Culturally Discombobulated

Tag: United States

41 long, dark nights for America: The existential agony of running for President

Forty-one long, dark nights to go. 

Trump’s Daily Twitter Highlight: “Every on-line poll, Time Magazine, Drudge etc., has me winning the debate. Thank you to Fox & Friends for so reporting!”

Clinton’s Daily Twitter Highlight: “With a mother in the Oval Office, we may finally catch up to the rest of the world on paid leave.”

Daily election of interest: In ‘Hitler,’ an Ascent From ‘Dunderhead’ to Demagogue

Being the center, the anchoring force, of a modern Presidential campaign must make for a purgatorial existence. Car to plane, plane to car. Constant travel, but that conversely leaves you in inertia, strapped into a succession of seats, the incessant electioneering washing a benumbing, narcotized feeling over you while outside your window America is a blur. You only ever wanted to run America, you never thought you would have to see so much of the fucker – and there is so much of it. The existential angst is choking.

What does an American Presidential dream about anyway? Like us, do they have night terrors about what their Presidency might look like. Or does that odd, almost doped state of running for office leave them without dreams? Could it really be that those who are the living embodiments of the American dream are themselves dreamless?

89 long, dark nights for America: The meat sweats of American political campaigning

Eighty-nine long, dark nights to go.

Trump’s Daily Twitter Highlight: “Will be doing tonight at 8pm. Enjoy!”

Clinton’s Daily Twitter Highlight: “If was as fearful as Trump, Michael Phelps and Simone Biles would be cowering in the locker room. America isn’t afraid to compete.”

Daily election article of interest:  Who Cares Who Sits Behind Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump?

One aspect of the campaign that really has me worried for Hillary is the eating component. A peculiarity of the USA is that any candidate who harbors serious design on the Oval Office is required to demonstrate their love for the country by pandering to each region they’re visiting by eating that locale’s most sickening, acid-reflux inducing food. Forget the clichés about kissing babies, the US election season is actually a nonstop barrage of gluttony; Americans expect their candidates to ecstatically bite into cheesesteaks, corn dogs, po boys, sticky ribs, and greedily slurp up their chilli bowls. Ed Milliband, by only having to manage a bacon sandwich, got off lightly.

It is not going to feel authentic when Hillary chomps down on a serving of barbecued pork and beans at some random county fair. We are not for a moment going to believe she’s enjoying it. She is the cosmopolitan candidate in a period of anti-cosmopolitan sentiment. When Hillary swallows crappy carnival food, you just know she’s aware how awful it is and that she would rather be dining at Nobu. This is a woman who has probably never suffered an onset of the meat sweats in her life.

Trump, however, well there is a man who we know likes his beefy ingestations – ideally a well done steak from sharper image. This is a candidate who you can believe is enjoying his corn dog. Despite on paper seeming the most cosmopolitan of Presidential candidates he can convincingly and somewhat authentically cast himself as the opposite, a man without airs, and, as it turns out, there is also nothing hoity-toity about his palate. Perhaps because it is still the 1980s in his head, the decade that he came to popular culture relevance, but Trump still has that era’s love for fast food. Ashley Parker in The New York Times wrote this week about Trump’s peculiar eating habits.

Mr. Trump’s dining habits also bespeak a certain lack of creativity, and parochialism — the kid from Queens who made it across the river to Manhattan’s glistening skyline, but never cottoned to the city’s haute cuisine. He once praised the “imagination” of his wife, Melania, in the kitchen — before citing, as examples of her culinary derring-do, spaghetti and meat sauce, salads and meatloaf. (He still keeps a copy of his mother’s meatloaf recipe.) Along with McDonald’s, his favorite fast food joint, a family member said, is Jackson Hole Burgers.

One thought is that we do away with the Presidential election debates and replace them with a very special edition of Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.



95 long, dark nights for America: Olympic Respite

Ninety-five long, dark nights to go.

Trump’s Daily Twitter Highlight: “The plane I saw on television was the hostage plane in Geneva, Switzerland, not the plane carrying $400 million in cash going to Iran!”

Clinton’s Daily Twitter Highlight: “At the Paris 1900 games, golfer Margaret Abbott became the first American woman to win an Olympic gold medal.”

Daily election article of interest: Stats on just how tiny Trump’s hand actually are.

I guess we could be discussing Trump’s endorsement of Speaker Ryan today at one of his rallies, and, let’s be clear, the Donald didn’t merely endorse Ryan – this was no begruding fake endorsement – the Donald held up to the crowd his perfectly proportioned hands and gave Ryan two thumbs up – which always boded well when Siskel and Ebert did it.

Instead, let’s reflect on the Olympic Opening Ceremony in Rio, and more specifically Team USA. Sure, Ralph Lauren may have been dressed them all up in the Russian flag, but, perhaps, that’s merely symbolic of the thawing in diplomatic relationships that President Trump and President Putin will bring about. And just think how well the US would do in the Olympic Games once Trump has made America great again? It’s a real struggle at the moment; they’re representing a loser nation. It’s sad. Very sad. But come Tokyo 2020 when we’ll be near the end of Trump’s glorious first term and America is finally proving herself great again (the first time since the era of Jim Crow), well just watch how the US performs at the Olympics. Goodbye to loserdom and a record haul of golds – each as golden as the hairs on Donald’s head. They won’t just won big. They’ll win bigly. China won’t get a look in.

Random Election Thoughts: Ted Cruz Movie Night

To be a politician around which a modern election campaign pivots seems a wretched life. There was a time when campaigning meant taking a train across country with the occasional stop at some electorally important, if bumblefuck, town to deliver your stump speech and kiss a few babies. Now its constant cross country flights, garishly emblazoned campaign buses, and, worst of all, the most hateful thing, and the very latest thing to be inflicted on the modern political campaigner – the selfie. Whenever I see one of these saps having to pose with a procession of voters, grinning inanely as if they were just oh-so-delighted at the thought of featuring in @JanetFromTrenton’s poorly pixelated instagram feed, well, my heart – almost – breaks for them. Becoming “leader of the free world” doesn’t seem quite so appealing if the Faustian pact for doing so is pressing cheeks with @JanetFromTrenton.

Ted Cruz is, however, made of sterner stuff and clearly has that special ability to grin inanely at stupid shit he would otherwise have no ability to tolerate.

Take, for example, his recent campaigning in Wisconsin where in an audacious display of sociopathic lying he stood up in a room full of voters and spoke about how delighted he was to watch God is Not Dead 2 with them.

God is Not Dead 2 is a creatively bankrupt cash-grab, it has zero ambition to try and grapple with the mysteries of faith, but instead – through cliches, bad acting and flat cinematography – it seeks to feed a particular demographic’s persecution complex; it has more in common with the Sharknado franchise than it does the Gospel of Mark. Cruz, a fan of The Simpsons and The Princess Bride and so seemingly someone whose pop-culture shit-o-meter is properly calibrated, doesn’t want to watch that movie; campaigning necessitated it a film he had to be seen liking due to the overlap between his natural electorate and that film’s audience. This was worse than a million selfies.

Ted Cruz – a sexy minx?

For some reason, probably due to the intrinsic peculiarity that was Hartlepool in the late-1990s, the corner shop near my Sixth Form College stocked the National Enquirer. It seemed an unnecessary item to be selling alongside the News of the World; we certainly weren’t lacking in tabloids that we needed to import even more tat from abroad, and yet there was something goofily appealing about the National Enquirer when set alongside its British counterparts. It read more like a parody of a tabloid; impossible to be taken seriously by any reader, just there for a giggle, and a publication that, unlike The Sun that could claim “It’s The Sun Wot Won It” in reference to British elections, appeared to have no influence in the corridors of power.

Its ridiculousness was encapsulated by a front cover so over-the-top in its tastelessness that I was compelled to buy a copy to read back in the Sixth Form Common Room. It depicted a skeleton dressed in an ornate ball gown with the unwieldily long – but all the better for it –  headline: “Woman excavated from the Titanic looking just as beautiful as she did in 1912.”

That image resurfaced in my head today when the National Enquirer broke their story that Ted Cruz has had extramarital affairs with five women. I know that the Enquirer’s track record on philandering politicians is surprisingly strong (John Edwards, Jesse Jackson, Gary Hart, etc.), but when they’ve sold you Titanic skeleton as a hot news story, you can be forgiven for not thinking of them as the most reliable of news sources – particularly when you’re expected to believe that five women willingly embraced Cruz’s cold, gecko-like skin.

Not that we all wouldn’t be delighted with this election narrative gaining a juicy sex scandal about now; it has been the one component that we’ve been missing, and exposing Cruz’s evangelical piety as hypocrisy would be satisfying.

And, if it turns out to be a complete fabrication, we’re left with a conspiracy narrative over who instigated this story. Cruz has been quick to blame “ratfucker” Trump, but other rumors have linked it the Rubio campaign, and I’ve also seen reports saying Anonymous was threatening Cruz over these revelations.

If, however, the Enquirer is correct, and Ted’s libido, like a bevy of politicians before him, destroys his career, can we have Heidi Cruz take his place for the remainder of the campaign? The Jean Carnahan example shows that we’re willing to let the wife of a politician replace the husband on the ballot in the event of their death, can we not do the same in the event of the death of the husband’s political career?