Skip to comments.The Seesaw Buckles [Mark Steyn]
Posted on 10/12/2004 11:28:39 AM PDT by daviddennis
It was sobering, on reading the recent flurry of letters in this newspaper under the heading Balancing The US Debate, to discover that it was this column that had single-handedly unbalanced it. If Steyn represents the American right, where is the spokesperson for the American left? demands Conor McCarthy of Dun Laoghaire. The hitherto perfectly poised seesaw of press coverage of the United States is apparently all out of whack because my corpulent column is weighing down one end while on the other up in the air are the massed ranks of Irish Times correspondents, RTE, the BBC and 97% of the European media class, plus Anthony OHalloran, who opined in these pages a few days ago that anyone who cares to visit a small town in the Midwest will encounter what can only be described as ultra-right-wing thinking. Prof OHalloran didnt cite any examples of this ultra-right-wing thinking, secure in his assumption that most readers would know the sort of thing he had in mind.
As the ne plus ultra of unbalanced right-wing thinkers, its not for me to suggest how the US debate might be balanced in these pages. I have only one theory on column-writing, which is this: at a certain basic level, a columnist has to be right more often than not, otherwise the reader (I use the singular advisedly) is just wasting his time. If I were Robert Fisk, the famed foreign correspondent with decades of experience in the Muslim world, Id be ashamed to leave the house. Sample Fisk headlines on the Afghan war: Bush Is Walking Into A Trap, It Could Become More Costly Than Vietnam. Sample insight on the Iraq war: when the Yanks announced theyd taken Baghdad International Airport, Fisky insisted they hadnt and suggested theyd seized an abandoned RAF airfield from the Fifties by mistake. Its this kind of unique expertise that has made him so admired around the world, not least in Ireland.
By contrast, readers of this column may have gained the impression that George W Bush will win the Presidential election on November 2nd. If he doesnt, I shall trouble readers of this newspaper no further. It would be ridiculous to continue passing myself off as an incisive analyst of US affairs after Ive been exposed as a deluded fool who completely misread the entire situation. In the bright new dawn of the Kerry Administration, youd deserve better. If thats not an incentive for Irish citizens to smuggle a few illegal campaign contributions the Senators way, I dont know what is.
But, if, on the other hand, Bush is re-elected, I make one small request of the Irish and European media: you need to re-think your approach to this Presidency. Consider, for example, the two elections this weekend: Afghanistan and Australia. In the former, they held the first direct Presidential election in the countrys history. Hitherto, if you wanted to become President of Afghanistan, you had to hang around till the incumbents term expired, which was generally when he did, usually at the next guys hand. King Zahir was deposed in 1973 by his cousin Daoud, who was killed by his successor Taraki, who was suffocated by his successor Hafizullah Amin, who was executed by the Soviets, who installed Babrak Karmal, who died in a Moscow hospital but in a rare break with tradition managed to outlive his replacement, Najibullah, whom the Taliban wound up hanging from a traffic post. So, in a break with tradition, Hamid Karzai is now the first elected head of state in the countrys history.
And yes, it was a flawed election: it emerged on polling day that the indelible ink used to mark voters thumbs could be rubbed off. And whose fault is that? Well, the election was managed by the UN, which evidently got its indelible ink from the book-keeping department of its Oil-for-Food program. Thats one more reason, in case we needed any, to dismantle the UN and all its bloated works. But, UN incompetence aside, Afghanistan is making steady progress, no thanks to the media naysayers, who assured us nearly three years ago that Karzai was little more than a ceremonial Mayor of Kabul and as soon as one of his many enemies got a good shot at him the country would be plunged back into its 1980s chaos. He represented nobody, he spoke for nobody. Robert Fisk again, in March 2002: Hamid Karzai can scarcely control the street outside his office.
Oh, really? Events in Afghanistan seem to be going Bushs way, rather than Fisks.
Same in Australia, where John Howards conservative coalition was re-elected. It was supposed to be close, but Howard won comfortably, prefiguring similar victories to come by his fellow doughty warriors of the Anglosphere, Bush and Blair. Had Australias government gone the way of Spains, you can bet CNN and co would have played it up as a big loss for Bush, in the same way that they focused on those smudgy Afghan thumbs rather than the joyous Afghan faces the young women voting for the first time on a polling day almost wholly free of violence.
This was a remarkable weekend, but also a typical one, in that all the movement is in Bushs direction. For a supposed unilateralist whos turned the world against America (the basic Kerry indictment), he has a lot more reliable pals right now than, say, Jacques Chirac. The French Presidents closest ally, Gerhard Schroder, is unlikely ever again to be booking the room for an election-night victory party. Some US presidents are content to enjoy the perks of office and treat their term as one long holiday weekend (Clinton); others see their task as one of managing historically inevitable decline (Carter) or living with an unsatisfactory status quo (Eisenhower). But Bush, like Reagan, is a transformative president. By the time he leaves office in 2009, the world will be very different.
And thats all Im asking for after November 2nd that the Euroleft chuck the tired gags about Shrub the moron, the idiot, the stupid white man that saw them through his first term. Stow the pop psychology, too the cracks about the daddy complex that supposedly led him to topple Saddam. Its already obvious the 43rd Presidency is far more consequential than the 41st: George Bush Srs place in history will mainly be as the guy who warmed up the name for George Bush Jr. If youre not prepared to give serious thought to the challenge Bush poses to the UN and EU complaceniks, youre never going to understand the times we live in.
If Kerry wins, Im outta here. If Bush wins, eschewing lazy European condescension for the next four years would be the best way of balancing the US debate.
The Irish Times, October 11th 2004
This makes me wonder if he's independently wealthy or something, because I know that if Mark Steyn tells the world he will quit, well, he will.
bump for later read...
Another great Styen piece.
The hitherto perfectly poised seesaw of press coverage of the United States is apparently all out of whack because my corpulent column is weighing down one end while on the other up in the air are the massed ranks of Irish Times correspondents, RTE, the BBC and 97% of the European media class, plus Anthony OHalloran
The whinging Irish lad is correct, the cumulative intellectual mass is still heavily weighted to the Steyn side of the seesaw.
This line is yet another Mark Steyn keeper.
I too hope he won't disappear if Kerry wins...but then, I pray Kerry doesn't win.
Ballsy move to stake his career on a Bush victory. I hope Bush will win, I think he probably will, but I wouldn't put the odds any better than about 3:2, certainly not good enough for me to wager anything valuable.
And yes, it was a flawed election: it emerged on polling day that the indelible ink used to mark voters thumbs could be rubbed off. And whose fault is that? Well, the election was managed by the UN, which evidently got its indelible ink from the book-keeping department of its Oil-for-Food program.
Brilliant. He hits them with a right and a left with one swing of his fist.
LOLOL! Steyn always delivers.
I love Mark....he's the man over the pond!!! Thanks for posting this column!!!
And writes sharply.
He only stated he'd stop writing for the Irish Times. He's published in many many other places.
He said "this newspaper". I don't think he said he would retire completely.
Steyn is the Mozart of punditry.
"Well, the election was managed by the UN, which evidently got its indelible ink from the book-keeping department of its Oil-for-Food program."
I've said it before and I'l say it again and again and again. Every Steyn column is brilliant and every - EVERY - one has at least one succint incisive zinger that restablishes that he is in a class by himself.
Maybe he will just move to France.
Paging Dickie Morris. White courtesy telephone for Mr. Morris.
I don't expect any recounts this time. In Florida the vote needs to be within half of one percent to get a free recount. I expect the election to be that close in a couple of states, but not ones that could tip the election.
He writes for several papers. Who cares if he stops writing for somw crappy Irish paper?
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