Justin Webb, the BBC’s Washington correspondent, files an odd and cranky report from his time in New York at the Republican National Convention. Webb starts off his time wondering why Republicans decided to host their convention among hostile and rude New Yorkers, and his upturned nose catches even more rain as he continues along:
What can the Republicans make of this place? When you talk to them they are polite in a glassy-eyed kind of way. But it is an odd paradox that the Republicans chose to show their solidarity with people who regard them with contempt at best.
Most New Yorkers are Democrats but, more importantly, most New Yorkers are cross and busy. I stood on a Manhattan corner this week as the president passed. The police hemmed us in, batons drawn. The helicopters buzzed overhead and the sirens blared.
Now on most corners of most cities in the US, the passing of the presidential motorcade would occasion some interest. People would clap, would boo, would do something.
But New Yorkers did not even look. They read their papers, they glanced at their watches, they barked into their phones. … [After the convention,] I pass a parked car where a man is screaming – screaming – into a mobile phone. “I have just had sex with your sister,” he bellows. “What are you going to do about it?” (Actually he uses a terser phrase than that but you get the drift.)
The sister, I assume it was she, was looking bored and filing her nails.
So much for the left’s love affair with the Big Apple. People asked me the same question — why do you think that the RNC picked New York over a city in a swing state? I have even questioned the judgment, and Mayor Koch himself said that the Republicans had no hope of turning the city to “red-state” status. I think the best reasons I heard were that (a) New York knows how to do security for large events, and (b) the symbolism and defiance of having President Bush come to the city they attacked, with all of the attendant publicity that a convention brings, sent a loud message to the Islamofascists: This is America, the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.
As for New Yorkers, Webb could not have gotten it more wrong. They disagree with Republicans, of course, on political matters, but everyone I met scoffed at the notion that the RNC could possibly have been held elsewhere. Andy McGinnis, a member of the security detail inside Madison Square Garden and an occasional visitor to Bloggers Corner, insisted to me that no other city was better prepared and no other police force knew better how to secure an area. From what I saw, he was right. Those New Yorkers with whom I spoke were proud that the RNC came to their town, regardless of political affiliation, and they should be equally proud with the result.
Webb continues his journey of misanthropy by painting Republicans as benighted automatons and demonstrates his cluelessness about religion and evangelicals:
A year or so ago on this programme I said: “Nobody spends more time on his knees than George W Bush”. It was intended as a faintly ironic comment on the president’s religiosity.
Imagine my surprise when I came across a copy of the DVD, George Bush: Faith in the White House. On the back among the glowing endorsements: “Nobody spends more time on his knees than George W Bush says BBC Washington correspondent, Justin Webb.”
I have endorsed the president without even intending to.
Maybe Webb is just unfamiliar with Christianity in general, but among the faithful, spending time on your knees plays rather well. In fact, Christians see that as a sign of humility before God, while cynics and smart-ass BBC reporters see it as an opportunity to be “faintly ironic”, and I suspect to toss in a “faintly” sexual double-entendre. If Webb wants to avoid “endorsing” the President in the future, perhaps he’d be better off writing intellectually honest analysis instead of the snarky, aging-hipster, pseudo-Seinfeld crapola that appears in this column.
The only message Webb communicates in his entry today is his hostility towards a wide range of Americans. Perhaps the Beeb would be better off assigning him to London. I know Webb and Americans would be better off.