I've been bemused by the pro-Palin hysteria on NZ blogs the last week or two, as I was bemused by the anti-Obama hysteria before it (and don't tell me you didn't notice any anti-Obama hysteria - on No Minister alone, he's been denounced as an Al Qaeda candidate, having an insane wife, involved with a corrupt political machine, that his only work experience is as a social worker, that some bizarre and incomprehensible theory about his birth certificate means he isn't a US citizen, and that he's some kind of Muslim.) For months, we had right-wingers railing against the "Obama-Messiah," now suddenly they found a Messiah of their own and the posts are coming just as fast.
I don't have any great enthusiasm for Obama. From early in the Democrat primaries, I didn't see how you could be anything but suspicious of a man proudly proclaiming "Change!" without once explaining exactly what kind of change you were in for if you voted for him. For example, you may feel like a change, but if you were to get cancer tomorrow, would that be the kind of change you were thinking of? "Change" doesn't tell you much by itself - could be good, could be really, really bad.
And of course, I certainly don't have any great enthusiasm for either McCain or Palin. They represent the status quo, which is at least not an unknown quantity like "change," but also isn't something I would have considered a very salable product.
The thing is, there isn't really that much at stake in a US presidential race, when you look at recent history. Clinton may have looked after the economy way better than the last few Republicans, but he proved just as fond of military misadventures, and such left-wing reform as he had planned was soon stalled and defeated by the inertia of the system. Bush has been about the worst US president in living memory: responding to an attack on America with his own full-frontal attack on Americans' civil rights; starting a criminal and disastrous war; wrecking the US economy; failing basic stuff like hurricane disaster relief; and so on - but the US continues much as before. And what if Gore had won in 2000 (well actually he did, but that's an argument for another time) instead of Bush? We wouldn't have had the illegal and disastrous war, but Gore has his own expensive and foolish obsession: global warming. So he just would have fucked things up in a different way. Basically, there's not that much at stake when you look at it - no point in getting all agitated over what terrible things await us if so-and-so wins.
The above isn't really what's bemusing me about the hysteria over the candidates on NZ right-wing blogs, though. What's bemusing about it is that it's all, at the bottom line, utterly and completely irrelevant to us. For most NZers, their level of self esteem would be unable to cope with the knowledge of just how deeply and conclusively unimportant we are to the USA. We not only don't have a horse in this race, there is absolutely nothing for us whatsoever in this race. We are equally unimportant to both candidates, and I'd be willing to bet the Republican Veep candidate has never even heard of us. So why all the fuss, guys?
1 hour ago