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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

Dave:

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.

cheers

Brian



. . .
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 yearning for.

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:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/sep/10/uselections2008.barackobama
--
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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