David Letterman had the inimitable Ricky Gervais on his show recently and during the conversation Letterman asked him about the American election. Gervais, unfortunately, because it really is not his place/country did respond. Gervais did a routine about the choice being between Obama "and a man who talks into a hat"-the reference being to the Mormon founder Joseph Smith.
Gervais joins a line of imports who have seen fit to involve themselves in something which is, Gervais comment notwithstanding, that the election affects him as it will choose "the leader of the free world" in reality none of their business.
The "comedian" Russell Brand has thrust his uneducated (literally as a school leaver) opinions about Sarah Palin on the American public, as have a number of other visitors on various political topics.Whether it is fair to comment that this is just their shtick, and can be safely ignored is missing the point-it shouldn't be done at all, and is disrespectful at the very least to the host country.
Musing on the error of a Brit commenting negatively on an American election one day before the vote, I considered the role of broadcasters who are recognized as having a degree of expertise in current and economic affairs, and the validity of their comments. Reading the last volume of Christopher Hitchens collected media pieces in 'Arguably' one is struck by Hitchens great depth of knowledge and world travel experience, but his commentary on America misses some intangible in-depth awareness.
Notable is his lack of any reference to American sports. In point of fact the only reference to any sports in his massive tome is, quite naturally for a transplanted Brit, to cricket. This same lack of true depth of knowledge of America, which only comes from being brought up in Americana, is also notably missing with Piers Morgan.
Missing with Morgan too is an in-depth knowledge of the working of the American political system which I discussed in a previous article. Morgan may have skill in dealing with the personalities of his guests, and have the support of a research team, but at the heart of things he does not posses the heart of America, and his comments should always be taken as those of a foreigner.
I have, from time to time spent decades abroad, but as a youth I plotted the starting rotation of the 1959 Cleveland Indians (Bell/McLish/Perry/Grant) for months in advance. I cried when Gil McDougald's line drive felled Herb Score, and one of my earliest memories was trying to guess whether it would be Don Mossi or Ray Narleski coming out of the bullpen. Someone who didn't experience, as an impressionable youth, the actual or equivalent of Ingemar Johansson shocking America to its core, or Lou Groza lining up an impossible field goal attempt, or the tragedy of Ernie Davis, can ever comment on an American election (whether from left or right-I of course include Fox's Brit, Stuart Varney and Jon Stewart's Brit John Oliver ) with authority.