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    One bad apple

    Right Side of the Rainbow is understandably pissy about the face-value content of this Reuters article:

    Mistrust also runs deep among ordinary people. Some 58 percent of people surveyed in a British Broadcasting Corporation poll in 21 countries said they believed Bush’s re-election made the world a more dangerous place.

    “Negative feelings about Bush are high,” Steven Kull, director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes which carried out the study, told the BBC. “This is quite a grim picture for the United States.”

    People in three countries surveyed — Poland, India and the Philippines — said the world was now safer, while Israel, which was not part of the survey, also remains a big supporter of the 58-year-old president who took office four years ago.

    I don’t know that I would take it at face value, though. I mean, when an individual is quoted, you kind of have to assume he means what he says:

    “I think 2005 should mark a new start in our relations … based on listening to each other, having a more regular dialogue and mutual respect,” French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said last week, reflecting the view of the European Union.

    Bureaucrat endorses useless hen-party approach to politics? Okay, I believe him. But 58% of people over 21 countries leaves a lot of room for country-by-country aberrations, and the data themselves are not linked by Reuters. They are, however, on the Program for International Policy Attitudes’ website, here. Japan’s results mesh with those derived from an Asahi poll before the election.

    The reason I’m cautious about interpreting the BBC poll as a Major Statement is not that I don’t want to believe it. (I don’t know whether 58% is the number, but overall, I do think Bush probably has more opponents than supporters in the global population.) Nor is it even just that polls are notoriously squishy. It’s just that, given that the way the non-US media covered Kerry’s campaign–a modern family man with an outspoken wife, anti-war beliefs, and Democratic Party affiliation just like our buddy Clinton!–a “Yes” to “Has Bush’s reelection made the world a more dangerous place?” could imply a range of things.

    My experience is obviously not unbiased, but I know plenty of people who think both Bush and Kerry were unappetizing choices but saw mostly evidence that Kerry was the better option. (Tokyo being a transportation hub, I’m not just talking about Japanese, either.) And those are the people who are even exposed to media outlets from a variety of sources. Who knows what the rank-and-file population saw that sculpted their ideas?

    IOW, I’m not ready to give up on the rest of the world just yet. I wish people had more sense of urgency about the WOT, certainly; but minds change slowly, especially in places where de facto state control of the news media is a constant reality.

    In the meantime, the inauguration is today, no matter what anyone else thinks of it. Congratulations to President Bush and the rest of America.

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