- The Washington Times - Monday, June 5, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Hallelujah. An exceptionally entertaining and intelligent Sunday evening program — “The Next Revolution” — has debuted on the Fox News network. A blued-eyed bald man in T-shirt and sport coat is the host.

His name is Steve Hilton.

Though he comes equipped with a comprehensible and not the least off-putting British accent — no mean feat in my experience — and was a senior adviser to former conservative United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron, who was not shall we say a Margaret Thatcher conservative, Mr. Hilton says “we” when talking about Americans and America, and sounds like he resides somewhere on the American right — precise address there unknown and perhaps unknowable.

He was for the U.K. giving the finger to the European Union; Mr. Cameron was not. And although President Trump and Mr. Hilton were Brexit bros, how much else they agree on, including the meaning of the populism they both embrace — Mr. Hilton explicitly, the president implicitly — will be fun to discover. It will, however, take careful attention because Mr. Hilton doesn’t talk in the clichés and platitudes peculiar to the right, yet he seems to run on some high-test grade of conservatism.

And here’s what made my heart skip a beat. He doesn’t interrupt his guests when they’re responding to his well-thought-out questions — at least not this first time out. He or his producer at Fox selected as guests people capable of speaking well-thought-out answers. If he keeps this up, it could be the riveting television so many conservatives have long been starved for. His show was, on its first Sunday, substantive and civilized.

Just as refreshing, it wasn’t the politics-enthralled TV host gunning the engine of his ego.

Maybe it’s because I so desperately wanted this to be the case, but this fellow Hilton actually came across as having the brains and knowledge to get reasonably close to achieving his show’s stated aim: to examine the state and impact of what he and others see as a populist movement in the U.S. and abroad.

I gather that populism for him means governance based on what working men and women want and not what bankers, regulators and politicians want for themselves. Mr. Hilton thinks what’s good for working people, not for Goldman Sachs, is good for America. He is not anti-Trump but won’t play the sycophant either, or so I infer.

One regular portion of his show every Sunday night for as long as it lasts will be a look at how well, if at all, the president is living up to his promise to drain the swamp.

Building a Sunday prime-time show around a perceived populist trend in the world is ballsy on his part and especially on the part of Fox’s management. Fox News is no longer king of the viewership mountain. While there’s evidence of populism erupting in various spots on the planet, including the United States and the United Kingdom, remember that a few short years ago we all saw clear signs of a pan-Arab spring bursting forth. The Arab Renaissance was nigh upon us.

Mr. Hilton’s debut in the aftermath of the London Bridge attack dissected Muslim terrorism rather than Trump populism. What was particularly refreshing is that he presented us with guests who had the smarts and experience to discuss Mr. Hilton’s questions about the subject and how concretely to contain this religious-irredentist-revanchist terrorism and perhaps eradicate it.

Killing individuals after they carry out murders in the name of Allah is an indicator that the civilized world is losing the war on terrorism, not winning it. We’re losing it in large part because, presidential rhetoric aside, there is no discernible strategy for winning. Mr. Hilton appears to get that.

Discussing what I predict will be the very unpleasant realities of the causes of Islamists’ acts and equally unpleasant possible cures will take a level of adult conversation that will be unique to television and mark the long-awaited fulfillment of the medium’s potential.

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