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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

McCain, Clinton, Obama, and the World

"We really need to bear down in these last few days. The whole world is watching." - Hillary Clinton; Scranton, PA; 4/21/08

She has it right. While I was separated from American news in England and Scotland last week, I noticed two stories that dominated European print and electronic media. Ironically, they both had to do with the United States.

First, United Kingdom Prime Minister Gordon Brown's visit to the U.S. was unsurprisingly covered. Brown, incidentally, is slowly but steadily growing unpopular with the British people for the same reasons they eventually became displeased with Tony Blair. Brown's continuation of Blair's "puppy dog" policies (acting as the right arm to President Bush) has frustrated them. The Bush Administration's foreign policy is less popular to the British than to Americans, though both are considerably more accepting than the countries and governments of mainland Europe.

Much was made of Prime Minister Brown meeting with not only the President, but also the three remaining presidential candidates. Senators Clinton, Obama, and McCain each took time to meet with Brown and discuss the potential futures of their unique trans-Atlantic relationship. The British media covered this by depicting Brown simply segueing unadulterated allegiance from Bush to the next President.

Speaking of segues, Gordon Brown is not the only foreigner paying attention to the presidential candidates. The rest of Europe, in addition to the rest of the civilized world, is paying close attention as well. President Bush is universally despised, with a realistic estimate of his approval rating falling somewhere between 10 and 15 percent. Just like 65-70% of Americans, the world is counting down the days until January 20, 2009. (Two hundred seventy-two, by the way.)

The European media has simplified the differences in the candidates to a geopolitical version of CliffsNotes. For examples:

  • John McCain wants to continue Bush domestic policies and acknowledges a likelihood of U.S. presence in Iraq for decades, and sees no urgency or necessity for troop withdrawal.

  • Hillary Clinton greatly differs from Bush in domestic policies and brings her husband to the table (a plus for Europeans), but voted for the war, though she now advocates troop withdrawal.

  • Barack Obama opposed the war from the beginning, is the first non-white to contend for the Presidency, and is presented as the most different from President Bush, all qualities that the world considers fresh and desirable. (Make no mistake, the media's affinity towards Obama is not limited to American pundits.
It is no surprise that the world pays attention to the election of the world's sole military superpower. (Due to the last seven years, when describing the U.S., the word "superpower" must now always be preceded with the word "military" in order to be accurate. More on geopolitics and international relations during the general election.) Clearly, the administration that steers the oval office is relevant on the world stage.

So, yes, Senator Clinton, the whole world is watching today. Pennsylvania voters will trample the polls between 7 now and 8 pm. For those checking in today looking for a Pennsylvania Primary Preview and Prediction, I spared you both the awful avalanche of alliteration as well as an unusually uninformed opinion. I was not able to do healthy research for ten days so I could not accurately follow developments in the primary.

Therefore, a preview you will not get, though a prediction I will wager. I expect Clinton to win by nearly double digits (8-10), which is par for both candidates for the state of Pennsylvania. I'll break down the results by the end of the week, while looking forward to what's next.

See you then.


Anonymous said...

Be glad you were out of the country during the last week of the Penn. primes. It was awful. Issues were left by the wayside as the candidates sniped and quibbled over non-issues. Fior the first time I really started to fear that McCain might win, not because of any great campaign or bold positions but because the press clearly demonstrated that it wasn't going to press candidates for issues. They go straight for the peanut every time. This can only work to the advantage of someone as hollow as John McCain.

Jim said...

IC, first, it's great to have you back.

Second, both candidates are campaigning as if they do not all care about the general election. It's personal now.

Anonymous said...

I have two questions for you.

1) Whatcha gonna do, if John McCain and all of his McCainiacs are elected to run while on you?

2)Do you smell what the Barack is cooking?

IC said...

Anon, McCain can absolutely win this election, which is astonishing when you consider the state of the GOP during 2007.

Jim, thanks for the welcome back. I think the reports of a fractured Democratic base are exagerrated. They'll coalesce.

Hilarious, Gwudzie! I'll have some thoughts on the candidates WWE appearance by the end of the week.

Jeremy said...

I liked your insights on the European media. It's funny. Do we *ever* talk about foreign politics in this country? What does that say about us, you know?

Welcome back.

The Dude said...

One word about the passed 6 weeks of this election,


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