« US: conservatism | Main | ALP: a slow decay? »

October 21, 2004

US elections

It is difficult to judge the US Presidential elections from Australia and I struggle to interpret the significance of the opinion polls.

What I hear here in Australia is the strong rhetoric of freedom, fighting tyranny, liberating the enslaved peoples of the world and bringing democracy to the Middle East. I also hear the voices that express a fear of foreigners, American chauvinism and a belligerence that finds criticism had to accept. What links the two is Middle America; an America that accepts the assaults on American liberties in the name of security or patriotism. A middle America that accepts the national security state, is easy with the US being a global power, and comfortable with a global power losing its heart and minds war in Iraq and turning the US into an armed fortress.

I cannot make much sense of it all against a backdrop of a sanitised rosy image of Iraq and the chaotic dangerous violence on the ground.

Has Middle America public grown tired of a war whose rationale has disappeared along with the weapons of mass destruction. I have no idea. I hope that Bush does not win. I mostly recoil from a political rhetoric animated by a kind of fear and political anxiety,and talks about foreign policy in terms of crusades against evil doers. I hope Kerry wins but I fear Bush will.

I am pretty much in accord with Alan Ryan writing in the New York Review of Books. He says:

"From almost anywhere outside the United States, it is impossible to understand how Mr. Bush has even a remote chance of reelection. In most of Europe, two thirds of the population has never weakened in its opposition to the war in Iraqnot out of affection for Saddam Hussein, but out of a well-founded understanding that Iraq was irrelevant to the war on terrorism until President Bush turned the country into a terrorist's playground."

Ryan says that many see President Bush is a threat to world security. He goes on to say that on the domestic front:

"Under President Bush, the US economy has shed jobs; there are fewer Americans employed today than when he took office; fewer Americans have guaranteed health care than when he took office; his tax cuts amount to the organized looting of the public purse for the benefit of his friends and funders; and his fiscal irresponsibility makes Ronald Reagan look a model of prudence."

So how come Bush will be re-elected?

Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at October 21, 2004 07:39 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


Apart from the normal cheer squad of Howard, Tony Blair and Tim Blair's troglodytes, it is hard to find anyone outside the US who does not shake their head in wonderment that Bush has the slightest chance of re-election.

Perhaps the post-US 'China Century' may arrive sooner than predicted.

Posted by: Ron at October 21, 2004 10:00 AM

Uh, this is your ace reporter Art comming to you live from Middle-America, USA with a current report on the Presidential election situation. Right now, it looks neck and neck between Bush and Kerry as the two camps come down to the wire. Most of the rhetoric has been said at least 458,325 times (at last count) and, by American standards, this election has shown more dirty fighting than a Biker Bar on a saturday night. I'll try and answer your questions as to how GBush can possibly be elected.

One aspect is your opinion, Americans probably care as little about your opinion of who they elect as president as you care about our opinion of your govt. Australians may not be able to see how Bush could possibly be re-elected, but that is probably due to the fact that you've missed some of our recent history, i.e. Richard Nixon. There is a couple of maxims among and about Americans that didn't get into the popular lore due to inaccurcies: 1. Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public (reputed Samuel Goldwyn quote - of MGM) and 2. As long as their car and TV work, Americans don't give a shit about nothin'! (Sam Giancana, MAFIA crime boss)

As per the quote given elsewhere about America having "shed" jobs etc. This is true, I know because I am one of those shed. A certain amount of the job loss has come from the travel/vacation sectors (airlines, hotels, airplane manufacture and maintenance, and all the jobber shops that support these industries) which is directly linked to 9/11. Another sector heavily hit has been the IT/computer world (my field) which was doubly struck by corporate greed and dishonesty, and "outsourcing" of these jobs to India, Pakistan, Israel, England, China, etc. The greed, dishonesty, and theft that pretty much mark the American business world today is a direct result of the dishonesty, theft, and greed of the Clinton administration in which such things were apprently considered national policy. (You gotta remember, the Clinton's were the ones that ran the "White House Motel" where you could spend a night in the Lincoln bedroom for the right price. I was thinking of buying my face on a postage stamp, but I didn't have enough money.) It is agreed that the current jobs dandruff has happened on GB's watch, but cause and effect are often slow in this country. There was a story on CNN recently about a woman who had 8+ years experience in the IT world and was making $75K(US), but was laid off. Before her last day, though, she had to train her Pakistani replacement. The replacement was flown from Pakistan to the US, put up in a hotel for a week while she was trained, and then flown back to Pakistan to do the job for $5K(US) per year. Now, where is that GB's fault? Agreed, he could order some sort of tarriff, but that has to come from the Senate. He could tax the crap out of the company that did the outsourcing, but that has to come from the House of Reps. No, the solution has to come from the American corporate managers who should refuse to screw their own country (and therefore themselves) for an extra buck. (Yeah, right! I'll hold my breath.)

As to the "garunteed health care" statement, please be advised that nobody in this country (except the military) has any "garunteed" healthcare. What I think was meant was "health insurance" which is usually non-existent without a job. The numbers of uninsured is large (and getting larger), this is true, but it is because of unemployment, and the dual complaint is a little misleading. To say that a bazillion Americans are out of work and a bazillion Americans don't have health insurance is saying the same thing twice.

The cry of rape as per GB's tax policy may be quite accurate, although I'm not sure why this should be a concern of an Australian. Nobody is arguing that the rich are getting the biggest tax breaks and that this is a rotten deal but tax laws and taxation have been fairly nasty subjects througout history. As I recall, even Jesus was bitched at for having spent time with tax collectors.

Now, as to how Europe has never wavered from opposing the Iraq war, most Americans will probably answer something along the lines of , "So who gives a shit what Europe thinks?" which is probably close to what most Australians would say about a European comment about them. Unfortunately, Europe has lost a great deal of influence in the American mindset due to such incidentals as World War I, World War II, the holacaust, the Gulag and other notable inconsistencies of fastidiousness. To most Americans, the European penchant for duality, constant whining, and outright cowardice tends to evoke the picture of a helpless old whore shaking her umbrella and shouting "Shame, shame." We tend to see and think of Europe the same way Kevin Klein spoke to John Cleese's stuffy British wife in the movie "A Fish Named Wanda": "Do you know what you'd be if it wasn't for the good ol' U S of A? Well, I'll tell you, the smallest fucking province in the Russian Empire, that's what!"
Which leads to the basis of the common, but unspoken, disgust that middle America has for most of the rest of the world. (For some delightful reason, Australia nor New Zealand ever seems to be considered part of the lump. Prehaps it is due to Crocodile Dundee or maybe our common Mother England cast off heritages. In the American mind, I think we see Aussies as just a group of cowboys (singular, resourceful, polite, hard living, but don't take no shit from nobody) with funny accents.) The rest of the world seems to ignore the fact that the complaining, bitching Iraqi's squabbling over America are able to bitch, complain, and squabble about anything. Courtesy of the US military, of course. Before Saddam was run off to a spider hole, I don't ever recall seeing Abdullah Mullah, a local Baghdad shop owner, ever voicing his accented opinion on CNN. I don't recall the French or the Germans pissing on themselves because of anything going on in Iraq. But once America get's there, now there's crime and abuse everywhere! And we're supposed to take you seriously? I'd like of show of hands as to how many think that if the US were to pull out of IRAQ at 1200 GMT on the 30th of October 2004, that France and Germany would not be raising flags and setting up shop in Baghdad by 1201GMT 30 October, 2004?

Never, in the history of the human race, has there been a country as powerful as the United States of America. (Yes, I know, but our unstoppable conceit doesn't help any.) But 99.9999% of that power has never been used. It's not like we couldn't just go take the fucking oil.

So how does GB have the slightest chance of re-election? Easy, the election is among Americans. Now, is GB better or worse than Kerry? Who knows? I don't. But what we are electing is a President, a leader, someone who will have the ability to put a few million tons of TNT within 10 feet of where he wants in a maximum of 35 minutes. To the airheads who asked the question about the American election, consider this. I am an American, call it an accident of birth or a curse from hell, but it means I carry one of those green passports and that makes me and my family a target to every hard case whacko hate monger on this planet. I don't like being a target; and, unlike France, or Spain, or Germany, I have the ability to shoot back. America wants a leader, not a French-like milktoast whiner who's going to make apology for being alive a national policy. In case you haven't been paying attention, the Osama Ben Laden's of this world consider me an infidel. That means my continuing to breathe is an insult to his God. It doesn't matter whether I'm conservative, liberal, new-wave, or punk-rocker, that guy wants me, and those I love, dead. Period. Now you can say it's because of my govt is allied with Israel and there's this 10th century, backwards, illiterate problem with Palestine, or that my govt. has given those Bedoins a raw deal with their oil, or whatever the hell you want, but I'm getting tired of it.
I went through Vietnam folks, and I didn't like it. But more than that, I don't want my children nor my grand-children to have to repeat it. Therefore, if it means that we just simply turn a large part of Iraq, or Iran, or Lebanon, or France, or N. Korea into a glass covered parking lot, fine. We can discuss what to do next while the roentgen count falls.

Well, that about wraps it up from Middle America, folks. This is ace reporter Art signing off, and thanks for all the fish!

Posted by: Art at October 23, 2004 05:09 AM

'Which leads to the basis of the common, but unspoken, disgust that middle America has for most of the rest of the world'

The feeling is mutual. Bub.

Posted by: Glenn Condell at October 23, 2004 04:09 PM

UK, world: I am so sorry. Those of us who think that alienating the entire world and crushing hand-picked regimes through blind aggression is a bad idea seem to have no voice. Nothing I do seems to make a difference. Maybe this is a fear-based society, because I am terrified of what this mindless sheep-like electorate is going to lead me into. All I can ask is that you remember that we are not all in favor of aggresively destroying nations who don't serve our monetary interests.

Posted by: Candace McNaughton at November 4, 2004 03:14 AM

Post a comment

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)