Wednesday, November 06, 2002
The Spanish take on the results of the United States midterm elections is that President Bush has received the support of the American people to continue the War on Terrorism and to attack Iraq. If the Spanish press had been paying attention to Bush's very high approval rating despite the country's economic slowdown, they'd have realized that the President is very popular and that most Americans support his tough stance on terrorism, national defense, and foreign policy. Instead, they indulged in wishful thinking--being a bunch of lefties, the Spanish press doesn't like Bush, and they exaggerated the importance of a few antiwar demonstrations in Cambridge and Berkeley and of a few antiwar statements by the like of Ramsey Clark and Jessica Lange to the point of actually predicting a "repudiation" of war-mongering Bush at the polls. TV3 ran some interviews with the "man on the street" a couple of days ago--on the streets of that typical Middle American place, Manhattan. All three or four of the people on the street who made it on the show criticized Bush and / or America, so they ran this as proof that the Americans were disenchanted with the President. Nothing, of course, was farther from the truth. One thing Spaniards have trouble realizing is that most Americans vote for the candidate and not the party, and it's very possible that someone, say, in the Kansas Third District, might vote for moderate Democrat gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Sibelius (especially since the Republican candidate was religious right, anathema to many mainstream Kansas Republicans still pissed off at what the far right did to the state school board when they got hold of it a few years ago) and for the incumbent congressman, conservative Democrat Dennis Moore, the former tough-on-crime Johnson County DA and a widely respected person who votes with Bush on foreign and defense policy, while still supporting President Bush and voting for popular longtime Republican Senator Pat Roberts, who ran without Democrat opposition anyway. (Well, that's what I did.) The second thing they forget is that Americans vote based on a lot more issues than just foreign policy, and that the Republican success is due to the fact that more Americans sympathize with their ideas and policies in general than with those of the Democrats. And what they haven't realized yet is that the change in the control of the Senate will have no effect on Bush's foreign policy anyway, since he already had majority support of the Senate on the issue of the War on Terrorism even though he didn't have party control. Anyway, we think that the very significant effects that the election results will have are those of unblocking the appropriations for almost all governmental departments except defense and of overcoming Democrat resistance to Bush's judicial appointees, an unconscionable number of whom have been held up in their confirmations by the Democrat leadership anxious to win some, any, even just tiny, political victories against the Republican juggernaut.