Yes, I know. I am over-obsessed with the US Presidency. I just think that we can fart about all we like in politics in the UK, but the US President is the person who really sets the agenda for the world.
I sat through the 2000 US election debacle, enduring excruciating pain as I boned up on the hanging, pregnant, dimpled etc chads of the Florida scenario. The election of George Bush, followed by his invasion of Iraq, Blair’s infuriating poodling to him, taking part in the famous anti-war demonstration in London, the US reneging on Kyoto….these were all times which made me feel utterly depressed to be a human being.
When I went to school I was privileged to be a friend of Fred Sagoe, who joined us from Ghana. I taught him how to use a full stop. I remember it distinctly. And then he went on to be a barrister. He was also an awesome winger at rugby (I know, I once pathetically tried to stop him in full fight – unsuccessfully).
When I got married, I remember on my honeymoon being stupidly drunk and saying that I wouldn’t feel happy until Aparteid was abolished in South Africa.
I think there was a connection there with Fred Sagoe. Being at close quarters with him had made me fundmentally believe in the struggle for the human rights of all races.
I felt the same about the election of Barack Obama. I am now about a hundred pages through his remarkable “Dreams from my father”. His struggle against racism has made me think deeply. But let’s face it. Obama was lucky. Lucky to have the late September surprise of the US economy tanking. Lucky to have Bush to follow. Lucky to beat Clinton. But he makes a lot of his own luck. He is a remarkable intelligent and dignified character, like his father.
However, as I look back at the despair of George Bush’s election and the utterly stupid twat which he turned out to be as President, I now feel a wonderful sense of optimism.