The European press registers its shock at the goings-on in the selection of a Republican nominee for the presidency.
POSTED ON DECEMBER 8, 2011, AT 3:30 PM
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?” These know-nothings are enabled by a U.S. press that has been “neutered by the demands of political correctness” so that it can’t say what’s obvious: These people are daft! Instead, it “proclaims one clown after the next to be the new front-runner.” The current favorite, Newt Gingrich, is actually considered an intellectual merely because he can create sentences with multiple clauses. Scarcely a one has even the most basic grasp of foreign policy. One said Africa is a country, another that the Taliban rule in Libya. Collectively, “they expose a political, economic, geographic, and historical ignorance that makes George W. Bush look like a scholar.”
That’s the scariest part, said Lorraine Millot in the Paris Libération. 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. Herman Cain, now thankfully out of the race, was the front-runner even though he couldn’t find a single coherent word to say about President Obama’s policy on Libya. He even boasted of knowing little about foreign countries. And yet it was his adultery, not his astounding ignorance, that brought him down.
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 Hicksville, Tea Party country,” it’s considered suspiciously elitist to show any interest in modern science or the world beyond America’s borders. “Say what you like about British politics, no MP of any party would dare to offer themselves as town dogcatcher while knowing as little about the world as the Republican presidential candidates.” We take public service seriously. Yet we in Britain, and everyone in the rest of the world, will suffer if “one of the lunatics” vying for the nomination makes it to the White House. “The American political system has seldom, if ever, looked so inadequate.”
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?