John Feehery: Speaking Engagements

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World Wants Obama, Which Means McCain Will Win

Posted on September 9, 2008



  According to a new world-wide poll put together by the British Broadcasting Company, the world is pulling for Barack Obama to win, which is the kiss of death for the junior Senator for Illinois’s campaign.



  “ US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama may be struggling to nudge ahead of his Republican rival in polls at home, but people across the world want him in the White House, a BBC poll said.  All 22 countries covered in the poll would prefer to see Senator Obama elected US president ahead of Republican John McCain.  In 17 of the 22 nations, people expect relations between the US and the rest of the world to improve if Senator Obama wins.  More than 22,000 people were questioned by pollster GlobeScan in countries ranging from Australia to India and across Africa, Europe and South America.  The margin in favour of Senator Obama ranged from 9 per cent in India to 82 per cent in Kenya, while an average of 49 per cent across the 22 countries preferred Senator Obama compared with 12 per cent preferring Senator McCain. Some four in 10 did not take a view.”


  If McCain wins, this will be fourth incumbent-less election in a row that the world has picked wrong.


  In 2000, the world wanted Al Gore.  I remember taking a trip to the European Parliament in the days following that election, getting pummeled by European parliamentarians about the supposed virtues of Gore and the supposed vice of George Bush.  The Euros desperately wanted Gore.  They didn’t get him.


  In 1992, the world wanted George H.W. Bush, who was seen as a far more experienced foreign policy expert.  Bush had successfully worked with international alliances to kick Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait.  He was an experienced hand.  Bill Clinton, on the other hand, was not widely known and had no foreign policy experience.  For Clinton, it was the economy stupid.  And for the foreigners who rooted for Bush’s experience, they turned out to be stupid too.


  In 1980, the world was afraid of Cold Warrior Ronald Reagan.  While they didn’t love the incompetence of Jimmy Carter, he did have some success, especially in the Middle East (as long as you don’t count Iran).  For many in the world economy, better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.


  Obama’s popularity abroad should not confused with popularity here at home.  Obama is popular abroad because he is young, he is new, he offers a different face of America.  Obama is also a pacifist, who will not forcefully advance US strategic interests.  But advancing US strategic interests is what being President is all about, so what makes Obama popularity soar in Berlin may undermine his popularity here or in Boston. 


  The world wants to vote in this election, but thankfully for McCain, they can only cheer (or jeer) from the sidelines