The desk I christened ‘The Politics Desk’ four years ago is gone now. Having spent over a year waterboarding myself in deep pools of information, speculation, hearsay, rumour, reportage, and opinion polls for the noble cause of ‘political journalism,’ it was engulfed in the flames of a bonfire and promptly melted. Turns out it wasn’t as wooden as the laminate made it look.
Four years later, and I’m christening a new desk under orders of an editor who wants me to embark on the whole freakish carnival ride again.
In early 2007 I predicted that Barack Obama would win not just the Democratic nomination, but the main event. I was eventually proved right, and I feel this gives me a certain legitimacy when it comes to these matters. It was of course largely wild speculation, but based on a strong grasp of the wild speculation in the more respected media.
And now that strange carnival starts up again. Early days… the calm before the storm… the days when I can still go outside without begging strangers for the latest headlines out of the Iowa primaries like a shameless junkie. It’s too late now… it feels like the Obama story is only half finished and the American right is too crazed and fervent to ignore. The Tea Party Movement is made up of the worst people in the world… like an internet comment board come to life and baring placards. But they are twenty-four carat TV gold.
There is also the frightening possibility that they could win. The economy is in a mess… it’s not Obama’s fault, but he’ll do for a scapegoat. Even some Democrats are disappointed with Obama. I feel this is largely their own fault for building the man into some sort of Superman… only to discover the mild mannered Clark Kent. He’ll need more than rhetoric this time out…
At the moment I’m wildly speculating that the Republicans will make a foul choice with their nomination that will alienate anyone other than the conservative core of America. I am fairly certain it will not be Palin, already a national joke and an electoral liability. Her protégé, O’Donnell— the one who isn’t a witch— is even more of an embarrassment. Both are poster girls for the Tea Party Movement but even the GOP knows it needs some substance behind its man. It doesn’t matter if that substance is toxic waste, just so long as it’s there.
At the moment it’s looking like Rick Perry of Texas. He waited a while before entering the race, and until then claimed he wasn’t going to run. He looks like Bush, sounds like Bush, but his policies are possibly more evil and built on the shaky foundations of lies and half-truths. He also has more charm and grace than Bush. He is, much like Reagan was, a religious zealot. It works for the GOP, who would probably vote for Reagan again if they could. It is dangerous for everyone else. His campaign is going to be built on the success of the Texan economy… business is booming… whilst food relief trucks line the streets to feed the secret starving they don’t mention in the brochures.
It is a somewhat false economy. Their unemployment is lower, but a lot of those people are on minimum wage and unable to afford the cost of living. The apparent ‘boom’ comes from the arrival of big businesses on the promise of tax breaks in a state which has changed legislation to make it harder for big business to be taken to court. These businesses are expected to fund Perry’s campaign.
It is also now widely know now that Perry slashed the Texas education budget exactly in half. Presumably he was tired of the false stereotype that all Texans are uneducated hicks and it was just easier to change the facts than perceptions…
Things look grim. The truth about Perry is horrifying, but truth doesn’t really matter in these issues. The only real hope is that some other political gargoyle will step forth embodying all that is wrong with the extreme political right and driving the Tea Party into a rabid frenzy. The GOP, under the belief that the Tea Party are a large, cohesive, and powerful voice, will bow to their crazed demands to nominate Senator Gargoyle. It will not matter that the Tea Party are in fact the loudest squawking minority who are less a cohesive unit and more several divided factions of racists and morons of varying degrees of repulsiveness. Essentially, they will nominate someone so purely evil that Obama will start looking like Jesus Christ again.
The 2008 election night was a slow crashing comedown. By about midnight it was just a matter of waiting for McCain to concede— the most eloquent moment of his entire campaign— and excitement was sought in trying to find somewhere good to drink celebratory beers as the final results came in. Both the student university bars at the University of Essex were full of foul degenerates mostly taking advantage of the bars staying open until 5am… the politics faculty lounge was full of strange sober nerds who appeared to be playing some sort of electoral bingo… finally I found a friend with a TV in his dorm… and as the quiet rolled in and the excitement wore off we both drifted off in our chairs.
I have a feeling 2012 will be a more even fight… we will be psyching ourselves up for what could prove to be an ugly bar room brawl… a nasty cocktail of adrenaline, whiskey, and pure fear. The only true comparison will be the Ali-Foreman fight in Kinshasa… an ugly slugfest in the cold November rain… those sitting ringside may well become drenched in blood and sweat whilst I sit watching in the cold comfort of the so-called politics desk, sipping bourbon and baying for blood…