A rav­ish­ing Ro­manesque

The Pak Banker - - Front Page -

THE richly-coloured Ro­manesque com­plete with Byzan­tine pol­i­tics full of in­trigue and de­cep­tion will be over in two days. Amer­ica would have cho­sen their lead char­ac­ter. I am al­ready get­ting with­drawal symp­toms. An empty nest will be my liv­ing room with the tele­vi­sion set gone dumb. Long, dark, win­ter evenings will leave me lonely.

No longer will I get to wit­ness the wars be­tween pres­i­den­tial hope­fuls flex­ing their power of sur­vival. They were my sta­ple en­ter­tain­ment last win­ter when snow, rain and wind fiercely lashed at the win­dow­panes. The couch potato in me would watch the storm out­side with equa­nim­ity as the tur­bu­lence on my TV screen pounded with the motely bunch of men and one woman spar, claw, chew each other. All ap­peared ut­terly in­com­pe­tent to lead, yet they leapt for the po­lit­i­cal kill, de­struc­tive and de­monic.

Briefly, each of them rose, only to fall flat. It was thrilling. This was the Repub­li­can Party pri­mary de­bates. ‘Win­ter kills,’ rightly wrote Richard Con­don.

‘Spring se­duces,’ said Con­don. As the po­lit­i­cal fisticuffs pro­ceeded, the blos­soms out­side my win­dow com­peted with the scan­dals, cor­rup­tion, wife cheat­ing, reli­gious fa­nati­cism, ra­cial slurs, women bait­ing, job out­sourc­ing, mid­dle class stran­gling and en­rich­ing the rich that I heard from these pres­i­den­tial hope­fuls. I was se­duced by the scan­dals boil­ing over. Speaker Newt Gin­grich’s exwife came on TV to tell the world he had wanted an “open mar­riage” in which he could have both a wife and a mis­tress.

In an in­ter­view with ABC News’ ‘Night­line’ Mar­i­anne Gin­grich said she re­fused to go along with the idea that she share her hus­band with the young Cal­lista Bisek, who would later be­come Newt’s third wife.

‘Sum­mer thrills:’ The weather out­side beck­oned one to leave the liv­ing room and step out for a soak in the sun or a dip in the pool. The long sum­mer evenings were bet­ter spent gaz­ing at the bril­liant sun­sets fol­lowed by dragon flies lighting up your space, rather than glued to the din on TV. Pol­i­tics too took a sum­mer break, but not be­fore it ended its wean­ing process. The Repub­li­can can­di­dates dropped like nine pins from the race, one by one.

By sum­mer’s end, Mitt Rom­ney, the mil­lion­aire Mor­mon was de­clared the win­ner of the eight-month old marathon.

‘Au­tumn sates:’ My love af­fair of Amer­i­can pol­i­tics, sated yet hun­gry for more, re­turned with the heat re­ced­ing and au­tumn start­ing. I saw each day the cen­turies-old trees bur­nish­ing their leaves with gold, si­enna, and crim­son red. God’s cy­cle was in ev­i­dence: the leaves, green and gor­geous in sum­mer, had turned colour, as they do ev­ery Fall, and must now drop.

As time went by, Mitt proved to be a dis­as­ter. The way he walked, more like a pi­geon; the way he talked, more like a ro­bot; the words he ut­tered, more like an alien. His one-lin­ers pro­vided hours of hi­lar­ity. High priests at the Repub­li­can head­quar­ters se­cretly winced and seethed each time Rom­ney opened his mouth.

‘A lazy wimp’ that’s how An­drew Sul­li­van of Daily Beast de­scribed Pres­i­dent Obama’s first de­bate per­for­mance. Sul­li­van was not alone in his dis­gust for Obama let­ting his op­po­nent Rom­ney shel­lac his four years in the White House.

Rom­ney had trans­formed from a gawky, awk­ward fum­bler to a gla­di­a­tor tak­ing Obama down in the first round. The mar­gin of vic­tory that Obama was en­joy­ing as re­flected by the polls di­min­ished overnight. The next morn­ing we woke to see Rom­ney up by a few points and Obama down.

There is noth­ing as a ‘sec­ond chance.’ If you fail the first time, that’s it! Don’t we all know this too well? In school if you scored low, your re­port card said so and your par­ents harangued you to death. In col­lege, if you un­der-per­formed, the univer­sity de­gree that you re­ceived said so. You could not go back and change your third division to first division. In a job in­ter­view, if you blew it once, out you went from the exit door, never to re­turn. In busi­ness, if you took a fool­ish risk, you never saw your money again.

“If Pres­i­dent Obama loses, it will be his pa­thetic per­for­mance that 70 mil­lion peo­ple saw, dur­ing the first de­bate,” say po­lit­i­cal pun­dits. I could not agree more.

Obama failed to wrest back his mar­gin at the polls de­spite his pug­na­cious per­for­mance dur­ing the sec­ond pres­i­den­tial de­bate. Just by look­ing at Anne Rom­ney and her two sons flank­ing her in the au­di­ence was the big­gest give­away of the night. Even the hot pink dress Anne wore failed to lighten her spir­its. She looked down­right de­pressed at her hus­band’s at­tempts at hus­tling, flim­flam­ming and glar­ing at the pres­i­dent. The bully in him was vis­i­ble, mak­ing the 65-year-old ap­pear pee­vishly ar­ro­gant than con­fi­dent.

On the flip side, Michelle Obama, sheathed in hot pink (both the ladies wore iden­ti­cal colours in sup­port of the breast can­cer aware­ness month) looked up­beat, perky and ready for an­other four years at the White House.

But the day af­ter told a dif­fer­ent story: While, Obama won the de­bate, the num­bers on the polls didn’t move in his di­rec­tion.

A week later, the third and the fi­nal de­bate saw the two spar, fil­i­buster, strong-arm, act like yo­bos, still, Obama could not down Rom­ney, the un­flap­pable. Rom­ney por­trayed him­self as a Bud­dhist, a man of peace.

Ah, the first de­bate! One had heard men throw away their king­doms for the love of a woman; but one had never heard of a sit­ting pres­i­dent throw away his chance of a sec­ond term for a mere 90-minute de­bate de­ba­cle.

Af­ter­word: Obama is black; Rom­ney is white. Say the lib­eral me­dia. Which one will Amer­ica choose as its next pres­i­dent? Heaven alone knows. Never be­fore has race mat­tered. Never be­fore have we seen such defin­ing lines in a pres­i­den­tial race — whites for Rom­ney, coloured for Obama. Four years ago, the po­lit­i­cal land­scape was colour blind. And hence it chose a black over a white. Be­cause Obama’s ap­peal was univer­sal, just like a rock star, wher­ever he went, he brought bril­liant sun­shine with him and a golden glory never seen be­fore.

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