Julian Assange said choosing between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was like “choosing between cholera or gonorrhoea”, says William Saunderson-Meyer. Picture: Matt Dunham/AP/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Politics makes for strange bedfellows. And housemates marry in haste, repent at leisure. Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.

The first saying is from a William Congreve comedy of manners dating to 1693. The second is by Benjamin Franklin, dating from the mid-1700s.

Ancient idioms like these weather the centuries because they contain that gritty grain of truth.

Now combine the two scenarios. Play it out against a mind-stiflingly dull backdrop where the parties cannot escape one another for a moment.

Make the protagonist a raging egotist with some nasty traits. Make the other party stuffy, convention-bound and pedantic, with an entirely different language and culture.

Voila! We have an implosion with great moments of comedy. Or, more precisely, we have the tale of Wikileaks editor Julian Assange, who has been living in the Ecuador embassy in London for six years.

In 2010, Sweden issued an international arrest warrant for Australian-born Assange when he failed to turn up to answer accusations of sexual assault and rape of two of his supporters. Assange claimed that it was all a conspiracy to extradite him to the US over his leaking of classified material.

He eventually surrendered himself to the Brit but when he failed to convince the courts to rule against extradition to Sweden, he broke bail and holed up in the embassy, to claim asylum.

There was widespread popular support for Assange. It is fascinating that so many vocal supporters of the #MeToo movement trying people on social media are the same people who were then happy to have their political hero, Assange, trash the rights of two young Swedish women to have their claims of sexual abuse tested in court.

Initially, everything went swimmingly, with the Ecuadorians proclaiming eternal socialist solidarity with their unexpected visitor.

But like most hurried marriages, the rosy glow didn’t last. Last week, Ecuador renounced any further responsibility for Assange, saying he should resolve his problems directly with the British.

It was a dramatic development but, like most divorces, a long time coming and, like most break-ups, precipitated by both important differences and incredibly petty ones.

Ecuador told Assange that they would cut his internet access if he did not refrain from activities that “could prejudice Ecuador’s good relations with other states”.

They also told him to stop leaving the bathroom dirty and to care properly for the “well-being, food and hygiene” of his cat. Assange must also pay for his food, laundry and medical expenses. It’s a bit like mum and dad trying to convince their loutish free-loading sprog, now in his late 40s, to vacate the basement and get a job.

Despite the simpering media propaganda, Assange was never an even-handed journalist. He acted calculatedly to advance the cause of his ideological allies and damage those he despises.

Assange said choosing between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was like “choosing between cholera or gonorrhoea”.

However, Wikileaks went ahead to drip-feed a steady flow of information, evidently provided by Russia’s intelligence services, which hurt the prospects of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party. Nothing was released that damaged Trump's prospects.

If Assange is booted from the embassy, the Brits will arrest him for skipping bail. Although he no longer faces an investigation in Sweden, unless he can elicit an unlikely undertaking from the US not to extradite and prosecute - and execute him, as he claims to fear - he will still be on the run.

Maybe his new best friend, Mr Trump, will show some appreciation with a presidential pardon?

* Follow WSM on Twitter @TheJaundicedEye

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.