International Papers


The international press realizes it won’t have Bush to kick around for much longer.

The international press struck familiar notes in its coverage of the U.S. midterm elections. Editorial writers at Britain’s Daily Mirror and Lebanon’s Daily Star reached into their big bag of clichés and pulled out the “C word.” The Mirror said that the Democrats must “use the US constitution to coral the cowboy,” while the Star declared that “American voters have demonstrated a belated understanding of what people virtually everywhere else have known for years: George W. Bush is a dangerous cowboy who needs to be restrained.” Displaying more subtlety, the Thursday cover of Britain’s Independent featured a huge photograph of the president with the headline, “It’s the War, Stupid.”

For some, the elections marked the end of an era—Spain’s El País said Americans have finally emerged from the “stupor” they fell into on 9/11, while a column in the Guardian declared that the “ugly American mark two is dead.” According to Simon Jenkins, “The gun-toting, pre-Darwinian Bushite, the tomahawk-wielding, Halliburton-loving, Beltway neocon calling abortion murder and torturing Arabs as ‘Islamofascists’ has been laid to rest.” Still, with Bush a lame duck—or as Le Monde put it, proving that most things sound better in French, “ un canard boiteux“—the papers know they won’t have him to kick around for much longer. Under the headline “Thank you, America,” the Guardian’s editorial writers indulged in a cathartic rant:

That long political hurricane has now at last blown itself out for a while, but not before leaving America with a terrible legacy that includes climate-change denial, the end of biological stem-cell research, an aid programme tied to abortion bans, a shockingly permissive gun culture, an embrace of capital punishment equalled only by some of the world’s worst tyrannies, the impeachment of Bill Clinton and his replacement by a president who does not believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution.”

According to La Tribune de Genève, the election represented “a triumph for women.” In an op-ed that claimed Hillary Clinton had “the presidential stuff,” the biggest argument in her favor seemed to be symmetry. (How Swiss!) The writer gushed, “[H]er return to the White House would … institute an astonishing succession: Bush (father), Clinton (Bill), Bush (W.), Clinton (Hillary).” The other winning woman was, of course, speaker-presumptive Nancy Pelosi, described by the Guardian as “the Armani-clad San Francisco leftwinger of the caricaturists’ dreams.”

The London Times’ comment editor, Daniel Finkelstein, a former adviser to Britain’s Conservative Party, counseled Republicans to “draw a line under the past” and move on: “[Y]ou need to change. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t have lost.” What kind of change? “Remember that you lost to the Democrats, not to a party running to your right. Beware of turnout-based explanations, the idea that you just need to get out more of your vote. Most of these are developed by people reluctant to accept that they have to compromise or change in any way.” Canada’s National Post echoed this sentiment: “The defeat suffered by Republicans in yesterday’s mid-term elections presents a sobering lesson to conservatives on both sides of the border: When right-wing parties stop being right-wing, they falter at the polls.”

The prize for the most ethnocentric headline goes to the Times of India for “Indian-American puts the Senate in balance.” According to the story, Virginia Senate candidate George Allen’s use of the term macaca “to twit a political worker from the rival Democratic Party” turned the tide in that race. The political worker was, of course, SR Sidarth, “of Indian ancestry but born and raised in Fairfax, Virginia.”