Monday 15 September 2008

We're All Living In America

I have a question: Is there some kind of election going on in the United States at the moment? I’m just curious because British news has now relegated the trials and tribulations of our Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, to a supporting slot. Instead, headline news in the United Kingdom seems to consist of four people from America making speech after speech after speech after speech.

Who are these people? Why should I, as a resident of England, need to listen to their petty political bickering?

Well I shall answer these questions in this post for the benefit of my fellow countrymen.

The protagonists are:

Barack Obama, Joe Biden, John McCain and Sarah Palin.

So who are they?

Barack Obama is the first ever African American to be nominated for president. He is the Democrat party presidential candidate and has a smile that could blind an entire Republican convention. At the tender age of 47 he is considered by many to be the new JFK – that doesn’t mean he is taking over an airport in New York. He seems to have a thing for pigs that wear lipstick.

John McCain is the Republican party candidate. He is a little older than Barack Obama and he is of course white. That’s wrong – he is much older than Obama. And you’ll never guess what – he is a war hero. That’s right, he was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for five and a half years, something he doesn’t like to talk about at all and in no way would he use this for political gain. He should be enjoying his retirement.

Joe Biden is Barack Obama’s running mate and he is not Hilary Clinton. Who is he then? He comes from Scranton, the town famous (at least in the UK) for “The Office: An American Workplace” – for my fellow Brits, that is the American equivalent of our very own “The Office” – it is very funny.

Sarah Palin is from Alaska. She is 44 years of age and is John McCain’s running mate. Apparently she thinks that she is a pit bull with lipstick. She likes hunting and is a creationist. She’s not bad looking actually and I’m sure that John McCain hasn’t selected her just for that reason. He did, after all, meet her once.

Why should I as a resident of England listen to their political bickering?

I do not know why the BBC and ITV media choose to make these people headline news. Not content with listening to Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton tearing strips out of each other for most of 2008, we now have to suffer Barack Obama and John McCain with the other two chipping in.

I just want to hear the outcome. Why not just let us know in November? I know that Americans are fiercely patriotic and this comes to the fore when American politicians rally support. In the UK we are more subtle about it. In America we hear quotes like:

Barack Obama: “My friends we live in the greatest nation in the history of the world. I hope you’ll join with me as we try to change it”

John McCain: “I'm going to fight to make sure every American has every reason to thank God, as I thank Him: that I'm an American, a proud citizen of the greatest country on earth.”

Personally I prefer the fun quotes when these guys are caught off guard:

Barack Obama: “I’ve now been in 57 states – I think one left to go”

John McCain: “Thanks for the question, you little jerk” (when asked by a student if he was too old to be president).

John McCain: "[Sarah Palin] knows more about energy than probably anyone else in the United States of America. ... And, uh, she also happens to represent, be governor of a state that's right next to Russia.”

Barack Obama: "Let me introduce to you the next President -- the next Vice President of the United States of America, Joe Biden."

In the UK, we mock our politicians mercilessly. I would like to hope that Americans do as well. From what I’ve seen of the speeches, there is enough material to keep satirists busy for the years to come.

From my own standpoint, I would vote for Barack Obama if I were American simply because I fear more of the same from John McCain. George W Bush is not popular in the UK. But despite being elected twice (what were you thinking guys?) I will miss him as president – but only because of his flawless ability to make gaffe after gaffe after gaffe when speaking. It is very scary that this man has been so powerful for the last eight years.

Here are some of my favourites:

"We spent a lot of time talking about Africa, as we should. Africa is a nation that suffers from incredible disease."

“You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test.''

"I know what I believe. I will continue to articulate what I believe and what I believe — I believe what I believe is right."

"I wish you'd have given me this written question ahead of time so I could plan for it…I'm sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference, with all the pressure of trying to come up with answer, but it hadn't yet….I don't want to sound like I have made no mistakes. I'm confident I have. I just haven't — you just put me under the spot here, and maybe I'm not as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one."

"There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again."

And my all time favourite:

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

I will finish off by saying that I love America. I have visited the country many times.

New York is a fabulous city and my heart went out to the US on September 11th 2001. Mrs PM and I spent a delightful New Year there in 1999 and my only regret was not going to the top of the incredible World Trade Center. My fear of heights got the better of me on that occasion, sadly. I’ve been to New Orleans, Washington DC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta, Miami, Orlando, Williamsburg and of course, the centre of the gambling universe, Las Vegas itself. I have loved every place, including less obvious cities like Tulsa and Cleveland.

I will visit America again – Hawaii is on my list and I would love to go to places like Boston and Seattle.

I have been made welcome in every single place and had deep and meaningful conversations with many Americans, when on business and on holiday, sorry, vacation.

That said, I do dislike the hype that surrounds the American elections. It is more like a stage performance than an election. I will be glad when it is over and when we can begin to see British stories when the news starts again. As a proud British citizen I regard my own country as the greatest in the world - mainly because we have the ability to laugh at ourselves, we have silly town names like Sheepscar, Catbrain, Netherwallop and Wetwang and we do not take ourselves seriously.

Good luck to all US candidates and let’s hope Barack Obama makes history. I will see you on my next visit across the pond.

I’m off to watch the news now to learn more about the cosmetics used by pigs and pit bulls.


Anonymous said...

The bit about Obama and the 57 states was a joke. Obama really has a good sense of humor.

Our history has much to do with our national pride - although I think it is stupid to say we're the best country when we are not. We should all just co-exist rather than one having to be better than another, really.

Next, let me introduce you to the other side of America that doesn't make it to your media systems. Please click me.

Additionally, I can assure you that there are more people that hate American IN America compared to the rest of the world. Trust me. I've lived here for 40 years.

Also, GWD did not get elected twice. Only once. Have you ever learned about how the electoral system of voting works in America? The popular vote doesn't count! Al Gore genuinely won in 2000. And do keep in mind that 48% DID vote for Kerry back in 2004. Pretty close, but nonetheless, we protested, cried, and yelled much louder and with more passion than another another country.

That is so true. American elections ARE like a stage performance. It really troubles me. I am going to blog about that soon.

That's great you went to Miami. I was born and raised there. It's also nice to hear that you had a good time here.

You also have a very good sense of humor. :)

But don't get your hopes up about Obama winning. There are too many stupid Americans in love with Palin. :( Yes, THESE are the stupid Americans.

Anonymous Thinker said...

"From what I’ve seen of the speeches, there is enough material to keep satirists busy for the years to come."

Quite so. And I expect they will be busy for the next few years. :)

Anonymous said...

That's odd to hear that our politics are being covered on your news ahead of your own Prime Minister. I hope they haven't been covering it there as long as it's gone on here. This stuff has been going on so long that it's ridiculous. I can't wait until this thing is over and there's finally a new president and Bush will be gone. I'm sure you all in the UK will like whoever is elected better than Bush. Haha.

Anonymous said...

Nice post. Boston is a nice city---quaint and with a lot of history. The one thing that sucks there, the dizzying curved freeways and the one-way streets. My hubby is from Boston.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Thanks for the comments folks.

I wonder - is Sarah Palin related to Michael?