(This first appeared in the Sunday Guardian)
India’s brother from another mother and the world’s #1 source of porn and engaging television shows, the United States of America, finally began its pivot to the general elections. Unlike in our country, being President in America actually means something. Not only do you get to live in your own palatial house, you can use your own personal plane to go on as many shopping jaunts as you want. Now, America takes its responsibility to elect a President very seriously. That is why elections for the next cycle begin as soon as a President is elected.
On the Republican side we have the guy who used to play Ridge Forester on the Bold and the Beautiful, Mitt Romney; representing the Democrats is the incumbent Fresh Prince of Washington DC, Barack Obama. Mitt Romney has been running for President since 2005. He never stopped running, even when he lost the nomination the last time to the guy who chose Sarah Palin as his running mate. This last year, even though Mittens was the presumed frontrunner, he still almost lost the nomination again, at various points during the primaries. The Republicans are as excited about having Mitt Romney as their candidate as bartenders in Delhi are excited about refusing a drink to Manu Sharma, so they tried all the other options-a crazy homeless lady from Minnesota, a guy who was once CEO of a pizza chain right out of a badly written SNL skit, a time traveller from the 1950s and the human personification of every ugly American stereotype ever-before settling for Mitt. In fact, Mitt Romney’s journey to the Republican nomination was littered with so many setbacks that bullied gay kids in small towns all over America were making ‘It Gets Better’ videos for him.
Mitt Romney is the bizarro Obama of this election cycle. The evangelist Republican base thinks his choice of religion is weird, the pundits who presume to speak for the American people would like to know who the real Mitt Romney is and everyone seems to be asking whether he is human enough.
Of course, our mandarins in South Block and their counterparts in the media will love Mitt Romney. Not only does he share their cold war mindset, he cannot stand up to powerful individuals in his own party because he has no real political base of his own. Romney is a feckless generic individual-with the charisma of a bottle of home-made disinfectant-who will say and do anything just to get elected. Where have I heard that before?
It is conventional wisdom in New Delhi that somehow Republicans are better for India. Which is strange, because as the last guy demonstrated, Republican Presidents usually break the world. An overwhelming majority of our foreign policy ‘experts’ and their ‘anonymous sources’ spent the first two years of the Obama Presidency talking about how the previous Bush administration was such a ‘good friend’ to India. Don't you remember how we could call ol' Dubya anytime of the night, to complain about how after gym class whenever we were in the locker room changing back into our casuals, Pakistan used to pick a fight with us to distract us so that China could sneak behind our back and empty a whole tube of Ben-Gay into our fresh, clean underwear. And Dubya used to huff and puff and threaten to blow someone's house down! Meanwhile, Chocolate Gandhi does not even bother poke us back on facebook.
However, the pundits stopped breathing fire and brimstone once Obama came to visit us to whisper nice romantic things into our ear while we relaxed on the back seat of his plush limo. No one even remembered President Woody the Cowboy anymore. That is because we conduct our foreign policy with the same combination of neediness and brooding that Bella from the Twilight series conducts her love-life. And just like her, our only objective seems to be getting a very old, pale white guy to give us his undivided attention.
The most hilarious part is watching Indian analysts grapple with American elections. Their usual habit is to pay attention to it only when someone says something bad and truthful about Pakistan, which helps our news channels spend a week gloating about how we are not hyphenated with you-know-who anymore or when someone says something racist about outsourcing, which helps our news channels spend a week gloating about how America is now scared of India’s growing economic prowess. Watching Indian analysts interpret American politics is like watching the tele-tubbies interpret complex mathematical equations.
What we need is a reality check from someone who has been there, done that – a commentator who really knows how American elections work.
I hear that a handsome soap opera protagonist might be free after November.