10 October 2004

The main game

by Matt Rubinstein at 6:22 pm

I think it was always clear that upcoming US election will in many ways have a greater impact on Australia than yesterday’s punt—except in relation to interest rates, of course, which John Howard works out on the backs of old tasting notes in the cellars of Kirribilli House. So let’s move on and worry about Bush v Kerry for the next three weeks.

The debates seem to be a bigger deal in the US than here, where the contempt with which our soon-to-be-second-longest-serving-prime-minister has treated the electorate is equalled only by… well, by a lot of other instances of his contempt, I suppose. Anyway, the US candidates have three debates this year, with different topics and formats. Transcripts are here. Consensus seems to be that Bush lost the first one on September 30, and Kerry won the second one on October 8.

Kerry did come across well in Friday’s stoush. He had a lot of information handy, which you might expect since—as Bush kept pointing out for some reason—he’s been a Senator for 20 years and seems to have played a significant role in important decisions. He made Bush look like someone who’d just been hanging around the White House for the sandwiches. But my favourite part was when Kerry called Bush on his environmental policy and more broadly in these terms:

The Clear Skies bill that he just talked about, it’s one of those Orwellian names you pull out of the sky, slap it onto something, like “No Child Left Behind” but you leave millions of children behind. Here they’re leaving the skies and the environment behind.

It’s only tenuously a literary reference but we’ll take what we can get. And these goddamn dopey names Bush keeps giving to his bills really would be ridiculous if they weren’t, as Kerry suggests, so sinister. There actually is a No Child Left Behind Act, also a Healthy Forests Act and of course the appallingly-entitled (and downright appalling) USA Patriot Acts. We’ve sailed pretty close to this particular wind with the A New Tax System Acts (which you just can’t convincingly say—try it), and we occasionally partake of irony as in the Native Title Act, but we’re yet not as bad—or as Orwellian—as the US. But it’s a disturbing trend here as there. Law shouldn’t be propaganda.

Bush made some lame jokes and at one stage called his opponent “Senator Kennedy”. I hope he doesn’t win.

One Response to “The main game”

  1. Julie Says:

    I think the US should steel itself for a Bush landslide.

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