I've been watching this week's festivities across the pond with no small delight -- not out of resentment for Tony Blair, though it's hard to believe I once considered him a model politician, but just because the Brits can make politics so entertaining. Secret deals, backstabbing, this is some good drama that just isn't matched over here.
It's all loud bluster in American politics, a radio talk show to Britain's Shakespearean drama. I watched George W. Bush's speech yesterday and cringed; not because I disagreed with the content (in all honesty, Bush could have been talking about ice hockey and beer the whole time; when I hear his voice now I just reflexively tune out the words, only occasionally hearing a "9/11" or "terrorists" creep past my finely-wrought defenses) but because it just has such a bludgeoning, belligerent tone. There's nothing subtle, nothing careful about it, and that seems representative of the U.S. in general right now. But then I come home and log on to the Guardian, and squeal with delight at the reports of a bunch of British parliamentarians screwing each other, denying it, and doing it all so properly.
I was in London and then Albania last year during the British elections, and I followed them ravenously, just because it was so much more interesting (as opposed to over here, where I'm just feverishly hoping that the less-bad guys beat out the more-bad guys). I'm not an Anglophile by any means -- I've had too much of their food to be really impressed -- but on this matter, the UK can teach the U.S. quite a bit.
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I sort of swore to myself that I wouldn't write anything about the upcoming 9/11 anniversary -- not because I don't care, but who gives five fucks what I, or any other blogger, thinks about the anniversary? Do you really want to read my, or any other writer's, memories of that day? Neal Pollack once wrote that one of the "least tragic, but most irritating" consequences of the attacks was an "explosion of absolutely terrible writing," and I have a feeling that's going to resume (or probably already has -- I've pulled my head inside my shell) in the coming days.
But, Simon Jenkins has a really good piece in the Guardian (them again) that's worth reading -- suggesting that the avalanche of retrospectives is not remotely a healthy thing. While certainly it won't make any difference -- you won't see any prime-time specials being scrapped as a result -- I agree with his point pretty wholeheartedly and it's always nice to see a voice of reason and sanity.