Playing Performance Politics; What U.S. Politicians Can Learn from the Brits
Byline: Suzanne Fields, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Are we having fun yet? The run-ups to the voting in Indiana and North Carolina kept Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama working on their performance art (and who knew that Ron Paul was still in the Republican race, but he won 7 percent of the vote in Indiana). Mrs. Clinton joked slyly with George Stephanopoulos that Rush Limbaugh once had a crush on her. A girl sometimes takes what she gets.
Bill Clinton sighed and wailed like an exile from the Grand Ole Opry in the small towns of North Carolina. His Southern accent grew thicker and more mellifluous as voting approached; he stopped just short of covering the old Tom T. Hall hymn to "old dogs, children and watermelon wine." He is a very rich man now but he reminded everybody that he was raised on Arkansas barbecue: "I can smell that pig pickin' and you know I'm going to eat some later," he told a small audience in Dunn, population 10,000.
Rev. Jeremiah Wright turned the Obama campaign into a momentary farce, perhaps deliberately, by repeating news of his discovery that the U.S. Government invented the AIDS virus to wipe out blacks, and by complaining that the man whose soul he mentored had turned out to be (gasp) a politician. This time his whole sermon was outrageous and nobody could cry "context" (though the New York Times did). The only literary reference he brought to mind was taken from Samuel Coleridge's "Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner," with the preacher as the albatross around Mr. Obama's neck.
Galloping across the horizon, shadowing the campaigns in North Carolina and Indiana, was the soaring cost of gasoline. The solutions offered by Mrs. Clinton and Sen. John McCain were reduced to comic debate when the argument devolved to whether a gas-tax holiday would save drivers 25 cents a day or 30 cents a day. This is not a strategy to help out with the pocket book, sneered Mr. Obama, but a strategy to get through the next election.
We have so focused on our endless presidential campaign, turned dark and drear, that we have ignored a political story that is actually fun. Mr. Boris Johnson, a journalist who talks too much for his own good (is there any other kind?), was elected mayor of London.
Tomorrow Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York will greet him on the steps of London's City Hall, probably with advice on what it takes to run a large world capital. …