Bits and Pieces

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Dean Bows Out

As expected, Howard Dean withdrew from the Democratic presidential campaign today. However, he promised to keep his "campaign for change" alive in an effort to influence the path of the Democrats.

What amazes me is how a candidate can continue to fight after losing so often and by so great a margin. Personally, I would not have made it as far as 17 losses before dropping out.

Although I attempt to report on US politics, I often find it a completely alien landscape. I look at it from a distance, never really understanding what the hell is going on (as is plain from my previous posts). The only advantage of reading my opinions is that they are typical of an outsider, someone who can look over the whole thing and try to make some sense of it.

I don't mind saying that to the rest of the world America seems a crazy place. US politics are a perfect example of this craziness. The candidates often act like mental patients, collecting huge donations and blowing it all on attention-grabbing commercials, rousing speeches and whistlestop tours from coast to coast, kissing babies and shaking hands along the way.

This simply doesn't happen in England. Candidates are quiet, sombre and composed. Campaigns occur not on national TV, but in musty town halls and the local news. The candidates rarely attack their rivals, but treat them with a cold respect. The only drama comes from the occasional outburst (John Prescott's fantastic left-hook to the chin of an egg-hurling protestor in 2001 is a fine example). However, this sort of entertainment occurs once in a blue moon.

For this reason I find the glamour of a presidential race hard to ignore. It is not often that we in the UK have the chance to watch politics that plays more like a soap opera than an election, complete with tales of infidelity and desertion. Americans know how to make politics interesting. For that, I thank the candidates.
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