Political satire

August 2, 2007

One thing I miss when I am overseas is the satirical writing in the British broadsheets. The parliametary sketch writers are masters of the art, but all the political correspondents have the capability. There was a great example in the Guardian this Tuesday, reporting on first formal meeting between Bush and Brown. Read it in full, but the paragraph that deserves special attention reads as follows:

The president ushered his new friend into Golf Cart One, waved and with a flourish and glint in his eye, executed a playful 360-degree turn in front of he press corps. Mr Brown lurched to his right and came close to tumbling out, all the while holding the fixed grin of someone dreading an afternoon playing with a boisterous toddler.

I remember watching Bush and Putin presenting to Crawford students during a visit by the Russian premier in 2001. The report does not do justice to the expressions on the students faces as they contrasted the language and responses of the two leaders told a powerful story. Political satire is never fair, not is it reasonable, but then its subjects are fair game. This article reminded me of the devastating effect that Spitting Image had, when they portrayed the then liberal leader David Steel as a sycophantic puppet in David Owen’s top pocket. Satire is a terrible tool, but it only works when its subjects make themselves vulnerable to attack.

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