I'm curious to see how Ed thought of Williams this evening. He was critical of the decision, and I understand some of his reasons why. It was a risky move and the potential downsides far outweighed the potential benefits.
I'm not going to debate the pros and cons of the hunt. Anyone who knows me knows where I stand. And furthermore, I don't want anti-hunt people coming around and cluttering up my lovely blog. And they seem to have a real knack at this time of the year for carpet bombing blogs that talk about the hunt. Pornographers looking for pictures of naked curlers I can handle; people calling me a savage will just give me a migraine.
Instead, let's look at how it went. Is Newfoundland and Labrador better off this evening than we were before? I have no idea. But I don't think we're any worse off. Because for all we know, Larry King would have given the full hour to the McCartneys to talk about the hunt. Or, worse yet, opened it up for calls, so anti-hunt organizations could stack the phone lines. So Williams mere presence, while a risk, was better than nothing I think.
The first 30 minutes was anti-hunt propaganda. Not much to be done there. He is Paul McCartney. They are going to focus the spotlight on him. But, you know, to give him credit, when King lobbed the softball about touring, he did spin it back to the topic being debated pretty quick.
So how did Williams do? The cons first:
1. He seemed a bit rushed at time, but that might be forgivable. He had a lot of information to cram in a short period of time.
2. He focused on the bullets vs. club debate a bit too much. Perhaps unavoidable, but arguing which way they're being killed while images of seals being clubbed to death are being shown on screen isn't going to help his argument much.
3. He did let Heather McCartney run over him a bit in the beginning. Being polite, perhaps. Although that politeness disappeared as the debate progressed. If he had been on for the full hour, that might have been interesting. I suspect the Williams we all know and love would have been out verbally smacking Heather around.
4. He never did answer the eco-tourism question, which is unfortunate. I assume it's something so simple as "There is no way people are going out into the North Atlantic in the middle of March to look at seals. It's too Goddamn cold." That's my thought. Maybe there is more, but he should have addressed it. He looked like he was dodging.
5. He never handled the boycott aspect as well as I would have liked. I'm honestly not sure how big of an impact it's having. The simpler statement might have been "The boycott is not having a fraction of the impact the McCartneys are saying it is. I can assure you, we have no problem selling our crab and fish anywhere in the world. It hasn't cost Canada or Newfoundland a dime."
What did he do right?
1. The intro, putting Newfoundland in perspective, how people helped during 9/11 and that some of those people putting up stranded Americans were sealers was genius. I mean that was a lovely swipe. Blatant, absolutely. As subtle as a brick to the face. But hey, it's Larry King. Look for subtle debate elsewhere. It did what it was suppose to do; play off American patriotism.
2. Getting in the facts, even if they were bullet points: Why not other animals. They're not endangered.
3. Mentioning the WWF, the UN (really? First I had heard of it) and other organizations approving of the hunt.
4. Getting in the dig and about how much money anti-hunt organizations make. Should have emphasized it more, but again, time constraints.
5. PETA and other environmental groups being investigated by the US government for terrorism. Risky. It'll be interesting to see if that plays out, and how it does.
5. The absolutely lovely, stopped them dead in their tracks about how the McCartneys were more than welcome to help Newfoundlanders recover from the devastation of the cod stocks caused by European over-fishing. Not entirely true, but hey, the audience watching doesn't know that.
What gifts did he get?
1. While the McCartneys seemed a lot better briefed about the hunt than I would have thought, they still made mistakes. Williams got McCartney on not knowing that seals were, in fact, not endangered prior to arriving in Canada.
2. He got the massive gift of McCartney not knowing where he was. I mean, I would have been tempted to say "Paul, if you don't know where you are, how can you expect people to believe you know what you're talking about?" Williams was more polite, simply correcting him, perhaps driving home the previous point without hitting it with a sledgehammer.
By the way, McCartney not knowing where he was is going to be the sound bit and quote from the entire event. At least in Canada it will be. And they will be laughed at and ridiculed. It was the defining moment of the debate. At least for Canadians.
3. Williams also got the gift that Heather McCartney didn't come across very well. Paul came across as a little senile, but affable and certainly willing to debate. Heather came across as more fanatical, very abrupt, rude and kind of shrill. Cathy kept saying "She's such a bitch." Perhaps. I don't think she came across as particularly likeable. Paul was likeable. Even Williams seemed reasonable. Heather was rude and unpleasant. Paul said they came with an open mind and to learn. He might have; Heather certainly had hers made up a long time ago.
And one gets the impression that if she has her mind made up, she also has Paul's mind made up for him.
4. King was, other than the usual celebrity sucking up and butchering the pronounciation of Newfoundland, fairly neutral. I was expecting much worse, so that was all right.
Overall, could have been better. Could have been much, much worse. We'll see how it plays out and spins over the next few days. Remember, winning over people in Newfoundland is easy and will certainly get Williams a few more political points back home. Convincing others....well, that's another trick entirely.
A Rush of Blood to the Head - Coldplay