I was sitting in my bed Friday morning with my iPad on the beside table to my right. I had a cup of tea steaming quietly and a notepad open on my lap, into which I was writing.
‘What,’ I wondered, ‘would happen when I finally reached out to open the Ipad?’
Australia kind of sits midway between the US and the UK in terms of time. It is at least seven hours ahead of the UK and at least another seven ahead of the US, which pretty much propels America back into the previous day’s timeline.
As I had got into bed the night before two things were happening. The first was that James Comey was about to sit down and deliver his testimony to the US Senate Enquiry about his dealings with the US President. This event appeared to be quite a big deal. People have been waiting for Trump to get kicked out of the White House since before he actually got in. Trump may have a point as he rails against ‘media attacks’ following the unparalleled level of journalistic scrutiny on his presidency, but his unorthodox approach has not paid off with traditionalists, appears to have upset forgeign allies and his occasional rants on Twitter sound more like undisciplined and childish tantrums than part of a broader media strategy.
Whatever people feel about his fitness for The Office, he does not appear yet to have got across the different complexities of running a political machine as opposed to a business empire – or changed his approach to doing so. Those who have been waiting for him to make a big enough mistake to prove fatal to his presidency might have been hoping this was the start. Even in Australia, the live testimony of the former FBI director was being broadcast live. It was being described as the Super Bowl of politics.
Meanwhile, in the UK, the country had been dragged to the polling stations – again. Theresa May had called a snap election in what some thought would be a fairly safe gamble to get a bigger majority to assist in getting agreement on the terms of Brexit in Parliament. Article 50 has been served / triggered and while it is now only a question of time until the UK withdraws, the burning questions around how are still deeply complex and unresolved. Her tactic was to get a bigger grasp for her party power so they could more easily control the decision. To effect this, she dragged an electorate already exhausted and bored of politics and punditry to the polls way ahead of schedule.
As I scribbled in my notepad, I thought that I could maybe hazard a guess at these two outcomes. Comey had already released a prepared statement so it was unlikely that there would be any huge immediate bombshell for the President, it was more likely that any testimony he gave would for part of a long, slow fuse. The UK election, though I was not sure about. I thought that perhaps the Conservatives would be returned but that they would not have an increased majority. May is not a charismatic leader and while Corbyn on the left had been roundly and repeatedly criticised for not resigning after Brexit like everyone else in the country, the alternative he appeared to offer was that of a leader who looked like he had a loom at home from which he made his own clothing while drinking dandelion and burdock wine and that was hardly attractive either.
I glanced across at my iPad, which had all the answers as I wrote. I could not help thinking of it like the Arc of The Covenant at the end of Raiders of the Lost Arc. That I would open it (it has a hinged keyboard attached) and all this terrible political news would pour out like a giant yellow searchlight and fill my bedroom with terrible energy. My head would start to melt and my eyes would appear to grow wider for a few brilliant seconds before the horror of my emerging skull would become apparent to the casual observer as my skin peeled back off my face.
Perhaps it would not be all bad news. One of the great mash ups in recent times is the trend #dogsatpollingstations on Twitter, featuring (unsurprisingly) photos of dogs who have gone with their owners to vote. Perhaps that had made the headlines. Maybe some sort of miracle had occurred and the people of Britain had decided that they did not want to be told what they should be doing and how much they were going to further lose of their public services and perhaps they had pushed back a little. Perhaps something might have happened to remind those who are elected that they are actually the employees of the public who pay their taxes and would do well to think on that before they open their mouths to remind the disadvantaged they need to put up and shut up.
Perhaps there might be a little more compassion and humility to be found in those who were elected to serve, and that they would be prepared to serve not themselves, but others.
I put down my notepad after finishing my writing, and reached for the answer.