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Viewpoints

United States Elections

Comment and analysis from Rome, Hong Kong, Washington, Berlin, London, et. al., October 24, 2008

Person holding coin over red and white and blue elephant and donkey. (Photo: Richard Tuschman / Getty Images)

Candidates' Worldviews Are Worlds Apart

ROME – Inter Press Service, Oct 23: The differences in approach to the world beyond U.S. borders between the Republican candidate, Sen. John McCain, and his Democratic rival, Sen. Barack Obama, remain both wide and substantial ... In broad terms, McCain identifies closely with the unilateralist instincts and Manichean worldview of the coalition of Israel-centred neo-conservatives and aggressive nationalists ... Obama, on the other hand, is generally seen as grounded in the "liberal internationalist" school, whose founding is credited to President Woodrow Wilson and which became the basis for the U.S.- and western-led multilateral order ..."

US blowback in Iran's elections

HONG KONG – Asia Times Online, Oct 17: "While the Islamic Republic of Iran is always careful to flaunt its independence from the United States, its next presidential elections in March 2009 may be decided more by the result of the US elections than any other single factor...In Iranian eyes, one candidate, Democratic Senator Barack Obama, believes in dialogue and peaceful resolution of conflicts. While the other, Republican Senator John McCain, is belligerent and endorses the military option. The leaders in Tehran see Ahmadinejad better positioned to tackle a president McCain, while a total break from Ahmadinejad would afford Iran the best opportunity for rapprochement with a president Obama. It is that clear cut."

Al-Qaida-linked Web site backs McCain as president

WASHINGTON – The Associated Press, Oct 22: "Al-Qaida supporters suggested in a Web site message this week they would welcome a pre-election terror attack on the U.S. as a way to usher in a McCain presidency. The message, posted Monday on the password-protected al-Hesbah Web site, said if al-Qaida wants to exhaust the United States militarily and economically, "impetuous" Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain is the better choice because he is more likely to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. "This requires presence of an impetuous American leader such as McCain, who pledged to continue the war till the last American soldier," the message said. "Then, al-Qaida will have to support McCain in the coming elections so that he continues the failing march of his predecessor, Bush."

Obama's 50-State Strategy Is a Gamble

BERLIN – Der Spiegel, Oct 22: "Conservative commentators already speak of McCain’s campaign in the past tense, listing all its tactical and strategic errors. Worst among them, by almost all accounts, was McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as VP candidate. Though she electrified the flagging McCain brand for a week or two, she’s now become a major drag on the ticket...Every day, it seems, Palin adds to her bad report card."

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The white lie that keeps Barack Obama awake at night

LONDON – The Times, Oct 16: "The hidden effect of race is even harder to predict in the Obama-McCain battle, since we are in uncharted polling waters - there has never been a black versus white competition at a national level in the US before. Complicating matters further, those people most likely to be prejudiced against a black candidate are also those least likely to talk to pollsters and answer surveys: there may be an anti-Obama block out there that is simply not showing up on the radar. Is it possible that a submerged racial iceberg could still scupper the Obama ship just as it appears to be cruising into harbour?"

Obama v McCain: foreign policy

PARIS – Le Monde diplomatique, Oct 2008: "As the presidential campaign ends, the views of Senators John McCain and Barack Obama on the international predicament of the United States have grown closer ... listen to their speeches, and it sounds as though both are running against George W Bush ... But listen more closely, and profound differences begin to emerge. McCain places particular emphasis on the threat of Russia; Obama tends to focus on more contemporary dangers, such as nuclear terrorism, biological warfare and climate change. Whereas both talk of reviving the North Atlantic alliance, McCain speaks of America’s historic mission to lead, Obama of the need to create a balanced partnership with Europe. These differences are more than nuance or rhetoric; they show contrasting perceptions of the emerging threats and the best ways to address them."

US election shapes up as duel of generations

KARACHI – Daily Times, Oct.23: Analysts believe that on November 4, Election Day, one of the surprises will be a heavy turnout of young voters, dubbed Generation Y. "This generation feels full of confidence, full of hope, and they feel empowered, so they will go to the candidate that taps into their feelings of hope and optimism,” Ann Fishman, president of Generational Targeted Marketing in New York, told AFP. "Obama was able to connect with this voting group using the Internet," Fishman said. "He approached them early and asked their opinion and got them involved," she said. However, Fishman warned the support of these young people, who value honesty most of all, is fragile.

America’s economy election

LONDON – openDemocracy.net, Oct 17: If the economic crisis continues to loom as the most important issue in the minds of the voters, this should continue to favour Obama - even though McCain is using a new-found symbol of hardworking American rectitude to fight back strongly on this very territory. Something could still happen to displace the economic crisis from its pole position in the race ... But it does begin to look as though the United States will elect (allowing for Obama's mixed ancestry) the first African-American president in history.

If Europeans could vote in US election, Obama would win, but then what?

DUBLIN – The Irish Times, Oct 23: This decline in US popularity has gone hand in hand with a weakening of the traditional transatlantic relationship and a steady loss of influence for the West as China and India gradually emerge as real global powers. If Europeans had a vote in the US election, Obama would win hands down. In Germany, Britain and France, at least 60 per cent of people prefer him to McCain, according to a recent poll by Gallup. Obama's popularity would provide an immediate boost for the transatlantic relationship, although he may turn out to be a more challenging interlocutor.

In U.S. election, turnout may outweigh any racial bias

CEDEX – International Herald Tribune, Oct 19: The fear of more than a few Democrats this year, and the private hope of some Republicans, is that, based on this axiom, the advantage in the polls for Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential candidate, is exaggerated; without a big lead in pre-election surveys, the outcome will be in doubt ... "There is going to be an exceptionally large turnout, and that will disproportionately help Obama," predicted the Democratic pollster Peter Hart. He believes a larger turnout of African-American and younger voters than polls measure will offset any private bias against a black candidate.

'Sub-continent population not interested in US polls'

CHENNAI – The Hindu, Oct 21: A substantial number of people in India and Pakistan have opined it did not really matter who is going to be the next President of the US, a new opinion poll has found. Nearly three in four respondents in Bangladesh (73 per cent) and roughly 9 in 10 respondents in India (91 per cent) and Pakistan (91 per cent) did not have an opinion when asked if they would personally rather see Senator Barack Obama or Senator John McCain elected president according to a report posted on Gallup.

The New President and the Global Landscape

HOUSTON – STRATFOR, Sep 23: It has often been said that presidential elections are all about the economy. That just isn’t true. Harry Truman’s election was all about Korea. John Kennedy’s election focused on missiles, Cuba and Berlin. Lyndon Johnson’s and Richard Nixon’s elections were heavily about Vietnam. Ronald Reagan’s first election pivoted on Iran. George W. Bush’s second election was about Iraq. We won’t argue that presidential elections are all about foreign policy, but they are not all about the economy. The 2008 election will certainly contain a massive component of foreign policy.

Viewpoints includes items drawn from international media opinion

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