Jonathan Freedland has written an extraordinary article for today's London Guardian. Judge for yourself but there are two key weaknesses in his argument:
He assumes that world opinion is in a better place to judge the McCain v Obama choice than domestic American opinion. Within that assumption is a view that (1) political debate within America is poorer than overseas and (2) that the international citizen is well-informed:
- We would contend that the best of the US media - the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times - is at least as good as say the London press. Anyone who has submitted an op-ed article to either newspaper knows the quality control that these newspapers put writers through. The blogosphere fact-checks US politicians in ways that do not happen in Europe. Forty million Americans watched John McCain's address to the Republican Convention. Nearly as many watched Barack Obama's speech. Both in full. How many UK voters have ever watched an hour's speech from David Cameron or Gordon Brown, let alone an American politician?
- Our launch poll showed how ignorant many UK citizens were of America. They don't know very basic and very important key facts. Are they well informed about the foreign policies of the candidates let alone their domestic policies? Take Iraq. The BBC has hardly covered the progress of the Petraeus surge. British media opinion decided in 2005/06 that Iraq was a failure and reporting to UK citizens has not provided a serious opportunity to at least think again.
He also infers that a vote against Barack Obama might be racist: "A generation of young Americans - who back Obama in big numbers - will turn cynical, concluding that politics doesn't work after all. And, most depressing, many African-Americans will decide that if even Barack Obama - with all his conspicuous gifts - could not win, then no black man can ever be elected president." Many may assume that - particularly if they are encouraged to by the likes of Mr Freedland and Jacob Weisberg - but as Iain Dale has blogged, many Americans may not vote for him because he is one of the most inexperienced and liberal candidates for the US Presidency ever. Will Mr Freedland explain that to Guardian readers or will he present the outcome in the worst possible light? Judging from the cartoon that accompanies his piece (see scan below) our guess is that The Guardian is preparing to present a McCain victory as a terrible snub to the world...