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Europe

European Press Review: US Campaign Goes Full Circle

European editorialists on Monday commented on the US presidential campaign and the impact that airing the latest Osama bin Laden video may have had on it.

Britain’s The Independent wrote: "The image of a priestly Osama bin Laden calmly advising Americans that their security rests neither with George Bush nor with John Kerry but in their own hands has brought the US election campaign full circle in menacing style. This reminder of the 11th September atrocities is where President Bush cynically began his campaign on Labor Day and where he would surely have hoped to conclude it -- had Mr Kerry not forced a multitude of other pressing issues, from the Iraq war to the economy, on to the agenda."

According to another British paper, The Financial Times, more than anything bin Laden’s tape crystallized what this race has been about from the beginning. In spite of the candidates’ efforts to try to sway voters with discussion of stem cells, abortion and gay marriage, the election outcome will probably serve to confirm which man has persuaded Americans that he is better able to protect them, be it in the canyons of Lower Manhattan or the battlefields of Iraq. Polls show, the FT continued, that the war on terror is the one issue on which voters clearly prefer Bush to his Democratic challenger.

France’s Liberation pointed out that, apart from the Russians and the Israelis, a majority of people everywhere want John Kerry to win. However, the Paris daily added, there is a real climate of embarrassment in certain capitals, starting with Paris, where George W. Bush's virtues seem to have been belatedly discovered. Bush has been a convenient outlet for the prevailing climate of anti-Americanism, whereas it is to be feared that a Kerry victory might usher in the moment of truth on the Iraq question, the paper said.

Norway’s Aftenposten -- despite being a conservative paper -- had little sympathy for Republican George W. Bush, calling him “an American disaster.” The daily recalled that after the Sept. 11 attacks, the whole world rallied to the support of the USA and expressed deeply felt sympathy, but the president squandered all of that sympathy. The Oslo-based paper stressed that it hopes for a John Kerry victory not because it has exaggerated hopes, but because it recognizes a challenger who truly believes that going it alone is a mistake.

The German daily Frankfurter Rundschau commented on the controversy surrounding the new European Commission and Italian Rocco Buttiglione, who withdrew his candidacy for a post at the weekend. The Frankfurt paper, noting Buttiglione's complaint that he had been “ the innocent victim of a new leftist clericalism,” said that a martyr complex seems to be obstructing his view where the normality of democratic processes is concerned. The papal adviser is obviously forgetting that parliamentarians have the right not to vote for politicians they deem to be unsuitable. The paper also had some advice for incoming commission chief Manuel Barroso: it is up to him to seize the opportunity that Buttiglione, however unwillingly, has given him and urge other governments to follow Italy's example and nominate new candidates.

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