You just know you’re at an event for serious “political junkies” when you cast your eyes around the room and see Antony Green talking to Brian Toohey. In the midst of a room full of uni students, a group of suited neo-cons, and a handful of expats, I saw Antony and Brian chatting away in the Manning Bar of Sydney University yesterday afternoon.
I’ve never been to the Manning Bar before, and so had to ask for directions as I arrived on campus. As I walked in the room for the “Super Tuesday” event organised by the US Studies Centre the first thing I noticed were the red, white and blue balloons. And then I looked more deeply at those attending, and kept an ear out for American accents. For a while I didn’t hear single one, as it seemed to me the early arrivals were probably just the usual group of unkempt university students you would normally find in a university bar on a Wednesday afternoon. And then I spotted a couple of guys in suits who had that wide-mouthed shiny-teethed look about them. “Republicans”, Yes, you heard it here first: Republicans are mostly better looking and better-dressed than Democrats, with the exception of the Republican I saw (he was wearing a John McCain badge) who bore a remarkable resemblance to MIchael Moore.
Aside from Antony, there was one other person in the room I knew: an expat who has lived in Sydney for a number of years. It was great to get her insight into how the process worked, and to have it explained to me that although Obama had won more states, Clinton had won the more important ones. At one point she showed me a text message from her mother who lives in a small state which had endorsed Obama. In response to the question, “Why did they support Obama?”, her mother replied, “Because people here hate women more than they hate blacks”. When asked, the room was roughly divided three ways between those who thought Obama would win, those who though Clinton would win, and those who thought the Republicans would win. I’m guessing it was also an indicating of voting intentions in the room.
One interesting tidbit that emerged during the two hours I was there was that CNN presenter, Soledad O’Brien has an Australian father, Edward O’Brien from Toowoomba, which makes me think we might actually be related. Oh, and I so now totally get the Anderson Cooper thing. What a spunk!
It was my second encounter with some Americans in as many days, as I had spent the night before at Opera Bar with some friends of friends, a couple on their honeymoon, visiting Australia. “We hear nothing about Australia back home”, they told us, and “yet you know so much about us”. “Because nothing happens here”, I told them, repeating the quote from an American journalist – it might have been Walter Kronkite – who famously said, “Australia has too many journalists, but not enough news”. We had a great night at Opera Bar, by the way, and I can highly recommend the pork belly.
Otherwise it’s been a reasonably quiet few days for me. Work, come home, bitch about the rain, watch some television, and then go to bed, in a recurring cycle. That’s all about to change with the next few days becoming extremely busy. There’s a play tomorrow night, and there’s various Chinese New Year and Mardi Gras activities over the weekend. Swedish lessons start next week. There’s dinner with Yvette and dinner with Mark and catching up with MIchaela. It’s all too much.