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They Still Hate Us (But Who Cares Why)

Reported by Melanie - December 14, 2004

Thomas Riehle, the US public affairs officer for the polling company IPSOS, was a guest today (December 14, 2004) on Your World w/Neil Cavuto. Riehle was on to discuss a new AP-IPSOS poll showing post-election European opinion of Bush and Americans.

Cavuto promoed the segment: "Don't look now. Shock a shocks. They still, still hate us abroad. This time we've got the numbers to prove it. Now, what do we do about it? Some thoughts after this." Introducing Riehle a few minutes later, Cavuto said international resentment "toward the Bush administration has now spilled over to include bad feelings pretty much toward all Americans."

Riehle said the countries with the highest negative numbers were France, Germany and Spain. He said in the countries where "political leadership" is most opposed to the war in Iraq, the bad feelings against Bush have spilled over into anti-American feelings "since the re-election of Bush." Riehle said in countries where the "political leadership" is opposed to the war in Iraq, "there really appears to be a fear about Bush's re-election." Riehle said in the US "people are more hopeful than worried about Bush's re-election." In Italy and Australia, where the leadership supports the war in Iraq, "people aren't worried about the re-election of Bush," but in France, German, the UK and Canada, "people are more worried than hopeful with Bush's election" because the "political leadership has given people a reason to be more concerned about four more years of Bush."

Cavuto said that Ronald Reagan was "initially very unpopular abroad," he was viewed as a cowboy, but later foreigners "kinda rallied around him." Cavuto wondered if Riehle thought the same thing would happen with Bush. Riehle said that Europeans may have opposed Reagan's policies but "public opinion was always very positive about Americans and about the miracle of the American economy." Now, Riehle said, we're seeing public opinion "shifting to a real fear of America and..."

Cauvto interrupted. (COMMENT: Interesting that Cavuto interrupted here. In my opinion, Riehle seemed to want to discuss why Europeans may fear or hate us. I imagine Cavuto wanted to keep any of that off Fox's airwaves. After all, Fox's spin is that there's something wrong with Europe, not us.) Cavuto wondered if our economy improves (COMMENT: Earlier in the show there was a round table discussion about just how great our economy is.) the critics will say "their boat's rising, our boat's rising, we're gonna shut up now." (COMMENT: Cavuto's question implies that the foremost issue causing the "real fear of America" is the economy.)

Riehle said these problems will go away but France and Germany do "resent" that they don't play a major role in world affairs like they did three or four years ago. Riehle said that in Spain March 11 (when the train bombings occurred) is bigger than 9-11 (COMMENT: Ah, yeah! Of course it is.) and that there's "real anger that the United States voters re-elected President Bush." Cavuto asked if they lacked an understanding of Bush's "role in the war on terror," and Riehle said Spanish "government officials were really lobbying and beating the drum for Bush's defeat, that has an effect on public opinion in Spain."

About the French Cavuto said: So the French, "they always hate us right? They're always kvetching." Riehle said "they sure don't like American foreign policy, America's role in the world, and now we're seeing they don't like Americans."

Here are two articles about the poll from the San Francisco Chronicle: Highlights from eight countries spotlighted by poll along with the United States; and U.S. view of President Bush, his re-election and his role in world affairs

COMMENT: (l) Prior to the election there was quite a bit of discussion, even on this site, about how Europeans disliked Bush, but gave the American people the benefit of the doubt because of the dubious election situation in 2000. However, the feeling was that if Bush was re-elected, we citizens would be held responsible because we'd had a chance to vote him out. So, the results of this poll aren't surprising in that regard. (2) Mr. Riehle certainly doesn't give Europeans, Canadians or Australians much credit if he thinks the poll numbers are either negative or positive because of the "political leadership" in their countries. People in Europe have a more informative media. That alone is enough reason for them to oppose Bush. They actually know what's going on! And (3) I notice that the UK is amongst the countries where opposition to the US is high. If Riehle's explanation is to be believed, and the stance of the "political leadership" is what drives public opinion, and with Tony Blair at the helm, why would our numbers be so bad in the UK? (4) As visitors to the site can attest, Riehle is wrong when he says that in the US (and Italy and Australia) people are "hopeful" as a result of Bush's election - certainly not all of them by any means.

In the end, Fox's viewers didn't learn much at all from this interview about "why they hate us." Typical, because the Fox message is that there's something wrong with them, not with us.

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