If there is something to be gained from the mess that is US politics, it is that ours may not look so bad after all.
About three quarters of a year of cripplingly expensive bullshit and division will eventually produce two candidates. The parties have let the system get out of control. They have committed themselves to having democratically selected candidates. The English Labour Party did that too, and we know the results. That is a bad case of preferring logic to experience.
The position with the Republicans would be comical, if it were not so serious – even to us down here. Senator Cruz went, I think, to Princeton and Harvard, and is a member of the United States Senate. He is running for President of the US representing the Republican Party. With those cast-iron Establishment credentials, he claims to be against the Establishment. The truth is that the Establishment is against him. The Republicans hate him more than Democrats do.
Donald Trump has no policies at all. He just shouts slogans and mantras and offers nostrums. He is the ultimate Twitter age politician – full of loud, clipped bullshit of the required number of characters. The last thing that you could describe Trump as is a Conservative politician. He is in the populist mode and style of Mussolini. There is an epic quality to his bullshit.
So, the Republican Party is looking at a possible choice between a radical ideologue it hates and a populist who is not a Conservative. Perhaps it is time the Republicans ask themselves whether their brand of conservatism – that is minimal legislative intervention – is what a majority of the American people want in the year of Our Lord 2016. Trump is willing to intervene everywhere, and there does not appear to be much appetite for the Tea Party minimalism of Cruz. Perhaps also the party might drag itself out of the 19th century and have a platform, a leader, and some policies.
There are many nightmare possibilities for the rest of the world. If Trump were to do the impossible and become the President, who would receive Frau Merkel? In The Australian on Saturday, Emma-Kate Symons had a piece indicting the US press for not being critical enough of the family connection.
Trump is currently sporting a third wife. He has got a daughter called Ivanka. She is pregnant. Trump says ‘if Ivanka wasn’t my daughter perhaps I might be dating her.’ Well, why not add incest to the holy cows available for slaughter? The journalist criticises serious outlets such as Bloomberg and Yahoo for running puff pieces with headlines like ‘Ivanka with her bump stumps up for Papa Trump’. The reason the press is so soft is that they are scared of Trump and of being locked out.
But if you want to know who might greet Frau Merkel, this is what Emma–Kate says:
The rise of Trump can be traced to multiple factors in the dysfunctional US political system. It is among other things, the tale of an opportunistic, celebrity-seeking Alpha male paradoxically hanging off the stilettos of the clever model women around him: Number 1 campaigner, heiress, ex-model and Trump corporate senior executive Ivanka and his third wife, the Slovenian-born former catwalk habitué, Melania.
Yet, despite their tactical importance and role in legitimising Trump when it comes to women and immigrants, Trump’s leading ladies are apparently off-limits when it comes to fearless scrutiny by US media.
Take this week’s cringeworthy exclusive interview at home with Melania Trump in her Fifth Avenue Manhattan ‘Versailles-style’ gilded penthouse by the supposedly liberal but in reality star-struck and access-obsessed MSNBC network show Morning Joe.
Rehearsed and primped like the seasoned reality TV star she is, jewellery designer and caviar face-cream vendor Madame Trump sat on one of her golden thrones, pursed her glossy lips, and waited for the easy questions.
That is the nightmare that would await the world’s most intelligent politician. And Emma-Kate was being very kind not to mention the sons.
It is therefore a relief to find that the Americans can still do some things properly. The film Spotlight is fine and persuasive for the reason that Trump is not. It does not insult our intelligence. The characters are underdone, and all the more interesting and persuasive for that. Mark Ruffalo as the lead journalist and Stanley Tucci as an Armenian-born Attorney are terrific in a terrific film. You can tell when a film is holding an audience, and this film did – especially at the end when the final caption announced that the Cardinal responsible had resigned – and was then given a plum post in Rome. Still, I don’t suppose we can be too smug about that. We now have to bribe our deadwood to get it out of the Parliament, and no amount of bribery or dynamite looks capable of shifting the worst case of all.
Poet of the Month: Philip Larkin
Mother, Summer, I
My mother, who hates thunderstorms,
Holds up each summer day and shakes
It out suspiciously, lest swarms
Of grape-dark clouds are lurking there;
But when the August weather breaks
And rains begin, and brittle frost
Sharpens the bird-abandoned air,
Her worried summer look is lost.
And I her son, though summer-born
And a summer-loving, nonetheless
Am easier when the leaves are gone;
Two often summer days appear
Emblems of perfect happiness
I can’t confront: I must await
A time less bold, less rich, less clear:
An autumn more appropriate.