Everybody’s looking for that all-important “convention bounce”: the “bump” in polls following the US party conventions. Well, not everybody. I’m not. But then I didn’t just have a convention held in my honor. (Incidentally, if I did, the TVC (Talib Visram Convention) would be the least conventional of conventions. Delegates would be bribed with FDA-unapproved chocolate and black market iPods, threatened with the prospect of being thrown in the on-site piranha pool, and heavily under the influence of tequila and illegal substances while casting their nomination votes. In this respect, the TVC does sound eerily similar to the KJICs (Kim Jong-Il Conventions) of the past.)
Polls following the Republican and Democratic National Conventions are showing that Obama and the Democrats “won” the conventions and garnered the all-important “bounce”, with the President leading by a four-point margin over Oven Mitt Romney. There is, however, a lot more that I learned from the six days of political razzamatazz.
Things we learned from the conventions
1. Democrats will win in 2012; Republicans will win in 2016.
Here’s the thing. I stay confident that Mitt Romney won’t beat Barack Obama this year. In the battle between man and robots, man always eventually emerges victorious through strength of reason and emotion, which android Romney lacks. After November 6th, he’ll be repackaged and re-bubble-wrapped, and sent back to his maker (Reagan’s Republican Robots) for a complete rebuilding of the political android, in an attempt to once more try to overcome the age-old issue of empathy (the closest the Romney Robot got was excessive empathy for corporations, which he/it mistook for people).
In all honesty, I think Obama will clinch this one, due to the same underlying mentality of keeping the incumbent for fear of change – sticking with the devil you know than the Mormon version of Satan you don’t. Which means, I believe, that the Republicans will re-attain power in 2016, with a President Jeb Bush, Chris Christie or Marco Rubio. Without a doubt, the Dems showcased some fine up-and-coming candidates with presidential qualities, most notably Governors Deval Patrick and Martin O’Malley, and Mayors Cory Booker and Julian Castro. However, the American bi-partisan system is such that power swings like a red, white and blue pendulum from party to party so predictably every eight years that Obama would have to pull of something miraculous before 2016 for the Dems to stay in the White House – like single-handedly crushing the Chinese economy, or killing Osama bin Laden again. Castro et al will be trump cards to play in 2020 after America realizes President Jeb Bush is related to George W., or after President Christie eats half his administration.
2. I am in love with Michelle Obama.
The Princess Kate of America, Michelle Obama, is an absolute gem. When Americans were asked who the best First Lady of recent times was, Mrs. Obama won with a staggering 72% of the vote, crushing former moms-in-chief, Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton.
Perhaps part of her popularity is her dedication to fighting childhood obesity. If I could go back in time to when I was 10 years old, I would buy the Supersize Me cookbook and balloon up like Humpty Dumpty on the Paula Deen diet so that Mrs. Obama could tackle my childhood obesity. Thin, healthy children have no chance with Michelle, as she leaves them well alone. I would let her personally train me; she would feed me lettuce and yell at me while I struggle on the 4.5 setting on the treadmill, and I would call her regularly at 3am with my late-night Wendy’s overdose crisis, at which point she’d have to crawl out of bed without Barack noticing to comfort me in my time of need.
Sometimes I wonder if Chris Christie is subtly trying to attract attention from the First Lady by eating everything in sight? Or if former meat-lover Bill Clinton is trying to impress her by turning vegan? Let’s be honest: who would choose to be a vegan without an ulterior motive? Eating rice cakes and lentils for the rest of your days without getting some action in return? Everything in life is done for food or sex, and when the only food you’re allowed to eat is celery stuffed with cabbage, sex becomes doubly important. Especially if you’re the fucking man like Bill Clinton (see later section: Bill Clinton is the fucking man). By the way, I doubt Michelle would touch Chris Christie with a stick, mostly because that might cause him to burst.
3. Clint Eastwood is senile.
Really? Dirty Harry, and now this? Talking to a chair? Or is Clint Eastwood actually a genius, and a secret weapon used by the Democrats to make Mitt Romney’s introduction speech look like an elderly man’s audition for admission to an elite mental institution? Everyone’s favorite part, of course, was Eastwood telling Obama to go fuck himself (“I can’t tell him to do that to himself!”), which I can imagine Obama had already found a way to do and was now going to town at the time in a moment of pure joy at seeing Romney’s world fall apart. I don’t know the logistics and repercussions when you “go fuck yourself”, but when a rich guy like Obama does it, it could result in the birth of a million dollar baby. (As cringeworthy as that was, you know you were waiting for a movie title pun. You’re welcome.)
4. Voucherization is a word.
Verb: To turn into a voucher. (I voucherize, you voucherize, he/she/it voucherizes, we voucherize, you (plural) voucherize, they voucherize.) Example: I voucherized my cat yesterday. (Meaning: I transformed my living, breathing pet into an inanimate, paper voucher yesterday.)
The controversy stems from the fact that a Romney-Ryan presidency would change Medicare (the “net” that keeps senior citizens from financial instability by covering various medical bills) into a voucher system, meaning that seniors would get a specific amount to put toward private insurance – thus keeping the corporations (sorry, people) happy.
This whole debate triggered the widespread use of the word “voucherization”. I have long been an advocate of American English’s way of simplifying certain words (humour to humor and centre to center just make sense), but does this mean we can add –ize to any word now?
“I totally boyized my daughter by giving her an embarrassing bowl haircut. LOL!”
“It’s so hot today, I think I need to cut the sleeves off my t-shirt. Tanktopization is the fashion these days.”
“Been going to the gym everyday for months, but still no results. It takes so long to Schwarzeneggerize!”
Things we already knew, but that were reinforced by the conventions
1. Bill Clinton is the fucking man.
Billy boy killed it once again. While Clint Eastwood’s ad-libbing was nail-bitingly awkward, Clinton’s (somewhat oxymoronic) planned improvisation was the height of rhetorical sophistication and class. The former president has a rapport with the American people unlike no other recent leader, and it’s deserved: Clinton made fifty minutes seem like a mere ten, charming delegates with humor and his trademark Southern swagger, while also laying down facts and figures intellectually and effortlessly (which, by the way, fact checkers had a hard time disproving – unlike those little truth-tweakers in Paul Ryan’s fairy story speech). The night before Obama and Biden even spoke, Clinton had already secured the convention bounce.
I’ll say it again: Bill Clinton is the fucking man. In the picking of American political leaders, the intellect factor is no more important than the likeability factor: Americans want an intelligent leader, but also one with whom they feel they could sit down and grab a beer. With Obama, the scales tip a little more toward the intellectual side; I could imagine drinking a beer and shooting the breeze with Obama, but more likely I feel we’d be dressed in tuxes and sipping on a fine port at a dinner party, Frasier Crane-style. The scales tip massively in the other direction with Bush: we’d definitely be drinking Bud Lights like the average Joe, but what would we talk about? Could he muster up an intelligent conversation? I feel like he’d be asking me which breakfast cereal I’d be if I had the choice, or my favorite flavor of cough syrup, or perhaps he’d just be making farm animal noises, completely oblivious to the fact that I was sitting opposite him (and apparently unaware of the fact that cows do not go “baa”). Just one Bud for me, thanks.
Clinton doesn’t tip the scales in either direction, but reaches perfect equilibrium between intellect and likeability, as proven by his convention speech. I would absolutely want to sit down to a beer with Bill. But it wouldn’t end there. After a few beers, we’d hit the bars hard, slamming shots of Sambuca and downing Jäger bombs, hang out with the University of Kentucky cheerleading team (why Kentucky? Why not?), ignore Hillary’s calls, steal a few street signs and break open Bill’s signature cigars, one of which he’d be sure to keep for later in case a situation called for him to use it for a purpose other than smoking.
Would you want to get a beer with Mitt Romney? Well, he wanted to get one with this guy, but it didn’t work out too well…
2. Romney and Ryan would be disastrous.
The Republican Party has changed dramatically, even over the last four years. Say what you like about Bush (I certainly will: he started a devastating war that nobody wanted; he crashed the economy; he misunderestimated a lot), but despite his faults, blunders and general incapacity in mastering the English language, I do think he was fundamentally a good guy with good intentions. No one can accuse him of prejudice, with Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice both playing major parts in his administration; he was an evangelical but never an in-your-face evangelical, nor was he outspoken about social issues that he may have felt strongly about as a Texas Christian. Dubya embodied “compassionate conservatism”.
Nor was John McCain a bad guy, but he inadvertently played a huge part in changing the face of the GOP for the worse. By picking Sarah Palin, aka Psycho Bitch, as his VP candidate, he not only lost himself the 2008 election, but also created the monster that became one of the heroines of the Tea Party Movement. As soon as Dr. Frankenstein’s creature turned loose, Palinites rallied in support of the movement, thrusting other right-wing radicals into the spotlight, from Michele Bachmann, aka Psycho Bitch 2.0, to the Rick Santorums and Rick Perrys of the current GOP.
By picking Paul Ryan as his running mate, Mitt Romney has gained the crucial Tea Party support, but has also alienated his moderate conservative voters and many independents. What does Mitt Romney stand for? No one knows. The moderate ex-Massachusetts Governor, who was a champion of healthcare and a pro-choice and pro-gun control politician, has now reversed his stances on all three issues. (Or so we are led to believe.) With so much focus on the economy (where he wants to cut spending – affecting the middle class and seniors – and keep the rich guys’ taxes the same as everyone else’s), social issues have been swept under the rug; but when they do come up, a President Romney would surely be pushed to the right by Ryan and the supporters of the current Republican party: the one that has made me kind of like George W. Bush – and thus hate myself.
Don’t be fooled by Ryan’s rugged good looks and Romney’s faultlessly thick hair (they can put any kind of hair on androids); I know that a candidate composed of Romney’s hair on Ryan’s face would be a no-brainer vote for many people. But people need to think about the issues, not about the fact that Obama’s hair on Joe Biden’s face would be eerie and alarming.
3. Tampa is horrible.
I know I may seem overly opinionated at times, perhaps occasionally about things I don’t know enough about. But I know a thing or two about Tampa Bay. Both those things, among all the other things about Tampa, suck.
Being a swing state, Florida was supposedly a decent choice for the Republican Convention, but why not hold it in the visually stunning Miami? Or in the tourist haven of Orlando? Or even in the middle of the fucking Everglades? Why Tampa? Why the strip mall-crammed, strip club and drag racing centre of America? Bill Clinton wasn’t going to be there, so there was clearly no necessity for the presence of strip clubs. I can’t really compare Charlotte, the venue for the Democratic Convention, but I spent two hours in transit in Charlotte Douglas Airport, and it was already better than a year in Tampa.
During that year living in Tampa, I taught English to bright, talented kids at a wonderful school, and I got to know a lot of really great people. It’s hot all year round. Beaches and resorts are not so far away. The Taco Bus, a Tampa staple, rustles up some of the best Mexican food I’ve ever tried, uniquely served out of a stationary bus. But the city itself is God-awful. The heat breeds bugs. Bugs breed mosquito bites. Mosquito bites breed itching. Itching breeds scratching. Scratching breeds rashes. Ergo, Tampa = a rash. There were many days when I thought of hijacking that Taco Bus, filling it with my friends, colleagues, students and a couple of Tampa’s finest strippers, and taking it up North, or West, or to Canada, or anywhere really, other than Tampa.
(The main problem with the idea was getting the clearance from parents for their children to ride the same bus as a group of strippers. Apparently it wasn’t reassurance enough for them that they would be sat at separate ends of the bus, and that the strippers had kindly volunteered to help with math homework. With their clothes on.)
The Democrats have won the sought-after convention bounce, but what happens now? I do think Obama will win, but I’m not as overly confident as I made myself out to be earlier on; I think it’ll be a close one. I know who I’ll be voting for – no one, since I’m not a US citizen.
Meanwhile, we’re still waiting for figures following the TVC, but all indications are suggesting that Talib Visram has been nominated, with a blind eye having been turned toward the dozens of bags of weed scattered across the convention floor, and toward the intoxicated bloodbath in the piranha pool.