Slate has launched a promising new feature called “If it happened there”, which will describe US news “using the tropes and tone normally employed by the American media to describe events in other countries”.
The first in the series, penned by Joshua Keating, looks at the spectre of a government shutdown.
The capital’s rival clans find themselves at an impasse, unable to agree on a measure that will allow the American state to carry out its most basic functions. While the factions have come close to such a shutdown before, opponents of President Barack Obama’s embattled regime now appear prepared to allow the government to be shuttered over opposition to a controversial plan intended to bring the nation’s health care system in line with international standards.
Six years into his rule, Obama’s position can appear confusing, even contradictory. Though the executive retains control of the country’s powerful intelligence service, capable of the extrajudicial execution of the regime’s opponents half a world away, the president’s efforts to govern domestically have been stymied in the legislature by an extremist rump faction of the main opposition party …
Americans themselves are starting to ask difficult questions as well. As this correspondent’s cab driver put it, while driving down the poorly maintained roads that lead from the airport, “Do these guys have any idea what they’re doing to the country?”
The new feature (that last bit is a specific dig at Thomas Friedman, isn’t it?) was perhaps inspired by a similar, hilarious account of an imagined US shooting, by Eric Garland, inspired by coverage of the Boston bombing suspects.
He wrote in May:
In this region full of heavily-armed local warlords and radical Christian clerics, gun violence is part of the life of many.
Many of the militiamen here are ethnic Scots-Irish tribesmen, a famously indomitable mountain people who have killed civilised men – and each other – for centuries. It appears that the wars that started on the fields of Bannockburn and Stirling have come to America. As the sun sets over the former Confederate States of America, one wonders – can peace ever come to this land?