Yesterday Daniel Hannan was just a backbench member of the European Parliament from South East England, probably known only to his constituents, some Conservative fans, and some Labor enemies. Today—although this may just be his obligatory Warholesque fifteen minutes of fame—he’s known to a lot more people than that, including me.
As Hannan describes in his blog, the cause of all the commotion was a little three-minute speech to the EU that “went viral” through You Tube and bloggers. As of now, the You Tube video has about nine hundred thousand views and 6,800 comments, and it’s only been posted there for two days.
In case you’ve missed it, here it is:
What’s the appeal? First of all, the relief of seeing true eloquence rather than false. Compare this to Obama’s much-praised oratory (we needn’t bother with Bush’s) and you’ll see the difference: wit, bite, pungency, and an emotional connection with the words being uttered. Hannan appears to be genuinely enraged rather than mouthing words of anger. And it’s all delivered in that exquisite British manner that is no less powerful for being tightly controlled.
But the words, and Hannan’s delivery, would mean nothing if they were merely clever or well-delivered. What struck a deep chord in his country and in this one—and, for all I know, around the world as well—is that he is saying what so many of us have yearned to hear said or to say ourselves, what we see as the unvarnished and plain truth (truth to power, by the way). Although he is speaking to the British Prime Minister, the parallels to our own possible fate under Obama are only too clear.
[NOTE: I heard that Hannan was going to be appearing on Sean Hannity’s show this evening and so I watched it. He was no less articulate in his extemporaneous answers to Hannity’s questions than he was in his speech, and no less commonsensical as well. Hear, hear!]
[NOTE II: The title of this post is not mine. It was one of the 6,800 comments on the video at You Tube.]
[NOTE III: It turns out that, astonishingly enough, Mr. Hannan was a somewhat tepid Obama supporter during the US election, and still hasn’t entirely given up on him. This is difficult to understand, since most of the US kudos for Hannan’s speech came from people who think he should have also delivered it to Obama.]
[NOTE IV: Hannan, an Oxford graduate, is only 37 years old. He was the youngest Britisher elected to the EP, back in 1999.]