Thursday, 30 August 2007

A political detour

I fully intended to write something serious and historical, perhaps even erudite, but have been entirely sidetracked by the recent Republican dramas in the US. Why it is that sordid political stories are so fascinating? Is it because you just can’t believe that people in public positions would behave so stupidly in public? I don’t know why I am surprised as there are ample historical precedents in both the United States and here. I refer of course to the whole Senator Larry Craig “airport restroom incident.” What amazes me is that this whole thing took place in the Minneapolis airport, a place I know well and where I can’t imagine anyone would think of trying to get some action. Perhaps it is just my clean mind and living.

I read the New York Times story yesterday where the earnest Scandinavian-named policeman talked about how Craig tried (apparently ineptly) to solicit him and I just want to giggle. I can imagine Garrison Keillor doing a piece on it and the audience rolling in the aisles with hysteria. Minneapolis of all places. Perhaps Miami, or Los Angeles – those airports have a seedy enough air of decay showing through the constant rebuilding. Even Dulles, though that would be too close to work. Maybe it is just that the senator is from Idaho and Minneapolis seems like a thriving sin city.

At least the leader of our opposition only went into a strip club drunk, realised in his befuddlement where he was, exclaimed “this won’t do,” left and phoned his wife to confess his sins. His approval ratings have slightly improved though he is at pains to point out that this is based on policy, not on the fact that people like having seen his human side. This is the country after all who took Bob Hawke to their heart after he cried and confessed to adultery on television; who like a bit of swagger and venom in their politics; who consider the term “political correctness” to be an insult.

On the subject of venom, I read with astonishment that a visiting American political consultant (“international pollster Frank Luntz”) was surprised by this aspect of Australian politics. He’s quoted as saying that “There is this image of American politics being the most negative, being the most personal and hostile, but it’s nothing compared to the comments that the party leaders make against each other … You’re already over the nasty and vicious level that most other countries would define …”

Doesn’t he realise that politics is only one of the many contact sports played here? And has he ever observed British or Taiwanese or other Asian politicians and politics? At least in Australia, we rarely stoop to physical violence in parliament.

And after this digression ... back to thinking about German migration and life on board ship.

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