Get ready for a down and dirty US presidential election now that President Donald Trump’s rival Joe Biden has chosen a running mate. Trump will fight tooth and nail to win re-election but opinion polls show voters prefer Biden by a large margin. Barack Obama became America’s first black president. If Biden wins, his running mate Kamala Harris will become America’s first black and Asian vice president. Even though I am a naturalized American and have lived in the US for many years, I still can’t make head or tail of why Obama and Harris are both described as black.
Obama’s late father was black but his late mother was white. That makes him half black, half white but he is always referred to as America’s first black president. Harris’ mother was an Indian immigrant, and her father, who is still alive, is an immigrant from Jamaica. That means Harris is half black, half Indian. Although some in the media refer to her as black, others describe her as a woman of colour. None in the media described Obama as a man of colour. That means anyone with one white parent and one black parent is called black. But someone with a parent who is black and a parent who is Asian is a person of colour. I can’t make head or tail of this.
The expression “down and dirty” when referring to an election means very competitive, vicious, or fighting without principles. A “running mate” in election terms means a lesser of two political partners competing in an election. To “fight tooth and nail” means to fight fiercely or to fight very hard to get what you want. As a businessman, Trump knows how to fight tooth and nail and to fight down and dirty. To “make head or tail of” something means to try very hard to understand something. If you “can’t make head or tail of” something, it means you can’t understand it.
美國總統特朗普的對手拜登既已選好了競選夥伴（running mate），大家現在要坐穩了，去迎接一場爾虞我詐的（down and dirty）美國總統大選吧。特朗普會奮力作戰（fight tooth and nail）以求成功連任，但民意調查顯示，選民傾向選拜登，其支持度大幅度拋離特朗普。奧巴馬是美國史上首位黑人總統。要是拜登勝出，他的競選夥伴（running mate）賀錦麗將會成為美國首位黑人與亞裔副總統。即使我是個歸化入籍的美國人，也曾居住美國多年，但我仍然是一頭霧水（can’t make head or tail of），為何奧巴馬和賀錦麗會同時被形容為黑人呢？
奧巴馬的父親是黑人，可他的母親是白人，這令他一半是黑人，一半是白人，但他仍經常被指稱為美國首位黑人總統。賀錦麗的母親是為印度裔移民，而她那仍健在的父親，則是來自牙買加的移民。那即是說，賀錦麗一半是黑人，一半是印度人。即使一些傳媒稱她為黑人，另一些傳媒則稱她為「有色人種女性」，可是，沒有傳媒會把奧巴馬稱為「有色人種男性」。那即是說，任何人若有一位父母是白人，而另一位是黑人時，那人就會被叫作黑人；但當某人的其中一位父母是黑人，而另一位是亞洲人時，那人就是有色人種⋯⋯這實在令我摸不着頭腦（can’t make head or tail of）。
習語 down and dirty若用來指選舉的話，意即它是一場戰情激烈、兇狠，又或為求勝出不擇手段的競選。就選舉而言，a “running mate”就是一同參選的兩位政治夥伴中，居次席的一位。To “fight tooth and nail”即奮力作戰，又或為了得到你想要的東西必須竭盡全力。身為生意人，特朗普知道怎樣去全力以赴（fight tooth and nail），也知道要怎樣不擇手段（down and dirty）去戰鬥。To “make head or tail of” something就是嘗試去弄清某事；若你“can’t make head or tail of” something，意即你對某事茫無頭緒。[email protected] 中譯：七刻
Michael Chugani 褚簡寧