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'American Idol's' Simon Cowell comes out of the conservative closet

Simon_cowell Since I know that my conservative pals are always keeping tabs on such things, they can now get out their lineup cards and enter "American Idol's" always opinionated Simon Cowell on their showbiz conservative team.

Until now, Cowell has appeared largely apolitical, but he's come out with a stirring endorsement of David Cameron for prime minister (via London's conservative tabloid, The Sun) in the big U.K. general election Thursday. 

What makes Cowell's endorsement so intriguing is that, despite his plummy British accent, he's a classic example of an immigrant entrepreneur -- a man who's enjoyed the fruits of America's classless society and is frustrated by England's mass of restrictions and barriers to (noninherited) wealth. It's also interesting that Hollywood is full of people like Cowell who've struck it rich with a great creative notion or a savvy business plan -- and yet the overwhelming majority of them have remained liberals, perhaps because for decades, America's conservative political class has been so unyieldingly hostile to popular culture.

At any rate, Cowell clearly hopes that England, via Tory leaders like Cameron, would emulate America's free-wheeling free enterprise system. As he put it in this condensed version of his endorsement:

Right now it takes twice as long to start a business in the U.K. as it does in the USA. I was recently told that around 40,000 new regulations have been introduced since 1998 -- that's 14 every working day. The problem with this tinkering is the State can stifle and frustrate ambition, rather than encourage entrepreneurs, which is crazy. I believe everyone has the right to be heard and the right to make a better life for themselves. I have seen that the American Dream is a reality -- and I would love to feel the British Dream is also a reality. To enable that, we have to bring back some common sense and make people believe they have a decent chance to build a business or career for themselves.

Some of Cowell's other remarks are pretty laughable, starting with his dismissal of Liberal Democratic candidate Nick Clegg as being a candidate who "is made for T.V.," since all of the politicians vying for prime minister are surrounded 24/7 by political consultants weighing their every move and gesture. (You could argue that Gordon Brown is losing, in large part because he is so grumpy and caustic that he is incapable of coming across well on television.) As for other issues, Cowell also echoes the American conservative complaint that his homeland's legal system is too permissive, saying: "There is a tendency to punish the victim, not the criminal. If someone broke into my house or my mum's house, I worry that the burglar has more rights than me."

I doubt that Cowell's endorsement is going to swing the election for Cameron, who is already leading in virtually every poll. And I'm not sure that voters are going to be swayed by someone who is, to be kind, not exactly a deep thinker. When asked to pick the one book he'd take to a desert island, Cowell unabashedly chose Jackie Collins' "Hollywood Wives," which you could probably argue is, in its own way, another tribute to America's wonderfully classless society. 

But who knows? If England is anything like America, and if Cameron wins handily, maybe there will be the offer of an ambassadorship in Cowell's future. Either way, he's certainly a man who's found a way to make his mark in the world. 

Photo: Simon Cowell arriving at Elton John's Academy Award party earlier this year. Credit: Dan Steinberg / Associated Press 

Comments () | Archives (9)

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Really? England and Britain are not synonymous terms. Get it right or don't report it.

He's a rich, caustic, personality on Fox. Of course, he's a conservative.

It's refreshing to see that someone from "Hollywood" "get's it" and understands why American business has been so successful in comparison to our competitors from other nations. May other readers and "Hollywood types" learn something from his observations and perspective and truly understand what we've been blessed with in this great nation, and why any changes must be contribute to opportunity rather than equality.

@ writer begin quote [As for other issues, Cowell also echoes the American conservative complaint that his homeland's legal system is too permissive, saying: "There is a tendency to punish the victim, not the criminal. If someone broke into my house or my mum's house, I worry that the burglar has more rights than me." ] end quote.
I think Simon Cowell isn't trying to sound like an American conservative here. The British justice system does lean too far toward the attacker and not far enough toward the victim. I believe there was an instances of a peeping tom staring into an actress' window she scared him off by threatening him with a knife she was holding, whilst being inside her kitchen, in her home. The British authorities reprimanded her, because it is illegal to threaten people with dangerous weapons such as knives, in Britain, even under those circumstances.
The reasoning behind that law seems suspect, also Britain, does over-regulate certain things, and does stifle business innovation, this does not mean however, that universal health care is wrong. It just means you can be wrong about some things and right about others.

Mr Goldstein has a fundamental misunderstanding of the British political parties. The Conservative party in Britain would be considered well to the left of the mainstream US Democratic party; Americans who label themselves conservatives would be reviled as reactionaries in Britain.

To equate Simon Cowell's endorsement of David Cameron as coming out of the conservative closet and and by inference placing him in alignment with the small conservative cabal in Hollywood is a false equivalence.

As for America as a classless society, one only need to follow the exploits of Goldman Sachs et al versus the rest of us to know that isn't true. It's not that we don't have a class system (and indeed the US is far better than the UK which is more akin to a caste system), it's just that we're too afriad to discuss it.

That Simon Cowell would be a Tory is no surprise. Seeing him on American Idol reinforces the view that liberals see the world as they wished it to be and conservatives see the world as it is. Simon does not sugar coat the truth as he sees it. No rose-colored glasses for him.

I don't appreciate these journalists injecting their own vaunted opinions into the articles they write. If we are to take what we read seriously any longer, how would we want to view it: Through someone else's eyes or our own? Responsible journalism demands that the writer keep his own bias to himself and prints only the facts. I can't begin to explain how tired I am of seeing big headlines that draw my attention that I when I click on them, it turns out that I'm reading the journalist's opinion and very little fact.

The Los Angeles Times really ought to stop this when weighing in on political matters. This isn't a blog. It's viewed as a public news source. If the writer wants to grace us with his opinion on the people in question, he ought to start a blog and keep his vaunted views to himself.

If Patrick Goldstein is going to venture into discussing non-American politics, he should do a proper job, do some research and get it right.

The British Conservative Party is NOT American conservative, which seems to be the incredibly naive assumption Mr. Goldstein has. Yes, some of the rhetoric overlaps but such rhetoric is not exclusive to the Tories; New Labour has been spouting pro-business catchphrases for 15 years. Ask Crowell what politics he supports, instead of the relying on the label "conservative" which has a vastly different meaning in the UK than the US, and I am confident Cowell supports policies that would get him burned in effigy at a Republican convention. Policies such as state-provided national health care. Almost every party in British - Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem, Greens - supports the National Health Service. Strict gun control that bans the private sale and possession of guns? The Conservative Party in the UK supports that. In terms of actual ideology, the Conservative Party has more in common with the US Democratic Party than the Republican Party.

Interesting to see Simon swinging toward the right. I would have guessed him to be slightly left of center. BTW, I wouldn't discount his intellect based on an obviously facetious comment. This is a very, very smart, savvy man. He didn't get to where he is being anyone's dummy.


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