A new era?

I am surprised to see a white-haired, white-suited American gentleman at the safari guesthouse. I ask him whether he has submitted his ballot by post.

“No member of my family has participated in a presidential election since Mr Lincoln ran for office in 1860,” he declares in a wheezy Southern drawl. “Any poll that could make that long-legged Yankee jackanape its winner is no better than a pig-in-the-poke auction at a carnival.”

I suck my teeth and nod, as if his views were widely held among the gorillas of the Congo. It’s best to humour eccentrics when you’re tending bar. I once served an Italian who said that Mussolini was the greatest of men. He boasted that he’d licked the fingers of Il Duce’s granddaughter when she gave him her hand to kiss. Imagine being proud of something so yucky! I wouldn’t have done that if she’d just eaten Chicken McNuggets. As for President Lincoln, I have nothing against the man. He made a number of clever remarks in his career and was assassinated through no fault of his own.

So it looks like Mr Obama has won. Call me a sentimental ape, but I’d always rather hoped that Sidney Poitier would be America’s first black president. What a noble fellow he played in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner! My favourite bit was when he told Spencer Tracey that he’d ditch Little Miss Muffet if the old curmudgeon so much as whispered a word of disapproval. Manners of that sort are rare these days, even in the most exalted circles. President ‘Kiss-My-Willy’ Clinton would have probably asked the girl’s father to buy her a pair of knee-pads as an engagement present.

I can’t help sighing wistfully at all these fresh-faced young Americans who expect the world to love their country now that Morgan Freeman Junior is headed for the White House. If only life were that simple! They should consider what would have happened if Dirty Harry had started sweet-talking everyone and inviting them to settle their differences with him amicably. He might have initially impressed a few wishy-washy types in the DA’s office, but the carping would have resumed the very next time he fired his 44-Magnum in anger. As for the hoodlums and assassins, they would have hated him all the more for behaving like a pussy.

I’m not saying that President Obama has to punk anyone out himself to prove a point – that would be undignified. But he ought to make a few strong appointments to send the right signals. My recommendation for the top job at the Pentagon would be Oscar ‘Mad Coyote’ Johnson, the big cat trainer from Nevada. He was seconded to our circus in ’95 and the lions used to piss themselves whenever he entered their cage. He remains the only human I’ve ever seen kick a full-maned adult in the posterior. On getting the defence portfolio, he’d take the first plane to Afghanistan in full circus gear – I assure you that he'd unravel every turban in Paktia province.

Yet when all is said and done, the fate of a great nation lies not in the palm of any one man, nor even in his navel or armpit. From sea to shining sea shall the people renew the cryptic chords of union. The granite-faced farmer of Vermont; the powder-faced hoochie of LA; the folks in between with the big, wobbly bottoms – together they shall bring forth a new birth of shopping malls and condos for the honest real estate speculator to chance his remaining dollars on. And given the current state of the market, that would be no bad thing. E pluribus unum poonam bajwa as we say in the Congo.

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