Tag Archives: presidential election

Try a little bitterness

One thing that has always impressed me about the American political system is the idea that the presidential campaign is a no-holds-barred battle for the hearts and minds of the US people, but once the votes have been counted (or recounted, or argued over in court), politicians and people unite behind the selected President. It’s a noble ideal that puts the country above party politics, and recognises that the President needs the support of those of all different political persuasions in order to be effective. And a long distance from the British system, which sees the sniping and undermining begin shortly after the new Prime Minister has finished his first egg and soldiers breakfast at 10 Downing Street.

As it turns out, the ideal and the reality are as far apart as Sarah Palin and ‘the ability to string a coherent sentence together’. Whether it’s his selection for attorney general, or his plans for tighter controls on the economy, the soon-to-be-President will by now have realised not only that the honeymoon’s over, but that his new family is apparently packed full of characters like crazy Uncle Bert and vindictive step-cousin Michelle.

The problem is, of course, that some people are sore losers, and it’ll take more than a few calls for national unity to get them to pick up the toys scattered around their metaphorical pram.

But while British losers tend to keep their mouths firmly shut for fear of coming across as bitter, it seems as if some people over here don’t care if people know they backed the wrong horse, however ridiculous it makes them sound.

Last week, the New York Young Republican’s Club held one of their last meetings prior to Obama’s inauguration on January 20. Seizing their opportunity to show that at least they weren’t the only ones to support John McCain, the New York Post gleefully reported on the sentiments of the young right wingers who think that the country got it wrong.

23-year-old Cathy Reno, for example, commented “I’m trying to savor the last days of capitalism” as she “bitterly sipped a three olive martini.” Presumably Daddy’s funds weren’t hit by the Madoff scandal, then? Jeff Miller, two years older but not two years wiser, said that he feared “a gross overreaction to the current economic issue,” and was “divesting all his equity before the capital gains tax goes up.” Poor old Jeff.

Villamor Asuncion showed that Dick Cheney can be a role model for young people, with his comment that he was “hiding all [his] guns where Barry can’t find them.” I assume that disheartened Villamor was referencing Barack Obama’s high school nickname, rather than expressing any latent fear that his munitions stockpile would disappear into Mr Manilow’s Bermuda Triangle.

Finally, grad student (possibly in knitting, rather than international diplomacy) Michael Pocelinko agreed with Villamor, saying “I’m buying as many guns as possible, and I’m enjoying the last days of national security while I can.” One can only hope that he’s heading off to his deep bunker in Idaho to see out the next foureight years.

So, while the champagne corks (to be fair, it could be Sprite given the economic crisis) pop across America next week, spare a thought for the disheartened few in New York who will be working themselves up into a sweat come Tuesday. After all, that arsenal of ammunition and firepower won’t hide itself.

Out with the old, in with the new. Eventually.

I haven’t passed comment on the election since the historic events of November 4. After all, I don’t even have the vote, let alone an inside track on the political machinations that led to the Democrats winning Virginia, so sometimes it’s just best to keep quiet. All I can say is that I stayed up on a sofa in Brixton until 5.15am watching events unfold thousands of miles away, and went to bed happy in the knowledge that America had given itself a new start.

But after an interminably long election process that seemed to begin shortly after Bush robbeddemocratically defeated John Kerry in 2004, we’re now faced with two and a half months of sitting around waiting for the dawn to break. It’s like ordering a sofa for a brand new house, then having to sit on the floor for nine weeks while you wait for it to be delivered. Call me old fashioned, but since when were the supply chain problems of Sofa Workshop a good model for the democratic process?

In the meantime, The Squinty Little Man With The Former President For A Dad gets to experience a lame duck session as he goes through his cupboards to find all those weird scrappy bits of legislation he’d forgotten about over the last eight years. Any suggestions that lame ducks should be shot to put them out of their misery is not for this blog, thank you very much.

Of course, if the experience of the Clintons is anything to go by, he’ll have his beady eyes on some souvenirs from the Oval Office as he starts packing up his boxes. Although given that George Bush Jr (as he apparently hates to be called) has spent more time on holidayvacation than any other President in living memory, one of his aides will first probably have to point out where the Oval Office is.

The sadness is that by having this weird interregnum, America is denied one of the great delights of the British political system. Every time a Prime Minister loses an election, or is forced out of office by his own party, they’ve essentially got to get out of 10 Downing Street that day to make room for the new arrival. Nothing brings a politician back down to earth quicker than the arrival of a removals truck with a few hundred boxes to be filled full of tin sculptures (gifts from the Mongolian government) and framed pictures of the family standing with Bono and Richard Curtis.

Rumours that Gordon Brown was spotted picking up packing tape and bubble wrap at the weekend could not be confirmed at time of going to press.