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The world's verdict will be harsh if the US rejects the man it yearns for )I ewmind people, I will show both sides djf_
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Wed, 10 Sep 2008 08:06:02 -0400
Begin forwarded message:
From: Brian Randell <Brian.Randell () ncl ac uk>
Date: September 10, 2008 5:15:02 AM EDT
To: dave () farber net
Subject: The world's verdict will be harsh if the US rejects the man
it yearns for
Here is a column from a respected columnist, Jonathan Friedland, in
today's (UK) Guardian, giving a transatlantic view of the US election
- just in case you want it for IP.
. . .
Look at yesterday's opinion polls, which have John McCain either in
a dead heat with Obama or narrowly ahead. Given the well-documented
tendency of African-American candidates to perform better in polls
than in elections - thanks to people who say they will vote for a
black man but don't - this suggests Obama is now trailing badly.
More troubling was the ABC News-Washington Post survey which found
McCain ahead among white women by 53% to 41%. Two weeks ago, Obama
had a 15% lead among women. There is only one explanation for that
turnaround, and it was not McCain's tranquilliser of a convention
speech: Obama's lead has been crushed by the Palin bounce.
So you can understand my pessimism. But it's now combined with a
rising frustration. I watch as the Democrats stumble, uncertain how
to take on Sarah Palin. Fight too hard, and the Republican machine,
echoed by the ditto-heads in the conservative commentariat on talk
radio and cable TV, will brand Democrats sexist, elitist snobs,
patronising a small-town woman. Do nothing, and Palin's rise will
continue unchecked, her novelty making even Obama look stale, her
star power energising and motivating the Republican base.
. . .
But what of the rest of the world? This is the reaction I fear most.
For Obama has stirred an excitement around the globe unmatched by
any American politician in living memory. Polling in Germany,
France, Britain and Russia shows that Obama would win by whopping
majorities, with the pattern repeated in Africa, Asia, the Middle
East and Latin America. If November 4 were a global ballot, Obama
would win it handsomely. If the free world could choose its leader,
it would be Barack Obama.
The crowd of 200,000 that rallied to hear him in Berlin in July did
so not only because of his charisma, but also because they know he,
like the majority of the world's population, opposed the Iraq war.
McCain supported it, peddling the lie that Saddam was linked to
9/11. Non-Americans sense that Obama will not ride roughshod over
the international system but will treat alliances and global
institutions seriously: McCain wants to bypass the United Nations in
favour of a US-friendly League of Democracies. McCain might talk a
good game on climate change, but a repeated floor chant at the
Republican convention was "Drill, baby, drill!", as if the solution
to global warming were not a radical rethink of the US's entire
energy system but more offshore oil rigs.
If Americans choose McCain, they will be turning their back on the
rest of the world, choosing to show us four more years of the Bush-
Cheney finger. And I predict a deeply unpleasant shift.
Until now, anti-Americanism has been exaggerated and much
misunderstood: outside a leftist hardcore, it has mostly been anti-
Bushism, opposition to this specific administration. But if McCain
wins in November, that might well change. Suddenly Europeans and
others will conclude that their dispute is with not only one ruling
clique, but Americans themselves. For it will have been the American
people, not the politicians, who will have passed up a once-in-a-
generation chance for a fresh start - a fresh start the world is
And the manner of that decision will matter, too. If it is deemed to
have been about race - that Obama was rejected because of his colour
- the world's verdict will be harsh. In that circumstance, Slate's
Jacob Weisberg wrote recently, international opinion would conclude
that "the United States had its day, but in the end couldn't put its
own self-interest ahead of its crazy irrationality over race".
Even if it's not ethnic prejudice, but some other aspect of the
culture wars, that proves decisive, the point still holds. For
America to make a decision as grave as this one - while the planet
boils and with the US fighting two wars - on the trivial basis that
a hockey mom is likable and seems down to earth, would be to convey
a lack of seriousness, a fleeing from reality, that does indeed
suggest a nation in, to quote Weisberg, "historical decline". Let's
not forget, McCain's campaign manager boasts that this election is
"not about the issues."
Of course I know that even to mention Obama's support around the
world is to hurt him. Incredibly, that large Berlin crowd damaged
Obama at home, branding him the "candidate of Europe" and making him
seem less of a patriotic American. But what does that say about
today's America, that the world's esteem is now unwanted? If
Americans reject Obama, they will be sending the clearest possible
message to the rest of us - and, make no mistake, we shall hear it.
Full article at:
School of Computing Science, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne,
NE1 7RU, UK
EMAIL = Brian.Randell () ncl ac uk PHONE = +44 191 222 7923
FAX = +44 191 222 8232 URL = http://www.cs.ncl.ac.uk/people/brian.randell
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- The world's verdict will be harsh if the US rejects the man it yearns for )I ewmind people, I will show both sides djf_ David Farber (Sep 10)