Land of hype and glory makes rest look sweepingly plain
Katy Perry's support for Barack Obama was part of the glitz and glamour of the US election. Photo: Getty Images
According to Bob Carr, Foreign Minister of Australia and long-time history lover:
''There's nothing like a drawn out, bruising, American election contest.''
As he observed in the wake of Barack Obama's history confirming win this week: ''It's the greatest show on earth.''
While Carr is known around the traps for his rococo use of language (eg. ''big, juicy win''), in this instance, no one could accuse him of too much embellishment.
The US presidential election is one helluva show. For starters, where else would you have participants flinging more than $6 billion at the spectacle? Even the world's most expensive movies - such as Pirates of the Caribbean - had a mere $300 estimated budget.
Perhaps that's why the stars can't stay away. In 2012, we've had popette Katy Perry donning an array of rubber mini dresses emblazoned with pro-Obama messages. Bruce Springsteen rocked out for the President and Meat Loaf oh-so awkwardly serenaded Mitt Romney. Meanwhile, Clint Eastwood beamed in to attack Obama for using Air Force One … and speak to an empty chair.
But, with its rallies and speeches all decked out in red, white and blue and thousands of screaming ''fans'', even without the stars, the campaign was already showbiz enough. We'd be hard pressed to get that many people to a Springsteen concert in Australia, let alone to a political event.
The party conventions took all this, ramped up the screaming and added wives and families. That's right; you're not just getting celebrity and politics with your election. Here's some images of true love and domestic bliss!
In Tampa, Ann talked about how she loved her husband, before Mitt came on and talked about how amazing she was. And how he loved their many ''offsprings''. In Charlotte, Michelle talk about how she loved her husband before Barack came on and talked about how much he loved her. And how proud he was of their two girls.
Add to this some sweeping political rhetoric. ''Now is the moment where we can stand up and say, 'I am an American, I make my destiny, we deserve better, my children deserve better', '' Romney informed the ecstatic crowd. Obama told an equally rapturous audience: ''Know this, America: our problems can be solved. Our challenges can be met. The path we offer may be harder, but it leads to a better place.''
Next, came the debates. In Australia, we struggle to get the leaders to commit to one lacklustre election debate. In the US, it's a best of three battle - and they matter!
In the first, an unprepared Obama stumbled badly as Romney put on his moderate hat and everyone started to think ''knife edge''.
This election just got real, people! Then, in the second debate, Romney said he had ''whole binders full of women'' when he was (ironically) trying to prove how much he cared about employing women in high-ranking jobs.
The Facebook group ''Whole Binders Full of Women'' now has about 352,000 likes and Romney will never live the comment down. Indeed, in US elections, gaffes aren't just any old gaffes. They are outrage-inducing, meme-producing, vote-changing wonders. See also: comments about rape not leading to pregnancy.
As November 6 drew ever closer, the polls looked tight and ''too close to call'' became the flavour of the month. Both leaders campaigned and campaigned right up until polling day (and you thought Tony Abbott was energetic). Romney even kept up his public push as the polls opened, while Obama sealed his bid with an actual tear.
As the first results started to roll in, calls of ''it's going to be a long night'' went into overdrive, before Obama slowly but surely - and then quickly but surely - ran away with the win.
In Boston, a rather devastated looking Romney (well, wouldn't you be?) told supporters that he would pray for the reinstated Obama.
In Chicago, Obama had people in goose bumps by telling them, ''Despite all the hardship we've been through, despite all the frustrations of Washington, I've never been more hopeful.''
In Australia, we have been transfixed by the US election show, with many of the campaign's key speeches and moments playing out live on our TVs, computer screens and social media feeds.
Along with much of the rest of the planet, we take a keen interest in what is going on in the country that still touts itself as the leader of the free world. Particularly when we count the US as our best diplomatic pal … and they are dangerously close to the edge of a fiscal cliff.
But, in a week when we have largely ignored an equally momentous leadership change in China (remember China?), we should remember that, despite the bright lights and big thrills of the greatest show on earth, we are not American.
Supposedly, we are living in an Asian century and we don't have a vote in their fight.
Judith Ireland is a Canberra Times journalist.