Naughty Netanyahu and Dissenting Democrats

Congress is ramping up for the arrival of the Israeli Prime Minister leader Benjamin Netanyahu to its hallowed dome on Tuesday. He is the five time winner of the ‘We Wish You Were A Republican’ award and yet, for the first time in living memory, some senior Democrats are thinking of finding themselves busy when he is due at the lectern.

The speech is likely to contain the Greatest Hits of ‘Iran away because you want to hurt me’ and ‘Existential Threat’ (a 1980s New Romantics number with a killer keyboard solo) but with a hidden track of ‘Being Here: My Election Boost’. The reason for anger stems from Netanyahu’s combination of performing the Tel Aviv sidestep by snubbing Obama and using Israel’s most powerful ally as a pawn in his election campaign.

Netanyahu: The Man with the Frozen Hand.

Netanyahu: The Man with the Frozen Hand.

With the pro-Israeli lobby financially supporting so many members of Congress (see here), those that are dissenting are trying to find cleave a difference where previously there was a solid stone wall and doing so by relying on a nuanced logic that does not typically operate in media. Instead they need to find new excuses for not being at the speech, such as:

  • rumours that Netanyahu is going to read spoilers from House of Cards Season 3. Those busy Congresspeople who haven’t caught up with the travails of Frank Underwood feel it is safer to stay away rather than have the highlight of their televisual year spoiled
  • they were busy trying to finish crocheting an ‘I Love Israeli’ cushion
  • putting an Ikea flatpack desk together
  • inadvertently spending hours trying to craft the perfect off the cuff, snarky tweet
  • got locked in a birdcage
  • became a kitchen porter and spent 8 hours peeling potatoes

We will have to see what the reaction and repercussions to avoiding the speech will be – but with political engagement trending downwardly, can you really blame them?

The U.S. Election from the other side of The Pond

The site of so much drama and glamour over the years, the US political system is viewed with a certain amount of jealous affection by us in the UK. At their core both American and UK politics are exactly the same: both predominantly feature middle-aged (mostly white) men in nice suits trying to speak as tepidly as possible yet at the same time attempting to stay on the right side of the Accountant Line. But putting British and American politicians side-by-side is like comparing the glamour of Mad Men to the Office; Ricky Gervais to Don Draper.

Yes, they both use balloon arches, but what looks tacky in the UK, looks exciting and innovative over there. Both use words such as: ‘change’ and ‘freedom’ but doesn’t American freedom just seem so much more alluring, more free? British change appears like a political ploy, nigh on impossible in such a staid society.

Maybe that is my British cynicism coming though, maybe I should try to be more wilfully optimistic like Americans.

Barack the Tired and Mitt the Mist slug it out. But why?

Though throughout this election cycle there has definitely been a dampening of spirits amongst the electorate. Both the supporters of the Democrats and the Republicans are trying to get fired up despite the best efforts of the candidates. Barack the Tired looks as if he wants to sleep for the next four years and would happily sit this cycle out and run again in 2016. Whilst Mitt the Mist is a man lacking in substance, someone lacking in a developed emotional range and imagines the middle-ground as a place you can say anything to anyone in the hope that they will vote for you, even if it contradicts a previous stance.

But to me, Romney is not a statesman, he is a local politician who can’t cut it internationally (is it that difficult to turn up to the Olympics and smile?) The Mitt-ster has only enthused his base because Obama must have been solving some logic puzzle during the first debate. The fundamental lack of choice for Americans is not just unfortunate, but more an indictment on the polarised toxicity of politics in recent times.

Even after four years, Obama still oozes charisma and cool; and whilst he has let down his supporters with his penchant for drone strikes, he has had some of the largest obstacles to overcome in recent memory. Namely, a Republican Party willing to roadblock any substantial policies that Obama put forward and then label him an ineffectual President. The move to the right (read ‘crazy’) of the Republican Party seems a vote killer to us over here but apparently a large portion of Americans are happy voting against their best interests (a refutation of Rational Choice Theory if ever there was one) and placing trust in unelected corporations rather than elected officials. And the Party’s oppressive use of the word freedom in every sentence which works at cross-purposes to it’s definition, serving to ensure all Americans conform to one specific, dizzyingly contradictory notion of it (Protect the Constitution (apart from the mentions of Church and State), stop the Government interfering in our lives, apart from the times when it acts as a medical safety net – they have to remain).

So hopefully you can see why we are entranced by American politics not just in Britain but around the world; here is a country with an actual ideological debate (albeit one-sided), where passions frequently erupt and where we can view from afar with a joyous sense of superiority mixed with a tinge of disappointment as the closest thing we in Britain have to a political celebrity is Boris Johnson.

Santorum Suffers Suspension In Campaign – Will Be Out Indefinitely

Now Rick Santorum has left the Republican Primary race, slowly backing away from the mess he has made, Mitt Romney can march on into obsolescence, trumpeting his own patented brand of mediocrity. For what seems like a lifetime, Mitt has been the presumptive nominee, and Rick was the perpetual thorn in the side, chasing some imaginary showdown at the RNC. But now he seems to have understood the basic logic that overturning a 400 delegate lead is impossible, save for an Act of God (though I have some core doubts about the likelihood of that…).

The Man With The World's Most Forgettable Face

Santorum was the outsider’s candidate: outside politically, morally and psychotically, but he proved a necessary counter-foil to the straight-edged Romney. He was the threat dangled in front of the GOP membership: ‘Vote Romney or you get him‘. Granted for some people that was a boon! ‘A candidate as deeply conservative and offensively prejudiced as me’ they gloat mawkishly, obscured to the realities of reality. A true sceptic could be led to believe that Mitt asked Santorum to stay in the race as long as possible to keep the Republican agenda in the news and by dint of that, make Romney look palatable by comparison (an idea made doubtful by the lack of mention Romney received in the concession speech. Genuine animosity or superb petulance?). Sadly, for most voters ‘palatable’ is just about the best adjective Mitt can be associated with. In reality, it may have just taken him that long to tot up the results on his fingers, so distrustful is he of anything resembling education.

It surely now must be time for the other two candidates to turn their backs on aspirations for the nomination, as neither Newt nor Ron have made an ant jumping into a pond’s worth of an impression. Ron Paul, can do what he likes as for the most part, he is motoring under his own steam, but Newt must be proving a point to Mitt, possibly angling for a cabinet position.

With Romney coasting home, and the interminable Primary fight nearly over, it will be interesting to see how the Republican team can still grab the media’s attention between now and August. For everyone’s sanity, hope that they can’t.