At the time of writing, it looks as if the rutting stags in the Senate and House of Representatives will step back from the canyon’s edge at the last minute. But even if they do, huge damage has already been done. Politically, in the eyes of the world, the “full faith and credit” of the US has been further eroded.
Americans need to see those views from outside. Some understand this need: that’s one reason so many visit the US version of the Guardian’s website. It’s also a service the digital International New York Times (formerly International Herald Tribune) may help provide, with a wider range of international voices – although its target audience is modestly described by the responsible assistant managing editor, in a New York Times piece about itself, as “the political, business and cultural elite of the world”. But what about those proudly less cosmopolitan, non-elite Americans back home, including the active minorities who pre-select Democrat and Republican representatives in Washington, in partisan primaries for gerrymandered constituencies?
So here’s my au revoir suggestion. Let some public-spirited American billionaire set up a mainstream TV and internet channel dedicated to conveying to a wider American audience, in a vivid and accessible way, how the US is seen around the world. In Britain, people still occasionally use an old-fashioned slang phrase to express incredulity at something that is at once amazing and a bit ludicrous too – such as what’s been happening in Washington. They say: “Christopher Columbus!” Complete with Yahoo!-style exclamation mark, that might be a good name for the channel.
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