Alex Massie

The First Global Political “Reality” TV Show

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The Politico's Ben Smith is an excellent reporter and blogger. Which makes this post rather rum:

The global interest in the Clinton-Obama contest is really quite amazing.

Marc Ambinder finds that they're talking about Jeremiah Wright on Peruvian TV. And I spent last night talking politics with a Latvian friend who displayed an alarming familiarity with the rules surrounding superdelegates.

Well, yeah... Then again, perhaps I shouldn't be surprised. In my years in Washington I never ceased to be surprised by the frequency with which folk expressed surprise that people in lil' old Scotland might be interested in what was happening in US domestic politics. It was a curious sort of myopia.

Then again, many of the people who work on Capitol Hill have no interest in, far less much knowledge, of anything that's happening overseas (except where vital and obvious US interests may be involved) so perhaps they lacked the imagination to appreciate that the identity of the next American president is a matter of some - make that keen - interest to the rest of the world.

Naturally, interest in US politics is going to grow in an era in which English is increasingly widely-spoken and the internet, YouTube and 24 hour news have ensured that (almost) everyone can tailor their own news as they see fit. Unsurprisingly, the American Century has bred an international audience for Americana.

Twenty years ago the flap over NAFTA and the Obama and Clinton campaigns' attitude to free trade would scarcely have caused a ripple, if only because almost no-one would have heard about it. But just as US Presidents have to - or, rather should - remember that their words are also heard overseas, so too should the candidates for either party's nomination. The world is listening, after all.

UPDATE: I should perhaps make it clear that Ben was expressing wonderment rather than total surprise. He's not a dope.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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