull that it is not worth putting in the paper.
Obviously the truth is somewhere in between, but could it be time for political reporting to move beyond the yes or no answer on some of our most prestigious political programmes. Shouting "yes" or "no" at a tired politician who has just spent the night trying to sort out a massively complicated economic crisis is surely nothing less than a parody of political reporting, and gives the public little chance to understand the complexity of what is actually happening.
In the US Sarah Palin has been trying to cash in on the strain of anti-elitism that likes to hate Washington DC, and accuse it of being out of touch.
This strain definitely exists. George Bush the Second knew it when he fashioned himself a brand new image as a Texan cowboy who didn't really get Washington, and the master of this "just like you" philosophy was Ronald Reagan.
This anti-intellectualism left a gap open for in the recent vice presidential debate to slip through. Obviously Biden was so worried by this concept that had might be seen as bullying a woman that he was scared to say anything half-way intellectually challenging.
And while we are in the area: what was this sexist nonsense about suggesting he should ask any difficult questions or get too intellectual - in case Palin couldn't handle it.
The suggestion that if you are debating with a woman you have to default to a no-nothing position in case it all gets too much for her and she cries, is in itself a sexist one.
Let's not give people a free ride because they are not well informed or prepared. Being a woman is no excuse for being stupid, and women generally wouldn't think it was.

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