Gonzo Meets the Press #31 November 2, 2011
President Barack Obama has had to cancel several visits to Australia, due to
domestic politics, but the way the Republican presidential candidates are
performing, he will have no worries about the Opposition when he makes his trip
Down Under in 2 weeks.
The US Republican presidential election campaign is
slowly turning into an all-singing, all-dancing, all-dodging minstrel show –
fortunately without the racist blackface of the early minstrels.
But there is one black face that is making the campaign topsy-turvy, interesting and
And that, of course, belongs to Herman Cain, the former CEO of
Godfather’s Pizza and head of the National Restaurant Association, now the
source of two allegations of sexual harassment against him.
Cain keeps changing his story about the claims, although he still insists the
accusations are totally false. If one of the women involved breaks her
confidentiality agreement, the candidate may have to tell a different story.
In the meantime, Herman Cain is entertaining his supporters and questioners.
At the National Press Club in Washington, he was asked to sing, and unlike Bob
Katter and Stephen Conroy, this politician can hold a tune. You can see for
yourself by clicking on this link (http://wapo.st/tltsKL)
The song he’s singing at the Press Club is “He Looked Beyond My Faults,” which, he
told the New York Times (http://nyti.ms/rX47iM), would help explain his
faith and his journey. The lyrics are: “For it was grace that brought me
liberty. I’ll never know why Jesus came to love me so. He looked beyond all my
faults and saw my needs.”
Faults and needs the National Restaurant Association may expose.
But we can only hope that he maintains his humour as
he did to a group at the American Enterprise Institute when he explained his
9-9-9 tax plan – not the price of a pizza, but a 9 per cent individual income
tax, a 9 per cent business tax and a 9 per cent national sales tax.
Mr Cain told the audience: “By the way, folks, yes, I am an unconventional candidate.
Yes, I do have a sense of humour. Some people have a problem with that. Herman
is going to stay Herman. Thank you very much.”
Hear, hear, Herman.
And I wonder if the New York Times is already considering Herman Cain as the
logical successor to the former Republican presidential candidate. The
correction at the bottom of the blog says an earlier version misspelled the
surname of Herman Cain as McCain.
One of the other candidates taking part in the minstrel show is Rick Perry, the Governor of Texas, who’s just become a star
on YouTube, with a speech to a conservative group in New Hampshire, a key early
state in the primaries next year.
Perry has been performing badly in the series of Republican debates, and he seemed to adopt the comedy approach of
candidate Cain in his speech. (You can see the video which has gone viral on
YouTube in this link: http://usat.ly/vBycb4)
The governor laughs, gesticulates, takes his flat tax plan out of his suit
coat as if he’s pulling a rabbit out of his jacket, and occasionally mumbles
into the microphone. Was he drunk or on drugs, analysts are asking. I don’t
think he was, but those who disagree can certainly make a good case for their
At one point, Rick Perry praises New Hampshire as a “cool state,”
then laughs after quoting state mottos: “Live free or die” and “Victory or
death,” a cry made famous by Texans at the Alamo. It’s not normally a laughing
matter, nor is his sneering “I grew up on a farm.” (ABC AM on the video: http://bit.ly/uNZMpo)
Perry defended himself afterward, saying he felt good about the speech. He’s also recruited a new team
of advisers and launched an advertising campaign which portrays him as a “doer,
not a talker.” (The New York Times on the problems of his new look: http://nyti.ms/uKBtNL)
But there are fears among his supporters that he may have gone too far in his bid to be folksy. A
case of Perry trying to raise Cain, and falling flat on his face.
Rejoice in a thousand words
Back home, and it’s too early to tell if Alan Joyce will suffer a similar fate over the grounding of the Qantas fleet last Saturday.
I met Joyce for the first time on Sunday when he came into the Ten studios in
Sydney for a two-way interview with Andrew Bolt for The Bolt Report. He
was cheerful and relatively relaxed despite an airline and the fate of thousands
of passengers resting on his shoulders, and about to give his fourth television
interview of the morning at 9am.
The articulate Irishman is so full of words, spoken at rapid fire, that I was a bit surprised when a day later I heard
a grammatical gaffe in an interview with Fran Kelly on ABC Radio National
Breakfast on Monday. Fran asked him about what he would say to people caught up
in the Qantas grounding – eg, an 83-year-old woman stranded and stressed and 30
country doctors who couldn’t go home to look after their patients.
“I’ve apologised on multiple occasions to all our customers that would have been
disrupted by this, Fran. It wasn’t a decision that we took lightly, but it was
to avoid hundreds of thousands of people being disrupted in a similar way over
the forthcoming months, if we didn’t do nothing.”
I could understand a mischievous Irish youngster in Dublin, being stopped by a Garda and asked what
he was doing, replying: “I didn’t do nothing.” But this is Alan Joyce,
a master of science at Trinity College, Dublin, with a double major in physics
and maths, who normally believes a thousand words are worth a picture, rather
than the other way around.
I wonder what another Dubliner with the name of Joyce would have said?
Perhaps James Joyce might have told him to do as
Stephen Dedalus did in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man as he
prepared to go into exile from Ireland: “I go to encounter for the millionth
time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the
uncreated conscience of my race.”
The TWU would certainly like to see Alan Joyce go into exile from Australia!
Tom Krause is the supervising producer of Ten’s Meet the Press. His views are his own; always have