As Others See Us

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The New York Times headline reads "For Many Abroad, An Ideal Renewed," and the story goes on to describe the relief and feelings of hope expressed by some non-Americans that voters here elected Barack Obama as our president.

It's usually informative and often amazing to see how much attention and analysis foreign media apply to American politics, which of course is a testament to how much influence the decisions of American voters are perceived to have on the world. Not only did The Times in London lead with the headline "'Change Has Come' – Obama Wins U.S. Election," but its news package also came with some sidebars for perspective. One ranked all U.S. presidents "in order of greatness," from George Washington to the lame duck George W. Bush.

Bush was not ranked last but does bring up the rear in The Times' assessment along with the likes of Franklin Pierce, signatory on the Kansas-Nebraska Act slavery compromise, and Martin Van Buren, described as the enforcer of the Indian Removal Act, a particularly dark piece of American history.

It's common to hear people complain about the meek impact of an individual in the vast machinery of American national politics. But yesterday millions of individuals went to the polls, cast their votes and then went on with their lives. The world over, others who truly could not make a direct impact on American politics watched and waited to see what we would do. Now they have their answer.

-- Ian McNulty

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