Travel across Italy’s shores and Russia’s plains and what you see is a cultural divide. In these countries there is a mind-set quite different to that in countries such as Britain and the US; and that is the reverence for machismo.
Our dearest Putin will parade topless and it can be argued that one would only be playing the fool if he were to go against the grain of the archetypal Italian man: that image of a strong, church-going, family-loving, melodramatic, calzone-crushing man man man. Compare this to the sensibilities of the Anglo-American sphere. Would David Cameron go for topless croquet? Would Obama fit into the mould of a greasy-haired Berlusconi-ite? The answers are rightly no.
This difference is pointed out because, when it comes to politics, one of the key ingredients is hope. Last month was the fifty-year anniversary of the murder of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the man perceived to have ushered in a new era of promise for the United States and for the world. The incumbent President; past user of marijuana, basketball player and African-American Harvard graduate Barack Obama, is the only leader of the Free World to have snowballed such rapture and hope in a nation built on the pillars of freedom and equality, which in many ways has now substituted them for McDonalds and the Superbowl.
What JFK and Obama also share is the experience of being seen as a let-down. The excitement surrounding the respective inaugurations of both of these icons of the Left is comparable only to what I imagine it would feel like to wake up in the middle of a Victoria Secrets’ pillow fight: unavoidable fervour, standing ovations all round, and the knowledge that I’ll batter anyone who tries to get in the way of this exceptional situation progressing into its full potential.
In America, the staple reaction of the Right to the rise of this genre of President, one that captures the hearts of the young, is either to attack or coerce them, not co-operate. Although Kennedy oversaw the progression of the Civil Rights Movement and the March on Washington, whilst Obama put an end to the decade-long game of hide-and-seek with Bin Laden, the two towers of American hope over the last fifty years have either been suffocated to the point where Congress has to close or is, arguably the more shocking, assassinated.
The business with the NSA and the various series of drone attacks under Obama’s administration, coupled with a lack of hard legislature from JFK, highlights the extent of the Right’s pressure. To Republicans, when George Bush was in play the only person greater was Jesus. Now Obama is in play, they offer the impression that the only person preferable to this ‘Muslim Socialist’ is every member of Al-Qaeda. The truth is that, in the eyes of many Democrats, Obama has in some ways played up to Republican pressures, and the very same can be said of that charming old philanderer JFK.
In this ‘Look at Me’ age, where endeavours such as Snapchat, Vine and Instagram are now part of our daily routine, everyone can create an online image that may well differ from reality. With this in mind, over the last stretch of his time in office Obama needs to ensure that the initial image held by the world of him, one of progress and of hope, is not lost in hyperspace or filibustering but transfers into political actuality. Now for this to happen we need to do something that our wannabe porn star presenters at FOX News like to shy away from; we need to look at the facts.
Bush blew the budget on, apart from Dick Cheney blow-up dolls, excessive and unnecessary military outings. Republicans needs to pull themselves out of that hole in their Michelle Bachmann poster and take a look at something other than the Bible; political reality. Let Obama be an evil dictator and force greater healthcare upon your nation. Then, when you guys are in office, you can re-install the customary Obama dartboard and whenever you need reminding of anti-terrorism policies, watch 24 again and again and again. Until then, please let this baller bounce.