Sunday, September 09, 2012

Ian Williams

by Ian Williams
Sunday, September 9th, 2012
Talk about culture shock. After a summer spent in London, I returned to the United States from the content-free closing ceremony of the Olympics in time to witness the opening of the Republican National Convention. In its own way, it was a miracle. Once upon a time, I wouldn’t have crossed a back alley to hear George Michael sing – indeed I’d have run across a crowded motorway to avoid it.
But, after watching with eyes saucer-like in disbelief as Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan spoke, I became retrospectively fond of the faded pop star. George had not issued one word of a lie, whereas the guys in Tampa were the Web 3.0 of dissimulation. Not only was every single statement mendacious, even the definite articles had lies in hypertext.
I’d thought that the Olympic closing ceremony was an outstandingly well-choreographed fantasia of fluff, the International Olympic Committee’s apology to the world for making people think with the opening. But it was steeped in portentous meaning compared with the events in Tampa, as the god of storms hovered undecidedly offshore wondering whether to sweep the lot into the sea with Hurricane Isaac. I presume the deity forbore more out of consideration for the marine environment than from mercy for this cabal of fundamentally evil people and their dupes.
First, British readers must disabuse themselves of “false friends” – the spurious similarities. An American political convention – from whichever party – makes even a New Labour conference seem like anarchist riot (but was an object of emulation for Tony Blair and company when they saw one in operation).
An American convention is nothing but a carefully scripted media event in which the delegates are drafted in as extras. But this one, famously, had one moment of unscripted spontaneity and Clint Eastwood’s angry soliloquy with an empty chair was symbolic of a party where dementia is now endemic.
I have never overcome my distaste for Michael Moore in Bowling for Columbine scoring points over an ailing Charlton Heston, which made me almost as angry as the National Rifle Association abusing the hero of Ben Hur and Soylent Green. But what possessed the Grand Old Party to have Eastwood inarticulately abusing the chair for not finishing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?
Where was George W Bush, the man who started those wars (with a little help from Blair)? He has disappeared down an Orwellian memory hole, along with his part in the financial crisis. To be fair, in the disappearing act, even his belatedly positive acts to rescue the economy have also evanesced into Republican limbo.
Since they involved government action to help the economy, which is anathema to the deranged cultists now dominating the GOP, responsibility for two terms of Bush has now been shifted onto Barack Obama!
So, to combat the false friends thing. Most Democratic politicians in the US are far to the right of the Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition. The Republicans are in another universe entirely, which last had contact with our world when the weird bunch of cultists set off in the Mayflower.
They are not alone in being in extra-territorial orbit. So-called American leftists prefer Ron Paul, who makes Paul Ryan sound like a democratic socialist, and are discussing ways to defeat Obama.
The President is a centrist politician with compromise steeped in his marrowbones. But a victory for a diehard neo-liberal Catholic social conservative, allied with a completely unprincipled billionaire who is a leading member of a weird cult that thinks American Indians are the lost tribe of Israel should give even the most demented leftist pause for thought.
One hates to use the terminology, but those who don’t vote for Obama are objective allies of all the racists blowing dog-whistles for rednecks, the antediluvian conservatives still fighting a rearguard action against the New Deal and the religious bigots trying to rekindle the fires of Salem.
I cheered when Danny Boyle’s finger to Romney and hymn to the National Health Service opened the Olympics. If Romney and Ryan win, Britain needs to offer political asylum to any American with an IQ above a 100.

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