by Gaither Stewart
Nov 5, 2008
(Paris: November 5, 2008)
“Today we’re all Americans.” As after 9/11 those same incredible words echoed from the pages of France’s Le Monde this morning. Today, the day after, media of France and Italy (and assuredly of the rest of the world except Israel and a couple client dictatorships) competed with each other in praise of American democracy where “anything is possible”. The race barrier has fallen. Honor to the USA. For many non-Americans, the French press writes, Obama’s victory reflects what America has long meant for the rest of the world. Obama President is a return to America’s origins. The renewal of a promise.
In a 16-page Libération Edition Spéciale of the morning after, Laurent Joffren began his editorial with these words: “Finally hope! Please, for one hour, for one day, let’s don’t act blasés, prudent sceptical. After this already historic November 4 let’s admit that we were all taken with a sense of happiness. For one hour or one day let’s allow enthusiasm speak, that which is spreading across the planet…. It suffices to imagine for a moment the opposite outcome: a stiff, conservative Senator flanked by an ignorant mystic taking over for four years the brutal policies of George W. Bush. A moral nightmare, a political horror film.”
For Europe it’s the realization of Martin Luther King’s dream and the burial of the Reagan era. For European media in general the fact that a Black can become President of the USA makes that nation again great.
And above all it is a sense of relief.
Pravda writes: Only Satan would have been worse than the Bush regime. Eight years of hell are over after the great American soap opera … the most scandalous, dramatic unpredictable and the most expensive electoral campaign in US history.
On election day I realized I personally had heard no European who favored John McCain. No one. Paris’s Libération, a leftwing daily, predicted in advance that American whites would vote Democrat as never before. In Italy only Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, his cronies and supporters are disappointed, and certainly disillusioned.
Obama fascinates both Left and Right in France. Le Monde described Obama as a “brilliant candidate, intelligent, elegant, handsome, sincere and never aggressive,” qualities French admire. A political analysts from Sarkozy’s UMP (Union For A Popular Movement – Union Pour un Mouvement Populaire) concentrated his attention on Obama “the brilliant actor” who understands that the secret is to make of politics a spectacle, a show. “Obama’s organization is almost military. Political analysts in Paris refer in admiration of Obama’s trademark, his brand name, and a prerequisite for success in modern politics.
Nicolas Sarkozy’s staff labels Obama’s electoral campaign an “inspiration.” With the President’s popularity falling and next elections in 2012 already in mind, has been studying Obama’s electoral campaign as the model for French conservatives.
Soaring European stock markets on election eve reflected the elation and expectations pervading Europe, pervading the empire. Already on the day after cold realities returned as markets fell back. Europeans note that the economic and financial crisis riddling America imposes profound change. Just as Americans, Europeans realize that life in a paper economy must end. Laissez-faire and eternal debt have reached the limit. Socio-economic life without limits is beyond the realm of reason and possibility.
Though the election of an African-American to the White House marks a social change, a welcome message to the rest of the world, it also unlocks and throws open the door to discussion of the question of the future of capitalism as we know it.
Gaither Stewart, a Senior Contributing Editor and European Correspondent for Cyrano’s Journal, is a veteran reporter, raconteur, and essayist on historical and cultural topics. His observations, often controversial, are published on many venues across the web. His collections of fiction, Icy Current Compulsive Course, To Be A Stranger and Once In Berlin are published by Wind River Press. (www.windriverpress.com). His recent novel, Asheville, is published by Wastelandrunes, (www.wastelandrunes.com). He resides in Rome, with his wife Milena.