THIS year divides by four. Bad news. It means that the world has to endure both the Olympic Games and the US presidential primaries: rather like The Third Battle of Ypres and The Siege of Leningrad inhabiting our brains for the next six months.
Now anyone who wants to be President of the US is a priori not qualified for the job. My own favourite president was dear old Gerald Ford, unelected and unelectable, with President Harding next, mostly for his eager but incompetent philandering.
My most dangerously inept and megalomaniac president is easily Roosevelt, a man who goaded Japan into war, but was nonetheless then taken by surprise when it happened.
As for President Lincoln, I can barely write about him without shattering my keyboard in rage at both his hypocrisy over slavery and his ruthlessness, as he visited ruin and death upon his fellow Americans.
He sought union rather like the Provisional IRA did, except that he had the resources to impose an overwhelming campaign of terror upon his enemies.
The Confederacy really didn’t want to be anyone’s enemies; the southern states simply wanted to go their own way, just as the American colonies had originally chosen to do.
The system of slavery was certainly evil, but it was also complex, and could not be ended by a simple fiat and the mass-release of a largely unlettered, culturally dependent and socially naive people. It required time and care, neither of which was available in the middle or immediate aftermath of a quite abominable civil war.
And of course, the slave-states which remained in the union were not obliged to end slavery. (And yes, any historian of this period will be aware of how stupendously I simplify things: 860 words, OK?).
But how can anyone applaud a war in which the best parts of a million men died, the southern states were propelled into a parabola of hatred and division for several generations, and the “freed” blacks found themselves marginalised, discriminated against, and regularly lynched?
To be sure, no ending of slavery in the US was going to provide a happy ending for all concerned, and the after-effects endure still.
Is it entirely coincidental that neither of the two foremost modern Americans with African ancestry, Colin Powell and Barack Obama, is descended from American slaves? Colin Powell is precisely the kind of man who should have been president.
A raceblind patriot who joined the Army in a time of war purely to serve his country, and did so superbly, he then rejected overtures to run for the White House.
Arise, President Powell! Barack Obama, on the other hand, who had achieved nothing whatever before winning the Democratic nomination, is precisely the kind of man who should never be allowed anywhere near the triggers in the White House playroom.
Not surprisingly, he has launched more missilestrikes on an ally than any US president in history. The liberal media would of course have savaged a Republican for killing as many innocent civilians as he has.
Moreover, there was something really unnerving about Obama actually arranging to have his photograph taken while avidly watching the assassination of Osama bin Laden. I wonder: did he pluck wings off butterflies when he was a kid?
Even worse than that man’s vapid, ungovernable ambition to govern is the fawning lickspittle devotion he prompts amongst the media. I let others discuss US outlets; but I note that Irish and British commentators all enthusiastically lined up to back him nearly four years ago, largely because he was “black”, thereby proving to their readers that they weren’t bigots.
Doubly untrue. Racially, he is half and half, namely a mulatto (not, however, a term ‘The New York Times’ has ever used about him). But on the “black” argument, they would also have backed Idi Amin, Emperor Bokassa, Robert Mugabe, Comrade Mengistu and any old Hutu with a panga. Moreover, to vote according to race is both bigoted and – as the Kennedy supporters so conclusively proved – stupid.
LIBERAL commentators can similarly be relied on to call any Republican who believes in God a “rabid right-winger,” these dolts apparently finding it impossible not to yoke canine hydrophobia with any politics they oppose. (hence, “Margaret Thatcher, rabid right-winger”. Do these clowns ever call anyone a rabid left-winger? Hmm. Do sharks breastfeed foundling seal cubs?)
For professional writers to use language so meaninglessly is rather like a GP prescribing a brace of Tijuana trollops, and a good night’s condom-free rogering, to a patient whose wilting dong is dripping with pox.
The ability to win an election is to running a country what the Olympic pole-vault is to writing in braille; yet nonetheless, democracy remains the least worst system of governance yet devised.
So both the Olympics and the brutal karate-marathon of the US primaries await us.
Perhaps we could put both affairs, plus those leftliberal mountebank hacks who so freely use the r-r-w term, on an Italian cruiseliner: I wonder if the splendid Captain Francesco Schettino – who is unexpectedly free this summer – can be persuaded to take them all on a coastal tour of Somalia’s many gorgeous holiday resorts?