I'd leave the country if only I lived there

I sat up all the whole night, suffering, unable to stop although I knew it was wrong
Click to follow
The Independent Online

What a poxy, miserable night. At least each time Thatcher was elected you could stomp round the house pledging to leave the country, but that doesn't work when the election is in America, as a) I'm not in the country and b) wherever you go they still run the place. I'm thinking of mounting my own legal challenge, insisting that, as Bush clearly runs Britain, we should have had a vote as well.

What a poxy, miserable night. At least each time Thatcher was elected you could stomp round the house pledging to leave the country, but that doesn't work when the election is in America, as a) I'm not in the country and b) wherever you go they still run the place. I'm thinking of mounting my own legal challenge, insisting that, as Bush clearly runs Britain, we should have had a vote as well.

At one point, in a drowsy moment at about 5am I looked up to see Bush and his family sat together smirking. Surely that breached every ITC regulation on bad taste. At least there should have been an announcement that "Some viewers might find the following scenes distressing" or "The images you're about to see could cause epilepsy."

On Sky News a pundit showed us a pad on which were two lists, headed "Bush" and "Kerry", with the states they'd won under each name. "That's how it looks at the moment," he said, "but look how it would change if Kerry wins Florida," and he wrote "Florida" under Kerry's name. The camera lingered on the newly written word for a moment, then he said "Now back to the studio."

Then Peter Snow danced around on a huge map of America before a fake White House lawn. "If all the states go the same way as last time," he said, "this is what we can expect to happen." Some numbers twiddled around and he said, "And that will mean a victory for George Bush." Well of course it would. Just as if all the states went the same way as they did in 1860 it would mean a victory for Abraham Lincoln.

Yet for some reason I sat on the settee the whole night, suffering, unable to stop though I knew it was wrong, gripped by the same drive to self-harm that can compel you to eat a whole box of Jaffa Cakes. And none of it was helped by the sterile nature of the Democrats. Every time another bad result came through, one of their Osmond-featured spokesmen would nod earnestly that "the crucial swing states have yet to be decided" etc. Why can't they be human and shout "Oh for God's sake. We've been turned over in Florida again, what's the matter with the decrepit old bastards, do you know Mr Dimbleby?"

John Edwards' speech came up with a sickly grin and some nonsense about waiting one more day. It would have been healthier to go, "Fellow Americans, it's not fair. He's caused a whole bloody war that's wiped out 100,000 civilians on a premise proven to be entirely bogus, he should be awaiting the verdict of a war crimes tribunal, not an election and anyway on our side there's Eminem and Public Enemy and Springsteen and Willie Nelson and they've got Frasier and that's it, so bollocks."

The result suggests there was little to be gained by Kerry trying to appear acceptable to the "middle ground". According to one poll, 90 per cent of those who voted Democrat opposed the war, while an even greater percentage of those who voted Republican supported it. So to try and convince supporters of the war that he would conduct it better than Bush was a lost cause, especially his promise to "conduct the war properly by getting together with our friends". Because the obvious question is "and then what?" To which he might as well answer, "Then we could all sit down and have a nice cup of tea. I've never known a problem that doesn't look easier after a decent brew."

Instead, his best hope must have been to persuade some supporters of the war to become opponents of it. He could have shown footage of Rumsfeld greeting Saddam, or appeared with Iraqi civilians who've witnessed the carnage, or with the growing number of US soldiers and their families opposed to the occupation. He might still have lost, but it would have been more hopeful than chasing a middle ground that didn't exist.

Bush's great trick has been to get re-elected as the man to deal with the mess he's caused. He's like an electrician who says, "Oo, sorry mate, I've blown your house up. I tell you the only person who can sort that out - me."

So while we have to accept the result, that doesn't mean accepting all the consequences of the result. For example, if Bush launches an all-out attack on Fallujah, it would be harsh to say to a family there: "I appreciate your concerns. But we have had an election, so to oppose the obliteration of your street would be to undermine the democratic process. So try and dodge the cruise missiles for four years, and if any of you are still alive, hope it turns out different next time."

None the less, you couldn't blame Bush if his speech at the Republican headquarters began: "Wahey, I can get away with anything. Right, let's play 'Improvised Presidency'. You shout out somewhere and I'll invade it."

He certainly seems to have stuck with his attitude to elections of "Oh don't bother with the counting, that just holds everything up."

And even if Kerry had won every single state he still wouldn't be President. Because Bush would have appeared on Fox News and said, "New rule - Best of three."

Comments