Written by Hannah Dunleavy

In The News

Donkeys and Elephants

If a dick rises amid a sea of other dicks, does anyone give a shit? Well, we should. More Republican candidates have come forward and Hannah Dunleavy is here to remind us that one of these dicks might just wind up President of the United States.

Illustration by Louise Boulter.

Illustrations by Louise Boulter.

The Republican Primary has done a good job of proving a couple of theories in the last fortnight. The first is that some queues are irresistible, regardless of length. The second is that although the world abounds in dicks, no two are exactly the same.

Entrants #12 and #13 have announced their intentions, with varying degrees of success. And by that I mean media scorn/social media ridicule.

First up was Bobby Jindal, the NRA-endorsed Governor of Louisiana. (Rated five bullets, presumably.) Born into a Hindu family but now converted to Catholicism, he signed the Louisiana Science Education Act, which allows teachers to introduce intelligent design into science lessons in the state. He’s also pro-life, although he does say he doesn’t condemn surgery designed to save the life of the mother which indirectly kills the foetus. How terribly bloody magnanimous.

Jindal’s Indian American, which means the field – that also contains one African American and two Cuban Americans – is surprisingly diverse (although only by its own standards and those of Midsomer Murders. And the Commons culture, media and sport committee). Women are also proportionally represented too. America’s 93 percent male, right?

But, and here’s the big BUT, Jindal (whose nickname ‘Bobby’ comes from The Brady Bunch) doesn’t want to be known as an Indian American. He’s come out hard against immigration and for assimilation, talking of no-go zones in European cities, including London. This tactic suggests he’s actually in it to win it, as it is, disappointingly, his only likely route to success.

“New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is off on a tour of the country where he promises to say the unsayable, regardless of whether anyone wants to hear it. Strap yourselves in, people.”

His gradually inflating inflated rhetoric and a photograph of an official portrait which appeared to show the Governor’s skin being several shades lighter than it is, caused a mini Twitter riot in the form of #jindalsowhite. There were suggestions from the Jindal camp that this was racist, which appeared to quieten things down, even if it didn’t address the fact that a lot of these concerns were coming from immigrants and children of immigrants.

It’s generally accepted that this ‘coming out fighting the immigrants strategy’, or as it’s known in this country, ‘Faraging’, is part of a plan to capture Tea Party votes. As was his bid to delay the legalisation of gay marriage in Louisiana. He finally allowed his administration to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Friday, after three courts told him he had to. (By the way, congratulations people, have at it.)

Also launching ‘big’ was contestant #13, Chris Christie, who defied expectations and, more importantly, logic, to step up to the primary plate.

If you sat down to write a list of reasons commentators are saying Christie can’t win you’d tire of it long before you ran out of possibilities. He’s tarnished by Bridgegate; he’s unlikely to win his home state of New Jersey; he once hugged Barack Obama; he’s overweight and he’s mistaken being a gobshite for a virtue.

I can understand why someone would run for President, in the same way I can understand how someone would want to run a marathon. I don’t understand why Christie would run for president in the same way I don’t understand why people run a marathon with something heavy strapped to their back. All I can think is it’s about wanting to spot yourself on telly.

The New Jersey Governor is off on a tour of the country where he promises to say the unsayable, regardless of whether anyone wants to hear it. Strap yourselves in, people. In fact, his campaign slogan is “telling it like it is” which I’m sure he can give to Jim Davidson when he’s finished with it.

Christie also criticised the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage, as did the predictable subjects: Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum, who called it the “nail in the coffin” of the institution of marriage. Mike Huckabee went one further, stating the idea that marriage is based on love is destroying the institution. You know what Mike, life was better when we just married who our Dads told us to, regardless of whether they were related to us or they beat us. Those were the days, eh?

“Social media remains enamoured with Trump, in such a way I’ve decided that if we revisit the Strictly Come Dancing analogy, he’s definitely the Ann Widdecombe of this field.”

Meanwhile, though Donald Trump’s run at the nomination has mostly been reported over here as an opportunity for Alan Sugar to launch a career in the US, over there, anger is growing over his statements about Mexicans. While not all his fellow candidates have been keen to speak out on his remarks that Mexican immigrants were mostly rapists, Mark Rubio, one of the Cuban Americans in the race, called his comments “offensive and divisive”.

The backlash from the business world has been more vociferous, with companies including Macy’s cutting ties with his organisation. Trump claims to have been surprised by the extent of the outcry and the cancellation, by Univision, of a planned airing of Miss World 2016 in a few days. (Really, he didn’t think a Spanish language TV station might object? Probably thought they were too busy raping people.) Rather than repent though, the real estate kingpin has filed a million-dollar lawsuit against the station and taken the opportunity to double down on those statements.

Nonetheless, social media remains enamoured with Trump, in such a way I’ve decided that if we revisit the Strictly Come Dancing analogy, he’s definitely the Ann Widdecombe of this field.

Bernie Sanders

What with all this going on in the Republican ace, it’s easy to forget the Democrats are making their own decisions. Bernie “I will be your champion” Sanders is reported to be gaining ground on Hillary Clinton, proving possibly that grassroots popularity remains important.

In a recent interview on CNN, Sanders said he’s keen to do something about youth unemployment, which is the closest I’ve seen to anyone addressing a worthwhile issue in a long time. Well done that man.

There’s been another entrant to the Democratic Race, former Virginia Senator, US Marine combat officer, lawyer and novelist Jim Webb, undoubtedly the only candidate for 2016 to have written a film starring Tommy Lee Jones (Rules of Engagement).

Two more announcements due before we next meet, both in the Republican race, including the frankly ominous Scott Walker.

Don’t have nightmares.


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Written by Hannah Dunleavy

Hannah Dunleavy is the deputy editor of Standard Issue. She likes whisky and not having to run anywhere.