I want you to think back to 2002, specifically the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in the good ol’ U.S of A. We Australians are pretty shithouse at any winter sports (due to our lack of snow and ice) but we also love any and all competition. For example, we’ll jump at the opportunity to turn two flies climbing up a wall into a contest. We’re frequently referred to as a ‘sports mad‘ nation, and the Winter Olympics is no exception to this. We don’t understand half the fucking ‘sports’ that are being contested, but we’ll watch in wonderment anyway – because that’s how we roll.
Now when it specifically came to the 2002 Winter Olympics, we didn’t really have high hopes. We’d never won a gold medal at a Winter Olympics and to be honest the team we sent over weren’t predicted to be bringing much of anything back other than some STDs, some souvenirs and some killer hang-overs.
But then a saviour came along – an accidental hero. His name was Steven Bradbury. Linguist Mark Gwynn best sums up this mans’ feat:
In an unlikely series of events, short-track speed skater Steven Bradbury became the first Australian to win a gold medal at a Winter Olympics. In Salt Lake City in 2002 he competed in the thousand-metre short-track event. After winning his first heat it seemed that his chances of progressing any further were slim – his quarter-final draw included two of the world’s best skaters, and only first and second placegetters would progress to the semi-final. Bradbury finished third, but one of the other placegetters was disqualified for obstruction, thus giving the Australian a spot in the semi-final.
In the semi-final race he was at the back of the pack. It looked as if he was out of the race, but when three other skaters fell he managed to finish second and secured a berth in the final.
Five skaters took part in the final race. Bradbury was last in the pack, when, in spectacular style, the other four skaters crashed and fell on the last corner. Bradbury passed the pileup and took the gold.
This man has even become a part of the Australian lexicon, with the expression ‘to do a Bradbury’ in common usage. The expression denotes that one is the unlikely winner of a contest, or that one has accidentally achieved success.
There is a candidate for the 2016 American Presidential Race who is totally doing ‘a Bradbury’ at the moment – her name is Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton. She may not be an unlikely winner of the presidential contest, nor is her success ‘accidental’ – but it is fair to say that if she wins, she wins on default alone. There are a few reasons for this:
1) As Scott Walker and Rick Perry have demonstrated in the past few days/weeks, the Republican party is running thin on certified ‘proper’ politicians. Jeb Bush is still hanging in there, much to the delight of the GOP establishment, but he has a couple of things running against him – predominantly that his brother is G.W. Bush and his daddy is Bush Snr. Unless the cashed-up Koch brothers decide to inject some serious money into his campaign, expect Bush to follow Walker and Perry out the door sometime soon. This must be a troubling prospect for the big end of town who were rolling these candidates – it just goes to show that money can’t buy charisma! It’s also a real worry for the Republican establishment, who now have to depend on untested and rogue candidates such as…
2) Donald Trump: The man with the golden flop and the sophistication of a baboon. Despite earlier predictions that his lack of political experience and unique ability to put his foot in his mouth more frequently than a baby would derail his campaign, this prophecy has not come true. In fact, he seems to feed off of it – his brutish backswings directed at anybody from Mexicans, to Muslims, the uber-rich, women and wind-mills tend to invigorate his base further – as if he’s tapping into some deep unspoken injustice. And maybe he is, but the fact of the matter is that although he is currently leading the Republican presidential race by quite a significant margin, this lead is slimming. Once the sugar hit of Donald Trump wears off and people start really analysing some of his policies and/or zany ideas, I predict you’ll see a precipitous drop in his numbers. As crazy as Americans are the majority of them (even Republicans) won’t back Trump’s call to axe all corporation tax, nor do they back his extreme rhetoric around border security and flat-out denial of climate change. Add his belief that vaccinations cause autism and that abortion is only for instances of rape and he’s firmly in the loony fringe too far out of mainstream America to be taken seriously.
3) The good news is that once The Trump eventually does trump himself, the GOP have him committed to standing down (meaning he can’t run as an independent and split the vote). So where does that leave the Republicans then? Well two up-and-coming candidates are the neurosurgeon Ben Carson and the ex-business executive Carly Fiorina. Now you’ll notice the titles I attached to these two candidates does not outline them as politicians… and that’s a problem. Much like here in Australia, we don’t mind if our politicians have had a crack at the ‘real world’ before dabbling in politics – in fact we encourage and reward it. Look no further than our newly minted Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. But Turnbull has something that Carson and Fiorina don’t have; experience within his respective country’s legislature (for approximately 10 years) before being allowed to wear the big boy pants of PM.
4) The candidates still running for the Republican nomination seem to have taken Walker’s departing advice to gang up on Trump. This will not bode well for cohesion within the GOP, nor will it help the remaining candidates trend towards a sensible middle ground. To out-trump Trump, Carson has been resorting to saying some pretty silly things; things a learned man such as him should probably not utter. Comparing Obamacare (Obama’s signature healthcare reforms) to atrocities like 9/11 or slavery (keep in mind this brother is black) and arguing that Muslim’s can’t run for office in the ‘land of the free’ will NEVER win support… unless you’re in America. Again though, just like Trump, the sugar hit will be short and sweet but as the race becomes serious there will be a critical mass of stupid shit said by these Republican candidates trying to out-do Trump that will simply make them unelectable to the American mainstream. This leaves the Republican candidates in an unenviable quagmire – be ridiculous to stay in the race now and ruin your chances in the long-run, or stick to the script and fade into oblivion…
5) Which leads to the Democrats. There’s a few attempting to run for POTUS, but there’s only a couple of candidates that can really challenge for the gold. Compared to the candidates way back in 2008, the field is weak. Gone are the winning smiles of such characters as Barack Obama (as he can only serve a successive 8 year term), Joe Biden (although he still might run) and John Edwards – they are replaced by the charismatically challenged Lincoln Chafee, Martin O’Malley and Jim Webb. These blokes are currently polling at 0.5%, 1.2% and 0.9% of the Democratic vote respectively; hardly a blip on the radar. Even the guy who isn’t running (Joe Biden) is polling better than these suckers with about 20% of the vote!
6) I have left out one contender though, a fanciful favourite of mine for the nomination – Mr Bernie Sanders. The only serious contender to Hillary Clinton has been polling well, and predominantly via grassroots campaigning. However, there are some issues that I believe will ultimately rule him out of being a true challenge to Clinton’s hegemony. Firstly and most importantly, he’s a self-confessed socialist. Although he’s pulling the numbers, that kind of title just doesn’t sit all that well with Americans’. You need look no further than the constant slurs against Obama being a ‘closet socialist‘ despite the fact he has been just as cosy with Wall Street as any other president. What do you think would happen if a self-declared socialist got into the White House?? Furthermore, he’s pretty old and if the heat John McCain sustained about his age in the 2008 race is anything to go by, the public and the press will be unrelenting on this angle. Also, despite wild predictions from those on the left, the evidence suggests that the ‘Bernie Sanders Surge’ has peaked and he can only flounder from here on in. As seasoned American political reporter Harry Enten pointed out,
the Sanders surge has slowed (or stopped), and gaining more support will be harder for him than it has been.
So that’s it ladies and gentlemen; that is Hillary Clinton’s competition. Considering the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave’ is arguably the most diverse and one of the most populous nations’ on earth, the presidential pickings are pretty piss-weak this time around. Despite the fact that Clinton ain’t that likeable and has a tonne of baggage to boot, I’m predicting she’s going ‘to do a Bradbury’ and skate this one home. But just like us Aussies’ didn’t give a fuck how that first ever Winter Olympics gold medal was won, I’m sure Hillary won’t be giving a fuck how she manages to get into that Oval Office.