Saturday, August 30. 2008
The Economist has a good cover story about John McCain and explains quite well why Americans might elect him as president. It is a good summary for the average reader, who is not a news junkie.
Such an analysis is missing in the commentary of a Washington correspondent with the German public broadcaster ARD: Anna Engelke fails to understand McCain's appeal. Instead she makes a list of problems for McCain (his age, the bad shape of US economy, high debts and deficit, two wars) and concludes that a skilled politician like Barack Obama has to lead in the polls, if you take a "sober look at it."
She mentions only two reasons why Obama does not have a strong lead in the polls: It might be partly due to his inexperience, but it is primarily due to his black skin. Engelke opines that Obama would win this election "with the utmost probability," if he were white.
And then she mentions that cab driver in Denver and that 80 year old in Houston, i.e. the (un)typical characters some journalists like to use as reference for their arguments, when they are too lazy to look up opinion polls or interview experts. Anna Engelke's commentary is titled "Latenter Rassimus bei US-Wahl" (Latent Racism Could Decide US Election).
Sure, racism does exist in the United States and opinion polls do not reflect racist sentiments accurately, because Americans do not want to appear racist, but: A politician like Obama probably would not have much of a chance to be elected chancellor. Yes, latent racism could decide the US elections, but so can a dozen other factors. Engelke's failure to consider those other factors shows once again the lack of understanding among Germany's correspondents in the United States. Watch the video statement by Rüdiger Lentz of German TV in Washington:
It would be great if German journalists would read the Economist and travel across the United States rather than stay at the East and West coasts. Hm, perhaps they do that already, but do not dare to ask too much of their readers by making complicated arguments and therefore talk about race?
Anna Engelke's commentary was published on the website of Germany's premier TV news program Tagesschau, which has recently also published an article by Michael Castritius (German, English) explaining the success of Jamaican sprinters at the Olympics with the history of slavery: Only the strongest men and women were taken from Africa to the new world. Only the strongest survived this hellish journey. Then they gained strong muscles working on the sugar plantations and the owners made them have sex with each other, says Castritius. Therefore Jamaican sprinters are now winning Olympic gold medals. If think it is not necessary to point out the many flaws in this line of argument to our smart readers. Via Spreeblick.
What's going on over at Tagesschau.de? Why this strange focus on race? Why don't they feature only sound analyses like The Economist?
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)
Pat Patterson - #1 - 2008-08-30 13:54 -
I doubt if Sen. Obama would have won the nomination much less a national election if he was white for the same reason that any other Chicago politician with sketchy experience and some very large and as of yet unrepentant leftist skeletons rattling around in his closets. Would a white politician have been given a pass for belonging to a white liberation theology church that honored on a regular basis local Chicago thugs and segregationists? The latest economic news is mixed but doesn't lead anyone to seriously believe that the economy is in the tank. The worst has probably passed especially as the last quarter showed yearly growth at 3.7%, aso-called horrible unemployment rate still half what it was during the worst years of Pres. Clinton's term and consistently below most European countries and for the first time in over 17 months housing starts and sales are greater than the previos quarter. Plus the theory on why Jamaican sprinters are doing so well is the same kind of racist claptrap I had to listen to in the 60's and 70's. There are more than a few world class sprinters coming out of eastern equatorial Africa that did not have the advantages of being slaves. Sprinters, of whatever race, need a low fat to muscle ratio, upper body strength, a slightly longer femur and most importantly good coaching. Usain Bolt is simply the best sprinter in the world and has all the physical advantages needed plus he has one of the very best sprint coaches in the world in Glenn Mills.
Pamela - #2 - 2008-08-30 15:20 -
How low does one's IQ have to be in order to be a 'journalist'? Pat is absolutely right - had Obama been white, no one outside Chicago would ever had heard of him. His resume is thinner than his skin, he belonged to an overtly racist 'church' and the people he's associated with over the course of his career can only be termed unsavory. McCain? He's honest. What you see is what you get. And I'm loving Sarah Palin.
Sue - #2.1 - 2008-08-31 02:50 -
McCain's choice of Sarah Palin has made this election very interesting all of a sudden. I was anticipating an Obama win but now I wonder. Palin is no less experienced than Obama. She is a provincial Westerner without prestigious degrees, etc. but obviously she's very smart and a popular governor. Some vocal Democrats have turned into the most awful snobs, and the more they sneer at her, the more the McCain campaign will benefit. Both Palin and Obama are charismatic and glamorous in different ways that appeal to different voter blocs.
Joe Noory - #3 - 2008-08-30 16:07 -
I think this might have something to do with ARD's office in DC being at a busy intersection in Georgetown across the street from a palm reader and a bar specializing in small-batch bourbon. She's lost her marbles. The democrats have toyed with the public's emotions and constructed a fake state of class warfare for years, along with identity politics. Like some hack from "The Nation" lauding Obama's parentage to two dubious social academics being "of the earth", I find ARD's SPON/2004 exhortation implausible. Obama wouldn't make it onto the ticket if he had two white parents, nor would anyone else who came out of Chicago city politics. Besides, MCCain's VP pick just spiked the left's shallow game of identity politics. Just as the democrats were trying to construct a meme that Biden's upbringing in Scranton, Pennsylvania were "humble", we're reminded that just abouth every person on this earth, not just emoting lefties chewing up the scenery... or anyone running as a Democrat, is humble as birth. Lesson to ARD: Dukakis had at this stage of the election a 17% lead but lost.
David - #4 - 2008-08-30 17:48 -
"Some very large and as of yet unrepentant leftist skeletons" What a joke. Keep trying, Pat. Obama is the most talented politician to come along since Bill Clinton. He pulled off one of the greatest political upsets of all time by defeating the formidable Clinton machine. McCain has made a made a mockery of the office of president by picking Sarah Palin. A heartbeat away indeed.... For once I agree with David Frum in the National Review: "But question: If it were your decision, and you were putting your country first, would you put an untested small-town mayor a heartbeat away from the presidency?"
Pamela - #4.1 - 2008-08-30 18:24 -
""Some very large and as of yet unrepentant leftist skeletons" What a joke. Keep trying, Pat. No. YOU keep trying. Jerimiah Wright, Bill Ayers, Tony Rezko and Rashid Khalidi are not jokes.
Nanne - #4.1.1 - 2008-08-31 13:04 -
Come on, except for Rezko, these are all classic guilt through association cases. I hear McCain got some Abramoff money, too.
Pamela - #18.104.22.168 - 2008-09-01 14:09 -
Whoa Nanne! Usually you are spot on, but not this time. This is not guilt by association. Obama's ties with Ayers, et. al. are not casual. Just as an example, google 'Obama Ayers Annenberg' As for McCain/Abramoff - I think you are correct that McCain got some money from Abramoff's firm - but it was McCain's committee (Indian Affairs I believe) that got the ball rolling on investigating the guy.
quo vadis - #5 - 2008-08-30 18:55 -
Geraldine Ferraro was right, Obama wouldn't be in the running if he was white. Speaking as a white American centrist who may vote for Obama in November, I can tell you that his race is part of his appeal. It's primarily for domestic reasons, as there are some issues that have lain dormant for decades that might be addressable under an African-American president, but I also believe that the symbolic statement it makes to the world is valuable. The US is often cast by critics as an inheritor of the worst of the white European legacy. We're not Europeans anymore if we ever were, we are always changing, always evolving into something new.
Don S - #5.1 - 2008-09-01 21:16 -
My thoughts have been running the same direction as quo vadis even though I'm more centre right than centrist. I see Obama as a symbol. I also see him as a 'global' play. Obama will be a rock star in Africa obviously, but I also see him having the opportunity to open some eyes in the muslim world. As a person of color he could be a big hit in Latin America, India, and even in Asia as well. I don't expect Europe to be impressed, but personally could not care less what Europe thinks either way. The other thing which Obama may bring to the office is a different world-view than that of McCain or really any US president since Truman. Obama is of the post Vietnam, post cold war generation. I think McCain is too fixated on the old world order, the world order predating the fall fo the Berlin Wall. He grew up in that order, his worldview holds Europe to be especially important - and aligned with the US - when it is neither. Neither as important, relatively speaking, as it was in 1970, nor necessarily a friend of the US. Obama may bring a fresh POV to the office. India and China are massively more important than they were in 1970. Europe is still important, but to my view not necessarily more important to the US than China, India, or even Latin America.
Marie Claude - #5.1.1 - 2008-09-02 11:56 -
I don't expect Europe to be impressed, but personally could not care less what Europe thinks either way. yeah, that's why your living in EU :) these american elections are "grand guignol" performances
Pat Patterson - #6 - 2008-08-30 19:16 -
No, instead the Democrats gave us the choice of putting that "untested" politician not a heart's beat away but actually that beating heart. Plus Pamela didn't mention the true boogeyman in Sen. Obama's closet, Saul Alinsky. He might be loved and quoted by some Midwestern leftists todaybut his shining legacy to the people of Chicago was the gang incubator of the Industrial Areas Foundation. Which today is mainly known as the incubator of several community organizations including the one that hired Barack Obama when he came to the city and delivering votes. Many of these groups main skill was in filling out grant papers or in gaming the system to cover for gang activities.
Pamela - #6.1 - 2008-08-30 20:38 -
Plus Pamela didn't mention the true boogeyman in Sen. Obama's closet, Saul Alinsky." Oh, there a quite a few I didn't mention - that Frank Marshall Davis person - now deceased who was a charter member the the U.S. Communist Party. In one of his books he refers to him only as 'Frank'. Hillary is a big Alinsky fan too.
Marie Claude - #7 - 2008-08-30 22:00 -
I don't understand why McCain chose Sarah Palin ; seems she would be the right girl for starring "Harcellement" I can't stand her image of a nice christian girl who deserves the sacramental bread
Pamela - #7.1 - 2008-08-30 23:23 -
Sorry Marie Claude, cultural disconnect here - Harcellement?
John in Michigan, USA - #7.2 - 2008-09-01 09:15 -
John in Michigan, USA - #7.2.1 - 2008-09-01 09:46 -
Marie Claude - #22.214.171.124 - 2008-09-01 12:08 -
Marie Claude - #7.2.2 - 2008-09-01 11:55 -
John, you always amaze me, how subtil you are :) you are my Champollion !!!!
Pat Patterson - #8 - 2008-08-31 00:01 -
A "nice Christian girl" who can play basketball better than most men, is the Commander of the Alaska National Guard and can fire, with qualifying military accuracy, an AR-16. I think the Christian girl you should look to here is not Bernadette but perhaps someone akin to Joan of Arc. And yes, in the US the governors of each state have their own armies.
Pamela - #8.1 - 2008-08-31 01:40 -
Don't forget the moose stew recipes! And she posed for Vogue - winter wear. They wanted her to wear fur but she told them she only puts that stuff on her walls. 'Harcellement' - harrassment? I'm not getting this.
Marie Claude - #8.2 - 2008-09-02 11:52 -
Pat, "a nice christian girl" that has a polichinelle in the drawer :) she isn't a Joan of Arc, yeah, you have been reading that on alaskian MSN :) she is a media creation, hollywood created such biographies too
Pat Patterson - #8.2.1 - 2008-09-02 14:14 -
Usually you have to have been heard of by Hollywood before they can fabricate or create a biography. She's, Gov. Palin, just as she appears, imagined warts and all. And the the something in a drawer simply makes no sense whatsoever. But I can only assume that you are not dragging the children of a politician in as fair game for ridicule. Unless of course that is quite accepable among the more nuanced of Europe.
Marie Claude - #126.96.36.199 - 2008-09-02 14:22 -
in EU, parents do allow their girls to take the pill, and avoid to tell them that flying dorks bring babies
John in Michigan, USA - #188.8.131.52.1 - 2008-09-02 14:28 -
It seems all the flying dorks of the EU come here to leave comments...
Marie Claude - #184.108.40.206.1.1 - 2008-09-02 16:10 -
oh my, I ment storks, Anyway your remark is "cute"
Marie Claude - #9 - 2008-08-31 00:45 -
I dn't know why but I can't smell this woman, a pale figure of basic instinct !!! uh tell me about a t a Romney's
Joe Noory - #9.1 - 2008-08-31 02:49 -
That's because you've got to actually -listen- to women, not just look at them when they're running for office. Palin made her way up in politics to state governor in a normal, natural way. Hillary, on the other hand was virtually assigned her Senate by the retiring Daniel Patrick Moynahan with more than a little help by the national press and big, doners and organizers parachuted in from out of state. Palin is for real and sincere in a way no Democrat running nationally has been for a long time. She lives her beliefs, she ran a business, actually worked, has a husband with a real job that wasn't handed to him, has 5 kids, took people in her own party to the woodshed when they were corrupt... she is the opposite of what you'd find in the venal and self-serving world of Chicago city politics.
Nanne - #10 - 2008-08-31 13:27 -
I think the analysis of the economist is not that good, but your point on the reporting of the German media is worth expanding upon. I've read the view 'Americans won't elect Obama, because they're racist' a lot in the European press (whether English, German or Dutch). There are two obvious implicit elements to that view. One, Americans are fundamentally different from us. Two, we are superior. If Obama gets elected, it will prompt a lot of second-guessing. Not that these journalists are necessarily going to be less smug. But they will lose some of their certitude and seem out of touch.
Don S - #10.1 - 2008-09-01 21:49 -
"I've read the view 'Americans won't elect Obama, because they're racist' a lot in the European press (whether English, German or Dutch)." There is some of it in the US press, as well. Probably the parts that the Europeans read. But it's not a general view because it's obvious after close observation that Obama is probably net benefitting from his race. He may lose some white Democrats, but not many people who voted for Kerry in 2004 will change because they hate blacks. 'Analysis' like this reminds me of the meter that one of the German magazines ran in 2004. Late into the campaign they had Kerry as 75% to be elected (despite hair-tin margins in the polls), presumably because it was so blatantly obvious to German journalists living in Berlin that it should be so. Unfortunately for german journalists the perception on the other side of the Atlantic were otherwise. "There are two obvious implicit elements to that view. One, Americans are fundamentally different from us. Two, we are superior." Yup. I might argue against the first one. I think many assume that the US will do the sensible thing (from a German journalist POV), then react with offended hauteur when Americans rub their noses in the fact they don't see things the same way. The superiority is a constant... ;)
Fuchur - #11 - 2008-08-31 15:30 -
A really stupid commentary by Engelke. While nobody will deny that latent (and not so latent) racism definitely does play a role, it's absurd to assume that this would be the decisive factor. Actually, alone the fact that Obama has managed to clinch the Democratic nomination against strong opposition should be enough to debunk this nonsense. Luckily, this is but one of the many reports/opinion pieces on the American election from the Tagesschau team. Apart from that, there's plenty of sound analyses and good reporting. In no way can be said that this one opinion is representative of the overall tone at Tagesschau. Regarging Palin: I have to say that my initial enthusiasm has given way to concern. Krauthammer pretty much says it: (http://voices.washingtonpost.com/postpartisan/2008/08/the_palin_puzzle.html?hpid=opinionsbox1) McCain's most important line of attack was: Obama is not ready. He has deprived himself of that by picking someone who's experience basically amounts to being mayor in an average-size town. So, what's he gonna do now? Engage Obama on his own ground? Just putting a young woman on the ticket is not going to convince people that McCain stands for "change". What's worse: It really reeks of window-dressing. Picking Palin looks like a desperate gamble - but things were going rather well for McCain. There was no need for this.
Joerg - Atlantic Review - #11.1 - 2008-08-31 16:56 -
[i]In no way can be said that this one opinion is representative of the overall tone at Tagesschau. [/i] I agree. I am, however, wondering why the Tagesschau.de folks select commentaries like those from Engelke and Castritius. The editors at The Economist would not let such commentaries on their website.
Don S - #11.1.1 - 2008-09-01 21:23 -
Joerg, I was going to make a quip about the gene pool German journalism draws it's talent from as a shallow one, but fear that might be taken as racist. Besides, I don't really think that. The problem is nurture, not nature, I fear..... ;)
David - #12 - 2008-08-31 20:04 -
Sarah Palin is a gift that will keep on giving. I've been tracking the commentary on Google News and the initial euphoria has turned quickly to buyer's remorse. To be sure, her contempt for science, her embrace of creationism, her serene ignorance of world affairs will energize the white evangelical voters in the former slave states. But they would never have voted for a black man anyway. The idea that Hillary supporters would embrace a Palin is absurd. She is manifestly unqualified; at the opposite end of the spectrum from Hillary. And she wants the Supreme Court to exercise control over the uteruses of our wives and daughters. What progressive woman voter would even consider supporting that?
Joe Noory - #12.1 - 2008-09-02 01:30 -
YOur comment use the same old specious tack we've seen for decades: screaming about local or state functions... "turning the clock back" etc... What schools (or the subject of any one of these subjects used to bleat) does the federal government directly run? Even DoD schools and those on Indian Reservations are independant. As far as turning the clock back, why is it that the donkeys are always trying to turn the clock back to the Russian Revolution or some baying idiocy of a 1970's Britch TUC conference?
Pat Patterson - #12.1.1 - 2008-09-02 04:16 -
David hasn't noticed that the target aimed for by selecting Gov. Palin was the nearly half of the electorate that is still considered working blue collar, white and increasing independent. In other words, Reagan Democrats. Enough of that category had slipped away from the Republicans to being about its loss of majority status in 2006. Aside from the fact that the Republicans brought most of their woes on themselves voluntarily. Plus David is not really being honest about the reaction to the selection of Gov. Palin as both the current daily tracking poll of Gallup, the Rassmussen Poll and the RCP averaging of polls show that the percentage of people now looking favorably at the GOP ticket has gone up slightly while they also show that on the average the Obama/Biden ticket shows a statisticaly insignificant bounce of 1% after the convention. And the only people that are claiming buyer's remorse are those on the left that were never buyers and considering how gleefully they have been repeating some base rumors have shown little remorse. Though they still have for most of the time held either a statistically insignicant lead to sometimes 6%.
Marie Claude - #12.2 - 2008-09-02 11:37 -
Im givin water to your mill http://www.wsws.org/articles/2008/sep2008/pali-s01.shtml uh, I cant wait for the remake of "basic instincts" : "Palin vs Putin" :)
Pat Patterson - #12.2.1 - 2008-09-02 14:20 -
Citing the World Socialists? Not even attempting to be serious anymore?
Marie Claude - #220.127.116.11 - 2008-09-02 14:25 -
Pat, as these "elections" are becoming "grandguignolesque", I took easily on myself to bring some more fun
unknownjane - #13 - 2008-09-01 04:09 -
First off, let's set the record straight (as opposed to some of the very slanted media coming out of the U.S.): Palin isn't trying to get creationism taught in the schools; in fact she is on record as commenting that she did not want anyone's religion or beliefs being an issue in education. She asked for compromise -- don't have creationism/intelligent design as part of the school curricula, but if it gets brought up in debate in the classroom that was ok. As an educator I see that as a practical response -- why waste time and money going back and forth over the issue, if the teacher is competent then they shouldn't have a problem fielding it in classroom debate if it should come up. As for her wanting "control over women's uteruses", that's not showing much knowledge of how our government works -- the Vice President does not make law, neither does the President, and the Vice President certainly doesn't name Supreme Court justices. I think this is a scare tactic. Roe v. Wade has stood throughout Reagan, Bush Sr., and Bush Jr.; I don't see it going any time soon. What I do see is perhaps more insistence upon the BAIPD act (the one Obama doesn't seem to like so well) -- as a pro-choice woman I really don't have a problem with that either (nor I hope would any moral/ethical human being). Also, the role of Vice President isn't a particularly vital policy making one, in which case a less experienced person will not be such a problem. If she had been chosen for a Cabinet position, or was at the top of the ballot I'd be concerned. If she had less force of personality and character than she seems to have, I'd be concerned, but something tells me this lady is made of stern stuff and is a quick study. And also from what I've seen she seems far less likely to suffer from foot-in-mouth disease and be generally far less abrasive than Joe Biden, which is a definite foreign relations plus (I find this idea that Joe Biden is some sort of foreign relations "genius and expert" all of a sudden laughable at best, and with his mouth I could see him being a liablity at worst.) As for Obama, he most definitely wouldn't have gotten as far as he has as a white person (male or female). His list of associates are not very savory (and Rezcko is a very big deal and no the rest is not guilt through association -- the best thing to do is dig through the news coming out of Chicago for the last twenty years; Annenberg and the low income housing of Mr. Rezcko are not pristine in the slightest -- and, ironically, the people who paid the highest price for the corruption were Black Americans). To be very blunt, Mr. Obama is a typical Black Chicago politician -- completely in the tank with a bunch of rich white guys, and that's whose interests he will work for; he has so far only served their interests within the state of Illinois. As for him being a "great politician" -- what has he done to give him that title? It certainly hasn't been his voting nor his committee work record; perhaps it is that he has given some pretty sounding speeches (that have to be teleprompted and sound much the same for the most part), taken a "Grand Tour" of Europe (and Europeans had best scrutinize all that was said, the little innuendos within all the feel good, in that rock concert speech of his, another heads up -- look at the way one of the American press treated President Sarkozy; it will be the way he operates). I believe that may be the reason McCain/Palin have such appeal with American voters.
Anonymous - #14 - 2008-09-01 21:01 -
"She mentions only two reasons why Obama does not have a strong lead in the polls: It might be partly due to his inexperience, but it is primarily due to his black skin. Engelke opines that Obama would win this election "with the utmost probability," if he were white." Engelke betray very little here except for her profound ignorance of the US. I'm tempted to write 'wilfull ignorance', but won't because I don't know that for certain. Pat is correct in showing the reasons that a 'white' Obama would never get near the nomination much less be elected. Obama is half-caucasian, don't forget that. I like Obama and will probably cast my vote for him, for similar reasons as quo vadis laid out above. I think if one analyses his character there are a lot of reasons to like him beyond the bare facts of his career as a politician in the Chicago machine. He is above all a symbol. I like the mixed heritage, the sincere Christianity, the eloquence, the smarts. I don't regard the nickname 'Hussein' which nasty rightists have tried to attach to him as a slur; to me the Muslim connection isn't a reason to vote against him. In my opinion it's a minor plus. I also like McCain, but probably won't vote for him this year. The problem isn't the candidate, it's his party. I think the GOP needs more time to clean up it's act before it's fit to hold power again. The choice of Palin for Veep is very impressive, as she is a symbol of the 'new' GOP which I hope to see arise. She took on and beat the incumbent governor in Alaska, as corrupt a 'machine' Republican state this side of Georgia, and has been cleaning the Augean Stables there since being elected. So if the polls aren't close or Obama stumbles badly and pisses me off, I'll consider voting for Palin (more than McCain).
Don S - #14.1 - 2008-09-01 21:04 -
That was me, BTW. Sorry.
Pamela - #14.2 - 2008-09-01 22:16 -
Spending 20 years in the pews of a church that spews Black Liberation Theology is 'sincere Christianity'? Ok, I'll ask. Would you say the same thing about a white candidate that spent 20 years in a church that preached racial segregation?
Pat Patterson - #14.3 - 2008-09-01 22:59 -
The Hussein is not a nickname it is the Seanator's middle name. Blame his dad for that one!
David - #15 - 2008-09-02 01:57 -
This gets better and better; pass the popcorn please! Sarah Palin = Trainwreck McCain didn't bother to vet his running mate. Putting Country First?
Pamela - #15.1 - 2008-09-02 04:45 -
David - #16 - 2008-09-02 16:38 -
Here's your chance to recoup some losses in your stock portfolio from the Bush economy: [url=http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2008/09/02/place-your-bets-intrade-starts-palin-market/]Intrade[/url] puts the odds of Palin pulling out before Nov. 6 at 15%. You can get in now at 11 and make big $$$.
Pat Patterson - #16.1 - 2008-09-02 17:00 -
Sucker bet! You'll bet the on 11% possibility by betting a dollar to get $1.11 back or nothing. Better by putting your money in a 9-month CD and your money will be there in May.
joe - #17 - 2008-09-02 17:41 -
This really should be a romp for David and his pals. I believe is it going to be very close. The Chosen One is where he is because he is black. Look at the voting patterns for the nomination. Should he not win, there has to be a reason other than his character and his policies. So the easy answer will be because he is black. This is a simple reason for simple people to rally around and let's face it, it is not hard to understand. None of this makes it the reason. Having said that race will pay a part in this election but it will be eqaully divided on both sides as a reason to vote for or against one candidate. There will be those who will vote on race, others on character and still others on policy.
Chuck Norris - #18 - 2008-11-09 19:24 -
Maccain lost BO YA
Google the Site