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    World Focus: John Kerry's good luck
    Posted on Thursday, November 04 @ 09:00:19 UTC
    Topic: Trinidad and Tobago
    Trinidad and TobagoNewsday Editorial

    PERHAPS, on sober reflection, Senator John Kerry will not feel so disappointed in losing the US presidential election since he will not have to face the task of cleaning up the monumental mess that George Bush has made both at home and abroad. If it is any consolation to him, this is the point which John Le Carre made in an interview more than a week ago. The British spy novelist said there was only one reason to vote for Bush, and that was "to force him to live with the consequences of his appalling actions and answer for his own lies." He observed that it might be preferable for Bush to be re-elected than "a Democrat who would then get blamed for his predecessor's follies."

    In the interest of restoring America's credibility in the world and of dissolving the widespread international hatred for the country that Bush's recklessness has generated, this newspaper had hoped that American voters would do the needful and bring a telling end to the Bush White House. Amazingly enough, from our point of view, this has not happened; instead Bush was given an historic mandate in Tuesday's election, receiving the largest voter support, 51 percent, of any presidential candidate in the country's history. It has often been said that the people deserve the government they get, and we may now be seeing a dramatic illustration of this piece of wisdom in the great American democracy.

    Senator Kerry may well ease the pain of his defeat with the thought that he gave his bid for the White House his best shot, warning the US electorate about the unfitness of Bush to lead the world's only remaining superpower, an incapacity that has been demonstrated most catastrophically in the illegal pre-emptive strike the president and his White House ideologues have launched on Iraq. One criticism of Kerry's election strategy holds that it has been too negative, but it seems to us that the stupidity and dishonesty of that "war" needed to be hammered home, since that act of madness alone should have been reason enough to get rid of the Bush White House. But the unprecedented mandate that Bush has received instead from American voters now makes the success of his counter-strategy quite clear; he has managed to effectively exploit the wholesale paranoia of Americans induced by the traumatic events of September 11, 2001.

    Such is the psychological fallout from these bombings and the obsessive fear that al Qaeda may strike again that Bush's so-called "war on terrorism" and the perceived protection it offers have become the paramount consideration, justifying even the lunacy in Iraq. The fact is that the Bush administration has divided the people of America as never before. And even a cursory examination of the geography of the election, looking at where each candidate has won his popular support, should be enough to illustrate the nature of the division. The states of the south and middle America, with their religious and ideologically driven populations, have come out strongly for their President who claims that God is on his side.

    The more intellectually-inclined, liberal-minded states of the east and west, including California and New York, have given Kerry their majority support. Those who live in countries like ours where the practice of democracy is fairly simple, may find it difficult to understand the American mode where the winner is decided not by the popular ballot per se but by an "electoral college" among the states and where the tensions and issues which divide the society seem to defy the application of reason and logic, a need for honesty and a sense of what constitutes the public interest. The consensus among voters is that Bush won re-election because of his stand on terrorism and values. Isn't lying to the world and launching an illegal war a gross and unforgivable betrayal of values? Is not the unwinnable occupation of US troops in Iraq an aggravation of the terrorist problem?

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