Home  -  Back Issues  -  The Team  -  Contact Us
     Volume 7 Issue 39 | September 26, 2008 |

  Cover Story
  One Off
  Writing the Wrong
  Food for Thought
  Straight Talk
  A Roman Column
  Star Diary
  Book Review

   SWM Home


The Show Business of Politics

Nader Rahman

In Theatres November 4th

There is an ancient Chinese proverb that says 'politics is show business for ugly people', fine while I may have made the Chinese part up, the rest of it is true. Ok, ok, I'll also admit it's not as ancient as I made it out to be, and yes it's not really a proverb, rather something I picked up watching Jay Leno or the Daily Show. But the point of the matter is that all it takes to make it in American politics is a good story (even if it isn't true), a few leading actors and actresses (no matter how wooden they may seem) and about a hundred million mindless extras (better known as the American voting public) who believe absolutely everything and anything they see on television. The result is a political blockbuster of Darwinian proportions, where only the fittest will survive. Lights, camera, action.

In downtown Chicago a hard working black man of mixed parentage is busy as a community organiser, while an Alaskan girl is setting a beauty contest on fire. An American soldier is busy counting the days since he checked into the Hanoi Hilton and a congressman takes an hour and a half journey home to the suburbs of Wilmington from Washington DC. Elsewhere, the wife of a governor is busy planning out her political future and a future president of America is wearing nothing but his cowboy boots as he drunkenly walks about his ranch trying to pronounce the word nuclear. These people make up the class of 2008 and along with many others they play ensemble roles in the movie event of the year.

Barack Obama has overcome his biggest challenge yet, he sent Clinton to the cleaners. Yet since his affirmation as the Democratic presidential nominee he has gone off the boil. He called forth the ghost of John (the choker) Kerry and started flip-flopping like a seal in a circus show, the result is that what looked like an unassailable lead in the polls at one point even became a deficit. His part as the leading man of this movie has never been in doubt, but it must be noted some of his performances have been quite over the top. Who can forget, when seemingly none other than God, Martin Luther King Jr and Abraham Lincoln delivered him from heaven to Denver where he sent 84,000 people to tears as he used the word 'change' more than a hobo looking for a hand out. But the Democratic national convention was anything but smooth sailing for the man with the Midas touch as he had to deal with more than a fair share of Hillary supporters who were still fuming that he got the nomination and even more upset that he did not tap her for vice-president.

In this movie Hillary Clinton has played more than one role, mother, wife, statesmen, feminist, receiver of 3 AM phone calls and amazingly she has also had her fair share of action as she ducked sniper fire that barely grazed the top of her head. She has been followed around the country by the sisterhood of the travelling pantsuits and has been and has tried her anarchist best to shatter some sort of glass ceiling. But unfortunately for her, everyone in the country knew she was second best in a race for the candidacy and never clued her in to that piece of information. Without that information, she was like a rabid dog, biting and chewing to bits anything Obama said and eventually when the final votes were cast she got her reality check, she would not be president in 2008, there was always 2012!

As Hillary's guffaw faded not too quietly into the night the real challenger to Obama's throne came into the spotlight, the grizzled war hero who could not raise his arms at more than a 45 degree angle showed himself up for a fight. Well after spending the better part of a decade in a prisoner of war camp, the least he could do was put up a fight. But this proved to be a mismatch of epic proportions as Obama had broken the curse of politics being show business for ugly people. Nearly a quarter of a century younger, considerably better looking and media savvy, as well as what seems to be nothing short of a divine glow about him and two Rollingstone's covers in the space of a few months, Obama was all but ready to steamroll McCain to a November 4th landslide. But that was before a certain Sarah Palin stepped into the race.

John McCain shocked the world and turned the script upside down as he named an unknown Governor of Alaska to be his running mate. No longer was Barack the pretty boy of this presidential race, he was now up against a former Miss Congeniality, mother of five, point guard playing woman who was four years his junior. In a strange way McCain had picked a female Obama to be his VP and the polls soared. This plot twist was not expected and left Obama on the ropes as he struggled to regain his composure. Palin came out kicking and growling as he triumphantly claimed the only difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull was the lipstick. She quickly took centre stage as the direction of the movie was fast changing to the Palin show, but her inexperience caught up with her as she very publically failed to understand what the Bush Doctrine was and pulled a rabbit out of the hat by announcing that her 17 year old unmarried daughter was expecting. After one political shotgun wedding to McCain, now there would be another one, just not as political and even more public.

With the movie going a million miles per hour there was almost no time for Joe Biden, Obama's pick for VP. At 65 he was a veteran in Congress and essentially was as good as picking McCain for his VP. But with a wealth of foreign experience he also proved to be the binary opposite of Palin. At the end of the day this was what the movie of the year had come down to, it was a battle royal between two sets of people who stood in binary opposition to each other. It was the summer movie slugfest, the left versus the right, liberals versus conservatives, men versus women, experience against youth. A good reviewer never reveals the whole plot of the movie and all I'll say is be prepared for a one hell of a ride. The movie hits theatres November 4th and if you would like a cameo in it, just place a vote and see what happens. The rest of the world waits with baited breath.

Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2008