Yes we patronising limey assholes

Written by Total Politics has a free weekly Friday email bulletin. Follow this link to register. on 7 November 2012 in Diary
The sanctimonious messages on the US elections have led Sadie Smith to believe that some of us have an attitude problem towards America

What a relief.

Obama is safely back in the Whitehouse, Donald Trump has exploded in rage and his hair is currently interfering with low-flying aircraft somewhere in the Washington area, the press are packing up, and things can get back to normal.

I love elections as much as the next pamphlet wielding-geek still recovering from a misspent youth. I love Obama. In fact, I reckon I’m one of those people who actually like him more this time round than I did in 2008. All that starry-eyed hope crap that all my Labour mates suddenly started spouting got right on my lady-bags. As if a pair of shades, a good turn of phrase, and looking way cooler than Kore, Gerry or whatever the last two Democratic candidates were called, were proof he was the Second Coming and would heal the world. Politics doesn’t work like that and, even if it did, given that the American Constitution came into being in 1789, I reckon someone would have brought about the new Jerusalem by now.

By 2012, I was a firm Barry fan. So he hadn’t managed to get the Yanks holding hands and singing 'Imagine' but he’d tried bloody hard in difficult circumstances and made life a little bit better for a lot of people. I know that this is an over-simplification, but I don’t think you can ask for more in a politician than a commitment, desire, and ability to do the best that with the hand that’s given to him. Presumably I am not alone in these thoughts as quite a few fellow-citizens seemed to be enthusiastic Obama supporters too. And it was then I noticed something about us Brits.

My God, we’re bloody annoying during US Presidential elections.

Perhaps it’s a combination of the fact that we’re not as au fait with how the US system works as we like to think and that most of us have seen the West Wing, that we get overly-enthusiastic about them. I dunno. But, frankly, our Republican and Democratic comrades deserve chuffing medals for putting up with our crap on the run-up to polling day.

It’s largely down to – let’s face it – a tendency for some to look down our noses at the Yanks and, to be honest, it’s a more of a left than right-wing disease. You can feel it dripping off the page of New Statesman editorials, emanating from the BBC Question Time audience and those panellists of a leftist bent, and droning out of Guardian comment pieces.

“Whoever is President is not just president of the USA, but the world as well,” goes the theory. “Can the Americans really be trusted with this decision? When they’re not eating fried food off the pavement like animals, or shooting in the air whilst screaming “YEE-HAH!”, they are confusing Russia with the Isle of Wight. They just aren’t cultured enough to understand the international implications. They need us, their intellectual superiors, to tell them what to do.”

And in 2004, the Guardian took it upon themselves to do just that. Identifying Clark County as on a knife-edge in the Bush/Kerry race, they encouraged their readers to write personalised letters to the voters, explaining to them exactly why they should not vote for Bush.

Everyone thought they were onto a winner. I mean, it’s not like Guardian readers come across as  patronising, superior, sanctimonious, in possession of the kind of right-on musings of those who have to check with the paper’s Compliance Team every time they consider adopting an opinion, and who give the impression that the Yanks are a bit on the sub-normal side.

Oh, no. That’s right. They totally do.

Thus Operation Clark County passed into historical infamy, as a result of our American brethren feeling, quite rightly, that 'limey assholes' should keep their noses out of their election.

It is like the lessons we learned on those dark days in November 2004 weren’t learned well enough. Or, in fact, at all. Take this piece. Choice quotes:

“You see, when you put a cross in the box you’re not just doing it for you. That’s our president too, for better or worse and, let’s face it, over the years you’ve picked some proper lemons.”

“For some reason you still can’t tell a clever woman from a thick one.”

“Think about those millions of babies when you vote next Tuesday. Think about us, over here in the rest of the world, hoping you don’t pick another pillock.”

The Guardian was held by some as partly responsible for handing Ohio to Bush in 2004, so if Mitt Romney is a gentleman, he will be personally thanking the UK journalists who nearly got him elected via similar smug exhortations to the 'stupid Yanks' to vote Obama.

While I’m on it – and apologies to friends of mine who did this – do you really think that you guys swung the election for Obama in 2008? Sure, all very nice of you to go out there and help out but Lord knows what the punters thought when faced on the doorstep by some over-earnest British teenager keen to lecture them on the 'importance of hope'. It would have had me legging it in the direction of the nearest Republican office had I been a floating voter, but maybe that’s just me. By the way, you weren’t all out there this time, when the need was substantially greater, and the result wasn’t as tight as expected. Coincidence? I’ll leave you to decide.

Smaller annoyances that stick in the craw happen online. Take the twittersphere or social media in general, for example. Suddenly everyone’s a sodding expert, and a really quite dull one at that. This can largely be ignored until polling day when twitter is swamped by the gushings of British Obama-luvvies. As Dragnet nearly said, I’ve changed some of the words to protect the guilty, but I nearly threw up when I saw this one: 'Congratulations Americans on making the right choice. We’re all very proud of you.'

Literally ... drowning ... in ... the ...sanctimony.

On election night, you’ve just gotta turn the damn thing off, otherwise you get every bloody announcement in surround-sound. Yes! I know what just happened in that state! Haven’t you noticed that the only journalists left in the UK are the ones who do Newsround and from Kay Burley in Vegas (no, I don’t know either) to Adam Boulton in Washington, they are all there telling me this stuff? You’re not a news announcer, I don’t need everything announced to me five thousand times as it comes in, I’M WATCHING THE SAME COVERAGE AS YOU, goddammit. Anyway, it’s all over now, and bloody well done that man.

And thanks America, from this limey asshole at least, for putting up with us.

Tags: Barack Obama, Donald Trump, Mitt Romney, The Guardian, US Presidential Election 2012

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