A View From Across The Pond...And A Response

I have been corresponding with friends in the UK, a couple of guys I met earlier this year who work for my company's European affiliate. We've become fast friends.

One of the latest rounds of e-mail turned away from some of the goings on with our families and at work and turned towards politics, specifically the race for the White House here in the US. This exchange inspired me to post portions of our e-mails. If nothing else it gives us an outsider's view of what they see happening here. It also gave me a chance to post a warning about what they see and hear coming from the US.

I won't bore you with things that are only of import to my friends and I.

Here's what “S” sent in response to an e-mail I sent over the weekend.

I have been reading quite a bit about your election campaigns. I am really surprised by the bias on FOX towards one party and other places towards the other. Do you have any public unbiased news reporters like we have in the UK (BBC)? It seems very important to me to be able to see larger perspective when it comes to this stuff to make your educated decisions. Is NH Republican or Democratic? International polls (outside US) suggest over 80% want Obama to win again, including me actually from what I have read. But internally it is always so close!

First and foremost his belief that the BBC is unbiased amused me. I didn't disabuse him of that belief. I also find it interesting that international polls seem to say that 'we', meaning Americans, want Obama to win again. Not even close.

My reply:

As far as the presidential campaigns are concerned, most of us ignore the media as none of them are trustworthy when it comes to politics. As much as some folks may bash Fox News for being too conservative, the other media outlets are just as far on the other end of the political spectrum. We don't expect the truth from any of them. They've all replaced reporting with editorializing masquerading as reporting, something that started back in the 1970's and has only gotten worse since then.

As much as the media has been playing up Obama's likely re-election, he isn't well liked here. I'll admit I didn't vote for him during the last election in 2008, but once he won I was more than willing to give him a chance. He's been a big disappointment.

With two exceptions he hasn't kept a single promise he made and the only ones he kept were the ones to make energy prices 'necessarily' skyrocket, which has seriously crippled an already rocky economy, and has managed to destroy the health care system by bringing it under even heavier government control. (Health care costs have increased by 50% but the availability and quality of care has decreased and is expected to decline even more than it already has.)

A lot of Americans don't like that he's insulted our allies (including the UK), run an "Apologize for America for being America" tour around the world, has been unwilling to deal with crucial foreign policy issues (he'd rather play golf), has shown he has no regard for the rule of law, ignores Congress and the Supreme Court, and worst of all, has not one bit of understanding of how the economy works.

Sorry, I've gone off on a political rant, and that's just plain rude of me. All I can say is don't believe half of what you read about what's going on here, and less than half of what you see on the telly in regards to the political silliness we're forced to suffer through until November 6th (Election Day). The truth is no one really knows what the outcome is going to be, the pollsters notwithstanding. As the saying goes, the only poll that counts is the one the voters will deal with on Election Day.

One of the biggest issues that most folks across the political spectrum agree upon is that Obama brought Mob-style Chicago politics to Washington, a place that was already a pit of vipers, and made it even worse, something no one wanted or needed.

It's going to be interesting around here over the next 5 weeks.

And “S's” response:

Wow, it’s good to hear an insider’s perspective! It will certainly be interesting, I hope you get the outcome you want!

I have noticed the extensive slagging match between the two. Rather than talking about the good they can do, they often talk more about the bad the others would do! That is completely justifiable, to a point. That’s how some of the websites portray it anyway, as you said, they try to make a total meal of any slight quote that could be in ones favour. I was also surprised when I was in the US at some of the election campaigns during the TV ad-breaks. Really harsh! But as long as it is the truth, the truth never hurts.

I sent in return:

There are times when I wish the candidates would square off in the boxing ring and slug it out. It would be far more entertaining! One of the big problems with many of the TV ads is that they're very good at distorting the truth, using sound bites or excerpts taken out of context to change the meaning of the words. Both sides use that tactic, unfortunately.

One of the biggest brouhahas over that kind of ad made the rounds here recently when a private meeting was recorded and then the recording used in an attack ad. That's bad enough. It's how it was massaged that caused a backlash. If you closed your eyes and listened to what was said you hear something quite different from the text displayed on the screen. It took something truthful and twisted it to seem like an insult to many Americans. The words spoken didn't match the words displayed on the screen. But people will pay more attention to what's on the screen rather than what they hear.

Of course some folks can never be convinced that "their" guy may be a bum. It doesn't matter what party they support, they seem incapable of changing their views no matter what.

And so it goes.

My friend is amazed at the vitriol seen in the TV ads. It has become all too common and is more the focus of every ad out there. The so-called positive campaign barely exists any more and just about everyone running for office at the state and federal level from both parties seem to revel in it. Facts go out the window, ads use references that, when checked out, don't say what the ads imply. (I think that the 'references' are included just to make it seem as if the accusation is legitimate.) When fact checkers for the Washington Post, a bastion of liberal think for decades, is slamming one Obama claim after another made against Romney for being untrue, you know it's gotten bad.

I can't wait for this to be over.