Friday, November 05, 2004

Post-Election Euro Round-Up: Tears, an Entomologist, and a Sign of Hope

Here are a few items which I have either happened upon or which have been brought to my attention by correspondents and which I thought could be of interest in the aftermath of the elections.

A correspondent watching the German public broadcaster ARD from across the border in Alsace describes the following scene from one of ARD’s most prominent political talk shows:
“Sunday, on ARD, the weekly debate hosted by Sabine Christiansen was dedicated to the American elections. There was [German film director Wim] Wenders, who was enraged (ridiculous and troubling). He said that he would not be able to stand another 4 years of Bush in his “Wahlheimat” [adoptive homeland], that he was proud of Germany – and that the United States is a fundamentalist and totalitarian country. [Former German Minister of Defense Rudolf] Scharping said that wasn’t true. There was also [Christian Democratic Foreign Policy specialist Wolfgang] Schäuble and [former US Ambassador to Germany] Richard Burt, who was very good and looked at Wenders with the gaze of an entomologist”

(Note: In the interest of providing a balanced view of German political debate and German public broadcasting, I will follow-up shortly with a post translating some of Wolfgang Schäuble’s remarks on this same show. Comprehending Wenders may well require an “entomologist’s gaze”. But Wolfgang Schäuble is another matter entirely. This post will also have bearing upon some comments made regarding my criticisms of Deutsche Welle in “Hello World. This is Not Your Election”.)

I-Television is a relatively new 24 hour news channel available on French cable and satellite. The highly interesting French blog with the lyrical and apt title “Le Monde à l’envers” [The Inverted World] describes – not without a certain relish - the following election night scene: “the correspondent of I-Television in the headquarters of the Republican Party who starts to cry while announcing that Bush will be president for another four years. Ah, what a delight. Her hateful snarl as she points her finger at the delirious crowd singing “Only in America”, at the American flag, at the portrait of Bush that appears in the background projected on a giant screen….and the tears….Ah, what a moment of intense joy!”

A correspondent from the Netherlands provides some cause for optimism. On the Saturday before the election, the Dutch newspaper Trouw published a translation of the Norman Podhoretz essay “World War IV, how it started, what it means and why we have to win” from the September issue of Commentary magazine. Our correspondent translates the editor’s introductory remarks: “ We are all so very sure: Americans are superficial and Bush is dumb. Do we really want to hear more than clichés? We don’t really try to deepen our knowledge of America, let alone of Bush. Who knows his speech of 9/20/2001? Who knows his state of the Union-speech of 1/29/2002, his speech in West Point at 6/1/2002 and his declaration on the Middle East of 6/24/2002?” Who knows indeed? The Trouw editors seem to have been prescient. Now would be a good time for many a European to read these speeches and to become familiar with what the man says in his own words rather than the extraordinarily deformed version of them that circulates in so much of the European media – which have, incidentally and as will be discussed in a later post, been aided and abetted in their work of deformation by America’s own NYTimes. For those wanting finally to discover that “BUSH DID NOT LIE!”, but provided a rationale for the Iraq War which was compatible with the best available knowledge at the time – including, most importantly, the UN’s own published reports on Iraqi weapons programs – and which is indeed fundamentally compatible with what has been discovered since, I would also recommend President Bush’s speech before the UN General Assembly of September 12, 2002 and, of course, his State of the Union Address of January 28, 2003.