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Wednesday, November 05, 2008
The end of an era in the USA

I have followed enough US elections to recognize this one as something quite momentous. Others have commented about the end of the racism era - I'm not sure they're right, though – but there's another massive change, too. If we compare him to much-loved presidents like Nixon (crooked), Carter (disengaged), Reagan (vacuous), Clinton (impractical), George Bush Snr, (patrician), and The Shrub (chump), Obama presents an extraordinary contrast.

Many years ago, I had the good fortune to be in St Paul's Cathedral to hear Martin Luther King give (one of) his 'I have a dream' speeches. I remember wondering if I would live to see his dream come true. Now that it has, I can only welcome the return of American good sense: electing a person for his character, thoughtfulness, and judgement, rather than for his amiableness (by all accounts, The Shrub is an amiable chump). Nevertheless, I wonder why it is that so many Americans are frightened of knowledge and would rather vote for a 'patriot' (McCain) or 'an amiable chump' than someone as clearly able as Kerry or so engaging as Obama.

There were many reasons for Obama's success; some of it, at least, is attributable to humour. Here's an extract from How satire changed the course of history
Then, something truly astonishing occurred. Tina Fey, the lantern-jawed alumnus of Saturday Night Live, and creator of the critically esteemed sitcom 30 Rock, made a return visit to Saturday Night Live and began doing a dead-on impersonation of McCain's gee-whiz, aw-shucks running mate, Sarah Palin. Her send-up of the intellectually anaemic Alaskan was seen by countless millions on YouTube and soon became the No1 topic of conversation in America
One always wondered why Bush and his crew hadn't been laughed out of office long ago. However, the choice of Sarah Palin, in an attempt to appeal to the 'knowledge is a dirty word' crew, may ultimately have backfired. Read this article to get the long list of other, unconventional, and mostly satirical/ironic big guns that brought about the Republican debacle.

I am aware of a few only: several times I watched Obama being interviewed by Jon Stewart on The Daily Show before a very partisan, supportive audience. Obama came across as likeable, amiable, thoughtful, and highly intelligent. He was the first American politician I had heard, during the campaign, refer to the need for good judgement. Remarkable.

To return to the humorous and ironic* nature of recent events, here are some suggestions how The Shrub might now be gainfully employed. Perhaps I'd prefer if the choice were to be appropriately adapted from One Hundred Uses for a Dead Cat, though.

*And may we please hear less about Americans not understanding irony? Here's a brilliant article from The Onion: Struggling Lower-Class Still Unsure How Best To F*** Selves With Vote

If that isn't irony, my name's not Dick Cheney.

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