Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Someone please call 911


Photo from Radioteleginenhaiti.com


Yo, what up? Just heard Wyclef Jean is contemplating running for President of Haiti. On the strength of his various charitable foundations' track records, he's well qualified for that post.

It may be slightly tougher to meet the other criteria. According to one's adored Guardian newspaper,

To enter the race, Jean would have to prove he has resided in Haiti for five consecutive years, own property in the country and have never been a citizen of any country other than Haiti.

Owning property is hardly likely to be a problem and, presumably it can be any five years, e.g. from age 0-5, but making US citizenship go away could be a bit tougher.

I don't imagine he'd do any worse a job than any of his predecessors. In Haiti, an elected president with no previous experience in politics is likely to be an advantage, at least for its beleaguered populace. Wyclef could raise the country's GDP just by buying a cup of coffee.

Here in Australia, we are also about to elect a new leader. I mean 'leader' in the
Alexandre Ledru-Rollin sense of the word. He was the one who said, 'there go the people. I must follow them for I am their leader.'

Our choices are not between people who have dueted with Mary J Blige. That would have been a much more interesting contest. Rather, we have a Prime Minister who can not exactly claim to be 'sitting', unless she is having breakfast at the time, and a man about whom the very image of seatedness conjures up rather unseemly thoughts of inappropriately administered Lycra.

The candidates, Muzga Lard and Mezda Rabbit might have been inventions of Beatrix Potter, although I suspect she would have been less than impressed with their recent animations. Last Sunday night, we were treated to 'a debate'. It was notable for its complete lack of any element normally associated with the term 'debate'. As I understand it, a debate is an exercise in which opposing ideas are tested by argument. This was more like a Dadaist Punch'n'Judy Show in which the objective was to remain aloof and avoid any possibility of contact or clarity.

The rolling pins had apparently all been pre-purchased by Masterchef, the finale of which was appearing on the same evening. This situation in itself created an entirely fanciful conceit in which Australians were pilloried world-wide for preferencing a cooking show over serious political 'debate'. I'd have to plummet Heideggarian depths for which I'm ill-equipped to give that choice matrix any credence.

Fortunately, the reality is more explainable. The cooking show had scheduled its finale for Sunday, 25th July at 7.30pm. Not because it's spookily clairvoyant but rather that it has tedious weekly cook-offs where the true sport is to bet on which melts first; the chef's nerve or the butter in his/her pan. The finale, I'm assuming because I don't watch cooking shows - they make you fat - provides relief that someone in the country is able to successfully complete a three-course dinner for six without having to self-immolate in brandy as a face-saving dessert.

The Prime Minister could have called an election any time in the next six months. She popped in to see the Governor General an Saturday, 17th July. They got out their diaries and settled on 21st August as a polling date. I haven't participated in an Australian election since 1980 so I'm not up to speed on tele-debate protocol but I'm guessing the timing of it is not constitutionally enshrined. I gather the tradition is that the 'debate' between leaders normally takes place at 7.30pm on a Sunday night on the national network, sometime before the election.

I'm further guessing that the PR people who scheduled the 'debate' took a look at the TV schedule and concluded that to compete with the finale of Masterchef would be to toss an oven mitt-shaped gauntlet to the people to make a lifestyle and death choice, however pointless a concept that may seem to anyone with a fully functioning brain. Again, we'd need Heidegger to sort out that mess. If that poor man had been faced with the idea of view on demand, his head would have exploded.

Fortunately, we were never placed in the emergency situation of having to Heideggerise our viewing, thanks to thoughtful PR people who are in touch with we ordinary Australians and our love for guava and custard apple snow egg desserts.

So, what will Wyclef do if he's elected President? I'm thinking the road to reconstruction in Haiti is not going to be a simple three-step 'from the hut to the projects to the mansion' thing. I hope he's got something else in mind 'cause there won't be no 911.