I spent most of yesterday morning (Wednesday November 7) watching the BBC coverage of the US Presidential Election on my laptop. Later in the day, when I arrived home, I watched CNN and Fox News (for a laugh). I found it fascinating. The analyses and the statistics became somewhat mind-numbing at times but some of the pollsters, including the recently famous Nate Silver, were spot on.
Thank goodness for BBC News and its balanced, reasonable and informative coverage throughout the day. Ahead of just about every other network and online outlet with its updated results, the network also presented discussion and analysis that was reasoned and reasonable. How good it is to hear people from opposing camps being able to voice their opinions without being constantly interrupted. A contrast to other networks, apart from CNN (which was fairly good) and vastly different to our own coverage which allows partisans to lock into positions from which they refuse to budge. Often our own election coverage sounds like the argument sketch from Monty Python. The worry here is that you have a raft of Liberal/NCP politicians who increasingly sound like Republicans in their ability to naysay everything the government does. Joe Hockey is beginning to sound like he will soon believe that day is night.
I am still rather stunned that President Obama managed such a convincing electoral college victory despite the unemployment figures and a 4-year war on him by the Fox News network. It seems to demonstrate that most Americans could see what was evident even from over here: that Mitt Romney was all image and no substance. In fact, Romney managed to campaign without actually having any policies (somewhat like Tony Abbott). It seemed easy for the Republicans to say what was wrong but much harder to say how they were going to fix it.
In the end, demography worked against the Republicans – there are fewer and fewer middle-aged white men and the party’s policies exclude just about everyone else. For the past four years they seem to have spent most of their time being obstructionist and attempting, with the help of Fox News, to stop President Obama from achieving anything substantial. The fact that he has managed so much change in spite of this, especially the healthcare reforms, is a minor miracle. Contrast this with an Australian system that mostly works even when the Senate is not under government control.
As for Fox News, they seem to be still waiting for John MccCain to be announced winner of the 2008 election! However, it was a much more sober lot of presenters who were forced to begrudgingly admit that Obama might have won this time, though they constantly mentioned the fact that Romney got 56 million votes and his ‘gracious’ concession speech. This despicable network is full of pumped up blowhards who, one would like to think, would never be tolerated in Australia – though nasty little Alan Jones seems to be trying hard to match them.
Listening to much of the talk radio coverage during my recent US trip I was astonished at what hosts could get away with saying – seemingly with impunity. The worst example seems to be Rush Limbaugh who rants and raves every day with a series of ill-founded accusations, insults and lunatic ramblings.
Finally, President Obama was able to rise above all this. His ‘victory’ speech was fantastic. Inspirational. Charlie Pickering from The Project was in Chicago for the speech and in his enthusiasm seemed to voice what we were all thinking – it is good to have a politician you can at least believe in. If only we had someone like that in Australian politics. Bring back Gough Whitlam!