Wednesday, February 20, 2008

From The Trenches

I am at present in the midst of a maelstrom of trying to finish my current project, arranging and attending meetings about what will hopefully be my next project, organising a talk I'm due to give at a university the week after next and putting the finishing touches to a course I shall be delivering at work. Argh, makes my tiny brain ache keeping this number of plates spinning at once.


My main source of entertainment at present is the US Presidential election campaign which, as Warren Ellis has noted, is "better than sumo" as a spectator sport. I tend to agree. The levels of spending, vitriol and protracted cruelty outdo anything we have in Europe. Hell's teeth, Bubba, here in the UK we don't even get to elect our head of state so we must leap on these crumbs of comfort from across the sea when we can.

As I do whenever there's a Presidential campaign I am reading Hunter S Thompson's Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72. It's as delicious an exposé and satire of the whole venal enterprise as can be conceived of. Thompson, known primarily for guerilla incursions into the worlds of the great and the good, tackles the whole campaign from first caucus through to Nixon utterly stomping George McGovern in November. This had an extra poignancy during the last campaign watching Bush getting elected again, legally this time. Ye Gods and little fishes what strange, dark times they were.

One of the more impressive qualities of Thompson's book is how he stuck to his task no matter how relentless and degenerate the whole process became. It is a long drawn out book describing a long and drawn out process but a brief pithy account of a campaign just wouldn't do it justice. Presidential campaigns are for people who are in this game for the long haul, those who like cheap, quick thrills can look elsewhere, like the UK where the whole national election process is done and dusted inside six weeks. I enjoy the US approach, the trial by endurance and meaness, rather like watching the candidates being dumped in the middle of the Sahara with a single canteen of water between them to see who makes it out alive and who, and how brutally, they've had to despatch in order to get there. This is the stuff of real drama, earthy and bloody.

And now, as I settle back into my chair at work with a final cup of tea for the day I can catch up on how Senators Obama and Clinton have each attempted to gouge the eyeballs out of the other in the last twenty four hours. Every day rings a new slur, a new accusation or twist on an old tale. The GOP must be loving this. As the great man once observed, "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro".

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4 Comments:

Blogger Churlita said...

It is ever so tedious and goes on forever and ever. Ugh.

4:06 pm  
Blogger Mr Atrocity said...

Ah yes Churlita, but I am someone who likes test cricket, which lasts five days per game, and so the long-form game appeals to my twisted mind.

4:13 pm  
Blogger jen said...

long would be standing in the line that wrapped around reunion area and went through every level of the parking garage to see obama yesterday. and then just barely missing the cut-off point.

though i'll take tonight's debate over a cricket game any day...

11:43 pm  
Blogger Mr Atrocity said...

I admire your commitment, Jen and you seem to have a fine appreciation of the game of politics.

Many others feel the same way about cricket. There are probably many who would rather have invasive dentistry than watch cricket but nobody's perfect.

8:22 am  

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