Thursday, 6 November 2008

What does England think? British opinions on the US election

As British networks filled time between polls closing, reporters are grabbed influential Brits to test the pulse of the Old Country.

Always ready with an opinion is Christopher Hitchens: “I think it’s a zeitgeist change. It’s an historic, seismic change. The middle-class has flipped hard against the Republican Party. On its watch all the important things about the American Dream have gone sour.”

Even comic Ricky Gervais had his two cents: “I’ve never been interested in politics. I rarely vote in Britain but I’ve been caught up in it. When I saw Barack Obama for the first time it was just amazing. He hasn’t put a foot wrong, except for being elitist and intelligent."

Comedian and actor Eddie Izzard had probably been drinking: “Looks like the BBC is already projecting Obama to win. It’s fantastic. The third millennium begins tonight – maybe in half an hour. Slavery is just over. Well, not over. I think it will be great for America. I think it will be great for the world.”

Simon Schama, historian looking to the future as the BBC starts to get carried away: “Obama is a world figure who, in an instinctive sense, is more likely to use diplomacy. You cannot possibly overestimate the way this will be seen as a new America because it has Barack Obama as President.”

What strikes me is the change in the commentators themselves. Hitchens is usually seen as a cynical realist and occasionally even a conservative for his agreement with the Party on Iraq. Gervais usually doesn’t care. Now these two, like so many others, are themselves a part of the seismic shift they are observing, as well as of the sense of idealism that pervades the Obama side of this election.

1 comment:

LadyFi said...

Good post - thanks for the insight. I guess that even old cynics are caught up in the Obama fever that is sweeping the world!