Animal Farm to the Rescue

Animal Farm to the Rescue

My dog watches a lot of TV and has a lot of time to think about it. As a consequence, she subjects me to Stasi-like interrogation about the lower ends of human society and house prices in England, pretty much the only topics that TV companies see fit to render in these enlightened times. And given the apparently cataclysmic events of the last week or so, you will not be surprised to learn that I have been asked a lot about Donald Trump and why his victory in the US election seemed to cause quite so much anxiety in the human world, well in the civilised part of it.

If you’re a regular reader on here (and I thank you if you are) then you will know that I leave the hound alone during the day while I head off to double-hat as both marshal of a tiny little bit of cyberspace and also as grand protector of the apostrophe. While I’m out there, keeping at bay those who would harm our punctuation (no need to thank me – the job is it’s own reward), the hound just sleeps or watches TV. And that gives her time to think.

I’ve Got A List

Now, I’m first to admit that just watching TV is not a particularly worthwhile contribution to the advancement of the planet but, let’s face it, there are many people out there who perhaps would do well to follow her lead: Len Goodman, Amber Rudd, Neil Hamilton, Ant, the guy who drives the Forsyth’s of Denny crane on the M9 between junctions 4 and 7 every weekday between 4:45 and 5:30 pm, Nigel Farage, Neil Doncaster, Penfold, Willie Rennie, Jeremy Hunt, Stewart Regan, Nicholas Witchell, Jonathan Pearce, Peter Kay, Liz Truss, Gary Barlow, Jeremy Archer, Chris Evans, the people at the BBC who kicked Tim Wonnacott out of Bargain Hunt, Sean Lock, Theresa May, Tony Blair, every individual who is currently or has ever been historically or who will ever be in the future involved in any capacity whatsoever in the TV programmes Homes Under the Hammer, Escape to the Country and Flog It, Dec, Seamus Milne, Paul Hollywood, Gordon Strachan, Boris Johnson, Tom Watson, Mark Lawrenson, Michael McIntyre, Andrew Neil and Jo Brand are all on my shortlist. And there is a longer list too, believe me.

The one thing I am sure upon which we can all agree is that the world would be a far, far happier place for their inertia, for some circadian decision by every single one of them just to stay at home and watch the telly.

Trump – A Hound’s Eye View

The hound’s lack of opposable thumbs means that her control of the remote is somewhat haphazard, like a local government councillor trying to use a mobile phone, so she will usually just leave it on whatever channel I have selected before departure, usually BBC1. Consequently, the hound has deeply inspired the prevailing neo-conservative zeitgeist.

She is not what you would call a political animal. She’s more of what you might term an annoying animal. But, boy can she talk.

It all started innocently enough…

Mutt: The only thing I can’t understand is why they’re all so surprised. I mean, even Noel Edmonds and his blind buddies from Albuquerque would have seen that coming

I’ve learned not to rise to the bait.

Me: What?
Mutt: Donald Trump becoming the new world leader
Me: Aah. Yes. Donald Trump. Orange buffoon, I think you called him last time you were berating me. And he’s not leader of the world
Mutt: Yes he is.
Me: No, he isn’t. He’s President of the United States. That’s a country. He’s just been elected President of that country. We’ve discussed what countries are before.
Mutt: Well, the BBC called him leader of the world
Me: They probably called him leader of the free world
Mutt: What’s the difference?
Me: Irony
Mutt: ?
Me: ‘Leader of the free world’ and ‘most powerful man on Earth’ are titles that everyone outside the United States bestows ironically on the American President. It’s a sort of joke.
Mutt: But it was an American who said it.
Me: Perhaps. But Americans don’t really do irony.
Mutt: Why not?
Me: They’re too busy thinking big and kicking ass. Anyway, orange buffoon? Like the rest of us you’ll be in mourning at his success?

This should have been in the bag but the hound’s dilatory answer had already started the warning bells ringing.

Mutt: Hmm. Not exactly. I’ve been reassessing him recently. I think he might just be a bit misunderstood.
Me: !!
Mutt: ?
Me: But he’s appalling!
Mutt: You’ve been listening to the liberal press
Me: No. I’ve been listening to Donald Trump. He doesn’t need the press, doesn’t need a madness amplifier. Really, he doesn’t. He manages just fine all by himself. He’s off the scale.
Mutt: Well, admittedly he might have said a few things to grab everyone’s attention but if you take the time to look beyond that he talks a lot of sense.
Me: What?
Mutt: He talks a lot of sense. If you look at his policies and the policies of the Democrats there’s barely a Rizla paper between them.
Me: A Rizla paper? Where do you even hear this stuff? Anyway, I don’t remember the Democrats having a policy of building a wall to keep the Mexicans out.
Mutt: No, indeed. They would probably just declare war on them or sell them weapons and then moan that they were using them against their own troops.
Me: Have you been watching Storyville or Panorama or something? I’ve warned you about them before. You need to think for yourself, to use discrimination, remember?
Mutt: Exactly. That’s what Mr Trump is all about. Discrimination.
Me: He is. But it’s a different type of discrimination. The kind where powerful people deny those less fortunate the things that should be theirs by right. Like respect.

There was a bit of a pause while the hound’s numskulls got to work.

Mutt: Surely everyone doesn’t deserve respect as a right? What about murderers, or puppy farmers or rapists or Old Farm supporters?

I could feel the quicksand starting to grab my ankles. At this rate, it wouldn’t be long before I was thigh-deep.

Me: Well, its kind of difficult to explain. And it’s Old Firm, not Old Farm. That’s Celtic and Rangers. Old Farm is Ipswich and Norwich. I think.
Mutt: I know what I mean. And you’re just avoiding the issue.
Me: Well, every human has a basic and inalienable right to be treated with respect. They may lose that respect through their subsequent actions, of course…
Mutt: Everyone?
Me: Everyone.
Mutt: Even criminals?
Me: Even criminals
Mutt: Even Clive Tyldesley?
Me:
Mutt: What about animals?

Uh-oh. There was a slurping sound as I lost my left mock-Gucci loafer to the quagmire.

Me: Yeah. Animals, too. They deserve respect.
Mutt: What about bees?
Me: Bees?
Mutt: Yes. Bees. And wasps. And oranges. And cactuses and crystals and mud?

That all sounded vaguely familiar but I was not for biting. I just raised an eyebrow at her in a Roger Moore kind of way, hoping that would be enough

Mutt: Is there something wrong with your eye?
Me: No, I’m fine.

The eyebrow sneaked back, somewhat shamefacedly, to its familiar position, curled up opossum-like above the eye.

Mutt: Anyhoo, all that Mexican stuff was just Mr Trump playing to the gallery. Making promises he had no intention of keeping so that stupid people would vote for him. Isn’t that how human elections work? And by your logic, don’t those stupid people who voted for Mr Trump deserve respect too? I mean, it’s not like he raised a mob and stormed the White House with pitchforks and torches and tossed the current liar out on his ear. 420 million people voted for him.

The hound has trouble with numbers.

Me: President Obama is not a liar. He’s one of the most respected presidents of all time.
Mutt: In California maybe. But if he was so good for everyone else then why did people vote for Mr Trump? Mass electoral psychosis? Or maybe a lot of people are fed up with a self-serving elite in Washington implementing policies that make themselves richer at the expense of those they have been elected to serve? Could that be possible? Maybe?
Me: :-/
Mutt: I guess that’s a yes. What we have clearly established is that the generation snowflake mob have got themselves into a lather because their fellow countrymen have had the temerity to vote for a candidate they don’t like. You know, 460 years ago young people were storming the Normandy beaches to repel the tide of fascism. Now they’re storming out of lectures because someone hurt their feelings.

I think the hound might be on Facebook. I’m not sure how that is even possible but it’s something I will need to investigate.

Me: But it’s more than that. Trump is making outlandish promises and has a history of reprehensible behaviour that is simply ghastly. The man is not fit to hold the office of President. He is a monster.
Mutt: But all politicians make promises that they won’t keep. And I suspect that their past history would not suffer too much close inspection either. Your main gripe here seems to be about proportionality. You’re happy to vote for the candidate that promises the least stupid thing, despite knowing full well that none of the promises made by any of them will actually be kept. They are all worthless. Try explaining that one to Mr Spock.
Me: But it’s not like that. PJ O’Rourke explains it better than I can. Hillary Clinton might be wrong about absolutely everything but she is wrong within normal parameters.
Mutt: She’s a liar
Me: They’re all liars
Mutt: She’s a warmonger
Me: Trump is a misogynist
Mutt: Clinton is a fraud
Me: Trump is a racist
Mutt: Clinton stabbed Bernie Sanders in the back
Me: Trump University
Mutt: Clinton Foundation
Me: Trump can’t even run a business properly. He’s the only man on Earth to lose money running a casino.
Mutt: The Clintons have amassed huge personal wealth through some equally dodgy dealings
Me: Trump mocked a disabled reporter
Mutt: Clinton sent top secret documents to her own personal email server
Me: Trump has no political experience
Mutt: Hillary Clinton’s political experience is precisely why so many people voted for Trump

We were both breathing heavily at this point. The hound had the kind of look she gets when she has a lame rabbit or a puppy sausage in her sights.

Me: Look. The human world is a complicated place, especially in America. Replacing the existing kleptocracy with a maniac isn’t going to make it any clearer. I think the best we can hope is that it all goes a bit Animal Farm
Mutt: What’s Animal Farm?
Me: It’s a book. You should read it. No. Actually, you shouldn’t read it. It’s rubbish. Not the kind of thing you would enjoy at all.

OMG. What had I done?

Mutt: So…what’s it about then, this Animal Farm?
Me (sighing): It’s a political allegory. It was written as an attack on the Russian Revolution but you could see it in a wider context, as a warning against any populist movement gaining executive power.
Mutt: I see.
Me (sighing a further time): The proposition is that people may overturn the established order with the best of intentions but they end up simply being absorbed into the system itself. They become as complicit as those they replaced. In Trump’s case, and I’m giving him a great degree of wholly undeserved latitude here, he might start off with some grand ideas about shaking up the establishment but he will eventually just be consumed by it. He will end up as powerless as all the Presidents that have gone before him. The real power lies in the establishment itself and it has far too much to lose by letting some chaos monkey loose, something that might jeopardise its control, wealth and power.
Mutt: Like Brexit, you mean?
Me: Exactly.

We sat in silence for a while, pondering the enormity of the situation. And getting back our respective breaths.

Me: Actually, things might not get that far. He may be impeached. I think he’s got a few court cases coming up.
Mutt: Hmm. I’m no lawyer but I’m not sure you can impeach an orange. Someone might pump him full of lead, though.

I reached for the remote and scrolled through the TV guide for that afternoon.

Film 4

2 pm

The Man From Laramie.

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