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The Gun, the Bible and the MILF
By Anthony Leahy
As a biased observer of the US Presidential election campaign, I have watched with joy as the Republican party has inevitably reverted to type and perpetuated the kind of misguided bigotry known to afflict the congenitally stupid (George W Bush) and those who should know better (everyone who voted for George W Bush).
I breathed a sigh of relief as Romney (Mormon nut) and Huckerby (Baptist nut bank-rolled by Chuck Norris) fell by the wayside as John McCain secured the Republican nomination. For a brief moment, it almost appeared that the Republican Party had dispensed with its usual bad habits.
I used to have a lot of time for John McCain. His undisguised contempt for the religious right was hardly a source of undiluted rapture for the branch of the Republican Party expecting to spontaneously ascend into heaven at the whim of the ‘Lord our God’.
Not afraid to appear out of step with the prevailing view of his party, McCain was almost tolerable despite his political affiliation. He was, dare I say it, a touch ‘liberal’ in his leanings.
Unfortunately, for some unknown reason, John McCain decided during his campaign to dispense with common sense (a bit like the time the Viet Cong offered to rescind his POW status but he decided that torture, subsistence rations and psychological torture were preferable alternatives to freedom).
By becoming more of a ‘Party Man’ he appears – at least at the time of writing – to have reduced his chances to somewhere between slim and none.
Like a seasoned statesman, McCain has displayed the kind of intuitive grasp of diplomacy that has been so lacking over the past 8 years. "Russia has now become a nation fuelled by petro-dollars and has basically become a KGB apparatchik-run government. I looked in Mr. Putin's eyes and I saw three letters -- a K, a G and B," said McCain in the first presidential debate. If this was a comment designed to build bridges between America and Russia at a tense time in relations, starting off with a can of petrol and a liberal amount of matches probably wasn’t wise.
Foreign policy gaffes aside, one of the few redeeming features of his campaign has been the choice of Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential running mate.
Sarah Palin: attractive, feisty, probably a lot of fun after a reasonable amount of alcohol. Despite being a card-carrying member of the Labour Party, I would happily teach Mrs. Palin about sins of the flesh (none of which involve chilli sauce and salad).
Ok, she believes that the war in Iraq was sanctioned by God, that man is largely blame-less for global warming and that “gosh” and “darn” are acceptable additions to the English language, but nobody is perfect.
Undeniably the most attractive US Vice Presidential candidate I can remember (although, to be fair, there's not a whole lot of competition there) she has brought a touch of glamour to proceedings. Can I be the first to say that, in a non-PC sense, her inability to make a single cogent argument stand up adds to her attractiveness (I know what you’re thinking, Dan Quayle was even less able to string two thoughts together. Should I fancy him and does that make me gay??)
According to Palin, Alaska's proximity to Russia apparently means her grasp of geo-politics is up there with Kissenger's. To the sneering, intellectual snob (e.g. every rational nation other than the USA), it’s hard not to think that her suggestion is a bit like saying that because you live next to a bank you're well placed to resolve the global financial crisis. The woman is a complete idiot and I defy anyone who says otherwise.
A close second (in terms of intellectual agility) has to be “Joe the plumber”. So obviously a Republican plant, Joe has become a rallying point for every right-wing fanatic bent on exposing Obama’s unscrupulous plans for turning America Socialist.
If owing $1200 in back taxes and thinking plumbers earn $280,000 a year is indicative of working class heroism, I think I’ll stick to investing my hopes and dreams in something slightly more cynical. The problem is that Joe the plumber may well become a historical icon if McCain manages to pull off a victory against the (apparent) odds.
I doubt this election will yield the drama that surrounded GWB’s first victory, but it has certainly reaffirmed my view that the Republicans are beyond reform and that the Democrats have a perpetual desire to lose (if race doesn’t do for Obama then his distinctly northern, urban liberal appeal will).
Image, spin and huge sums of money have been the dominant themes of this election campaign. Substance has been sacrificed in favour of managed events and the sacrifice of principle. The disappointing aspect of all this is that the extremes of the past 8 years stand a good chance of persisting beyond their promised tenure.
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