Saturday, November 06, 2004

Americans Ashamed

The world is confused and dismayed with the recent election of George W. Bush as U.S President. Although our experience is largely anecdotal, the world wanted Mr. Kerry to win, while the majority of Americans voted for Mr. Bush. The divergence of viewpoints is overwhelming.

Watching possibly the most important election of our lifetime in Kathmandu, Nepal, was an interesting, yet somber, experience. Every television in every guesthouse was turned to either CNN or the BBC. Hotel lobbies were full of westerners and Nepali alike, all devoutly interested in the outcome. As seemingly the only Americans in town, everyone looked to us for explanations: "How can anyone vote for Bush?" "Why do Americans care more about stopping gays from expressing their love than their soldiers uselessly dying in Iraq?" "Bush is stupid – why do Americans like him?"

Since the results were tabulated, everyone we meet has expressed dismay, outrage, and fear about the election. A Spanish man at the Kathmandu Guesthouse said, "the world is sad today." According to the clerk at the Delhi train station, "Mr. Bush is a bad, evil man." A Dutch man at the airport noted, "this election was very, very bad for the world." A Brit opined that a second Bush term would lead to the end of America’s status as a superpower, something akin to the fall of Rome.

Public commentary has been perhaps even less kind. The Delhi newspaper called President Bush a "brain-retard." A German newspaper compared Bush to Homer Simpson, and noted his "Simpsonesque penchant for monosyllabic speech." The former president of Malaysia called Bush "heartless and merciless." In Pakistan, one of Mr. Bush’s so-called strongest allies in the War on Terror, a public opinion poll pegs the approval rating of Mr. Bush at 12 percent, while the approval rating of Osama Bin Laden is 72 percent.

A repeat of the last election is unfolding in America, and we are watching the world's negative reaction.

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