Apart from having a long-term interest in US politics I also have the sleeping patterns of a musician, so that means watching coverage of the Republican Primaries isn’t such a taxing thing for me to do. From a sleep point of view that is, in pretty much every other way it’s tough going.
On one hand there’s something almost cathartic about actually having primaries as it beats the merry band of ruffian nominees ranting into hysterical space, but CNN’s bombastic reportage would nearly make you cry with laughter.
The Best News Team In The Known Universe, or whatever they fancy themselves as, seem to take excessive pride in the extent to which they muck about gadgets, tables, virtual reality rooms and zoom-in maps with colours bursting out of them. Stranger than that though, especially for Irish viewers, is the promethean curiosity with which they treat their “ballot cams”, which watch people counting and then announcing what they’re counting. A tad pedestrian for Irish eyes, who are seasoned hurlers on that particular ditch.Stranger yet though were their overkill squad of reporters, one of whom was reduced to asking a selection of voters and associated hangers-on what their name was and who they voted for, with the grim monotony of a faulty Terminator.
But the reporters got a welcome break when the results were declared – as if anyone was in any doubt – and the cameras focused on their victory/heck I’m claiming this as a victory/laughably defiant speeches.
You could tell an awful lot, in fact all you’d ever need to know, about the candidates judging by the speeches they gave on Tuesday night. Mitt Romney is a cross between Troy McClure and Patrick Bateman’s sleazy dad, who will say literally anything to get elected. Ron Paul is a principled and likeable gent but with a polemic speaking style that makes Castro look like the model of brevity, and an issue profile that would send a man in to anaphylactic shock. John Huntsman is the last sane man in the whole godforsaken saloon, and is a man of considerable class.
Rick Santorum is a kind of turbo-Dana, mixing populism with strident, pro-life views. Unless you're an Iranian scientist, in which case he kinda hopes the US government is secretly killing them. He made a point of continually referencing his coalminer grandfather and told of his emigration from Italy to the US in the twenties, which struck me as nice but a bit odd. For starters, my grandfathers were a farm labourer and a jockey, but I couldn’t pretend to have had a life anything remotely like theirs. And its lucky his grandfather wasn’t Mexican in the present day.
As for Newt, I switched off before he started, for the good of my own health. It's going to be a long year. But, God help me, I still wouldn't miss it.