If you look at the reams of coverage in newspapers outside the United States or follow the hours of television news broadcasts, you might conclude that foreigners had a vote in selecting an American presidential candidate -- or, at least, deserved one, so great is America's influence on their lives.To the questionable extent to which the 2008 presidential election will have anything to do with the future course of American policy, it is perhaps fair to say that this election will determine whose lives the United States will ruin next. You might conclude that the victims should have some say in it.
And why not? They're the ones paying for our "way of life".
From Berlin to London to Jakarta, the destinies of Democratic and Republican contenders in Iowa or New Hampshire, or Nevada or South Carolina, have become news in a way that most political commentators cannot recall. It is as if outsiders are pining for change in America as much as some American presidential candidates are promising it.Outsiders couldn't really be pining for a change in American direction, could they? But for some mysterious reason, they act as if they did!
The personalities of the Democratic contest in particular -- the potential harbinger of America's first African-American or female president -- have fascinated outsiders as much as, if not more than, the candidates' policies on Iraq, immigration or global finances.Of course, outsiders are fascinated on whatever the media focuses on -- just like the locals! only worse. And the coverage always focuses on anything but the issues, especially the personalities. So how is this news?
It isn't, of course. It's pure spin. And there's lots more where that came from.
We've been reading Alan Cowell from Davos, Switzerland, in the International Herald Tribune:
And there is a palpable sense that, while democratic systems seem clunky and uninspiring to voters in many parts of the Western world, America offers a potential model for reinvigoration.Ha! America offers a case study of a murderous post-democratic industrial society going down the tubes fast, and taking the rest of humanity with it! But of course the IHT cannot say that.
"It is in many ways an uplifting sight to see a great democracy functioning at that most basic of levels," said Lord McNally, the leader of the small opposition Liberal Democrats in Britain's House of Lords. "Even with all the money, the publicity, the power of television, the person who wants to be the most powerful man or woman in the world still has to get down and talk in small town halls and stop people on the street and stand on soapboxes."Doesn't it just warm your broken heart to see all the warmongering zillionaires standing on their soapboxes?
Here's my favorite bit:
There is skepticism in some places that an African-American can actually win the presidency. "Can he win?" an Afro-Cuban cabdriver asked an American visitor in Havana. "I mean, can he win?" he asked, wondering if a black man could be elected in a land that Cubans are taught to see as riven with racism.You see? America is not actually riven with racism. That's just a myth that the Cubans believe, because that's what they are taught.
And it kind of makes you wonder: Do we believe anything that's false about any foreign countries, just because of what we're taught?
I have to give Alan Cowell some credit, though. He did get himself to Davos, whereas I am still here. And he also managed to sneak a few morsels of truth into his article:
There is deep interest in the campaign in the West African nation of Senegal, fueled in large part by a dislike of President George W. Bush and a hope that a new president will be more open to immigration and less hostile to Islam.This, too:
"I think President Bush is anti-Islamic," said Mouhamed Souleymane Seydi, 24, a hotel-management student at the University of Dakar. "It's become much harder for Muslims to immigrate to America or even to visit. If you show up at the airport with a beard and look Arab, you're going to come under intense scrutiny."
In the Philippines some displayed less concern, even with the Obama-Clinton race. "In the past we always have two white men talking about strange policies," said Alex Magno, 53, a political science professor at the University of the Philippines. "But probably if they get elected it will be the same as the old white men who contested the elections before."... which could knock Alan Cowell out of the running for The Stupidest or Most Deceitful Political Analysis of The Year Award ... if there are any other qualified candidates.
And -- so sorry, Alan -- there are some!
to be continued...