Mark Mardell is one of the BBC heavyweights with a grand task – North America editor. Until recently, this was one of a few things I would have called my dream job, something actually worth planning for and working towards in the long term. Having once lived in the dreamy state of California I’ve maintained a great interest in the USA, albeit a very love/hate one. Aside from this, and despite all the doomcrying, for better or worse I think the country still leads the world and warrants attention.
Why only until recently though, did I want the man’s job? The realisation that perhaps the role wasn’t for me came not long after finally committing to my own written efforts here and on the counterpart blogs. If it wasn’t fairly clear, or more likely if you haven’t indulged in all my fine works, I enjoy the liberty of generally unaccountable comment and can afford to be more direct. I’m no where near a position in this sector that requires a lighter touch.
Poor old Mardell. For a few years now I’ve thoroughly enjoyed his contributions, which are highly informed via his elite perspective and of unquestionable quality due to his clear aptitude. Yet during all those years, I was just champing at the bit for him to get a little more feisty. “Come on Mark!!”, I would scream at the TV or computer, “I know you have more to say about the Republicans, or this or that or the other patently absurd issue!”
I could be wrong, Mardell may just have a saintly temperament and a kind soul. More likely though, he’s been suppressing a rage induced stomach ulcer since late-2009 for want of unleashing the rational dogs of war on his Washington associates. Sadly though, he has to respect his duty as the BBC’s man on the hill, he has to sustain relationships, access, necessary friendships of circumstance. It probably wouldn’t do for the regional lead correspondent of the finest broadcast entity on the planet to go around calling John Boehner and Eric Cantor a pair of feckless t@*!s.
The restraint and professionalism needed for his job are more than likely beyond me by half, at least in these rowdy days of my commentating infancy. I want to be able to get a little visceral from time to time, of course without pushing things into soapbox territory, as I think some issues deserve a little more emotional investment in order for more people to grasp their severity. Shucks, it probably also spices up the reading experience a bit.
Every time I read a Mardell article I find myself reading between the lines. Again, I could be way off the truth but I think there’s often more this correspondent wants to say, so I’m going to try and say it for him. With no small amount of audacity I anoint myself the voice of his inner fury and exasperation.
To briefly kick things off, I draw your attention to his latest piece on gun control, from the halls of an Indiana arms market. A sterling example of journalistic discipline if ever there was, he relays the scene and the thoughts of its denizens with even-handed clarity, and somehow manages to portray the debate as one of two sides, each possessing legitimate views and sane dispositions.
Now I daresay there is a great deal of truth to the mysterious and intoxicating allure of firearms, they are sleek, functional symbols of power, which he rightly indicates. I used to thoroughly enjoy wielding a shotgun in the appropriate environment. But what I and any sensible person, thus I include Mardell, should surely be thinking is this – the person who for no defensible reason wants the right to own the most lethal of devices, has no place in civilised society. This culture is, after all other considerations, terrifying and irresponsible and should be dismantled.
You’re quite welcome Mark. More entirely subjective interpretation of your meaning to follow.