Okay, so let’s turn our attention to the States, and the endless presidential election, now in its convention period. And isn’t it amazing how everyone is the candidate of change and reform, even the ruling party candidate?
So, this week we’ve had the Democrats in Denver, and as expected their candidate, Irish-American senator Barack O’Bama, put on a show worthy of Freddie Mercury in his pomp. And in a football stadium, forbye.
But it’s been interesting to see the two candidates’ picks for the vice-presidential slot. As Michael Moore was saying a little while ago, so useless are the Dems at elections (Al Gore even managing to win the election and still not become president) that O’Bama could quite plausibly have picked a retired general, or a Republican. Which would not have won over any actual Republicans, but would have pissed off his base no end. Instead, he’s picked Irish-American senator Joe Finnegan Biden, a conservative Democrat who has been in the Senate seemingly forever, a reliable ally of any corporation that wants legislation sponsored, and a former supporter of the Iraq invasion. Way to go, Barack! Although I suppose the demands of a balanced ticket required that the VP slot go to an old white dude. This, by the way, is yet another illustration of just how radical O’Bama is prepared to be, as if the presence of Zbigniew Brzezinski as his foreign policy guru wasn’t enough of a clue.
And today all the focus has been on the Republicans, who already have an old white dude, Irish-American senator and Civil War veteran John McCain, as their presidential candidate. Left to their own devices, the Republicans could easily have picked a second old white dude. I personally was hoping for McCain’s closest political friend, Sen. Joe Lieberman, just so the two could do a re-enactment of Grumpy Old Men. But the speculation had centered around Mormon tycoon Mitt Romney, and several conservative men in suits from the rectangular states.
And then McCain, as is his wont, throws us a curve ball. Republican pollsters have evidently impressed on their doddering candidate that he needed youth on the ticket. (This would make their attacks on O’Bama’s inexperience more difficult to sustain, but then McCain’s age and health have considerable negative potential.) And, such has been the bitterness amongst the Dems that the McCain camp evidently reckon they could picked up some bitter Clintonites. But hmm, the Republican Party is not exactly heaving with youngish, presentable women. And so they have turned to an almost complete unknown, the rookie governor of Alaska, moose-shooting milf Sarah Palin.
This is almost stunningly transparent in its cynicism. While Clinton herself is far from being a fire-breathing liberal, her female supporters generally are quite liberal, and very pro-choice. Palin is not only anti-choice, but crazily anti-choice. And, as far as I can see, on just about every count she’s more conservative than McCain by far. As well as being just as strident a supporter of Big Oil as McCain, which may not play well in an election where energy will be central. Will Hillary supporters be swayed by Palin, simply because of her gender? I’m sure a few might, but if that’s the case in any numbers it will surely make the point that American politics today are more about the optics and the demographics than actual policy.
You never know, this may turn out to be an inspired choice on McCain’s part. But I have the sneaking feeling that his curve ball may curve back on him, like one of those Australian wooden frisbees.
Rud eile: just for a moment, may I express my irritation at the news media. Of course, we know the media are neophiliacs, which is probably a big reason for why O’Bama has got such an easy ride, once he had established his newness as a narrative. In the British media, by far the worst offender has been the Grauniad, which has apparently decided that its readers really need six articles on O’Bama every day. But now something even newer and shinier has spun into view. And today on the BBC news it’s been all, “Sarah Palin! Whoo! She’s young! She’s female! She’s new! She’s eye candy!” Which is fine for a little while, but after several hours you start to wonder where the substance is. And isn’t Justin Webb supposed to be providing analysis?
More good comment, as always, over at Cedar Lounge.
Update 30.08.08: May I recommend to readers this take on affairs from way up in Alaska itself.