5 Nov 2012

The Disaster Of US Politics

By Daniel Fitzgerald
Polling day in the US is almost here, and soon the world will know who to blame for drone strikes for the next four years. In the meantime, Dan Fitzgerald looks at the candidates' ad campaigns and responses to Hurricane Sandy
Sure, Sandy might have had a bit of an impact on the actual geography of the northeast last week, but there ain't no impact like a political impact, right? A few days without wifi gave many of us time to contemplate who we might blame for such a horrendous state of affairs. The political commentators were just waiting for someone to step up to the plate and try to capitalise on the whole mess.

There was one New Yorker loosely affiliated with a political party who managed to earn a little Sandy-related ire. But for the most part, both sides managed to conduct themselves with a fair amount of decorum while many of us were still picking the twigs out of our hair.

However, you may recall me previously referring to this line of Romney's at the Republican National Convention as his most revealing: "President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans. And to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family."

And this week it's come back to bite him in his Magic-Mormon-Underwear-sheathed arse a bit.

Natural disasters are usually good for incumbents provided they're handled with a reasonable amount of competence (cough, Katrina, cough) and compassion, but this one may have been even worse for Romney for two reasons:

First, New Jersey governor Chris Christie, the keynote speaker at the Republican National Convention a few months back, heavily praised Obama's performance in the wake of the disaster.

Second, Romney implied during the primaries over a year ago that he would axe or privatise FEMA if elected, a move that has looked a little misguided considering the role the agency has played in the Sandy recovery effort.

And while Mr "I Like Coal" was never likely to attract the environmentalist vote, Sandy's possible links to climate change have drawn that issue into the fray. Anyone with a questionable record on that front might indeed be well-advised to just clam up and hope your supporters drown out your opponents with obnoxious jingoism.

Advertising
Every four years we can always look forward to this news: this has been the most expensive presidential election ever!

Gasp! Even including Millard Filmore's YouTube channel and focus group budget?

This is the time when presidential campaigns go all out in a last-ditch effort to shift those maddeningly indecisive undecideds. With ad blitzes on all fronts, even the airwaves of my Brooklyn borough scored a dose of earnest pandering.

Indeed, candidates at all levels across the nation have smashed the locks on their war chests. Washington congressional candidate Richard Tisei had one of the more novel and serene approaches.

However, most campaigns favoured desperate scaremongering, from the Romney campaign's pitch to Cuban-Americans tying Obama to the likes of Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro, to the Obama campaign presenting a vision of a terrifyingly efficient Romney administration.

Naturally, Mike Huckabee and the evangelical Christian lobby had everyone beat with this Game of Thrones-tinged two minutes of awesomeness.

And at the other end of the spectrum, even porn magnates moved the wheels of democracy forward.

The Awards
With Election Day just around the corner, it's time for the inaugural New Matilda US Presidential Campaign Awards! I have a feeling that some of these categories may change in four years, so feel free to add your own in the comments.

Strongest criticism of Obama's foreign policy to come from Romney during the campaign

"The president's foreign policy, in my opinion, is formed in part by a perception he has that his magnetism, and his charm, and his persuasiveness is so compelling that he can sit down with people like Putin and Chávez and Ahmadinejad, and that they'll find that we're such wonderful people that they'll go on with us, and they'll stop doing bad things."

Best debate moderator
CNN's Candy Crowley from the 2nd presidential debate showed the least hesitation in controlling the candidates, though naturally was still accused of liberal bias by some.

Most bizzare citation of a foreign leader's opinion to support your argument
Romney to Obama during the third presidential debate: "When the president of Iraq — excuse me, of Iran, Ahmadinejad, says that our debt makes us not a great country, that's a frightening thing."

Most bizarre avenue of political attack
Maine state Senate candidate Colleen Lachowicz's World of Warcraft profile.

Best meme that I haven't already included in one of these columns
Menacing Josh Romney.

Most likely to win presidency in 2016
Chris Christie.

Most surprisingly amusing Twitter account
John Kerry, who repeatedly trolled Mitt Romney with updates like this.

Biggest story of last week that got lost in the election build-up
Mitt Romney's son travels to Russia and reportedly assures the locals that his father wants good relations with the Putin regime, despite his campaign rhetoric.

Best Saturday Night Live candidate impersonation
While Jason Sudeikis was entertaining as a rowdy and raucous Joe Biden, his Mitt Romney was even better.

Article of the week
Gary Younge from The Guardian analyses how Obama still enjoys record support from African-Americans, despite them doing so poorly under his first term.

Video of the week
It's hard to tell through the mist, but I think Obama may have secured his most important endorsement.

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