2019
01/13

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In quotes: Reactions to the Republican surge

Columnists and analysts from around the world almost unanimously predicted a Democratic Party drubbing in the US mid-term elections.

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However the effects of a Republican surge in US politics will affect most sectors and nations differently.

Here are some opinions from major news organisations worldwide about the ramifications of the results of the midterms.

Beginning in the United States itself, New York Times Op-Ed columnist Maureen Dowd mourned Obama’s ‘humiliation’, saying it was ‘Republican party-time’.

“Even though it was predicted, it was still a shock to see voters humiliate a brilliant and spellbinding young president, who’d had such a Kennedy-like beginning, while electing a lot of conservative nuts and promoting this central-casting congressman as the face of the future: a Republican who had vowed in a written pledge to restore America to old-fashioned values, returning to a gauzy “Leave It to Beaver” image that never existed even on the set of “Leave It to Beaver,” she writes.

Her colleage at the NY Times, political blogger Nate Silver, looked to the governors for a more dignified race with possibly better outcomes for Obama’s Democratic Party.

“Governor’s contests can often go overlooked when control of Congress is at stake, as it is tonight, but these wins will be extremely helpful to Republicans in a couple of ways. First, governors often have tremendous control over redistricting, which will take place throughout the country before the 2012 elections. Second, they will help Republicans, a party with few popular national figures, rebuild its bench. Some of the Republican governors that voters will elect today may become future presidential or vice presidential candidates.

Still, the performance of the Democratic candidates for governor is likely to be more dignified, on the whole, than that of their Senate or House candidates. In fact, because of a series of fluky circumstances, Democratic candidates for governor may actually win more votes than their Republican counterparts,” he wrote.

In Qatar, Al Jazeera’s Mark Levine compared America and Israel’s surging right wings, saying the giant nation and its tiny Middle Eastern ally were equally blinded by the right.

“O’Donnell, or at least the Tea Party from which she sprang, is involved in a base kind of witchcraft, using superstition and the lure of identity with some mythical past to manipulate people into acting against their core interests and forgetting their own history.

There is surprising resonance between O’Donnell’s message and what is being put out to Israeli society by its leadership in the current “loyalty oath” controversy, in which the cabinet of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has drafted a law that would force new non-Jewish citizens of the state to swear an oath to be loyal to Israel as a Jewish state,” he wrote.

In Israel, Haaretz’s Akiva Eldar asserted that the Israeli right wing may even be hoping for a weakened Obama, angered by his tough stance on the expansion of Jewish settlements.

“Officials in the Prime Minister’s Office won’t be biting their fingernails tomorrow, hoping for a miracle that will save the Democratic Party from a setback in the congressional elections. In Benjamin Netanyahu’s circles, many are hoping that a weak Obama will be good for Israel. They assume that a president who has had his wings clipped in the middle of his first term will devote the second half of his term to fighting for reelection.

And it is no secret that snow on the roof of a house that a voter in Oklahoma lost last year interests him more than a construction freeze in Elkana. That is, assuming the settlement freeze interests him at all,” he wrote.

the BBC’s North America editor Mark Mardell said that the outcome would undoubtedly turn passing legislation into a messy and possibly fruitless game.

“[Obama is] also giving last-minute interviews to radio stations in an effort to reach the voters who elected him, particularly the young and African Americans, by talking to the likes of Big Boy and Luscious Liz on Power 106 and the presenter of TV talent show American Idol, Ryan Seacrest.

But this is, I suspect, about softening the blow of defeat, not about winning,” wrote Mardell.

North of the border, Canada Broadcasting Corporation analyst Jeremy Kinsman wondered whether it is Obama or America that is the ‘problem’.

“[…] The most worrisome thing about American politics is not the so-so ratings for a high-expectations president struggling against a swift current of adverse events. Nor is it that US politics is fractious and divisive.

The truly worrying problem is that the US is on the edge of becoming dysfunctionally incapable of dealing rationally with long-term issues at all.

Somehow, America is going to have to strike a rational balance between short-term stimulus and longer-term austerity without making either into a partisan call to arms,” wrote Kinsman.

In Australia, Crikey’s Guy Rundle echoed Mardell’s concerns, saying the the loss of the House means that the Obama administration cannot continue with any sort of legislative programme.

“Given the anti-deficit mood of the country, they will most likely present bills which effectively strip the cash from many of Obama’s programmes — including the first part of his healthcare programmes. They can’t repeal the healthcare bill — as the President could simply veto the legislation — but they may well originate such a bill in order to force the Democrats into blocking it,” wrote Rundle.

China’s Xinhua news agency kept its focus firmly on an ongoing spat with the US over its currency, calling American concern about the yuan ‘much ado about nothing.’

“United States politicians have been accusing China of undervaluing its currency for some time now. Their desperation to win the midterm election … made them intensify their attack. The unnecessary hue and cry over the yuan has even created the fear of a currency war,” the agency published on its website.

A look at major newspapers in Japan revealed almost no coverage of the midterms at the time of writing.

In Indonesia, the Jakarta Post reported that Asian markets had rallied ahead of the results of the midterms, but its editorial bemoaned the President’s losses.

“Weakened or not, Obama is coming to Indonesia as leader of the world’s second largest democracy. That’s how we should welcome him.

Nevertheless, it is sad to see that optimism and hope that accompanied his election two years ago as the first African-American president — and one who spent part of his childhood in Indonesia — is disappearing. His promise to change US’s divisive politics never really took off although he gave his best shot with his healthcare reform bill. US politics is back to where they have always been, highly polarized,” the Jakarta Post published on its website.

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