The Eurovision Song Contest makes for an interesting case study in international relations. A Europe-wide, public-voted popularity contest masquerading as a talent show, party-line, national allegiance voting blocs are as passionate as they are predictable. Predictably, the French vote against the Germans. The British vote against the French. Everyone votes against the British.
One can only imagine the carnage if a lucky American starlet were invited to participate. To understand the likely European reaction, we must first appreciate these inalienable truths: 1. Americans are ignorant cowboys. And 2. Boosh is Evil. Everybody knows what the result would be. Right? Ahhh… Not so fast.
“Don’t forget Poland!”, as somebody else once said. That delegation would surely be in the bag. But let’s forget about the pop-music predilections of the Polish teenybopper for one moment (as fascinating a topic as this undoubtedly is). If the rest of the world had the chance to vote on the small matter of the next US President – Eurovision-style or not -- who would get the nod? Who does the world hate least? In the red corner, Senator John Sidney McCain III of Arizona. In the blue corner, Senator Barack Hussein Obama II of Illinois. Who will still be standing when the blonde lady sings? (Please, Britney, don’t sing again.) Let the battle of mixed metaphors commence.
Restoring America’s image in the world: that, according to the meme du jour, is the major task facing the next president of the United States. So, let’s take a brief world tour, to see which of our two fine, natural-born Americans make the outside world’s plebs turn all weak at the knees. First stop is that bastion of liberal democracy, and Governor Palin’s next door neighbor, Russia. But, here – shock horror! – there is no case of Palinmania. Put bluntly, the Baracuda squarely fails to kick electoral ass. Does all her good PTA work count for nothing anymore? Tough crowd. Russia does have a fever, but the only cure is more Obama. In fact, the cold Siberian winter is ameliorated by the positively glowing affection with which the Russian populace regards Barackski. A majority backs the Illinois Senator. By all accounts, the Gallup poll was as free and fair as any Russian general election in recent times. So, nothing to see here! Move along…
So far, so bad for the GOP hopefuls. Presidential candidates are typically doomed to failure when they fail to carry their home states. Luckily for Barack Hussein Obama III, he gets the nod from fully 89% of Kenyans according to a Gallup poll – Kenya being the home of Mr Obama, the elder of course. But according to statisticians, even the formidable 89% figure is most likely an underestimate. With the reverse Bradley Effect taken into account, the real figure could stand at at around 113%.
Senator McCain has always been somewhat softer on the issue of illegal immigration than many of his Republican colleagues (Governor Palin included). Captain Amnesty, as the rightwing blogs took to calling him, has explicitly courted the (legal) Hispanic vote here at home. But what about the main homeland of these “undocumented Americans”? What do Mexicans think of their homeboy Juan Maquiladora? Not a lot, since you ask. Only nine percent back their crusading neighbor. To be fair to Juan, 65% answered “neither” when asked to select between the candidates. Even so, the political distance between Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, Mexico is rather greater than the distance from one side of the virtual border fence to the other.
Take home point from the Mexico experience? Pandering doesn’t work. Or does it? Not so fast – Mr. Barry O’Bama of County Cork, Ireland begs to differ. Of the 20,000 Irish voters sampled, about 100 were sufficiently coherent to respond to Gallup’s questioning. And of this hundred, 67% were heard to slur that Barry was their favored candidate. Pacifist as they undoubtedly are -- who ever saw an Irishman fight? -- the Irish are, naturally, unimpressed by McCain’s tough, neocon foreign policy. Round three to Obama then. (What did happen to that boxing metaphor?).
So, a gung-ho, boot wearing, hat-sporting, twang-talking, gun-toting, truck-driving Good Ole Boy don’t go down too well outside of America, y’all. Have you ever tried to buy a Toby Keith CD in Paris? (That’s in France, Dubya.) Exactly. But, anyways... apparently, threatening to bomb the crap out of people counter to all international standards of diplomacy and with no regard for civilian life isn’t the way to go. Which allows us to segue neatly to the last stop on our world tour: our friend and ally in the War on Terror, (or WoT as the cool kids call it), Pakistan. Awash with advertizing revenue from its booming sales (ahem), The Washington Times dispatched its crew – Jason Motlagh, actually (Motlagh. Crew. Geddit?) – to Lahore to find out who the Pakistanis prefer. One candidate is “too aggressive”, said a student. His foreign policy statements are “irresponsible” said another. The candidate is an “enemy of Muslims” remarked a third, and “more dangerous” than Bush. Of which ignorant, warmongering cowboy do they speak? Senator McSame? Chimpy McBushitler? Umm, no. Why, it's the Obamessiah! The Pakistanis apparently regard an Obama Presidency as less benign than does much of the rest of the international community. Anybody would think that they had reason to fear some kind of baseless, pre-emptive, illegal violation of its territory from a liberal Senator trying to assert his macho foreign policy credentials. How could they think such a thing? And how would Britney Spears do at Eurovision? Ding-ding.