Opinion

How the Rest of the World Sees Us


Photograph: Alamy/Public Domain

While Republicans tout their jingoistic cries of “American Exceptionalism” it is interesting to note what respected foreign newspapers write about the United States and the ongoing Republican campaign saga. It gives us pause that while espousing such exceptionalism, their views and actions appear to be undermining those very pillars of our society that created the exceptional example that we have come to represent to the rest of the world.

The following excerpts from the European press are from the The Week’s Dec. 16 “How They See Us.”

The German press

The Republican presidential contest in America is a “freak show,” said Marc Pitzke in the German 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?” ….. Newt Gingrich, is actually considered an intellectual merely because he can create sentences with multiple clauses. ….. Collectively, “they expose a political, economic, geographic, and historical ignorance that makes George W. Bush look like a scholar.”

The French Press

That’s the scariest part, said Lorraine Millot in the Paris 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.

The English Press

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 Hicks-ville, Tea Party country,” it’s considered suspiciously elitist to show any interest in modern science or the world beyond America’s borders.

Don’t worry, said Matthew Norman in the London Independent. The fact that Gingrich is the latest threat to Mitt Romney’s inevitability just “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?

It is not surprising that the foreign press agrees with those of us who have some semblance of literacy and sanity. The latest OECD international statistics document that the educational level in the United States has slipped from the top to the bottom of the list of developed countries. Yet the Republican war on education continues with their candidates pledging to eliminate the Department of Education – an initiative started by Reagan and still high on their agenda.

Reducing education funding sounds crazy but in terms of unfettered capitalism they are “dumb as a fox.” By reducing support for education, Republicans and their financial supporters can create a permanent underclass. With rising fuel prices increasing the cost of long distance transportation it enables them to create a pool of uneducated, cheap labor right here. With the rising lobbying power of the CCA (Corrections Corporation of America), we may see a rise in the use of prison labor in the future as well as child labor.

An uneducated underclass enables Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and other tools of political reactionaries to convince working and middle class Americans to vote against their self interest.

Buckle your seatbelts. I think our country is in for a bumpy ride.
Vera Moldt

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Point Loma Democratic Club of which she is a member.

For a full description of the GOP freakshow see: Spiegel Online