Seamanship Quotation

“In political activity, then, men sail a boundless and bottomless sea; there is neither harbour for shelter nor floor for anchorage, neither starting-place nor appointed destination.”
— from Michael Oakeshott's
Political Education” (1951)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

US Election night on TV

—David Brooks of the The New York Times coldly offered, “The country has been unhappy for six years and is still bouncing around.” Hope Obama is less philosophical.
—Colin Robertson, a Washington observer in Ottawa, suggested to the CBC’s Amanda Lang that “The US has an allergy to taxation.” When was the last time Canadians went to the polls to vote for a tax increase?
—CBC’s “Connect with Mark Kelly” leads the pack for smug Canadians. Its election coverage was back-screened with the theme “America Divided.” It concentrated on Tea Party wing nuts and nostalgia for Obama’s election of 2008. Paul Hunter, CBC, Washington recalled the feel of Washington that previous election night. Apparently, people were actually going around saying that Obama “will take us to the promised land.” Was Obama’s message really that shallow? Was Hunter even listening to Obama’s sombre election-night speech? The point of the show seemed to be that no one in America listens or votes with any care, that America is having a nervous break-down . . . tune in for more.
—Kentucky Senate winner Dr. Rand Paul’s acceptance speech was the most intriguing. It came the closest to saying something worth mulling over: “America is exceptional but not inherently so.” He seems to want to risk saying something new and, like Obama, has as sense of occasion born of a sense of his own importance. Clearly, the political frustrations of his father have fed his ambition, not tempered it.
—The size of the flags draped behind the politicians had no relationship to the size of their ideas.
—The next speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, offered the most dramatic performance. With a boy’s grimace he exclaimed, “I spent my whole life chasing the American dream.” He teared up and enumerated the lowly jobs he’d taken to rise out of poverty and be a success. A true outsider probably does see the American dream as something you must chase, with insolence and defiance. He may be a Republican insider but he revealed more genuine anger than all the gregarious patriots around Sarah Palin.
—The victors all got the same message: Americans are desperately worried about the national debt and demand “fiscal discipline.” None offered a hint about how they’ll take that message to their offices in the morning. It’s more likely their lenders rather than the pollsters will force reform.
—Political junkies in Toronto aren't holding election parties. Maybe this one isn’t that important?

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