S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Our elections from a world away --

The 2008 Presidential Elections are on the minds of many people. So much so, that it is hard to maintain any kind of a rational perspective. As my regular readers know, it is my practice to seek information from abroad as a way to combat that recurring problem of distorted reality.

Today's visit is to Doha, Qatar, the headquarters of the notorious (in some quarters) mideast media giant, Aljazeera. In FOCUS US ELECTIONS 2008, Aljazeera's Special Section, we found some very good stuff. This intro to my post today was chosen because I had a blog visitor from Doha, Qatar (World Atlas map; location - 25º 15' N, 51º 36' E ) yesterday. If that reader looked at Aljazeera's U.S. election coverage, he would notice it has a bit of a different take than the way the press here does. Other elements of the Middle East's premier news site's journalistic slant are entirely familiar.

McCain's about face -- For example, the lead story reports on McCain's rejection of Pastor Hagee. The section has the entirely predictable ( and probably useful) "Timeline: US elections," three standard candidate profiles, and "Q & A: The US electoral system." In an excellent feature article by Rob Reynolds in Washington DC, "US election diary: under par," the author's most "outrageous" passages included these, beginning with a quote:

If I had my way, no man guilty of golf would be eligible to any office of trust under the United States." - H L Mencken.

The pre-emptive war in Iraq, started with lies and falsehoods, has gone on for more than five years now. It has caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians and fighters, killed either in clashes with US troops or other attacks, and many more driven from their homes.

More than 4,000 troops have been killed as a result of the war, tens of thousands have been injured, and the total cost of the war to US taxpayers will run, by one highly respected economist's estimate, up to three trillion dollars.

But George Bush has also sacrificed something for the war effort: Golf.

In a rather obsequious and fawning interview with the US newspaper Politico and Yahoo News, Bush disclosed that he was enjoying a game of golf in August 2003 when he got word that the United Nations building in Baghdad had been bombed.

Bravely, Bush decided to make what in his mind he no doubt considered a major sacrifice: He put his clubs away for the duration.

. . . Unlike the US media pundits, who tend to focus on the ephemera of gaffes and goofs, many scholars studying deeper patterns of voter behaviour point to three factors as being decisive in a general election.

The state of the economy is first and most important: The party in power almost always suffers defeat if the economy is going sour.

Second is the popularity (or lack thereof) of the incumbent president - if the sitting chief executive is unpopular, voters will spurn his party's candidate.

And thirdly, there is the element of change: Rarely will the electorate support the party in power if it has already ruled for two four-year terms.

By those criteria, McCain's chances of winning the White House do not look good.

Compare and contrast the two "Bs" -- It was worth the trip to Qatar just to read Marwan Bishara's fascinating piece, "Barack and Bill." A side by side comparison gives the perspective you will not find in the mainstream U.S. press. Here's a tasty morsel:

Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama grew up in broken families in modest homes but retained a dream that some day they would be president. They both had strong free-spirited mothers who left home and remarried, leaving the handsome little devils with their grandparents.

Both struggled on the border between Black and White America, and learned to confront racial tensions with a cool temperament and accommodation.

They attended Catholic schools as pupils and went to prestigious law schools, where they dabbled with drugs and married their college sweethearts, Hillary and Michelle, respectively.

After a difficult beginning, is now doing well. I recommend a visit every now and then; it can be very refreshing. I have the site listed in my aggregator, Bloglines, along with other nontraditional sources such as Haaretz Daily Newspaper from Israel, and Asia Times Online -- Middle East Headline News.

View my current slide show about the Bush years -- "Millennium", -- at the bottom of this column.

(Cross-posted at The Reaction.)

My “creativity and dreaming” post today is at Making Good Mondays.

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The Future Was Yesterday said...

We once were respected and viewed as the nation with the bottomless checkbook and the generous and caring heart.

In less than eight years, the world now sees us as it's biggest terrorism threat.

Carol Gee said...

Hi to you, Future/TUA/Dan'l --
The world's view of us comes out of its experience, huh?
The destruction or neglect, I don't know how to characterize it, of the diplomatic arm of the government is the next biggest loss after the 4000+ lives of our troops and the countless civilians in this unjustified war. It will take years to recover from the eight you note.
Thanks for your very articulate summary of a despicable epoch, my friend