A Political Steeplechase?

It’s still a bit early in the year for the British public to concern themselves with who is likely to win the biggest steeplechase in the racing calendar. The Grand National is usually run on a Saturday in early April at Liverpool’s Aintree racecourse, and attracts millions of punters, most of whom will not place a bet again all year.

The race is something of a national institution, though it has its share of critics, most voicing concerns for the safety of horses and riders given the punishing nature of the course and the unusually high fences.

Over the years, many horses have been injured or killed in the Grand National, and frequently less than half the field make it to the finishing line.

The Grand National has much in common with the run-up to the United States Presidential election. For months now the runners have been cantering towards the first fence. At Iowa, Obama and Huckabee jumped it neck and neck, followed by Edwards just leading the favorite, Clinton, by a short head, and Thompson and McCain bringing up the rear. Iowa took early casualties, with Dodd and Biden both falling at this first fence.

Obama has settled nicely into an early lead as they head for New Hampshire, but one has to wonder if this inexperienced forty-six year old can hold off the competition in a race renowned for its unpredictability.

Among the leaders as they round the turn, Huckabee, owned by the Evengelical Right is well placed, having come from nowhere to lead Romney over the first fence. Romney, bred and trained by the Mormon stables, has been well placed in other races but has never won this major US steeplechase. That old war-horse, McCain, is battling well against the odds having gained on the leaders after Iowa, but there are question marks regarding his stamina, particularly given his penchant for suddenly turning about and running in the opposite direction.

To recap, then, as they enter the short straight before New Hampshire, Obama leads Huckabee with Edwards and Clinton neck and neck on the stand side. Behind them Romney is well placed, and two lengths back Thompson and McCain are battling it out for sixth and seventh position with a long gap back to Paul, and way back – at least ten lengths behind Paul – is Giuliani showing signs of distress. Giuliani could be in trouble, he looks like he’s limping badly. He took a bad knock at Iowa and I’m hearing reports he is definitely injured and may have to be shot.

So, on that positive note we’ll leave the race for now and return you to the studio, and the much more exciting news that Britney Spears is back, once again, in hospital!

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9 Replies to “A Political Steeplechase?”

  1. Do the horses practice two years or more for this one race? Do they ignore their daily job in favor of practicing? Does it cost billions of dollars to compete in the race?

    Our system of electing a president is broken. The only hopeful sign in the Iowa affair was the significant increase in the number of participants. Maybe people are seeing that something is really wrong with this country.

  2. Wonderful, RJ!

    Pity they didn’t have to submit themselves to a “weigh-in”, with corporate funding weighing heaviest! That might have handicapped Clinton and Obama and Edwards may have come to the fore – as he might still do – I’m shouting for him, but have made no bets.

    I think Kucinich is still back in the starting stalls !

  3. I seem to be having a perception problem with this newest batch of political rivals. All i seem to see of the race is the horses’ hindquarters, whether i’m behind them or not.

  4. Great spot of writing, RJA.
    And of course the jockeys would be in the Big Corp colours bearing fetching names like Glarse O’Klein, Hell Iburton, Bilge Water and Et Nay.

  5. Al – I believe many Americans are becoming aware their country is being plundered by those in power, but I’m not sure the system of electing a president is ‘broken’. Perhaps it’s never truly worked effectively, and so has allowed the manipulation of power by the corporates, that’s taken place over the last fifty years. It’s not a problem unique to America. I’ve seen a similar situation, though not as drastic, taking place in Britain as the two major parties move closer politically and the interests of big business take precedence over the needs of the people. I do think the British system has better ‘checks and balances’, though how effective they really are only time will tell.

    Twilight – make money the handicap? Now that’s a novel idea in America! Sadly, its not the case, but it is the reason Kucinich is still in the stalls. Not so much that he hasn’t got any, as those who have are using it to keep him there. ABC have refused him a place on their next Democratic debate, as Fox News has with Ron Paul. This is ‘Democracy in Action’.

    TOB – when John Kerry picked Edwards as his running mate back in 2004, the US Chamber of Commerce immediately swung all its member-support behind George W Bush, because they feared Edward’s policies. It’s unlikely they’ve changed their opinions in the last four years, given his promise to effect universal healthcare. He’s also pro-choice, so stands no chance of the evangelical vote, and though not radical on the issue leans towards gun control, losing him any support from the huge pro-gun lobby. We can hope, but I’m not optimistic.
    (Incidentally, John Kerry blames Edwards for losing him the presidency in 2004, even though it was Kerry who picked him! Apparently, they haven’t spoken since.)

    Anan – are we discussing horses here, or asses? On second thoughts, don’t answer that! 😉

    WWW – not forgetting Conoco Phillips, Wally Mart, and that old army jockey, General M Oters?

    Flimsy – On Sparrow Chat, I frequently find the comments more interesting than the post! My thanks to you, also.

  6. TOB – Karl Lyle isn’t in the saddle for this particular race. These days he buys up the older horses, when their racing days are finished, and sells them to Saudi Arabia – to be ridden by wealthy Arabs.

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