Saturday, January 12, 2008

Boris Johnson for Mayor of London

An Eton-educated libertarian with a reputation as a bumbling, fumbling comedian is running for mayor of London. Here is Boris Johnson, as quoted in Time magazine: "I'm a libertarian. I think people should get on with their lives as far as possible independently of bossiness and intrusion of all kinds."

Contrast that approach with this quote from Hillary Clinton: I have a million ideas. I can't do all of them. I happen to think in running a disciplined campaign--especially when it comes to fiscal responsibility, which is what I'm trying to do--everything I propose I have to pay for. You know, you go to my website, you'll see what I would use to pay for what I've proposed. So I've got a lot of ideas, I just obviously can't propose them all. I can't afford them all. The country can't afford them all."

Here's Johnson on "Convictions", as quoted by the always interesting Catherine Mayer :

Readers not yet acquainted with his signature style will get a flavor of it from this verbatim response to TIME's question about whether he considers himself a conviction politician. (For full impact, the passage must be declaimed in the poshest of English accents.) "I certainly have a range of convictions. Not for anything serious. God. I don't have convictions actually by the way. No, no, no. Sorry, I don't have any convictions in a court of law, apart from speeding when I was very young. But I have plenty of political convictions. Can you rescue me? God."

Johnson and Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger once addressed a Tory party conference (Arnold by video link), and Johnson was doing one of his comedy routines. Arnold loudly objected to both the content and the delivery style, not knowing his microphone was switched on.....Johnson later gave this mock apology: "A man not famed for his eloquence found fault with my delivery and general mastery of public speaking. And these are things I obviously have to overcome."

In Boris Johnson's case, the apple didn't fall very far from the tree. Here's a line from his father, Stanley Johnson, a former member of the European Parliament. The elder Johnson defines Libertarianism as "the fight against crooks and nannies looking into nooks and crannies."

(All of this is from Catherine Mayer, in Time.)

There's been some controversy surrounding Johnson's refusal to be trumped by anyone playing a victim card. See Samizdata for details. Most of the comments below the Samizdata post are worthy of printing, commiting to memory, and memorializing on a needlepoint sampler. (Someone actually uses the phrase "Crikey Moses", which is nice to hear outside of a Harry Potter novel.)

Here's one last Johnson quote, about his wonderful tendency to say whatever comes into his head: "Things come into my head that I find simply impossible not to say and then all sorts of chaos breaks out. But I think it's much better that way than endlessly pre-rehearsing, sanitizing, homogenizing, pasteurizing everything you say to the point of macrobiotic extinction."

As someone who has watched the over-sanitized U.S. presidential debates to the point of drooling on the rug, I hope Boris Johnson gets elected Mayor of London, bumbling, fumbling, or not.

May his tribe increase.

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