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July 31, 2000


As the Republican Party opens its national convention in Philadelphia today, commentators in Europe, Asia and Canada weighed the perceived personal strengths and weaknesses of the Republican and Democratic candidates, pondered their campaign strategies, and speculated on their chances of success in November. Overall, GOP candidate George W. Bush was given high marks for his "smart move to the center" of the American political landscape, and for his "wise" choice of a running mate--former Defense Secretary Richard Cheney. In addition, although few missed a chance to point out his "deficits," no one dismissed the Texas governor's appeal and potential as a formidable contender. Many emphasized the positive, deeming him a "sincere" man who "does not pretend to know everything about everything." A number of pundits pointed out that Democratic candidate Vice President Al Gore is currently behind Mr. Bush in the most recent polls, and continues to be saddled with an "image" problem. Editorialists were decidedly mixed, however, in their views on who might win the U.S. presidential contest, with no sure bet emerging. Some reminded that Mr. Gore has yet to choose his running mate, and his convention "bounce" is still yet to come. On a broader note, several analysts ruminated on what the selection of a new U.S. president will mean for the world at large. Several analysts in Europe believed that the two major parties are so similar in their approach to foreign and economic policies that it does not really matter who wins because the general course of U.S. statecraft will not change. Others in Europe and elsewhere demurred, contending that significant differences do exist between the GOP and the Democratic Party--particularly on arms control and NMD--and that the world should pay close attention to who takes over the helm of the superpower. Themes follow:

'CANDIDATE FOR ALL': A number of dailies noted that Mr. Bush can only succeed if he appeals to the political center. Several maintained he is close to accomplishing that goal. A Paris paper pointed out that "Bush Junior has been able to rally the hard-liners of his party as well as the moderates, independents and former Democrats, the formula for the success of Ronald Reagan as well as for his own father." Several opinionmakers dwelled on the "negatives," particularly calling into question the younger Bush's intellect. Some, however, contended that other traits may be just as important for leadership and electoral success.

'WISE CHOICE': Nearly all observers agreed that Mr. Cheney brings many "advantages" to the GOP ticket, including foreign policy and military expertise, "gravitas" and "loyalty." Some also asserted that the Cheney selection says something about the great "confidence" that Mr. Bush has in winning, choosing to go with someone with "competence," rather than electoral clout. A handful of writers warned that Mr. Cheney has definite "weaknesses" that could, in the end, harm the GOP chances, namely "nonexistent appeal" to women, African Americans, Hispanics and young voters. A Singapore daily concluded that should Mr. Gore select someone like Senator Kerry of Massachusetts, "a Gore-Kerry ticket, combining youth and experience, will be more appealing" to all those demographic groups.

EDITOR: Diana McCaffrey

EDITOR'S NOTE: This survey is based on 39 reports from 14 countries July 26-July 31. Editorial excerpts are grouped by region; editorials from each country are listed from the most recent date.


BRITAIN: "Bush Injects Life Into Race For White House"

The centrist Independent opined (7/31): "It would be an exaggeration, given the sadly reduced condition of U.S. presidential conventions, to claim that every eye will be glued to Philadelphia this week. Yet--however choreographed, predictable and suffused with brotherly love--the coronation ceremony of George W. Bush, which begins today, does matter. It will be our best chance to get a fix on the man whom may recapture the White House for the Republican Party this autumn.... All too often 'Dubya' is dismissed as Daddy's charming, spoilt and rather witless boy. But as Ronald Reagan should have proved, intellectual wattage is not the most important requirement for an effective presidency."

"Is He Ready?"

The independent weekly Economist had this lead editorial (7/28): "With the Republican convention beckoning next week in Philadelphia, Mr. Bush has repainted himself once again. The likeability is back; so is much of the moderation; and he has added considerably more depth to the portrait. For the past four months, the supposedly lightweight Mr. Bush has dominated the presidential campaign, unfurling policy after policy and surrounding himself with serious-looking advisers. Meanwhile, Mr. Gore, the supposed policy wonk, has seemed stuck in a series of tired relaunches. Mr. Bush is slightly ahead in the polls; and unless something terrible happens at what promises to be a heavily overscripted convention, he can expect to increase his lead. Where does this leave Mr. Bush? With a real chance. Of course, Mr. Gore will get his own post-nomination bounce in the polls after the Democratic convention later in August. When it matters, in November, the vice president may have the edge: Mr. Gore has the incumbent's benefit of a remarkably strong economy (so far) and he is an impressively brutal debater, whereas Mr. Bush's showing against John McCain was dismal. No matter how endearing Mr. Bush seems at the podium next Thursday night, the appeal of his self-portrait will not really be tested until his televised contests with Mr. Gore in October.... But the next three months will probably be even more about character: not just intellect, but temperament. The American people, most of whom have paid scant attention to the events so far, will have to get used to Mr. Bush, and to trust him. This was the part of the test that that other supposedly ignorant western governor, Ronald Reagan, passed so triumphantly 20 years ago. Many Americans may decide whether Mr. Bush is 'ready' in this sense only when they come to pull the lever on November 7. Philadelphia offers his first real chance to convince them that he is."

"Dick Cheney, Loyal Hound"

The independent weekly Economist profiled Bush's running-mate (7/28): "Dick Cheney is a rock-solid candidate, with all the charisma of that inorganic substance. He fulfils the Hippocratic requirements of a vice president ('First, do no harm'). He will not contradict, embarrass or outshine Mr. Bush. Vice presidents are sometimes required to be the campaign's attack dog. Mr. Cheney is easy-going, civil and patient, more like a guide dog for the blind than the Hound of the Baskervilles. In the long run, those may prove useful qualities. Mr. Cheney has managed to play influential roles in Washington for a quarter of a century--most recently as defense secretary for Mr. Bush's father and before that as number two in the Republican Party's hierarchy in the House--without making too many enemies in his own party (both wings of which applauded this week's choice) or even among Democrats.

"In picking his running-mate, it was the cautious side of Mr. Bush's personality that came to the fore. Caution has limitations as well as merits.... Mr. Cheney adds little to the ticket and detracts less. The real lesson from the Cheney nomination concerns Mr. Bush's growing self-confidence. The name at the head of the ticket is the only one that matters. More than anything else, the choice of Mr. Cheney says that the governor of Texas thinks he can win this li'l election all on his own."

"Bush And Cheney"

The conservative Times editorialized (7/26): "Mr. Gore will doubtless say that Mr. Bush has been obliged to recruit a Washington heavyweight because he himself is a Texas lightweight. The governor has wagered, perhaps shrewdly, that he would prefer to endure such attacks and not opt instead for a less substantial figure who could become an embarrassment later in the contest. This is a sensible pragmatism. Mr. Bush has recovered from an uncertain primary season by acknowledging his weaknesses and addressing those concerns directly. He has moved smartly to the political center and produced detailed policy on education, health and pensions--traditional Democratic territory. The public mood in the United States appears to be that it is 'time for a change, but not that much change, thank you.' This is exactly what Mr. Bush is offering voters. Mr. Cheney will reassure those Americans who quite like Mr. Bush personally, but remain unsure about him as a chief executive. He may prove to be an uncharismatic but very astute nomination."

"Risks Of Safety"

The independent Financial Times editorialized (7/26): "George W. Bush's choice of Dick Cheney as running-mate indicates that the Republican presidential campaign is, for now, full of confidence. In choosing to share the Republican ticket with the defense secretary in his father's administration, Mr. Bush ignored the governors who could turn a swing state his way. He also denied himself the charisma of John McCain, whose volatile presence would enhance election chances in November, but would also ensure a fractious Bush administration.... In making his choice, the Republican candidate is looking well beyond the election. One of Mr. Cheney's attractions is that he compensates for the Washington inexperience of Mr. Bush--he was chief of staff under President Gerald Ford--and adds considerable strength on foreign policy. One of the few notable achievements of the first Bush administration was the handling of the Gulf War, for which Mr. Cheney deserves credit.... In making his choice, Mr. Bush was right to focus more on his potential administration than on his campaign. But the political worth of that decision will be determined only on election day."

FRANCE: "Bush Enthroned By Republicans"

Jean-Jacques Mével wrote in right-of-center Figaro (7/31): "This son of a big-name family who presents himself as a self-made man has hardly ever traveled outside of Texas, but he is closer than ever to winning his bet: to seduce America on November 7, to avenge his father in the White House and win back the presidency for the Bush dynasty that Clinton stole from them."

"The Republican Convention Opens In Philadelphia"

Fabrice Rouseelot and François Sergent observed in left-of-center Libération (7/31): "Even if public opinion surveys taken before the convention are not trustworthy, it still remains a fact that since he burst onto the American political scene a year ago, Bush Junior has been able to rally the hardliners of his party as well as the moderates, independents and former Democrats, the formula for the success of Ronald Reagan as well as for his own father."

"A More Healthy And Impressive Expansion Than Ever"

Daniel Vigneron wrote in centrist La Tribune (7/31): "Already embarrassed by the economic success of the Clinton administration, the delegates of the 'Grand Old Party' would sooner ignore the GNP statistics for the second trimester published on Friday, the day before the Republican convention.... The productivity gains and increasing confidence engendered by the new economy allow America to become even richer. Good luck to the Republicans!"

"Last Starting Line For Bush And Gore"

Right-of-center Les Echos editorialized (7/27): "Cheney has a good understanding of international issues. His experience in an area which is the Achilles heel of Bush will doubtlessly boost the Republican ticket. But even if it was well-received, his nomination is not likely to have much impact on the American vote, as shown in two surveys published soon after the announcement. The Republican candidate is perfectly aware of this and is making an effort to hunt on the grounds of his Democratic rival.... He has been helped until now by an Al Gore who has been excessively cautious on social issues, beginning with the death penalty. The Democratic candidate, who can rely on the excellent economy, would do well to portray himself as less undecided and more imaginative."

"George W. Bush Relies On Dick Cheney"

Jean-Louis Turlin wrote in right-of-center Le Figaro (7/26): "In addition to loyalty, Cheney, who has no personal ambitions, brings experience and stature to the table, especially in terms of foreign policy and in dealing with Congress and the Washington political scene. A more 'solid' than 'sympathetic' conservative, Cheney is also reassuring to right-wing Republicans and Democrats will have a hard time making him out to be the hardened ideologist that he never was. His weaknesses: a certain lack of charisma and a nonexistent appeal to voters.... Bush is convinced that he doesn't need a McCain, a Colin Powell, or his father to win the elections."

"Clever Choice"

Patrice de Beer in observed in left-of-center Le Monde (7/26): "This is the most important decision that a presidential candidate could make, even if the running mate does not count for much during the voting process except in his own state. It is better that he is not very well known to the public than too controversial, and especially that he does not become a media target, like Dan Quayle was for George Bush.... Bush's choice, if confirmed, is a clever one. The former secretary of defense is one of the most loyal [to Bush] and above all is a politician who will not upstage [Bush]."

GERMANY: "The American Duel"

Washington correspondent Leo Wieland wrote in right-of-center Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (7/31): "With respect to the contents of their election campaign, there is little that separates George W. Bush from Al Gore.... Without an economic collapse by the fall of this year, the two, who mainly want the same, i.e. to safeguard prosperity, will have difficulties separating each other. This is why there will be a choice between two personalities rather than an election on issues."

"Bush In Search Of Stature"

Washington correspondent Klaus Brill judged in centrist Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (7/31): "George Bush and Al Gore are two candidates who resemble each other in many aspects. Both are the sons of politicians, both have known politics from their youth, and both create the impression that this origin has prevented the full development of their own personalities.... The two contenders deal with certain issues in an intense way as nobody else has done for a long time. This is why we must praise newcomer Bush and the old trooper Gore for the fact that they deal with issues such as the reform of the education and healthcare systems or the modernization of the old age pension system."

"Party In Philadelphia"

Uwe Schmitt said in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (7/31): "Nobody feels bound by the platforms that will be adopted by the conventions--not even the future president. But, nevertheless, these conventions...offer a unique forum for America's admirably decent democracy. They alone give not only wealthy donors from industry the opportunity to 'rent' their delegates and senators for feudal dinners, but they also offer thousands of volunteers the opportunity to meet the politicians of their party 'eye-on-eye.' The conventions with the proximity to the powerful are a reward and, at the same time, an installment for the next four years."

"Bush Wants To Be A Candidate For All"

Right-of-center Rhein-Zeitung of Koblenz held (7/31): "The debates about the executions in his home state and the unclear profile in many political fields have not damaged Bush's profile. The candidate pins his hopes on an election campaign of symbols in which pictures and gestures replace content. The pattern of his success are appearances with affected people, and these appearances are accompanied by rhetoric. Bush with a single mother, Bush with Latinos, Bush with African-Americans, Bush for women. Bush wants to be a candidate for all. The media show a candidate who speaks not only with white men older than 50 years. This is a difference to his Republican predecessors."

"To Learn From His Father"

Jochen Siemens opined in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (7/27): "To learn from his father means to choose the right running mate. When George Bush made the unknown Dan Quayle his running mate in 1988, he damaged his election chances and his presidency. With the selection of Richard Cheney, the candidate George Bush Jr. did not damage his election chances. Cheney is a well-regarded man among the Republicans. He is a conservative man who stands for traditional pragmatism--not religious zeal--of his party. He will help Bush keep the different wings of the party together. The experienced 'Washingtonian' Cheney will prevent Bush from walking into traps, and, in addition, bring foreign and security policy competence, something he urgently needs, into his team. As far as the good news is concerned, this is all.... Some experienced voters, however, will keep the impression that Cheney, next to Bush, is the more competent, even more presidential man. In addition, Cheney does not bring along a state with many votes. Even though Wyoming has a beautiful landscape, it is insignificant as far as politics are concerned. In addition, Cheney is part of the political generation of Bush Sr. Cheney will hardly be able to attract young voters, African-Americans, Hispanics, and women.... He is good, but will he be good enough?"

"Smart Move"

Washington correspondent Dietrich Zwaetz wrote in business-oriented Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf (7/26): "With a single personnel decision, George W. Bush has swept aside doubts about his own foreign policy qualifications: with the nomination of Richard Cheney as his running mate.... Cheney, the pragmatic politician, who hibernated in the business world...would integrate a considerable portion foreign and military policy experience into a Bush cabinet. This is exactly what a future president George Bush Jr. still lacks, and this is why Cheney's nomination is more than a smart move of Bush in the election campaign. It will create a certain constraint upon the reaction of his rival Al Gore.... With Cheney, Bush's election campaign wins back the pinch of credibility which he lacked in the opinion of many American commentators."

"A Nostalgic Choice"

Washington correspondent Robert von Rimscha commented in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (7/26): "For Europe, it is reassuring that Richard Cheney is a familiar face and an outspoken internationalist. The greatest danger for Cheney's nomination is his link to the last Bush administration. The fact that the son is now bringing back his father's Defense Secretary, is offering the Democrats the opportunity to launch attacks. Will George Bush Jr. look back at the minor staffers of his father when it comes to the first personnel decisions?... But his move may be well-calculated. It is a promise of continuity. When Bush Senior left the White House, 34 percent of the Americans gave him good grades. Today, 74 percent think that Bush was a good president. Putting nostalgia and revenge for the defeat against Clinton in 1992 in the center of the election campaign is Bush Jr.'s risky game. He is pinning his hopes on someone who will help him only little to get elected, but a lot if both manage to move into the White House."

ITALY: "No Matter Who Wins In November, U.S.-Europe Relations Destined To Change"

Aldo Rizzo opined in centrist, influential La Stampa (7/31): "Apart from the obvious (and superficial) preference of the right and center-right forces for Bush, and of the center-left parties and governments for Gore, it does not seem to me that there is great interest in the White House race in EU capitals. This may depend on two factors. The first is that neither candidate seems to be the bearer of a significant message that would 'warm up' public opinion. The second is that the EU, taken as a whole, feels that, no matter who is elected, Europe will have to worry mainly about itself over the next four to eight years. And that, as a result, relations between the two sides of the Atlantic are destined to change in any case. There are, of course, differences between the two candidates concerning domestic politics and, to a certain extent, foreign policy. On the latter point, Bush appears to be 'tougher,' i.e., more inclined to confirming and even relaunching the political-strategic weight of the United States. Gore seems instead to be more flexible and more attentive to the issues of the new internationalism (not only political, but also humanitarian, environmental and so on.) But both will aim at the best and most productive possible 'management' of the U.S. superpower.... The first years of the new century will be crucial for U.S.-European relations, and it is not exaggerated to predict a 'historic' change after over half a century of 'unequal relations.' The problem will be that of preserving a privileged, preferential relationship through NATO as well as through other channels. The fact is that America's military force will always be stronger, and Europe will continue to need it in extreme cases. And, in general, the ties of our common civilization cannot be cancelled."

"U.S. Seeks Happiness"

New York correspondent Mario Platero wrote in leading business-oriented Il Sole-24 Ore (7/30): "In his apparent lack of preparation and superficiality, Bush appeals to America because he seems to be more sincere than Gore, who anxiously tries to continuously reinvent his image and is unable to smile. Bush is transparent, he does not pretend to know everything about everything, and is willing to resort to experts to get their advice. He wants to be positive.... The leit motiv is the same: The nation wants to be 'happy' and without 'concerns.'"

"Good News For Democrats Is That Powell Is Not GOP Vice Presidential Candidate"

Maurizio Ricci held in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (7/26): "The Republicans are enthusiastic about recruiting…a man who will complete Bush's natural benevolence and power of communication with his competence and reliability in foreign policy, both of which the Republican candidate is lacking. However, the Democrats are the ones who are really relieved. Analysts close to the Democrats stress 'Cheney was selected because he is the person who most closely recalls Colin Powell. The good news is that Colin Powell is not their candidate."

"Cheney Selction Presents More Advantages Than Disadvantages"

Mario Platero wrote from New York in leading business-oriented Il Sole-24 Ore (7/26): "Cheney's selection presents more advantages than disadvantages. The first advantage is political. With his choice, Bush confirms his centrist trend…he second one is that Cheney is reliable, concrete, loyal.... However, Cheney doesn't bring any immediate, practical advantage to the presidential campaign.... Cheney's State, Wyoming...brings only three electoral votes. But...Bush wants to demonstrate that he is fully confident in his autonomous victory, he wants to confirm that he does not need help. His bet is rather difficult."

"Now The Ace To Play Is Powell"

In an analysis in leading business-oriented Il Sole-24 Ore (7/26), Mauro Calamandrei calls former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Colin Powell, the card to play during the Republican convention, as Republican candidate George W. Bush "will want to give maximum visibility to Powell, not only because he is a retired military man to whom he will want to give a job in the next Republican administration, but also because he expresses the type of progressive conservatism which isn't very different from Bill Clinton's."

RUSSIA: "Bush, Looking To Balance His Lack Of Experience, Chooses Cheney"

Vissarion Sisnev wrote in centrist Trud (7/28): "People-in-the-know believe that by choosing Richard Cheney above others Bush wanted, first, to balance in the eyes of the electorate his own lack of experience in public affairs and second, to win over the conservative wing of the party which has gravitated toward Senator McCain, who dropped out of the race. The members of the conservative coalition say that, in that sense, Cheney is 'more Catholic than the Pope.'"

"Old Guard Is Back"

Georgy Stepanov said in reformist Izvestiya (7/26): "George Bush's choice of his running mate is more proof that he is recruiting the old guard. All of them are known for their enormous practical experience and utter dedication to the Republican idea."

BELGIUM: "No One Will Shiver At The Prospect That Cheney Could Become President"

Mia Doornaert commented in independent Catholic De Standaard (7/26): "An important asset is that Cheney complements the presidential candidate in important fields: He knows his way around Washington and around the world. As a former White House chief of staff, a former defense secretary, and an influential Congressman, he has the experience in domestic and foreign policy which the Texas governor lacks.... Cheney's political experience and popularity also mean that, contrary to Dan Quayle--Bush senior's running mate--no one will shiver at the prospect that the vice president could become president in case the latter died or was incapacitated."

FINLAND: "Bush Stresses Stability In U.S. Election"

Leading, independent Helsingin Sanomat editorialized (7/26): "By picking former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney as his vice presidential candidate, Republican George W. Bush does not intend to electrify the voters or observers. The Republicans assume that relaxed Bush together with the tested competence of Cheney will defeat Democrat Al Gore. Even though the election will be exciting for the Americans, opinion surveys tell Europe and the rest of the world that there is nothing auguring for great changes to take place in the policy of Bill Clinton's successor. Viewing from the outside, key issues on the U.S. agenda are the controversial NMD project or the relations to China and Russia, but viewed from within, the picture is different.... The true issue is which of the two candidates is a more credible leader."

NORWAY: "Selection Indicates Bush Is Open, Wanted Partner With Broad Experience"

An editorial in newspaper-of-record, moderately conservative Aftenposten held (7/26): "The Republicans' candidate in the U.S. presidential campaign, George Bush, Jr., last night pointed in the direction of one of the party's most experienced politicians--Richard Cheney--as his vice presidential candidate. All experience in American politics indicates that Bush will get what he wants when the Republicans next week come together at the nominating convention. This is the most important decision the 54-year-old Bush has faced in the campaign until now, and it tells a little bit about the man who is looking to be elected to the world's most powerful political position. We see that Bush is careful, that he is open to colleagues with strong standing, and that he wanted a partner with broad experience.... But at the same time the Republicans' man is taking a risk in not choosing a partner who will attract voters. Cheney is a 'behind-the-scenes' man, and not a politician who can make sure that one or more important states swing over to Bush's side.... George Bush has thought more about a possible future in the White House, than about how he will get help to make it there. The latter he will have to manage himself."

PORTUGAL: "The Serene Convention Of The Republicans"

U.S. correspondent Ana Gomes Ferreira observed in moderate-left Público (7/31): "There is a paradox at the Republican convention, which begins today in the American city of Philadelphia. The slogan chosen for the party's biggest meeting proposes an institutional and social jolt: 'Together let's rediscover America's mission.' Except that the scene created, which cost $63.5 million...looks like a living room. Will it be possible to talk convincingly about change from a scene that invites you to put your slippers on?... Despite its economic growth, the country needs changes. The well-being and absence of threats or conflicts have created an immobility and a vacuum of identity in the nation. It is this psychological immobility--beyond defining the United States' role in the world--that George W. Bush proposes to break."

"Latest Polls: Bush-Cheney Lead Al Gore"

Luís Delgado wrote in the "Direct Lines" column of center-left Diário de Notícias (7/31): "According to the latest CNN/USA Today poll, the Bush-Cheney lead over Al Gore has increased to 11 points.... The Republican convention begins today, and this difference will become more substantial. But be careful: Gore doesn't have a partner yet, and there will also be a Democratic festivity. These elections look promising."

ROMANIA: "Bush Going After The Moderates"

Gabriela Anghel asserted in pro-government Romania Libera (7/28): "Bush will be more moderate in order to avoid divisions inside the party. He will present himself as a 'unifier,' using a slogan meant to echo beyond the party's traditional base: a call to minorities, to the feminist constituency, and to independent and undecided voters. Some are saying that 'a different type of convention' will exist in Philadelphia, one for all kinds of Republicans. George Bush succeeded in consolidating the support of the conservative and religious wings of his party, and now, learning from his duel with Senator McCain, he will go after the moderates."

SPAIN: "Bush's Sprint"

Conservative La Vanguardia of Barcelona noted (7/31): "The party platform...shows...the metaphorical 'move to the center' designed to penetrate the great pocket of undecided voters toward whom the candidates are aiming all sorts of proposals loaded with ambiguous panaceas.... Seeking the centrist vote with so-called 'compassionate conservatism' is the objective of a George Bush prepared to reach the White House with proposals which, in a European context, would seem worthy of a charitable extreme right."

"Confronted With Compassionate Conservatism, Democrats Must Renew Message"

Center-left El Pais commented (7/30): "American society now appears tired of affirmative action on behalf of ethnic minorities. Confronted with the compassionate conservatism of the Republicans, the Democrats, if they want to win, must also retool their message."

TURKEY: "The Unbearable Boredom Of U.S. Elections"

Asli Aydintasbas wrote in intellectual, liberal Yeni Binyil (7/28): "Campaign 2000 has turned into a kind of low-rated television show because there is no excitement in the race between Gore and Bush. Their charisma is far lower than that of popular presidents like Clinton and Reagan. Besides the party programs (Republican and Democrat) are more or less identical in terms of ideology, foreign policy, and economic plans.... Meanwhile, there is good news for Ankara. Cheney, who is the architect of the new world concept, is also very close to the arms and oil lobbies. If he becomes the vice president, he will likely be a close supporter of Turkey."


SINGAPORE: "Good Pick By Bush"

Pro-government Straits Times offered this analysis (7/29): "It was not exactly an astonishing choice...but Governor George Bush's pick of Mr. Dick Cheney as his running mate spoke well of him. Ignoring the usual considerations of presidential nominees when choosing their running mates--regional appeal, ideological balance, charisma and so on--he chose competence.... Mr. Cheney has what matters most--intelligence--and an impressive resume to boot.... Ironically, Mr. Bush pales by comparison....

"His choice of Mr. Cheney, as well as the impressive foreign policy team he has gathered, is reassuring under the circumstances, for it reveals a well-adjusted personality modest enough to acknowledge its limits, and confident enough to seek the aid of its superiors. It is possible, however, that Mr. Bush may be a little too confident, if not arrogant, in his choice, for his disregard of politics-as-usual may be premature. While few doubt that the former defense secretary will help Mr. Bush govern, the fact is the latter will have to win the election first.... Since the election, unlike the primaries, is won by appealing to the center, the perception that Mr. Bush's 'compassionate conservatism' is more conservative than compassionate may not stand him in good stead with the electorate. His choice of Mr. Cheney...may reinforce this perception. But perhaps that is for the best. After all, elections matter only if they present electorates with real choices. With both Vice President Al Gore and Mr. Bush hugging the center, the 2000 race was beginning to appear like a choice between Tweedledee and Tweedledum. But appearances are deceiving. The two do differ significantly on a whole raft of domestic well as on foreign policy, especially in regard to arms control and the proposed National Missile Defense system. The American public should ponder these differences--and choose wisely."

"Cheney Could Be A Handicap For Bush Jr."

The pro-government Business Times' Washington correspondent Leon Hadar wrote (7/28): "By choosing the low-key and non-charismatic Mr. Cheney...another conservative, middle-aged, white male as running mate, Mr. Bush Jr. not only endangers his support among women, but does not win any political brownie points among Hispanic, African-American or Asian-American voters.... So, why Mr. Cheney and what does it mean for the Republican ticket and for the presidential race? The new conventional wisdom in Washington is that Mr. Bush Jr., lacking experience in foreign policy and in Washington in general, wanted someone with exactly those qualities...who can help him deal with Congress and manage national security problems. But the spin the Democrats will put on the selection, that unlike Mr. Gore, Mr. Bush, Jr. is indeed inexperienced in policy issues and needs Mr. Cheney as a 'political babysitter,' could hurt the Republicans, especially if Mr. Gore selects a younger and more telegenic running-mate, like Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, a decorated Vietnam veteran. A Gore-Kerry ticket, combining youth and experience, will be more appealing to young people, women and minorities, and to voters in the north-east and California.


CANADA: "Arms Policy Will Turn Campaign On Its Head"

Columnist David Frum wrote in the conservative National Post (7/31): "The reaction of the Gore camp and the Democratic Party to the new Republican zeal for disarmament is a strange combination of consternation and outrage. It's impossible for them to denounce missile defences outright. After all, a commission created by the Clinton administration warned only two years ago that the country was dangerously vulnerable to missile attack from third-rate powers like Iraq, Iran and North Korea, and in the wake of that report President Clinton has unhappily approved a tentative missile defence program of his own. On the other hand, Al Gore spent the formative years of his political career absorbing the theology of arms control and worshipping in the temple of mutual assured destruction, and he is not a man who easily adjusts to new circumstances or readily accepts new ideas. The result is that Campaign 2000 is going to feature a defense policy argument that turns the old debates of the 1980s on their heads: With Republicans arguing for fewer nuclear bombs and Democrats warning against any deviation from the venerable polices of 20, 30, 40 years ago. Every election offers voters a choice: more of the same or something new?

"In this election, Mr. Gore has ratcheted that choice to an extreme: No nominee for president since Warren Harding seems to fear and mistrust novelty more than he. Steady as you go is his philosophy, safety first is his motto: even if, in this case, steadiness and safety imply a willingness to blow up the entire world to battle a communist enemy that vanished a decade ago."

"A Safe, Wise Choice"

The conservative National Post noted (7/26): "The U.S. Republican establishment fell in love with George W. Bush last year because he was perceived as a moderate conservative who would win over centrist voters--a safe choice. By selecting Richard Cheney for his vice-presidential running mate, Mr. Bush has made his own safe choice. But Mr. Cheney is also a wise choice who will help tip the odds in favour of the Republican Party in the November presidential election.... He is just the sort of sober, well-liked blue chip that Mr. Bush will want at his side when the Republican national convention begins on Monday. The GOP rightly believes that, with their man ahead in the polls, Richard Cheney will help keep him there."

"Cheney Considered 'Safe' Choice As Bush's Running Mate"

Washington bureau chief Andrew Cohen commented in the leading Globe and Mail (7/26): "The most common word heard yesterday to describe the choice of Richard Cheney as the vice presidential running mate of Texas Governor George Bush was 'safe.' The problem for Mr. Bush is that his choice may be too safe. And on election day, the Republicans may be sorry. The selection of Mr. Cheney is more about governing more than winning. It reflects the enormous confidence that Mr. Bush has in his ability to win the United States' November presidential election. He made the most important strategic decision of his `campaign on the basis of intellect, experience, and chemistry, not electability.... If Democrats are relieved today, it is because Mr. Bush didn't choose a Republican who could have made a spectacular difference, such as Arizona Senator John McCain or former General Colin Powell, or someone who would have made a tactical difference, such as Governor Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania or former Senator John Danforth of Missouri.... In an election so tight that a vice presidential nominee could make the difference, Mr. Bush has ensured that his will not. Astonishingly, he squandered the comparative advantage that he had in the rich pool of Republican governors and senators from whom he could have chosen in such crucial states as Florida, Michigan and Illinois. These states may well decide the election.... Mr. Bush has traded the demands of politics for the promise of gravitas. Unorthodox, yes, but come November, he may find Dick Cheney was a luxury he couldn't afford."


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