05 January 2008

US presidential election -- the media have spoken

Yesterday morning when we got up the TV news channels were full of the Iowa primary in the US presidential election, and for about 10 minutes we had the impression that John Edwards had won, and had just beaten Hillary Clinton.

Then we noticed the text underneath one of the screens saying that Edwards and Clinton were running neck and neck for second place. Who was in first place? That wasn't important. For the media (all of them) the election was defined by Hillary Clinton. Everything was seen in relation to her.

Similarly, among the Republicans, Mitt Romney seemed to be the media favourite. He had apparently come second, so what was he going to do next? Only much later did we learn that Barack Obama had actually come first. The good guys -- Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel and Ron Paul, weren't mentioned. It seems to be true that the "mainstream" media are in a conspiracy to keep them out of the public eye. According to IndependentPrimary.com
ABC NEWS HAS EXCLUDED KUCINICH, GRAVEL, AND OTHERS: In an arbitrary decision that shakes our democracy to its very core, ABC News has set debate criteria that exclude Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel, Chris Dodd, Joe Biden and Duncan Hunter from their Saturday debates. New Hampshire has a recent history of open debates. As a result of these
exclusions the New Hampshire Union Leader newspaper has decided not to co-sponsor the debate.

FOX NEWS HAS EXCLUDED RON PAUL: Fox News has done ABC one step worse by calling it's Sunday debate a "candidate forum" to avoid setting any criteria at all. They're using this technicality to exclude Ron Paul - even though the co-sponsoring New Hampshire Republican Party issued a statement saying they want all the candidates included.

If Michael Moore is right, it's all about the Iraqi-American War:
Over 70% of Iowan Democrats voted for candidates who either never voted for the invasion of Iraq (Obama, Richardson, Kucinich) or who have since admitted their mistake (Edwards, Biden, Dodd). I can't tell you how bad I feel for Senator Clinton tonight. I don't believe she was ever really for this war. But she did -- and continued to do -- what she thought was the politically expedient thing to eventually get elected. And she was wrong. And tonight she must go to sleep wondering what would have happened if she
had voted her conscience instead of her calculator.

John Edwards was supposed to have come in third. He had been written off. He was outspent by the other front-runners six to one. But somewhere along the road he threw off the old politico hack jacket and turned into a real person, a fighter for the poor, for the uninsured, for peace. And for that, he came in a surprise second, ending up with just one less delegate than the man who was against the war from the beginning. But, as Joshua Holland of AlterNet pointed out earlier today, Edwards is still the only front-runner who will pull out all the troops and do it as quickly as
possible. His speech tonight was brilliant and moving.

I've taken more interest in the US presidential elections this time than I usually do. Yes, I knew that a war-mongering president in the White House could make things nasty for people in other parts of the world -- the cowardly Nato bombing of Yugoslavia showed us that. But a lunatic warmonger like George Bush raised it to a new level, making the world a far more dangerous place for everybody. I think a lot of people around the world are hoping that someone will be elected who is not only peaceful, but sane and peaceful.

So I hope Michael Moore is as right in his prediction as in his analysis. If his analysis is right, the mainstream media have a stake in candidates who voted for the war because of the role the media themselves played in promoting war and beating the war drums. They are unlikely to admit that the people are sick of it. And I hope he is right in his prediction that the American people are sick of war.

George W. Bush and his junta have tried to persuade Americans that people have opposed his war because they hate America and Americans. But that is not true. People can hate American foreign policy over the last 20 years without hating Americans. It's that old cliche about hate the sin and love the sinner. And people may have in the back of their minds what the Nuremberg Tribunal found: that starting a war of aggression is not just a war crime, but the war crime. The German political and military leaders in World War II were not on trial because they lost the war, but because they started it.

Bush supporters are inclined to get a bit irritated about comparisons with Nazi Germany, but some parallels are there for everyone to see: Bush's invasion of Iraq had about as much justification as Hitler's invasion of Poland. And it was supported by the "mainstream" media, whose policy of appeasement of a crazy warmonger helped to lead to the mess we see today.

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