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American Politics From Across the Pond
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American Politics From Across the Pond

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

If you think many in the States are having trouble sorting out what the Republican Party has done to itself, one need only speak to the British to realize how perplexing it is to those outside. They understand fully that this election ought to have been the Republicans to lose but they do not understand how the Tea Party agenda took over the helm and the rudder of a major political party. The English truly enjoy watching when Americans politicians act foolishly (as they do their own as well) but they are amazed at the pieces of the debates and statements that have emerged during this strange cycle. They cannot comprehend the continuing flow of foolish statements being made especially from Romney whom they all thought would be moving into the White House next January.

President George W. Bush was a fiasco in the eyes of the British and throughout Europe. Therefore, the British had incredibly high expectations for Obama and have been seriously disappointed.  Undersatndably, they focus almost exclusively on foreign policy questions and international financial issues, but like many of Obama’s own American critics, they believe he has been an indecisive leader. On the world financial stage, while much of the dept relief problem was the Euro states to resolve, they believe that the U.S. could have been more publically engaged.

Anglo Jews have suggested that specifically in terms of the Middle East they had assumed that Obama would demonstrate assertive leadership in addressing the Israel- Palestinian problem. Here, too, they found him to be clearly lacking. Within the Quartet, the British expected the U.S. to have been far more engaged, even before the Arab Spring changed at least some of the calculations. Finally, with respect to Iran, British Jews see no leadership from the American president. For them it is not about being pro-Israel but leading the West, which they suggest represents precisely his overall leadership problem. They want the modern day model of America in its leadership role to continue.

It is into these reflections that the British laugh or cry or both at the actions of what they call Reagan and Bush’s Party.  As astounded as many Americans are as well, the British do not view any of the four candidates as a favorable choice for America in 2012, but they do not comprehend how the Republican Party couldhave let it get to these choices.

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