|VIEW FROM ABROAD|
November 15, 2000
Four journalists from around the world, who are covering the American election story, discuss their nations' reactions to the election deadlock.
SMITH: Yesterday former Secretary of State James Baker, representing the
Bush campaign, was asked whether he was worried that the deadlock might
destabilize world markets.
JAMES BAKER: You are darned right I'm concerned about what is happening in international markets and I think we ought to all be concerned. Why are the markets disturbed? Because they don't see any finality here. Why are some of our friends and indeed some of our adversaries overseas looking on this with great... with great interest, on the one hand, and apprehension on the other? Because they don't see any end to this process.
TERENCE SMITH: But Gore campaign chairman William Daley dismissed that notion.
WILLIAM DALEY: The only people who have indicated that there was some impact of this on the markets were probably somewhat partisan investment bankers who have made the case. I think most honest observers of the market today would say that if there are changes in the market, they are a result of some of the earning statements that have been put out by the companies having nothing to do with what's gone on in the last week in the political world.
|Apprehension about the stalemate?|
TERENCE SMITH: Joining us now are four journalists from around the world who are covering the American election story. Claus Kleber is the Washington bureau chief for ARD, a German television network. Ana Baron is the US correspondent for Clarin, Argentina's largest daily newspaper. Sylvie Kauffmann is the New York bureau chief for Le Monde, a French daily. And Satoro Suzuki is the Washington bureau chief for TV Asahi, a national television network in Japan.
Welcome to you all. Claus Kleber, James Baker, you just heard say that allies and adversaries even are apprehensive about this continued stalemate. Are they?
CLAUS KLEBER: Well, he hasn't been to Germany lately. Apprehension is not the feeling -- glee maybe, malice maybe. Shardenfreud is a German word that made its way to the American language -- all that is right -- apprehension, no.
TERENCE SMITH: No. Ana Baron, what would you say in Argentina?
ANA BARON: Well, in Argentina, the problem of the timing of what is happening is very bad because we are going through an economic crisis, and it is said that perhaps we will have a lot of difficulty to pay our debt so we are trying to organize a financial package. And, of course, when these things happen, always the leader of this kind of package is the United States. So if this, if our crisis will be bad and bad and bad, then and worse, then it will be a problem for Argentina. So there is a little bit of worry. Of course, there is other aspects like there is a lot of amusement. Nobody can believe how in a country that is the superpower and, you know, the country of the electronics and computers, these machines cannot work. So there is mixed feelings.
TERENCE SMITH: Mixed emotions.
ANA BARON: Yes.
TERENCE SMITH: Satoru Suzuki, what about in Japan?
SATORU SUZUKI: Well, as you may know, the stock market in Tokyo kept falling after the election day here in the United States, basically falling in steps with the New York market. And one of the reasons for that decline was the uncertainty surrounding the US election, who will be the next President of the United States. But so that the market in Tokyo also nervous, worried, probably apprehensive, but I should also point out that people in general in Japan got very much excited about the -- this election -- in other words, its confusion, its unpredictability about this election. You know, people, especially in Japan, tend to like confusion, provided that they are not part of the confusion.
TERENCE SMITH: Silvie Kauffmann, what has been the response, the reaction in France?
SILVIE KAUFFMANN: I would say surprise, bewilderment maybe but a lot of amusement generally at the spectacle of this country, which is usually so perfectly organized and which is now plunged into this confusion over the electoral process. There is really a lot of -- I think people are having a little bit of fun at your expense about this as my colleague from Argentina just said about this great superpower -- after all you are the only superpower, the only one we have, and we are supposed to look up to you. There you are trying to count and recount ballots and looking for ballot boxes in some clerk's car. So this is I would say generally people are surprised and are having some fun.
TERENCE SMITH: A little private satisfaction.
SILVIE KAUFFMANN: Right. Probably as well.
TERENCE SMITH: Claus Kleber, I wonder if this is as hard to explain to a German audience as it certainly is to an American audience.
CLAUS KLEBER: Yeah, what Ana said about the image of perfection is right. We just can't believe that it is impossible that the -- that it is possible that the country that throws its weight around the globe explaining to everybody how democracy, how the markets are supposed to work, finally turn out to be unable to count a few hundred thousand ballots. Maybe it's a break down not of the American political system but of American craftsmanship. Maybe some little engineer in the Black Forest would be able to construct a vote counting machine that works. But I want to say with that is I don't think it's a constitutional crisis. It doesn't even get the amount of interest that we would have gotten let's say in 1980 if this if this would have been the Carter versus Reagan election -- and really the basic direction of the country were at stake, then it would be a major story, political story. Here, this is at the end of an election, which has been fought mostly in the middle. And even after weeks of intense reporting, the average German would probably not be able to point out basic differences between Gore and Bush. They like one over the other, but it is not something that really makes people hold their breath. So jokes are going up and down Germany's game shows are making their jokes and things of that nature. And now people get a little restless and impatient. And everybody hopes that by the weekend it's going to be over.
|As this drags on...|
TERENCE SMITH: Well, I guess that is the question, Ana Baron. If this goes on for many more days or even weeks, does that change or accelerate the concern?
ANA BARON: No. You know what they say in Argentina? That we should send the OES electoral observers to see if they can help. I mean seriously, it is a concern; it is a concern because we are going through this economic, financial crisis, but at the same time it's very interesting because the world very -- not very interested in this election and suddenly they are very, very interested. They cannot believe that the campaign has been so tied, why the United States so divided, what is going to happen with the Congress so much divided? How come that when in all the counties the separation between the parties is you know, less and less, in this country it seems to be polarized -- so it's very, very interesting. And is this an ideological question or is this something that happened because as Claus said they were running too much in the center -- the candidates -- and now people feel free to go back to the tradition? So it's a lot of political questions. Very fascinating.
TERENCE SMITH: Mr. Suzuki, is it, is there a confidence in Japan that the United States will somehow work its way through this stalemate and reach a conclusion?
SATORU SUZUKI: The people are hoping that you guys will resolve this so-to-speak crisis.
TERENCE SMITH: Hoping but do they believe it?
SATORU SUZUKI: This is the United States of America. This is not a third-world country. This is the only superpower in the world. This is the largest economy in the world, and supposedly this is one of the most sophisticated and mature democratic systems in the world. Many U.S. American leaders gave us lectures about how and what a modern sophisticated democratic system should be like. But if you go after, you know, recount after recount after recount, if you go ahead with lawsuit after lawsuit after, you know, lawsuit, people in Japan have begun to wonder whether or not this country will be, you know, this system will be effectively and properly functioning. That's our concern.
|Concern about what happens next|
TERENCE SMITH: Silvie Kauffmann, some commentators have actually described this as the system working, as evidence that there is a process no matter how untidy and that it's working. Is that the perception abroad or not?
SILVIE KAUFFMANN: Well, I don't think in France, for instance, there is big concern about whether you are going to be able to come out of this crisis. I think we are realistic. We know that once in a while you have those crises. You let things go a little bit out of control like during the impeachment crisis and at some stage people come to their sense, and things go all right. So I think the concern is more about what is going to come out of this crisis. What presidency going to come out of this crisis? If it's a weakened presidency with a divided Congress, it might have some impact on the relations with Europe, with Western Europe. We have a lot of things as we are involved together in like the, NATO, the NATO troops in the Balkans for instance. Those comments made by Governor Bush's diplomatic advisor during the campaign, Condoleezza Rice did cause concern in Europe. Then they had a big impact there. So these are things, you know, people are starting to wonder about. What is going to happen when this is all over? What kind of president will we have facing us and what kind of government basically?
TERENCE SMITH: Claus Kleber, a diminished president?
CLAUS KLEBER: Yeah. Whoever is winning this is going to be limp to the inaugural ball. They have 50 percent of the country against them. Either Bush or Gore -- it doesn't matter. They are governing with a divided Congress pretty much 50/50. So whenever it comes to a point where they have to rally the country behind a cause, not this Balkan crisis but the next Balkan crisis or Timor or Africa, or whatever it may be, Korea, there will be a very much weakened President at least for the first 12 months when the memories of this are still fresh. And this will have a lasting political impact -- not the drama of comedy around the vote counting right now, but when we look beyond January 20th, we won't have two popes, we won't have two presidents; we will have one guy and there will be the ceremonies and everything but how powerful will he be to rally the country and unite?
TERENCE SMITH: Would you agree with that?
ANA BARON: Yes. In the hemisphere there is a lot of concern because one of the main problems is ironically democracy at this moment. We have the problem in Colombia. We have the problem in Peru. We have now the economic crisis in Argentina. So it's, it's really worrisome -- the kind of shaky image that the United States projects from the region just when we young democracies are trying to consolidate. For example, something very important to us is fast track for trade is going to pass in Congress or not. With this diminished presidency and with this Congress divided it's going to be very difficult. Clinton couldn't get it -- without fast track, you don't have, you know --
TERENCE SMITH: There are some question marks?
ANA BARON: Yes.
TERENCE SMITH: All right. Thank you all four very much.