Yesterday, Hillary’s concession and Donald’s victory speeches would be made only one mile apart at the Midtown Hilton at the Javits Center in New York City. As the night wore on, the Clinton party quickly soured in the ballroom while the Trump camp began uncorking the bubbly. The opposing sentiments set the two camps a world apart.
Clinton’s presidential campaign director John Podesta, with aplomb, delivered unwanted news: for now the Democrats’ dream had died and all those sobbing at the Javits Center should wipe dry the tears and call it a night. They would get some rest to renew their political fight.
The reaction, however, was far from noble among Clinton’s media ‘adorables’ here in Italy. There was weeping to be sure, but also gnashing of teeth.
The obvious despair (normal) was one thing, but the visceral reaction (not normal) was quite another.
The ultra-liberal American political-economic experts appearing on Italy’s state-run television talk shows were vexed, to say the least. The best way to describe the talk show atmosphere is to imagine a reenactment of the Jerry Springer Show from the 1990s, where boiling points were quickly reached and little mercy granted. Like Springer, the Italian host often got wound up in the violent verbal crossfire, calling for order in the court of public opinion.
The expert commentators were cranky. After all, it is not tutti i giorni that they have to do the pizza-and-espresso-fueled graveyard shift on political punditry.
They bickered, talked over each other, and threatened to leave the studio. And yet they made valiant efforts to track poll data all night, offering due diligence on why the results shifted literally every 3 minutes (often not in the direction they had wanted) during the neck-and-neck ballot results.
They would make hair-splitting projections for all 50 U.S. states, and with no commercial breaks in between and no Oracle of Delphi to call upon to change Providence.
The homegrown Italian television hosts, likewise, were especially worn thin on sleep and patience. They had to suffer through translating for their night owl audience all the politilingo thrust on them by American commentators who, while quite fluent in Italian, weighed in with unbearably heavy accents: “YOH pensOH kAY OHraH il nostrOH preZIdentAY ObamHA deBORAH eSSeRAY vIRAamentAY anZIoSOH. Hillary, ancORAH peJOE!” (I believe our President Obama must be very uneasy right now. Hillary even worse so! ).
“Ripete, per favore” (Say that again, please!), the pale-faced hosts would beg, cringing, as if they just heard nails grinding on a chalkboard.
As the morning fog cleared in Italy’s financial capital of Milan, a victorious Trump made a V-sign (also a nasty “take a hike” hand jester in Italy). The television protocol now was to roll historical clips on Trump’s American political miracle, but I sensed the producers had not quite planned for this. They surely had placed all their bets on Hillary’s success story, a vision they profoundly admired.
Nevertheless, after a few minutes of scrambling for the Trump b-roll, a pre-taped story line on Trump aired. It was textbook robber baron imagery of a topped-hatted, hardball-playing business executive strong arming his way to success on 5th Avenue. A top-model in one hand as he appeared to vainfully fix his hair in a Trump Tower glass pane with the other.
I am somewhat exaggerating, but you get the picture. A dashing, daring, and debonair crook.
Then naturally came a barrage of nasty images of the President-elect firing the young and innocent, like a hunter shooting frightened deer in the forest, and a bizarre exploit of him pushing someone over a desk.
Then they sung moribund financial funeral hymns of the European stock exchanges “plunging” in Milan, “rocking” Paris, a “spiraling” in London and a “diving” further on the Frankfurt index. There were the two refrains – the Italian daily double obsessions of the German bund –Italian titolo spread spiking and U.S. Dollar trading much lower against the Euro at such an early hour. Surely financial penance for the American political mortal sin newly committed!
It was clever, but tired propaganda. The Italian viewers, nevertheless, read the writing (that is, the graffiti) on the wall: “Here we go again: Silvio Berlusoni Reincarnate. Forza America! We invented this political animal.”
“And just like pizza we exported,” they said one-upping their cultural cousins, “the americani will devour our political fast food to grow even more obese. God bless (and good luck) America!”