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The Reporters: US mid-terms

Gavin Esler

Who's not Bush?


Here in Washington over the usual heart-attack-on-a-plate American breakfast this morning I turned to the Washington Post for a summary of the elections.

"Has there ever been a more negative, dispiriting election?" asks columnist Eugene Robinson, clearly not expecting an answer. So I switched to the New York Times. Columnist Barry Schwartz called these elections "the sorriest, sleaziest, most disheartening and embarrassing in memory." Then I switched on the TV just to cheer myself up. The presenter was asking a pundit from the Los Angeles Times what it would be like if the Democrats failed to win the House of Representatives.

"Jonestown," replied the pundit, referring to a bizarre cult involved in a mass suicide many years ago.

So it all sounds fairly promising, then. The television advertisements I've been watching have almost all been negative. The overwhelming impression is that hundreds of criminals, rapscallions and ne'er do wells are currently on the loose on the streets of the United States all seeking election for the opposing political party.

The Democratic campaign seems to boil down to one phrase: "We're not George Bush." And the Republican campaign is similarly taut: "We're not George Bush either."

Somehow, however, American voters will sort it all out.

Gavin Esler presents BBC TV's Newsnight programme

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  • 1.
  • At 04:41 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • phil russell wrote:

This is apparently Bush's masterplan - make everyone running for office look like scum and hope for a low turnout which will mean floating voters who would vote Democrat just don't bother. I think its clutching at straws, but then I am surprised that anyone at all would vote Republican given how spectacularly badly they have governed their country.

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  • 2.
  • At 04:45 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Keith wrote:

"The overwhelming impression is that hundreds of criminals, rapscallions and ne'er do wells are currently on the loose on the streets of the United States all seeking election for the opposing political party."

Good to see that nothing's changed then.

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  • 3.
  • At 04:47 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Quentin wrote:

>>>
The presenter was asking a pundit from the Los Angeles Times what it would be like if the Democrats failed to win the House of Representatives.

"Jonestown," replied the pundit, referring to a bizarre cult involved in a mass suicide many years ago.

So it all sounds fairly promising, then.
>>>

So much for the BBC being unbiased.

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  • 4.
  • At 04:54 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Volker Atteneder wrote:

"Somehow, however, American voters will sort it all out."

oh yea? like they did before?

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  • 5.
  • At 05:07 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • David wrote:

The best thing about the elections here today will be ... the phone finally stops ringing with taped messages from ideologues, demagogues, scoundrels, and politicians -- or am I repeating myself?

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  • 6.
  • At 05:18 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Davis wrote:

It'll all be okay.

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  • 7.
  • At 05:24 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Tamouh wrote:

I'm no Americano, but I've watched one night worth of commercials and I already feel sick! This is the most negative election I've ever witnessed in the history of mankind. I think it is about time for Aliens to rule us all !!!

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  • 8.
  • At 05:28 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Tom Lawson wrote:

The level of polarization is a source of real concern. Democracy only works when a large portion of the population assents to its outcome. "He's not my president" in one person makes a good sound-bite. But what happens, no matter which of the two American parties assumes power both now, more importantly 2008, a significant portion of the population is ready to go down fighting with law suits, court challenges, and, in the end, simply the refusal to acknowledge the election. Those who assume that, no matter how brutally we tear at the system, it can always magically repair itself are optimistic in the extreme.

No matter who wins, the level of distrust, hysteria, and sometimes outright hatred voiced by America's political zealots does not bode well for the years ahead.

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UNEASY LIES THE HEAD?

Sadam Hussein almost certainly was responsible for the deaths of large numbers of innocent civilians; though as a matter of principle, like Tony Blair, I still would not support him receiving the death penalty.

However, yesterday’s verdict still begs a number of questions. Even for most of us in the West the whole process which led to the verdict smacked of the show trial which was so characteristic of the totalitarian regimes the trial itself was supposed to be condemning; from the defendants being caged in cattle pens, through the murder of their counsel, to the removal of any judge who did not dance to the tune of the government. I dread to think what, as a result, Muslims worldwide think of our judicial systems.

The other major problem was that, guilty as he was, he was probably rather less guilty than many other leaders around the world who are supported by the US. Look at the situation in Myanmar, or Israel under Ariel Sharon – who was actually found guilty of crimes against humanity, the same as Saddam, He was still was gifted billions of dollars by the US even after he was found guilty.

So Saddam was guilty, but then how many other leaders are above reproach. There is an overwhelming stench of hypocrisy surrounding the affair. Will George Bush, who has also been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, eventually face his own trial?

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  • 10.
  • At 05:35 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Damien wrote:

Glad to see such open-minded and completely original posts from the BBC's fine editorial staff. Speaking of pundits...

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  • 11.
  • At 05:37 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Chris wrote:

In Boston, an advert this morning for Healey (who has been running such a negative campaign that it has reached national attention) has a jogger mulling over in his mind her opponent (Patrick). It starts by saying how he (the jogger) thought Patrick was good, then various things that now lead him to conclude that Patrick is "just like the rest", Since there is nothing in this advert about Healey, I guess the conclusion I am meant to draw is that Healey already was as bad as the rest, and so wasn't worth mentioning....

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  • 12.
  • At 05:47 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • ink wrote:

Well, in my opinion, most of them are criminals running around seeking election.

If voter apathy shows me one thing, it is the lack of outstanding (or even acceptable) candidates.

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  • 13.
  • At 06:01 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Michael McLoud wrote:

GOD BLESS GEORGE BUSH for having the guts to stand up against terrorism on every shore!!!
It seems all too evident the hypnotizing effect the press has on the public. Remember, they declared Gore the winner last time around because they were so sure their propiganda had been effective.

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  • 14.
  • At 06:02 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Steve Missal wrote:

As has been the case for the last eight years, what most of us are now worried about is the vote counting itself. Despite an extraordinarily adversarial and nasty campaign (largely brought on by the Bush camp's methodology for the last decade...chickens finally coming home to roost), most Americans want an end to the bickering and some progress forward. What we are afraid of is that there is no accountability with the new voting machines and party pols manning them.

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  • 15.
  • At 06:05 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Steve Missal wrote:

As has been the case for the last eight years, what most of us are now worried about is the vote counting itself. Despite an extraordinarily adversarial and nasty campaign (largely brought on by the Bush camp's methodology for the last decade...chickens finally coming home to roost), most Americans want an end to the bickering and some progress forward. What we are afraid of is that there is no accountability with the new voting machines and party pols manning them.

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MUST IRAQ BE SACRIFICED?

There is a growing feeling that the situation in Iraq is so bad that it will descend into chaos, and thousands of lives will be lost. But, it seems, almost everyone agrees we cannot walk away from it. I too hope that we can save the situation.

But, what nobody talks about is the price that the rest of the world has to pay. While Iraq burns, and Bush fiddles, global warming is put on the back burner; please excuse so many mixed puns in one sentence!

There are so many other challenges to be faced, some of them even more important. Let’s get on with managing the future of the whole world and forget the needs of the US oil companies!

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  • 17.
  • At 06:08 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Ted Fisk wrote:

Either way it comes out, we are still stuck with George W. Bush for two more years. I only hope that the Democrats get enough seats in the House of Representatives to make W a real lame duck.

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  • 18.
  • At 06:40 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • rj wrote:

Speaking as an American from North Carolina, I think the majority of people that are not diehard Republicans or diehard Democrats are absolutely disgusted with both parties. I think people no longer want the Republicans in power, but do not think the Democrats would do a better job. There's no one else to vote for though, so they benefit. However, third parties and independents that are so often marginalized as "extremists" are set to gain their largest vote total across the board in midterms since 1914. There's a Green Party candidate in Illinois pulling 15% as a protest vote against the corrupt Democratic governor and the corrupt Republican challenger.

You Brits don't realize how good you got it by having more than two choices.

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  • 19.
  • At 06:44 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Brunnhilde wrote:

Just for the record, I'm an American who agrees with the Dixie Chicks, "I'm ashamed George W. Bush is from Texas," with the added proviso, "and even more ashamed he is representing our country."

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  • 20.
  • At 06:48 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Charmaine Westwood wrote:

No surprise really that all the ads are negative and nasty too -- saw many Election campaigns in the US over the 23 years I spent there and have actually seen nastier ads than those presently being screened. Hopefully the Americans will be sensible this time and vote the Republicans out of both the Congress and the Senate!!
Will be up all night here in France as well!

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  • 21.
  • At 06:52 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Jess wrote:

And people wonder why voters don't have much faith in their politicians, and increasingly don't bother to turn out to vote for them!The cumulative effect of this blizzard of hate-ads must be "don't vote for anyone".

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  • 22.
  • At 07:00 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Prof. V.Roger Rubin wrote:

As a Brit living in the US- my only comment is: The AMERICAN breakfast is "heart attack on a plate"?

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  • 23.
  • At 07:34 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • andy wrote:

I hope the 9/11 truth candidates get some good results out of this, people like Bob Bowman, a true patriot.

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  • 24.
  • At 07:37 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • MAXINE wrote:

This is one of the most obnoxious voting seasons ever. Nasty venom spitting ads on the telly, bent on confusing everybody. Annoying recorded political phone messages from the likes of Robert Redford & other famous names. People canvassing door to door leaving crap by the door and signs littered all over (that you know will not be removed for months after the election.) And the mail! Tons of it all wasted as most goes into the trash without even being looked at. I have reached election time burn out. We vote for the lesser of the evils because no one seems really worthy. All we can hope to do is find a means to an end to get George Bush and his cronies out of office so the world can get back on track. Have you noticed how many "god fearing right wing republicans" are now being brought up on deviant sex, morality and drug charges? Yep. THATS AMERICA.

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  • 25.
  • At 07:39 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Jane Lamb wrote:

Ah the state of Massachusetts is great. No lines at the polls, at least in my town of Needham Heights, friendly people at the polling place who found my name right away, a voter friendly paper ballot, and best of all, lots of smiles, and everybody smiling. I suspect that is because most of us in this state are very happy about the probable fact that many Republicans are going bye bye...ha ha ha.

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  • 26.
  • At 07:52 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Emily W. wrote:

Americans are largely (64% is the highest percentage of the country to vote on record or something insane like that) disinterested in their country. I've lived all over the USA and I've met pockets of people who vote but the majority just shrug and say they don't care. I know people that are 22 yrs old and aren't even registered to vote! It's absurd. So really a muckraking campaign trend is to be expected, nothing else has gotten national attention so this seems to be a last ditch effort. I mean, we are a country who loves Jerry Springer. shudder.

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  • 27.
  • At 07:53 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Jill Jago wrote:

When the Bush/Gore election was swinging about in favour of Bush, then Gore and back again, the atmosphere in New York was electric. When a TV politic conducted a vox pop among the crowds a man piped up "If Bush gets in, God help America". He can't have been the only one - so what happened. Was it all really, really truly rigged? And could it happen again tonight? God help America!

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  • 28.
  • At 08:05 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Edward Guldi wrote:

And here in NY the Post and Daily News have both had 4 front page articles about State Comptroller Hevesi's use of his chaffeure to take his sick wife to the doctor, and haven't mention a certain president, congressman, or Evangelical preacher ahead of Pg. 4 yet more proof that the liberal media conspiracy is BS. Even in this deep blue state. I voted a straight Dem ticket this morning and I'm proud of it. Finally, if Florida happens again in 08 like it did in 2000 or Ohio in 04 New Yorkers will take to the streets even if no one else does.

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  • 29.
  • At 08:07 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Alexis Seaborn wrote:

The Republicans in the early 1990s started negative campaigning. Horribly and disgracefully, it worked. The tragedy is the downfall of civility and intelligent debate among our elected officials. It saddens me to see that the Republicans continue to use fear and hatred and prejudice to divide our country. The last minute "Democrats will raise taxes. Democrats are soft on crime. Democrats back sexual perversion." cries of the Republicans is sickening. Many of our toughest prosecutors have been Democrats!

Ronald Reagan raised middle class taxes in 1981 by eliminating all of the deductions that the middle class used to be able to take, then gave multi-millionaires a $1 million per grandchild tax exemption (per Henry & Julio Gallo). Now, after handing out the Clinton surplus to the wealthiest 12,000 Americans, the White House plans to increase middle class taxes again following the election. Yet, the Republicans refused to fund the No Child Left Behind Act. The Republicans claim doctors are leaving the country because Medicare reimbursement is low and that they are the ones who can tackle the problem of climate change! Hah! After 12 years in control of Congress and 6 in the White House, they haven't done it yet!

Republicans lie like hell, stoke flames of fear, prejudice, hatred to gain their ends. They're a disgrace to our country.

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  • 30.
  • At 08:09 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Erik wrote:

You know, British breakfast isn't much healthier. Fried toast, fried eggs, fried tomatoes, fried etc etc etc. Anyway....
Frankly I don't see much difference in previous election years. If anything, the logic behind the mud-slinging is getting worse. A personal favourite is an attack on democratic representative Jack Davis from New York. His crime? Being a Millionaire. Each commecial makes sure to call him MILLIONAIRE Jack Davis instead of just leaving it at his proper title of just plain old Mister.

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  • 31.
  • At 08:14 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Lee Thomas wrote:

Heart attack on a plate? My God, what did you eat?

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It is because of the hatred in America that I voted for the Libertarians and Reform Party Candidates.

Of course, other people like in the Second Vermont Republic are actually thinking about a vote [in the future] to declare itself independent of the USA.

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  • 33.
  • At 08:17 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Joel wrote:

Having endured the same negative campaign ads virtually nonstop for the last few weeks, I have to say I have never seen an election where the advertising has been more simplistic, negative, unfair, cynical, and isulting to the intelligence of the voter.

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  • 34.
  • At 08:39 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Clarke wrote:

Apocalyptic rhetoric is in fashion in the US. Evangelicals have imposed it on the Republicans, environmentalists on the Democrats. Independents, who decide elections in most places, are angry about corruption and incompetence in high places.
For what it's worth, the US markets are 'voting' for divided government -- i.e., Democratic control of at least one house of Congress.

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  • 35.
  • At 08:41 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • bitwize wrote:

I always find the US elections stupefying. This isnt democaracy, its a sick circus, a joke, there isnt even that much difference between the two parties. This isnt politics its some kind of kindergarden mud throwing contest.
Its just as well half the US popluation is made up of semi literate half wits or youd have a revolution on your hands. And to think you people are trying to export this crap to every conrner of the globe! Madness!

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  • 36.
  • At 08:53 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Davis J. Tomasin wrote:

"heart attack on a plate American breakfast", coming from a Brit and your death inducing English fryup--- must be a lame attempt at humor or just another example of BBC kneejerk, reflexively anti-Americanism.

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  • 37.
  • At 09:12 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • C. Evans wrote:

I'm not sure I understand the comments of those who claim that the Jonestown part of this post is biased. It is a good example of the absurdly hyperbolic rhetoric being used in the campaign. Though one could argue that continuing Republican control might be detrimental to the United States, one cannot reasonably argue that the United States will become like Jonestown in that situation: surely no sane person could assert that Bush is planning on mandating a mass suicide?

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  • 38.
  • At 09:15 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Joanna wrote:

RJ from NC has it right: politics here are messed up, and need lots of reform that they're not going to get. Meanwhile, the American people are getting more and more polarized: no mainstream party would really appeal to many of us, and yet we have only two parties trying to appeal to as many people as possible. I just hope that as many as possible of my fellow-citizens try to make an informed decision based on issues rather than attacks.
And I for one breakfast on cereal.

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  • 39.
  • At 09:15 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Dave Nicolette wrote:

I found Tom Lawson's comment (#8) insightful. While negative campaigning has reached a low for modern times, the US has experienced worse, going back as far as the election of 1800. That is a passing thing.

Tom zeroes in on a deeper problem: The divisiveness of American society. Many Americans have begun to self-identify primarily as members of a subculture, political category, or other nameable group rather than primarily as Americans, and to distrust other subcultures, political cateogories, and nameable groups. Thus the society unravels itself thread by thread. The terrorists only need wait. America will end not with a bang but with a whimper.

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  • 40.
  • At 09:23 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • OKNOWInternational wrote:

This is normal US politics. They want people to focus on finger pointing and name calling versus knowing real issues that neither would party would actually resolve. Sadly, the groundswell is still anti-Bush. not really sad, but pathetic for Bush. It does not matter how many seats the Dems may get or not, for the amount of respect and influence Bush has lost in this election season is incredible. the political spin will play the democrats getting 10 seats against the projected 24. the reality is more than half his party ran away from him and did not want to be seen with him. He made appearances in states like Montana, and Wyoming. Virtually every major city in this country has more people than those states. they are players in our bicameral congress. But not a true reflection of the majority of people. Hopefully folks in the republican party can get away from this supposedly Christian agenda and get back to managing a country.

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  • 41.
  • At 09:54 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • PETER wrote:

I have been disgusted and demoralized by George Bush's governing over the last 6 years, however I hope that the republican party retains a majority in both houses in the mid term elections today because he has created a terrible mess at home and around the world, and it should be him who has to clean it up. Things are only going to get worse during the next 2 years and Bush will go down in history as one of the worst presidents of the USA.
If the democrats win either house then Bush will blaim them for whatever happens in the next two years and the republicans will win again in 2008

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  • 42.
  • At 10:15 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Justin wrote:

I wish we were voting for a president instead of the house and senate. The sad fact is that in majority of the elections today, the voters are picking the lesser evil. In America we have few candidates who actually want to make a change and better our country. 80 % just want to talk about how messed up it all is and never actually put in the effort to resolve the issue.

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  • 43.
  • At 10:22 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Champs wrote:

Blame our campaign finance laws. We have "hard" money raised by the candidate's election committee, then scads of "soft" money owned by interest groups. Soft money can't be spent to promote a specific candidate, but they CAN be used to run attacks on the candidate(s) they oppose.

It's technically illegal for the candidate's committee and the interest groups to coordinate their ads, however there's the understanding that the candidate need not run negative attack ads, because they have delegates who will do it for them.

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I feel it is appropriate to quote Hunter S Thompson:

It is Nixon himself who represents that dark, venal and incurably violent side of the American character that almost every country in the world has learned to fear and despise. Our Barbie-doll president, with his Barbie-doll wife and his boxful of Barbie-doll children is also America's answer to the monstrous Mr. Hyde. He speaks for the Werewolf in us; the bully, the predatory shyster who turns into something unspeakable, full of claws and bleeding string warts, on nights when the moon comes too close...

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  • 45.
  • At 10:34 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Helen wrote:

Heart attack on a plate? I though the Brits invented those - fry-ups, pork pies, suet puddings, chip butties... Why do so many BBC articles about the US have to start with a put-down just to please the home crowd?

After I had my RAISIN BRAN, I went out to vote for the Democrats in Virginia.

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  • 46.
  • At 10:34 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Elliot wrote:

Having not seen the adverts and negative campaigning I can only comment from a theoretical perspective but, isn't it time that someone put a protocol in place that included forfeiture of the right to stand in the event of its breach. If the polarisation of politics in America represents the unravelling of such an important democracy then measures should be put in place to protect the state from its leaders. The Constitution and its amendments exists largely for that purpose. Perhaps it needs one more amendment.

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  • 47.
  • At 11:02 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • noah wrote:

"Somehow, however, American voters will sort it all out."

That's a bit optimistic.

The FACT that Diebold voting machines can be hacked with out leaving a trace and the fact that there's really little difference between the two parties in the first place, leaves me to believe that the American voters have very little to say in the matter.

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  • 48.
  • At 11:13 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Henry L. Alsmeyer, Ph.D. wrote:

Your correspondent needs to read of the political history of the U.S. rather than writing from columnists and their "memories" which may span three decades. I agree that TV negative ads are a new and bad thing but in earlier days there were equivalents.

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  • 49.
  • At 11:19 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Ed wrote:

An interesting admission. If Gavin Esler gets his news and views mainly from the New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times he'll naturally get an anti-Bush viewpoint.

Gavin, try also reading the New York Post, National Review and a few blogs, and you'll get a more balanced view of the US political debate.

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  • 50.
  • At 11:27 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Alan wrote:

The Republicans came to power in a big rush in 1994, ending 40 years of Democratic rule, and 2006 is shaping up to be the year the Democrats take it back. Truthfully, it is very difficult for one party to engage in massive fraud on a national level given how local the elections actually are. Yes, there are glitches as we all get used to the new voting systems, but in the end, the votes will be cast and counted, and we'll have a new government for the next two years, and we have a 100% chance of electing a new president in 2008. The upside to only 50% of us voting in the elections is that the ones who do are more likely to be informed.

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  • 51.
  • At 11:29 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Keith Donaldson wrote:

The White House wants to export American style democracy around the globe as the best thing since home-cooking and apple pie. And the world is watching the current elections in the USA. For one reason or another some nations around the world remain unconvinced of the democratic ideal!

Now, I am no expert on the US system, but as I understand it, even if the Democrats win control of the House of Representatives and try to introduce legislation, as the democratically elected representatives of the people, one person, the President – Bush – can still veto it. That strikes me as an odd sort of democracy. A Senate and one man above it with supreme authority doing pretty much what he wants regardless of the will of the people? Sounds more like Imperial Rome to me.

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  • 52.
  • At 11:35 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Steve Crickmore wrote:

It seems that as just as in Iraq, American election campaigns and their results reinforce the divisive nature of their respective societies. In Britain, elections are more about issues than personality contests. The results of negative campaigns in the US was not completely negative though; the biggest issue that concerned voters, according to exit polls, conducted by CNN, was corruption. Maybe something positive can come of that.

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  • 53.
  • At 11:36 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Andrew wrote:

At the risk of focusing on an irrelevant comment in Mr. Esler's post, I find it interesting that he describes the usual American breakfast as "heart-attack-on-a-plate" - has he ever had a chance to have a proper British breakfast? I believe us Brits are the once and forever champions of unhealthy starts to the day. My own diet has substantially improved since moving to the States - perhaps Mr. Esler should avoid his "fried everything fare" and experiment with a nice bowl of fresh fruit and yogurt...

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  • 54.
  • At 11:43 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Bill wrote:

Some organizations in the US should rank politicians by amount of sleaze in their campaigns and publish the rankings in a list.

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  • 55.
  • At 11:47 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • James Ball wrote:

Ha!

I do love putting a happy face on a grim situation.

We really are a house divided here in the US. It may be hard for Europeans to understand us but IMHO the elections over the course of the past four to six presidential election cycles have grown increasingly narrow.

We really aren't stupid we just have very very basic differences in our world views.

In the U.S. we get the government we deserve.

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  • 56.
  • At 11:51 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Duncan Hothersall wrote:

It shows what a polarised state the US is in that two people can find apparent evidence of bias in Gavin Esler's utterly innocuous words. I pity the US public their lack of unbiased media. Over there the networks seem to follow the money, not the story. I'm very glad I'm over here, and even more glad that the BBC is too.

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  • 57.
  • At 12:05 AM on 08 Nov 2006,
  • Anish wrote:

This is like any other election in terms of negative campaign ads - no better, no worse. There's a reason we make fun on politicians around these parts; they provide us with the ammunition to do a good job of it.

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  • 58.
  • At 12:43 AM on 08 Nov 2006,
  • Laura Witt wrote:

In response to the issue about Bush being able to veto legislation:

Congress can override the veto if 2/3 of those present vote to do so. Also, the majority party determines what legislation even has a chance to get to the president, so having control of congress really is important.

And in response to the "heart attack on a plate":

I had fruit and coffee for breakfast this morning. No one makes you eat bacon.

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  • 59.
  • At 01:18 AM on 08 Nov 2006,
  • Owen Tuckett wrote:

I agree with most of the points raised and particularly the one about campaign financing. The other major factor, of course is fixed term governance. The race begins earlier and earlier and takes longer and longer. The most technologically advanced country on the planet takes a whole year to elect a President! We've done it in three weeks for a fraction of the cost. Admittedly this did result in John Major so one shouldn't crow too much. Finally, for those who think it's going to make a blind bit of difference, I would remind you of Jesse Jackson, who said that there are two political parties in the USA, Republican and Republican-Lite. If you are not pro-military, pro-Christian, pro-big business and pro-Israel you have little chance of political office. It also helps enormously if you are a white male.

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  • 60.
  • At 03:54 AM on 08 Nov 2006,
  • Susan Starke wrote:

#51 Keith Donaldson:
The House can override a presidential veto with a 2/3 vote. So no, the POTUS is not like a Roman emperor.

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  • 61.
  • At 05:34 AM on 08 Nov 2006,
  • Ordinary Man wrote:

'More', 'more' shout the audience..as the big circus called Democracy delights and shocks the crowd in an instant with its almost never ending comedy, blatant hypocricy and unshamedly poor sense of taste.....this so called 'good thing'(Democracy) must come to an end!

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  • 62.
  • At 03:14 PM on 08 Nov 2006,
  • Damien wrote:

Duncan Hothersall wrote:
"It shows what a polarised state the US is in that two people can find apparent evidence of bias in Gavin Esler's utterly innocuous words. I pity the US public their lack of unbiased media. Over there the networks seem to follow the money, not the story. I'm very glad I'm over here, and even more glad that the BBC is too."

Friend, if you consider starting an article by attacking our food options at breakfast (keyword: options) and inferring heavy bias on three of our largest media sources as "innocuous," I wonder how you define the word.

If you think the BBC is unbiased, you need a SERIOUS reality check. The anti-American slant from both the editorial staff and those who post in the forums is incredible. So many people prefer to say "you people" or "all Americans" without having met a single one of us or visited the country. And no, tourists visiting your island do not count...people act stupid on vacation (or holiday, if you prefer). Helen said it best earlier in post #45: "Why do so many BBC articles about the US have to start with a put-down just to please the home crowd?"

I understand that perspective is everything, but how about trying to read the articles from the perspective of those it discusses and then tell me if they're unbiased? Instead of sitting there and nodding your head when another editorial criticizes the U.S. (or anything else at which the editors choose to take umbrage) and then declaring it unbiased, look for those lovely little things called "generalizations." Some keywords for those are "all" and "everyone/everything." The BBC's blogs and columnists are absolutely RIFE with them.

Obviously (since I'm posting here) I still visit the BBC for news, even with the distinct bias. The sad, sad fact of journalism worldwide is that NOTHING is free of bias anymore, if it ever was. Many people just choose what bias suits their personal worldview and get their news from that site. I choose the BBC because I'm a registered Independant and the BBC is neither Democratic or Republican in their bias. I prefer the anti-American bias to the partisan bull those two parties shell out as a matter of course.

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  • 63.
  • At 05:25 PM on 08 Nov 2006,
  • jan hutchinson wrote:

English breakfasts? What's with those canned mushrooms and those tomatoes? And the wierd scrambled eggs. On the bright side, your sausage is great!

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  • 64.
  • At 06:32 PM on 08 Nov 2006,
  • Ellen Luzy wrote:

To see breakfast discussed without my usual homemade Muesli makes me break my habits of not attending blogs!

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  • 65.
  • At 07:01 PM on 08 Nov 2006,
  • angela wrote:

Perfectly right on two counts:

1). It is a heart-attack-on-a-plate. What else would you call the cholesterol levels?

2). The American people did sort it - and I am saying this as a conservative.

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  • 66.
  • At 07:18 PM on 08 Nov 2006,
  • Robert Williams wrote:

Mr Esler in the Newsnight e-mail refers to "the record budget deficit", he went further in his recent column in the Daily Mail -

"The budget deficit is the highest ever, an enormous black hole that is worrying global economists."

Mr Esler obviously has a lot of problems with the US administration, but he really ought to stick with facts.

The federal budger deficit is 1.9% of GDP, far less than that existing in the UK, France & Germany. If 1.9% is "an enormous black hole", what phrase does he have to describe the European position?

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  • 67.
  • At 07:24 PM on 08 Nov 2006,
  • Steve J wrote:

I have to say, as another Englishman living in America, that the good old “English Breakfast” with the bacon, sausage, egg, beans etc etc etc is as unhealthy as anything stateside. I love the BBC and always will but I do have to agree with the fact that it is generally anti-American. Maybe it is to appeal to the UK audience but I think the BBC is world renowned and needs to be less inward looking.

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  • 68.
  • At 08:11 PM on 08 Nov 2006,
  • Aled wrote:

BBC is the greatest and best news and educational organization the world has ever, or so they keep on telling us. Yet in a recent poll in the gardi/indi G W Bush was seen as a more dangerous person than the leader of N. Korea, how can the masses belive that; the BBC must be failing in delivering the truth. Is this deliberate or just plain incompetence ?

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  • 69.
  • At 08:39 PM on 08 Nov 2006,
  • Dieter Reimers wrote:


Gavin, your daily articles are priceless and they make my day!! (Since we get your reports here in Canada 6 hours later.) Yesterdays BLOG was so perfect, I've e-mailed same to Hawaii as well as to Germany. The response was great!! You are simply the best.......

Dieter Reimers
(Toronto, Canada)

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  • 70.
  • At 09:03 PM on 08 Nov 2006,
  • Barbara UK wrote:

#65 seems to imagine that the British public has only the BBC as its source of information. Large numbers prefer to watch the news on ITV, Channel 4 and Sky They also have access to countless other sources of news in newspapers, magazines, the pub and of course on the internet.

On the basis of these numerous influences they form their opinions.


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  • 71.
  • At 09:06 PM on 08 Nov 2006,
  • Parminder wrote:

The fact that the media made it amply clear that the main issue facing the American voting public was "Iraq War' and the results of this election - which is perceived largely as a refrendum on the President's policy on Iraq, should send a clear message to many outside of US that Americans care and that they are, afterall a reasonable people. Atleast those who thought that maybe the entire nation was full of goons after Bush was elected as President for his second term, when his policies on Iraq were being criticized and the the world public opinion on Bush was at its lowest, may find some conciliation. Well done Americans!! Nicely timed.

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  • 72.
  • At 09:43 PM on 08 Nov 2006,
  • Rick wrote:

The difference between the American diet and the British one is that the British get all their Cholestoral in the morning fry up while we Americans pig out all day. Oh, I forgot fish and chips...and didn't someone over there invent the fried Mars bar?

Most Americans don't feel that the Bushies are examples of good Americans, they are good examples of corporate Americans. It may take another two years but we will get our country back.

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  • 73.
  • At 10:11 PM on 08 Nov 2006,
  • janice george wrote:

"heart atack on a plate sounds like a brit "fry up" breakfast so what did you eat ?

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Gavin Essler,

Please send English bacon stat...

I can't stand the US version either and even though I live in the paradise that is Palm Springs, there are some things I miss terribly... Full English breakfast, M&S, Jelly Babies, oh the list could go on - did I mention I miss my family?

Geraldine Scott
Palm Springs, CA


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  • 75.
  • At 12:26 AM on 09 Nov 2006,
  • Philip Jones wrote:

Gav,

Firstly, thank you for "quote of the day" and "jokes for a 58 year old". Not to mention your honest journalism.

As a valley boy. Rhondda that is.
the American breakfast you consumed consisted of an ENGLISH muffin, HOLLANDAISE sauce and CANADAN bacon. The egg was probably American similar to the one on GWB's face.

Cheers.

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  • 76.
  • At 02:44 AM on 09 Nov 2006,
  • George Andes (Worcester, MA, USA) wrote:

Anyone trying to understand an American election is a fool. The last man went crazy and his family, in despair, made him quit the task before he became too mad to recover. He has not been seen in public since 1980.
The US constitution is a magnificient document —– flawed when dealing with elections. Don't hold your breath waiting for us Americans to fix things

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  • 77.
  • At 06:59 AM on 09 Nov 2006,
  • GUY FOX wrote:

NEXT ORDER OF BUSINESS? IT SHOULD BE THE IMPEACHMENT AND CONVICTION OF GEORGE W. BUSH AND DICK CHENEY FOR INCOMPETENCE AND MALFEASANCE. THEN WE SEND THESE TWO BIRDS TO THE WORLD COURT AT THE HAGUE TO FACE CHARGES OF WAR CRIMES.

THIS OF COURSE, WOULD MAKE NANCY PELOSI THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED $TATES.

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  • 78.
  • At 10:26 AM on 09 Nov 2006,
  • Patrick Ranson-Gillette wrote:

As an American who moved to England 3 years ago and who still visits the states occasionally, I must agree whole-heartedly, as it were, with the 'heart attack on a plate' description of American breakfasts. (In particular, Mr Essler's description yesterday regarding American bacon was spot on.)When I was in New York back in July, I stayed at the NY Palace Hotel and sampled their breakfast spread. Not alone was the food just as calorie laden as you might expect, but the portions were absolutely huge. You simply can't eat that way everyday and expect to leave past 40...

(Who cares about the election when you can discuss really interesting things like what makes Americans fat??)

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  • 79.
  • At 11:17 AM on 09 Nov 2006,
  • Michael Hall wrote:

On the bias of the BBC:

The Newsnight programme is the closest thing to objective news and analysis I've ever seen.

The presenters/producers/editors, including Gavin, have their own biases -- of course they do. But they make no secret of their opinions, in fact, they broadcast them in blogs and e-mail circulars.

These comment threads invite debate and disagreement, offering dissenting voices the chance to cry foul.

The programme's producers/editors/presenters post their e-mail addresses online and you can write to them with your views directly.

Real bias would be a blog that silenced opponents, and I don't see that happening here. The BBC invites your scrutiny.

What's more objective than Newsnight?

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  • 80.
  • At 12:24 PM on 09 Nov 2006,
  • carol f wrote:

I think the message has been recieved in Washington. Bush is a lame duck. That does not imply that he has lost his power to punish the innocent in Iraq. We Americans will see a brighter day. That may not be true in Iraq for some time to come.

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  • 81.
  • At 08:47 PM on 09 Nov 2006,
  • Rebekah in Birmingham, AL wrote:

Who has time for breakfast? Get to work, Slacker!!

I have time for a cup of coffee and a bagel or bowl of grits(Southern food) before work. No one has time for the breakfast he's referring to. Besides, only the fatties still eat that garbage. If you don't like it, stop ordering it! Brilliant idea!

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  • 82.
  • At 09:03 AM on 14 Nov 2006,
  • T.Ghosh wrote:

In response to rj's comment, I'd like to make a couple of comments.

I used to think quite highly of the Clinton administration - until I read the unbeleivable sleazy duck shoving that went on behind Rwanda's genocidal nightmare.

(http://www.reliefweb.int/library/nordic/book1/pb020.html)

There can be little doubt that the U.N. Secretary General of the time, Boutros-Boutros Ghali, bent over backwards to bring military & humitarian assistance to both "tribes".

The fact that he was tied hands, feet & neck while doing this by Clinton & his State Secretary makes it even more remarkable.

Clinton never forgave this unaccustomed opposition and ensured Ghali became the only Secretary-General who was unable to serve a second term.

Secondly, I've never been quite sure exactly how your voting system works but in the U.K., it's first-past-the-post with a simple majority system; smaller parties don't get too much of a say or very often.

Here in N.Z., however, we've seen the need to progress to a proportional representation system (multi-member proportional) where coalitions are the invariable rule and, at present, we have no less than six parties represented in our unicameral legislature.

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