Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Let's talk elections...

From now until the run up to the U.S elections I'm going to start expanding the blog to write from time to time regarding my views. I just found this article in the sundaytimes and though it well worth reading.

Poached from here.

McCain is Superman, Palin is Clark Kent

Alaska’s governor is crusty senator’s critique of US electorate, writes Antony Altbeker

Anyone who has been following the US elections will know that one of the great unanswered questions is: “What was John McCain thinking when he tapped Sarah Palin to be his vice?”.

Pundits of every shape and size have tried to answer this question.

She appeals to religious conservatives, we’re told, so she energises his party. She appeals to women, we’re told, so she might bring in former Hillary Clinton supporters. She’s a hockey mom, we’re told, whose folksiness and forthrightness appeals to independents. She’s a maverick, we’re told, so she reinforces the idea that a crusty 72-year-old with 26 years of Washington-time under his belt will be some kind of radical reformer.

The common denominator with all these descriptions about Palin is that she was chosen not because she is qualified to be president of the US — if Jeb Bartlett were dead, he’d turn over in his grave at the thought — but that she brings something to the Republican ticket that McCain alone does not.

Another way of saying the same thing is that Palin is a reflection of what John McCain thinks he needs to win the election.

Well, everyone likes to win, so there’s no shame in that. But there is yet another way of making the same point, and it came to me while watching Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Vol 2.

At the end of that film Bill injects Kiddo, his ex-lover, the mother of his child, and the ninja who is about to fulfil the promise of the film’s title, with truth serum. Before it takes effect, however, and in a quintessentially irrelevant Tarantino moment, Bill lectures her about the mythology of comic books.

A staple of superhero mythology, Bill explains, is that the superhero is the alter ego of an ordinary man: Batman is really Bruce Wayne, Spiderman is really Peter Parker. So, when Peter Parker wakes up in the morning, he’s Peter Parker. He has to put on a costume to become the superhero.

This is not the case with Superman, though.

“Superman,” Bill says, “ didn’t become Superman. He was born Superman. When he wakes up in the morning, he’s Superman.”

Unlike all the other comic book heroes, it isn’t Superman that is the alter ego, it is Clark Kent: “What Kent wears — the glasses, the business suit — that’s the costume. That’s the costume Superman wears to blend in with us. Clark Kent is how Superman views us.”

“And what are the characteristics of Clark Kent?” he asks rhetorically: “He’s weak. He’s unsure of himself. He’s a coward.

“Clark Kent,” Bill concludes, “is Superman’s critique on the whole human race.”

Well, that is what I think of Sarah Palin: she’s John McCain’s critique of the American electorate.

As far as he’s concerned, Americans want as their president someone who is shamelessly incurious and unblinkingly certain of themselves. Someone, in other words, blessed with the unthinking omniscience of the kind that only the truly stupid possess.

That is what McCain thinks the US electorate wants. And, if he’s right — if that is the kind of person who stands the best chance of winning elections in the most powerful country in the world, then the standard trope of the American politician — “God bless America” — will prove hopelessly inadequate.

He’ll have to bless us all.

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