The Great American Election Battle has begun: official. How do I know? Not by watching the conventions - both are about as interesting as your neighbour's holiday video, and Americans (except the press) treat them accordingly. The way you know that the campaign is serious is when the women are back in the kitchen.
This week is crunch time for Hillary Rodham Clinton (Yale Law School) and Elizabeth "Liddy" Dole (Harvard Law School) in the battle of the biscuits. Postal votes in the Second National Bipartisan Cookie Cook-Off are overdue, with Family Circle magazine promising results in October. Meanwhile, America can only sit and chew over the merits of Hillary's recipe for chocolate chips and Liddy's for pecan roll cookies.
"Put your partisan preferences aside - whip up a batch of each and tell us which cookie brings more to the party," says Family Circle.
This should be ridiculous: Hillary is a legal barracuda - barracudas are not required to make tasty biscuits too. Liddy has had a tiny career herself: Secretary of Transportation under Ronald Reagan, Secretary of Labour under George Bush. She is now on leave as president of the American Red Cross, overseeing a $1.8bn annual budget and 32,000 employees.
Hillary was just a beginner on the campaign trail when she defended her legal career by saying: "I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies ..." The remark caused a media feeding frenzy. Since then she has rarely been seen in public without oven gloves.
Hillary has picked a smart cookie - it is hard to go wrong with chocolate chips. But the recipe does have its quirky moments. It makes seven-and- a-half dozen - 90 of the things - which means she is either expecting company or communitarianism. Each cookie is worth 65 calories and has 3.65g of fat. Ingredients include something called "old-fashioned rolled oats", which sounds like a bid for the family values high ground to me. Preparation time: 20 minutes. Baking time: 8 to 10 minutes.
Elizabeth's recipe has a normal name, Dole's Pecan Roll Cookies, but nothing else about it is even remotely ordinary. It is so strange and so sweetly Southern that it must be her own. "It's a cookie that a debutante would serve at a tea. It's a very Liddy Dole cookie," said a Family Circle spokeswoman. The damn things take 45 minutes to bake (Family Circle has had lots of readers ring up to see if this is right), and each has 91 calories and an amazing 7.68g of fat. Sin without scandal!
Hillary has the incumbent's advantage. Four years ago, she beat Barbara Bush with 55.2 per cent of the vote. What happened next? Hillary became Billary and started to run the country (at least, that's what every American seems to believe); Barbara became known as the First Lady who wrote that classic, Millie's Story, in which the world is seen through the eyes of the White House dog.
Even Norma does not deserve such a fate. So far, the Tories have denied claims that she is to be their secret weapon, labelled Worcester Woman by the spin doctors. But wait, did I hear someone mention something that sounds like sauce? Can a recipe be far away?
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies