Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Model For Others To Emulate?
Not So Much

e spend so many zillions on our elections that NPR has a full time reporter-cum-accountant named Peter Overby just to keep track of them. This morning he was sending me back to sleep with comparative superpac numbers.
Of course, the zillions spent here are only part of it. Our government shells out for “democracy” in countless other countries. I just read about another $50 million on tap for Russia even though they just finished their presidential voting. Then there are messy situations from Venezuela to Egypt where our “pro democracy” efforts are treated as illegal foreign influence. Us? Foreigners? Though we have such laws here, Washington apparently feel free to ignore them elsewhere.
The justification our leaders (both Dems and Reps) give for meddling in the politics of others is that since the U.S. is the global exemplar of democracy, it has an obligation to help the less virtuous model themselves on us. Apparently, that’s an opinion that provides either a good guffaw or a bad fright to the rest of the world. Below is a round-up of foreign comment on our election campaign so far.

From Germany
The Republican presidential contest in America is a 'freak show,' said Marc Pitzke in Der Spiegel. The candidates vie with one another to spew the most outrageous hard-right positions, denying evolution while endorsing torture and joking about electrocuting illegal immigrants. How did a major party in the world's sole superpower become a 'club of liars, debtors, betrayers, adulterers, exaggerators, hypocrites, and ignoramuses?' These know-nothings are enabled by a U.S. press that has been 'neutered by the demands of political correctness' so that it can't say what's obvious: These people are daft! Instead, it 'proclaims one clown after the next to be the new front-runner.' Newt Gingrich, is actually considered an intellectual merely because he can create sentences with multiple clauses. Scarcely a one has even the most basic grasp of foreign policy. One said Africa is a country, another that the Taliban rule in Libya . Collectively, 'they expose a political, economic, geographic, and historical ignorance that makes George W. Bush look like a scholar.

From France
That's the scariest part, said Lorraine Millot in Liberation. The only GOP candidate who knows a thing about diplomacy, Jon Huntsman, is dead last in most polls. The others careen to extreme positions that include starting new wars and abandoning old allies. And that's when they even have a position. Herman Cain, now thankfully out of the race, was the front-runner even though he couldn't find a single coherent word to say about President Obama's policy on Libya. He even boasted of knowing little about foreign countries. And yet it was his adultery, not his astounding ignorance that brought him down.

From the UK
There's a simple explanation for this bizarre phenomenon, said Max Hastings in the London Daily Mail. In the lunatic, gun-toting badlands of America's Hicksville, Tea Party country, it's considered suspiciously elitist to show any interest in modern science or the world beyond America's borders. Say what you like about British politics, no MP of any party would dare to offer themselves as town dog-catcher while knowing as little about the world as the Republican presidential candidates. We take public service seriously. Yet we in Britain, and everyone in the rest of the world, will suffer if 'one of the lunatics' vying for the nomination makes it to the White House. The American political system has seldom, if ever, looked so inadequate.
Don't worry, said Matthew Norman in the London Independent. The fact that Gingrich is the latest threat to Mitt Romney's inevitability confirms how inevitable Romney's nomination is. The thrice-married, ethically challenged Gingrich is unlikable in the extreme. Which means the nominee will be Romney, 'the slimiest, phoniest opportunist to run for president since...well, ever.' So sit back and enjoy this circus passing for a presidential election. It can't possibly end in a GOP victory. Can it?

From Cuba
The selection of a Republican candidate for the presidency of this globalized and expansive empire is — and I mean this seriously — the greatest competition of idiocy and ignorance that has ever been.”--Fidel Castro, who has survived ten U.S. presidencies.

(Thanks to LDB for providing all but one of the quotes)