In America, the Labor Day holiday has been and gone, marking the end of the summer. According to the etiquette of a bygone era, white shoes and gloves should no longer be worn in polite society until next May.
But as Washington’s political elite return to their desks after a summer at the beach, the gloves are coming off for a different reason. Serious campaigning starts now for the November 7 mid-term elections.
In the mid-terms, the entire House of Representatives, a third of the nation’s senatorships and 36 of the 50 state governorships are up for grabs. President Bush’s name is not on any ballot, but these elections are nevertheless a litmus test of his popularity.
His current ratings are near rock-bottom, so canny Republicans are wary of close association and Democrats scent blood. But it’s not all plain sailing for the opposition either – it’ll be tough for the Democratic Party to gain control in either House of Congress. A close fight is in prospect.
It’s a blessing to see the American media drifting back to a serious news agenda after a very silly summer season indeed. Despite bloody upheaval in the Middle East, most news editors have opted for much lighter fare – new developments in a lurid and unsolved case of a child beauty queen’s murder, the arrest of a polygamous religious sect leader and the breathless tracking of a hurricane which blew itself out even before reaching the US coast.
Although I may eat my words when, as November approaches, we find ourselves neck deep in campaign ads, shrill political lobbying and the braying tones of an American political campaign in full flow. I may find a new attraction for weather stories.