Boris, Ken, Barack And Hillary
You'd think this would be a race about issues. After all, Livingstone has made himself into a symbol for post-modern, hard-left thinking, as Anne Appelbaum points out today in Slate:
His need to attract attention manifests itself in other ways: the expensive celebration he had planned to commemorate 50 years of Fidel Castro's dictatorial rule, for example, or his public embrace of a Muslim cleric who defends suicide bombing and advocates the death penalty for homosexuals. ... He called the U.S. ambassador to Britain a "chiseling little crook" and told a Jewish journalist he was behaving "like a concentration camp guard."Eech. Less familiar to most of us is Johnson, but he's every bit as much a character:
Though he's been more staid than usual during the mayoral campaign, Boris is a man who can't stop telling jokes, whether at the expense of the aforementioned mistress or the people of Portsmouth (a city of "drugs, obesity, underachievement and Labour MPs").Of course we'll track this election (election day is May 1) because it could spell the end of Livingstone's horrific reign, but Applebaum says it's more than a clash of two very different belief systems:
Adjectives like mop-haired, blustering, and old Etonian appear in just about every profile of him ever written. So does his most famous quotation—"Voting Tory will cause your wife to have bigger breasts and increase your chances of owning a BMW M3"—though that line is misleading since his sense of humor is usually far more self-deprecating. "Beneath the carefully constructed veneer of a blithering buffoon," he once remarked, "there lurks a blithering buffoon."
But it's nevertheless worth watching because this campaign could well be a blueprint for the elections of the future since it is postmodern and post-ideological in the deepest sense: In a world in which "issues" are not the issue and ... there's nothing left to talk about except who said what to whom and whose tongue was sharper while doing so.Sound like our Dem primary? More than a bit. But this is, in effect, a general election, not a primary.
Let's hope this is another way America keeps itself cut off from its European roots.