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OPINION | Sunday, 20 January 2008

A whole new ball(s) game

RAPHAEL VASSALLO

Anyone out there following the US Presidential elections? You know, that American equivalent of Celebrity Big Brother, held every four years to decide who gets to play leader of the most powerful country in the world, while Halliburton carries on running the show in the background?
And if so… don’t they make you jealous?

The Americans, I mean. Damn, I wish our politics was like theirs. Think about it for a second: whoever wins the November election, it will be a whole new ball game… without any balls, if the winner happens to be Hillary. Even in the unlikely event that a Republican actually pulls it off, chances are it will also be a total break with the past regardless: either a pro-choice, born-again liberal democrat (Rudy Giuliani); a comic actor with a fondness for Jesus, guns, and Chuck Norris (Mike Huckabee); or the anti-war product of a horribly misfired alien experiment (John MacCain).
There is even a chance that the winner will be a Mormon (No, not like Bush: I said a Mormon, not a moron…) and if so, Mr Mitt Romney will be the first-ever US President to enter the White House accompanied not just by a First, but also a Second, Third, Fourth and possibly even Fifth Lady. How’s that for something different?

On the other hand, if the Democrats win – a somewhat probable turn of events, considering the extent of the fine mess Boy Wonder went and got the Americans into – we might be faced with the prospect of President Barack Hussein Obama.
Unlike all other candidates, Obama is young, energetic, charming, moderate, and – most incredible of all, given the deep-seated cultural prejudices that exist in that country – a cigarette smoker. (There was something else about the man that was vaguely unusual among Presidential candidates, but I can’t for the life of me remember what it was… ah, yes, of course. He speaks this obscure language called “English”.)
Having said that, it won’t be easy for Barack. For one thing, he lacks the experience, stamina and sheer, unadulterated malice to take on an opponent as formidable as the Hillary from Hell. And besides, as one well-known political observer put it: “Obama’s ‘bin laden’ with a name that causes ‘Al Qaida’ problems for the US voter…”

So when all is said and done, the likeliest outcome is a return to the centre stage of the Hillaries and the Billaries. This means that, for the first time since Lyndon Johnson, we might have a President of the United States who is not entirely masculine. Not to mention the unprecedented fact that the country will also have a “First Gentleman”. In a manner of speaking, anyway.
Ah yes, I can see her now, President Hillary Clinton, addressing her inaugural press conference on the White House lawn. “… And in case you were wondering: I did NOT have sexual relations with that man…”
Which one? Bill? Of course not. She was far too busy shredding Whitewater documents at the time… and he was far too busy having sexual relations with every female intern all the way to Alaska.
As for Chelsea, we all know she was the product of a Virgin Birth anyway. So like I was saying: whatever the outcome, the United States of America just won’t be the same country after next November. Ever.

Which brings us emphatically back to Malta, where I can safely say that a similar prospect now awaits as the next General Erection draws ever nearer.
That’s right, folks, you know what I’m talking about. We are approaching that time of the decade again, when newspaper columnists take to writing meaningless little platitudes such as: “The electorate will soon be called upon to cast its vote…” or “The polling booths will soon be beckoning…” (Between the two of us, I have yet to see a polling booth “beckon” anyone. And if I ever see one, I will do what seven out of 10 Americans reportedly do, and visit a shrink.)

In any case: like the United States of America, whatever the result of the coming game of political musical chairs, this country’s going to change. Drastically.
I know because I was there, in person, at the Malta Labour Party headquarters in Hamrun, where Dr Michael Falzon (the Labour deputy leader, not to be confused with the WSC chairman of the same name) addressed the assembled multitudes… well, minitudes… and announced his party’s “Plan for a New Beguiling”.

Malta, the MLP deputy leader sonorously intoned, is simply crying out for change. And it’s true – literally. Every aspect of the Maltese landscape – the cliffs, the fields, the rubble walls, the cranes and building sites, the dust, the tarmac, the traffic jams; even the protected carob trees, as they are uprooted to make way for chains upon chains of cheap German ODZ supermarkets – all are desperately screaming for someone, anyone to come and rescue them all from the eternal pit of mediocrity that is Maltese politics.
Of course, it will be the MLP to deliver that change, or perish in the attempt. And here’s how.

The Environment
Make no mistake. There is simply no comparison between the two parties’ electoral platforms when it comes to the environment. For instance: where the Nationalists want to build two distinct golf courses, one in Malta and the other in Gozo, Labour wants to built two distinct golf courses… one in Gozo, and the other in Malta.
Also in Gozo, the PN envisages a fully fledged yacht marina, complete with five-star hotel, for Hondoq ir-Rummien. Labour, on the other hand, wants a fully-fledged hotel, complete with five-star yacht marina.
And once elected, a Labour government will lose no time at all in effecting a thorough and far-reaching overhaul of MEPA: removing all the blue-eyed Nationalist appointees from boards and DCCs, and replacing them with suitably red-headed Socialist stooges instead. How’s that for a breath of fresh air?

Foreign investment
The Nationalists only got us Smart City. Labour will go one better, and get us Clever Islamic Banking, Intelligent Intifada Investments, Shrewd Shar’ia Shopping, and, of course, Brainy Bahraini Business deals.

Infrastructure
Let’s not forget that the Labour Party also has grand designs for the Grand Harbour: 100 projects, no less, which are distinguishable at a glance from the Nationalist Party’s own 100 Grand Harbour projects in that they were officially launched a good 33 seconds earlier.
But most important of all, under Labour we will no longer have Ministers like Jesmond Mugliett racking up enormous cost overruns on infrastructural projects which are never completed on time due to conflicts of interest. Instead, the massive overruns will be racked up, and the deadlines missed, because of conflicts of interest pertaining Ministers such as Charles Buhagiar… which of course makes all the difference in the world.
As things stand, there is only one area where were the two parties’ infrastructural policies are utterly indistinguishable one from the other. For the PN wants to turn the Opera House site into a House of Parliament. Labour, on the other hand, wants to turn it into a Business and Commercial Centre… which of course is one and the same thing.

Oh, and I almost forgot. There is one other sector which is almost certain suffer a radical transformation at the hands of a newly elected Labour government. Public transport… in particular, the National Gravy Train.
This mode of transport, extremely popular among Nationalist apparatchiks, will be reformed along a whole new itinerary, ignoring all previous stops, and instead following a new and unprecedented routes whereby the other half of the country might actually get a few goodies of their own after 20 years out in the cold.
Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Well, the answer depends on how much gravy you’ve all been stuffing your face with.

And so, my droogs, just like the Land of the Free-To-Air, Malta, too, is set to experience a whole new game of bollocks, regardless of who actually comes into power. You just wait…

 



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