The European press has noticed the sum and substance of the Republican presidential candidates, leaving it both dismayed and amused. As Der Spiegel laments:
The December 16 edition of The Week (print version), in an article entitled "The GOP makes a virtue of ignorance," summarizes European views. In addition to Der Spiegel, it references Lorraine Millot, of the Paris Liberation, who observes that the only Republican candidate who is relatively well-versed in diplomacy, John Huntsman, is also completely out of contention. This is not a coincidence. The others "careen to extreme positions that include starting new wars and abandoning old allies." Herman Cain tried to make a virtue of his ignorance of foreign affairs, which apparently sat well with millions of Republican voters. It was charges of adultery, not laughable ignorance of the world, that ended his campaign.It's horrifying because these eight so-called, would-be candidates are eagerly ruining not only their own reputations and that of their party, the party of Lincoln lore. Worse: They're ruining the reputation of the United States...They lie. They cheat. They exaggerate. They bluster. They say one idiotic, ignorant, outrageous thing after another. They've shown such stark lack of knowledge -- political, economic, geographic, historical -- that they make George W. Bush look like Einstein and even cause their fellow Republicans to cringe.
Max Hastings, of the London Daily Mail, notes that throughout much of red state America, you are viewed suspiciously as an elitist if you show interest in science or the world beyond America. "Say what you want about British politics, no MP of any party would dare to offer themselves as town dogcatcher while knowing as little about the world as the Republican presidential candidates...The American political system has seldom, if ever, looked so inadequate."
Finally, Matthew Norman of the London Independent predicts that Mitt Romney will eventually win the nomination even if he is "the slimiest, phoniest opportunist to run for president since...well, ever." And that is because Newt Gingrich is so widely despised.
We'll see about whether Romney does in fact prevail. But it is too early to count out Gingrich, though even he seems to be peaking, pretty much on the same timeline as the rest of them. Republican primary voters are the reddest of the red, but even they seem discomfited by this crowd.