Friday, January 20, 2012

Newt Shoots back

I have been following the U.S. Republican primaries with interest. If I were a G.O.P. member I suspect I would be supporting Mitt Romney, but I had some sympathy for the response Newt Gingrich made below to a question about his private life. (Hat tip to CNN for the clip and Mike Smithson at Political Betting for drawing it to my attention.)

It can be unhealthy for stories about the private lives of individuals, where these do not involve criminal behaviour or abuse of public office, to be given far more attention than how good those individuals are at their jobs. We have seen this culture in this country, as much of the evidence to the Leveson inquiry demonstrated and the same is true in the states.

It is possible, and appears to happen in some countries, for the press to be too subservient in failing to probe where an issue affects not just private lives but the allocation of jobs or resources provided by the taxpayer. If there are genuine reasons to suspect this, then the issue becomes one of legitimate interest to the taxpayer.

But in many cases I suspect that political debate in both Britain and America would be healthier if more public figures were prepared to respond to an allegation, true or false, with the words "None of your business." See what you think of Newt's comments here.

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