Let’s face it, America exists to supply the script-writers
of fiction an endless series of dramas – Peyton
Place, Dallas, Dynasty, The West
Wing, Lonesome Dove, The Sopranos, Deadwood, The Wire, Breaking Bad, House of Cards and latterly Homeland.
After watching, retrospectively, the 11th season of American Celebrity Apprentice, won by country singer John Rich, I’d be inclined to add Donald Trump’s series to the list. The back-biting, the bitching, Nene Leakes’ full-frontal verbal attacks on Star Jones and La Toya Jackson and Meatloaf’s belligerent stand-off with actor Gary Busey, made Newsnight and Question Time seem tame by comparison.
I should explain that I started watching this programme years ago when it was screened late night on Mondays on BBC1. It got me through several lonely miserable winters. I was fascinated by Donald Trump’s ostentation, his sartorial splendour - especially the red, rose or salmon pink tie which hung like the blade of a short Roman sword from his white shirt. He has a way of narrowing his eyes, like a big cat blinking in sunlight, which usually spells trouble for anyone trying to fake him out. The man in the long black coat, in the long black limousine, in the topless Trump Tower...It’s show business, I know, but I’ve a strong weakness for this form of larger-than-life reality. You might find that pathetic or even moronic, I couldn't possibly comment.
Anyway, there I was, watching the dvd of the first season of the American version of Michael Dobbs’ drama of political Machiavellianism, House of Cards, when Jeb Bush announced that he might consider running for the White House in 2016. That made Kevin Spacey’s homicidal conniving for the position of Vice President seem tame by comparison. Could the world stand another Bush fire or another Clinton (Hilary) sashaying over the White House parquet? When I was a child - about seven minutes ago - dynastic empire-building seemed a theme for stage play-acting (Macbeth) or television (Dallas) but, as I suggested at the start, American reality is stranger than fiction.
Fifty years ago this month anti-Castro insurgents fired a bazooka at the United Nations building in New York in which Che Guevera was addressing the General Assembly. The year before, 1963. they may have had a hand in the turkey shoot on Elm Street, Dallas, which shattered the back of President John Kennedy’s head and wounded the Governor of Texas, Senator John Connolly. They’re up in arms again, this time over the joint-initiative by President Obama and Cuba’s President Raul Castro, to relax American-Cuban diplomatic relations and ease trade, travel and other restrictions. They want no let-up in the war against dictatorship, and that, reportedly, includes President Obama himself and his use of Executive Orders to push through legislation.
JFK was murdered for going soft on Cuba and the Soviet Union. Yet President Obama, the instigator of punishing sanctions against the former Soviet Union for the war in Ukraine, is being attacked for going soft on dictators because he prefers to rumba with Castro rather than rumble in the jungle.
The politics of the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan, are what drew me to this series in the first place. At times it has struck me as eerily prescient. Before the latest US Embassy security alert, for example, Homeland had the US Embassy in Islamabad over-run and briefly occupied by the Taliban. This series started with a calamitous US drone attack aimed at a Taliban leader but which instead slaughtered a wedding party. This week’s real-life bloody attack on the school in Peshawar, in which 134 children and seven adults were massacred, was committed, say the Taliban, in revenge for drone killings of their women and children.
I don’t suppose Jeb Bush's southern state Republicans and Castrophobes, seething over President Obama’s appeasing of dictators, will measure this view against the claim by others that the President, for approving the increased use of drone attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan against the dictatorial Taliban, is culpable of war crimes. American reality is stranger than fiction. Were Donald Trump to pitch for the White House in 2016 against Jeb Bush and Hilary Clinton there’ll be a tri-partite dynastic dust-up that could make Dallasty seem tame by comparison.