Hate the Mail, love Obama
Posted on 10 May 2009 | 10:05am
So I wake to a lovely sunny day, remember that Fiona is away, reflect warmly on yesterday’s win, delete the latest rash of radio and TV messages asking me to do an interview on MPs expenses, then wonder what to blog about before I go out on the bike.
I could resurrect, for one day only, the Mail Monitor (why oh why did TB allow one or two of his ministers to persuade him we should halt the daily rebuttal of the Dacre Lie Machine?) to rebut the Mail on Scumday story that I had been the one who persuded GB to announce his expenses reforms on YouTube.
In denying it, I am not criticising the Prime Minister for using YouTube. On the contrary, I think all ministers and MPs should be using new media more and ignoring the old media’s complaints about them doing so, and have said so to GB in the past. I am simply pointing out that the story, based on the usual anonymous so-called sources, is not true.Not that that will worry them. They are used to publishing things that are not true, which is why the Mail Monitor, which a member of my political team in Downing Street used to put together, would sometimes run to several pages.
Let me assure fellow Mail-haters that I have not purchased the paper to discover that I am in it. It’s sweet, really, how they still like to have me in there. No, I was sent a link by a member of the Number 10 team late last night, just to be aware that the story had been printed, and that they knew it was nonsense.
But it has the feel of one of those stories most people will just skim over anyway, so certainly not worth a whole blog, I don’t think. Although you might be interested in a new game I play whenever I use taxis. If the driver has the Mail, I say ‘you can have me in the cab, or you can have that rag, but not both.’ It’s amazing how many are happy to let you bin it.
So then I’m thinking, Fiona is at the Daphne du Maurier book festival in Cornwall, promoting her book, and no doubt talking about how useless I am around the house, which means I have to take the dog for a walk before getting out on the bike, and I would quite like to get back for the Manchester derby, and I have to get my head round the briefing for an event I am doing for MIND tomorrow, and write a speech I am delivering in French this week, so I don’t want to take too much time on this blog, so what else then?
At which point, up pops a link on my Facebook wall, sent by Alina in Washington, something of a regular here, urging me to take a look at President Obama’s speech to the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner yesterday.
I will be honest – I read very few of the links people send me. Life is too short and there are too many links in the world. But this had the look of something worth seeing. It is.
Anyone who saw The Speaker on BBC 2 will know how much I admire Obama’s oratorical skills. What his speech to the White House media dinner shows is that he has touches of comic genius too. It was 20 minutes well-spent.
Even accepting that he may have some terrific speechwriters, and an army of gasgters and line-writers willing to offer help for an event like that, the feel is of a man totally at ease, happy to send up himself, his family, his colleagues, the press.
I won’t spoil it for you, but among my favourites was the reference to how well he was getting on with Hillary Clinton, as seen by the huge kiss she gave him when she came back from Mexico, as she suggested he really ought to make a visit there.
He had to do the usual stuff about how important the press corps was to US democracy, but even when he was being serious he could not resist a touch of humour, referring to their pursuit of ‘an approximation of the truth.’
He knows that plenty of them consider him to be a little aloof and arrogant, and he plays to it brilliantly, saying he intends at some point to ‘consider losing my cool’, then going through his successes of the first 100 days, a laugh in every one of them, before promising that his next 100 days will be so successful that he will complete them in 72 days, and rest on the 73rd.
If you had to choose between spending twenty minutes watching it, or twenty minutes reading a paper this morning, I say Go Obama.
Now the tricky bit. I am not good at links. Pathetic I know but I don’t know how to cut and paste from Facebook page to blog. What I do know is that it is on YouTube and in the top right of the screen it says C-Span and down in the left corner of the screen it says earth2obama.org
But no doubt Alina will be on soon saying in more detail how people can watch it. I promise you it is worth it.
Maybe by the end of the day I will have a proper link to it on here. Then again I may not. Now to the dog, then the bike. Have a nice day, as I really can imagine Obama saying, and meaning it.
STOP PRESS – link now embedded in first reference to the event above. And Brian Moylan has written links in comments section, while Tim Fallon has done same on Facebook. Thanks to both.