Written 3 November 2008.
After a grueling six years on the campaign trail, the Socialist Republic of the Federated Capitalist Commune of these Disparate United States of America, plus Puerto Rico, will go to the polls tomorrowish to elect a new leader. According to advertisements for Sky News’ coverage of the election, this is the most important election in the history of the United States. I would have though Lincoln v Breckinridge in 1860, but I’m just a dude with a degree in American History.
More accurately tomorrow, it’s the 148th running of the Emirates Melbourne Cup. They’ve been very good sponsors – supporting the Cup even before they were a company. The first Melbourne Cup was in 1861, so who knows if it even would exist if it weren’t for Lincoln winning.
It seems a long time since Obama finally vanquished Hillary Clinton – can you believe it was only five months ago? I tell you what was a long time ago, McCain finally escaping the Vietnam War after being held captive. That seems just like yesterday, however, because he keeps bringing it up as though five years in prison qualifies you for elected office. Maybe the GOP is just preparing the electorate for its 2012 candidate, Mike Tyson.
The most Presidential winner of the Melbourne Cup was Statesman in 1928. We were invaded by Russia in 1946, but that was mostly caused by the Parisian surrendering in 1911. That same year, George W Bush, who is a Comedy King (1910) was born in Newhaven (1896), Connecticut. His legacy is a bloodstained Baghdad Note (1970), mostly because he can’t Think Big (1974, 1975), despite his Mentor’s (1888) Bravo (1889) Carbine (1890) Arsenal (1886). So now, will it be McCain or Obama that gets The Victory (1902), or even a Clean Sweep (1900). Wasn’t that Tawriffic?
The US Presidential Election is quite different to the Melbourne Cup, not least because it features people instead of horses, although there’s some conjecture over whether Sarah Palin’s brain is more equine than human. Don’t get me wrong, I love her. For too long, the pro-life, small town, bespectacled, gun toting, mooseshooting, evangelical autistic vote has been ignored. Finally President Bush has a voice!
But the real difference is that it’s not first past the post, but based on the Electoral College. Let me explain: think of winning the Melbourne Cup; not as the horse that first gets to 3,200 metres, but as the horse that gets through certain sections of the course quickest. The first 50 metres, as you come out of the barriers and into the straight, that’s New Jersey, and it’s worth 15 votes: good to win, but not essential. From the straight to the first turn is about positioning yourself for the race, that’ll win you Massachusetts and its 12 votes. From the turn into the back straight you need to get on the rails and hold your position – you don’t want to lose touch, so it’s important to pick up South Carolina (8), Oklahoma (7), Wisconsin (10), Connecticut (7) and Nevada (5): those 37 votes will keep your campaign alive. From there it’s about keeping to strategy, so if you’re horse is wearing blue silks, you’ll want to pick up Illinois (21), New Hampshire (4), Oregon (7) and Washington State (11). Jockeys in red will need Alabama (9), Alaska (3), North Carolina (8), Virginia (13), Louisiana (9), Kentucky (8), Kansas (6) and Tennessee (11). About now we’re moving from the back straight to the final turn, and the black colt on the rails, which heading the Melbourne way is on the left, will have to win California (55) and New York (31), or it risks being boxed in and without a run. On the outside, on the right, the Grey Stallion needs Texas (34) and Pennsylvania (21). This could be a problem, as it being obstructed by a wayward mare that’s been flown in for the race. Out of the final turn and into the famous Flemington straight, and the race is down to which horse, or candidate, can stay the course, pick up Florida (27), get the 270 electoral college votes needed to find the line, and take the Cup. And the White House.
I hope that clears things up.
But alas, I can’t be bothered doing this anymore, so I’ll take my sojourn. I think McCain will fall over the line, mostly because I don’t want to jinx it. I like the Aiden O’Brien horses in the Cup, and will boxing them in a trifecta. I expect the once-a-year punters to get behind Mad Rush, but I’m not as excited as others. The best Aussie horse is Nom De Jeu, but my tip, based on absolutely no research, and with little faith, is Honolulu. Which is also President Barack Obama’s birthplace.
Dammit, I jinxed it.
(CP: The JB Cummings’ trained Viewed saluted in the Melbourne Cup, while Barack Obama survived the jinx to win the election.)