Newt Gingrich

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I was very disappointed with Newt Gingrich’s comments about Palestinian statehood on US television. Generally speaking I have been disappointed with the tone that has been struck in the Presidential campaigns in the US. It is a strange paradox, but there is a real gulf in the United States between people who understand politics and people who do not. Someone who understood politics very well and could be a decent President would almost always appear unelectable to the vast majority of the electorate who choose Presidential according to how white their teeth are or how well they can throw a baseball. You have to pander to this vast swathe of the American general public before you get the golden ticket to the White House. It is once you are sworn in that the real work of making you a President begins. When I first thought about Barak Obama after his election, he was juvenile, celebrity-influenced and playing it for laughs. It took the US Government two years to make him the impressive figure he is now – mature, intelligent, sensible, and capable. A similar story can be told in England – David Cameron once admitted it was only in May this year, a full twelve months after his election, that he actually worked out how his role as Prime Minister functioned. It would appear that both in the US and UK, you only work out the job of top dog after a year or two of actually having been in it, and having faced the real stresses and pressures of it. There is no simulation or training that can prepare you for it, and generally an President or Prime Minster only hits form after 12 months in at least.

Newt Gingrich is not even remotely Presidential, and I am saying this as someone who is not saying he is not a Republican. Whilst he may need to pander to the vagaries of the general public in the US, and appear viable to them, he should also remember men like Rupert Murdoch who are already on the strata he hopes to join, and remember that people there will also cast a critical eye over his performance to see if this rough diamond will someday be polishable into something that can be worked with. I cannot speak to Rupert but in this commentator’s eyes at least Newt is not the solution we are looking for.

My position is that if it isn’t broken, it shouldn’t be fixed. I am happy with Obama as he has attentuated to the top flight political exposure we all know exists.

Geroge Monbiot in the Guardian (13/12/2011)

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This is a blog post about George Monbiot’s article in today’s Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/dec/12/britain-press-fighting-class-war

I found his article fascinating and revealing. I agree with him that the press barons of today are fighting a class war to defend the 1% they belong to against challengers. I think the point he is missing is this: not evberybody can or should have a onmiscient view of society. In fact, nobody has an omniopotent narrative viewpoint in society. Yes, we all speak English and breath the same oxygen, but that does not eman we inhabit the same reality or epistemology.

I think he would benefit from a nuanced way of reading the media. He interprets everything he sees in the press from the POV of a very switched on person who understands capitalist and social forces well. But it is possible when the Daily Mail are writing about asylum seekers, they are not sharing the 1%’s elevated understanding when writing the article – which would be iniquitous. It is possible they are writing from the viewpoint of the lower middle and working classes, and reflecting their reality back to them. In their strata of society there could well be a good deal of resentment of asylum seekers, which is realer on their streets that the more diaphonous, abstract misdeeds of the banking sector.

In the top strata of reality you can understand everything below well, and some of the internal logic of lower strata may seem unfair, immoral or criminal. But to understand things this way is cloistered. You have to understand the top 1%’s viewpoint from their strata, but also understand lower middle and working class viewpoints from withing their stratas as well. In those strata the 1% as seen simply as fat cats (an interesting thought terminating cliche) and it is the benefits cheats who are the real social criminals. Interestingly, if the 1% went to a working mans club to deliver a talk, they would be jeered at and have rotten tomatoes thrown at them. That is because they, despite their privileged position, are objects of ridicule when they think themselves into that strata, to the people who belong on it. Lots of people, including Bill Gates and Rupert Murdoch, have had custard pies thrown at them.

Truth, like reality, is quite subjective on different levels of abstraction. The top 1% can’t really feel guilty about the fact that people want to make sense of life from within their own experience, on council estates and dole offices. And the papers will talk to them on that level because that makes market sense.