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Europeans React to Pummeling of Dems in Midterm Elections

European media elites are almost unanimous in their assessment of the outcome: the much-ballyhooed Barack Obama — and his efforts to remake America in Europe’s image — is in trouble.

by
Soeren Kern

Bio

November 5, 2010 - 12:00 am
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The left-wing magazine Der Spiegel, in an article titled “Frustration Nation,” writes:

Republicans are exulting in their victory, a triumph which is entirely due to protest voters. The United States is dominated by malcontents. Not visionaries or people with clear political objectives.

Elsewhere, a Spiegel analysis titled “Superpower at a Standstill” asks:

What will be the outcome of this election? They call it gridlock: a halt, a traffic jam. It is a term that originated on the highway and now describes the clogged policy in Washington. The 112th U.S. Congress is facing huge challenges. Economic slowdown, unemployment, climate change, tax and immigration reform, drastic austerity. And rarely has an election pushed solutions so far away. … Tea Partiers have declared Obama’s policies to be a failure, but they have presented no conclusive counter-concepts. Blockade works fine if you are in the minority. But if you are in the majority, you need solutions, something hardly anyone in the Tea Party has.

The center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine, in a commentary titled “‘Yes We Can’ is History,” writes:

The results of the congressional elections are bitter for the president and his party. … The losses of the Democrats in the congressional elections are much worse than a setback. The extent of this defeat is far from normal: the full force of the political pendulum has swung back to the right. It is the pendulum of an angry, insecure and frustrated people of a polarized country. Even in historical terms, the Republican Party, on which many would not have bet a cent two years ago, has won a spectacular success. … What is truly astonishing is the extent and the speed with which the public mood has turned. Something similar is only to be found in the New Testament.

The center-left Die Zeit, in an article titled “America is Deeply Divided,” writes:

The defeat of the Democrats is dramatic – even more dramatic than in 1994. At that time under Bill Clinton, Democrats lost 52 seats in the mid-term election. This time it will be even more. … Shared power: to the president on the one hand, to the Congress on the other. In America that is the rule. But now there is a double shared power: the Congress itself is split between a Republican House of Representatives and a Democratic Senate. This is rather rare. This new political situation suggests that America will not emerge from its political impasse. … Three of the major lessons to be learned from this election: First, the voters have voted against the Democrats and against President Barack Obama – and not for the Republicans. Secondly, America continues to be deeply divided over the right path to take in the future. And third, this choice says nothing about the possible outcome of the 2012 presidential election. New game, new luck.

In Ireland, the center-right Irish Independent, in an article titled “Jumbo Sized Drubbing is no Republican Endorsement,” writes:

It has been easy this year to present the American mid-term elections as exhibit one in the case that the country has gone crazy. … But widespread hilarity – inside the country, as well as beyond its shores – about a supposed “Idiot America” obscures the fact that at the heart of these elections have been big, serious philosophical questions about what government is and what it should do. … Democrats [have] suffered a historic drubbing at the polls today. But the vote is not an endorsement of the Republican Party or its leaders. Washington will be largely divided between advocates of two competing and fiercely held notions about the role of government. After today, and with the 2012 presidential election campaign approaching, expect acrimony and gridlock in Washington.

From another Irish Independent article titled “Democrats Want Heads to Roll in Obama’s Inner Circle”:

Leading Democratic figures started baying for blood among the most prominent members of President Barack Obama’s inner circle. Convinced that the White House could have limited the heavy losses expected in the mid-term elections, there was frustration and anger at the confused messages sent out during a long and brutal campaign for Democrats. … Some Democrats are furious at what they see as Mr Obama’s betrayal of his party and greater interest in his own 2012 re-election than the welfare of fellow Democrats this year.

In Italy, the center-left La Repubblica, in an analysis titled “Now Begins Obama 2,” writes:

The Republicans must avoid becoming intoxicated by this victory. Of course, the Tea Party is the big news of the moment. This movement has perfected the “Obama model” by mobilizing civil society to undermine the party establishment. It’s an insurgency and insurrection of civil society that wants to regain its sovereignty. But these protest flare-ups may be short-lived if they are removed from the traditional political class. Between now and 2012, the economy will decide everything. If Obama cannot find the right therapy to accompany America towards a recovery that will create jobs, his image as leader will be associated with a decline and impoverishment of the nation. As for the populist right, it dreams about limited government and drastic cuts in public spending, such as proposed by David Cameron in Britain. A doctrinaire view that is likely to aggravate the crisis plunging America into a new depression.

In Spain, the left-wing El País, in an “analysis” titled “The Vote of a Tantrum is not the Last Word,” laments the “conversion of the United States into Absurdistan”:

What can be said about the fact that millions of Americans believe that Obama is Muslim and communist, that climate change does not exist, and that the rich and corporations pay too much tax? Definitely, America is “a country of believers.” Suffice it to say that many Americans believe that Elvis lives, that Martians appeared in Roswell (New Mexico) and that the theory of creation of the Bible is absolutely true. No wonder they are created as the Tea Party.

Another El País article titled “Obama’s Failure” asserts that:

[T]he flood of money poured by Karl Rove to undermine the achievements of the [Obama] presidency is one of the explanations for the results last night.

The center-right ABC, in a column titled “Obama in Prose,” writes:

The impression one gets of these faltering two years of Obamaism is that the president still does not have a grip on the complex control panel of the White House. He has pushed some buttons like a novice pilot, but the airplane is not on a steady course.

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Soeren Kern is Senior Analyst for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook.
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