How Republicans Are Being Viewed Across The Pond

Scott Horton passes along an excerpt from an article in the German newsweekly Der Spiegel [link is in German] regarding the race for the Republican nomination:

“Africa is a country. The Taliban rule in Libya. Muslims are terrorists. Immigrants are mostly criminals, Occupy Wall Street protesters are always dirty. And women who claim to have been sexually molested should kindly keep quiet.”

Welcome to the wonderful world of the Republican Party. Or rather: to the distorted world of its presidential campaign. For months it has coiled through the country like a traveling circus, from debate to debate, from scandal to scandal, contesting the mightiest office in the world — and nothing is ever too unfathomable for them… These eight presidential wannabes are happy enough not only to demolish their own reputations but also that of their party, the once worthy party of Abraham Lincoln. They are also ruining the reputation of the United States.

They lie, deceive, scuffle and speak every manner of idiocy. And they expose a political, economic, geographic and historical ignorance compared to which George W. Bush sounds like a scholar. Even the party’s boosters are horrified by the spectacle…

Platitudes in lieu of programs: in serious times that demand the smartest, these clowns offer blather that is an insult to the intelligence of all Americans. But as with all freak shows, it would be impossible without a stage, the U.S. media, which has been neutered by the demands of political correctness, and a welcoming audience, a party base that seems to have been lobotomized overnight. Notwithstanding the subterranean depths of the primary process, the press and broadcasters proclaim one clown after the next to be the new frontrunner, in predictable news cycles of forty-five days.

Horton comments:

The most important observation Spiegel offers is this: At a time of mounting crisis, when much of the world is looking to the United States for leadership and initiative, the celebration of sleaze and ignorance that has marked the Republican primary is damaging the reputation of the nation as a whole. Even those who despise the G.O.P. should be concerned about the depths to which the party has sunk.

One would think that Republicans would be the ones most concerned about it, but looking at the characters they’ve been putting their weight behind this year — from Palin to Trump to Bachmann to Perry to Cain to Gingrich — it would appear that they’re more concerned with ideological purity and the celebration of anti-intellectualism than with picking leaders qualified to run the country.

H/T: Andrew Sullivan

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, Africa, US Politics, , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Trumwill says:

    I’m among those underwhelmed by most of the leading candidates and the behavior of one of the leading candidates that I like, but I am not particularly concerned about how favorably they are viewed across the pond.

  2. You may not like Newt Gingrich — millions of people don’t — but you can’t credibly call him “ignorant” or “anti-intellectual.”

  3. legion says:

    Hands up: how many commenters and front-page contributors here will nod your head in agreement with the embarrassing state of Republican political thought, yet will also vote straight-ticket GOP next November, regardless of who gets the nomination?

    You guys – shut the fuck up forever.

  4. Hey Norm says:

    C’mon…Gingrich’s intellect is vastly over-rated.

  5. Have A Nice G.A. says:

    but you can’t credibly call him “ignorant” or “anti-intellectual.”

    This is a large group here who claims that of everyone who does not fall into the atheist world view and then claim it off each other when anyone dares to go against the PC talking point flavor of the day, month or year. I think it’s called thought fascism….

  6. Hey Norm says:

    @ Trumwill…
    I don’t really care what they think either…other than it is a very precise distillation of the psuedo-conservative rightists being offered to this nation as prospective leaders.

  7. mantis says:

    You may not like Newt Gingrich — millions of people don’t — but you can’t credibly call him “ignorant” or “anti-intellectual.”


    Gingrich says that D’Souza has made a “stunning insight” into Obama’s behavior — the “most profound insight I have read in the last six years about Barack Obama.”

    “What if [Obama] is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together [his actions]?” Gingrich asks. “That is the most accurate, predictive model for his behavior.”

    Yes, I think I can call him that, and credibly so. He’s about as intellectual as Bill Maher.

    The trouble is Republicans think any Republican who can speak in complete sentences is an intellectual.

    Grasping onto every harebrained theory that comes your way and repeating it is not intellectualism.

  8. Rob in CT says:

    As IF Republicans care about what Germans think of us! Indeed, a sneering article in Der Speigel is probably a plus in the eyes of a Republican, particularly a primary voter.

    As for Newt, for an educated intellectual, he sure loves to make ridiculous claims (see: promsing to slash government via executive order resulting in immediate spectacular job growth and a magic pony for all!).

    I get it, he can actually use complete sentences and occasionally loves to play contrarian out-of-the-box thinker (but I don’t see him thinking all the way through – rather a quick sketch and then either bluster or a retraction). That apparently makes him brilliant.

  9. Vast Variety says:

    Gingrich, much like the rest of the Republican field, can only think as far as the flawed polling done by Socially Conservative hate groups tell him to.

  10. casimir says:

    @Hey Norm: true, but would know his own proposals or know that the US didn’t have an embassy in iran.

  11. MBunge says:

    @Hey Norm: “C’mon…Gingrich’s intellect is vastly over-rated.”

    How smart Newt is by regular people standards is debatable. By political standards? He’s clearly much brighter than average, with the allowance that intellect and wisdom are not the same thing.


  12. Ben says:

    @Stephen Fleming:

    Oh really? You’re talking about the man who once foresaw the future US to be “a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists.”

    That’s some powerful intellect at work there.


  13. sam says:

    @Have A Nice G.A.:

    “I think it’s called thought fascism….”

    Well, you’re surely safe from anything like that.

  14. sam says:

    Moderation queue??

  15. john personna says:

    Gingrich doesn’t seem dumb, which makes it especially odd that he acts out a dumb person’s vision of what an intellectual should be.

    (That, and Der Spiegel definitely should have worked in “drum circles.”)

  16. john personna says:

    BTW, apropos general GOP disbelief in facts at evidence:

    One memory particularly troubles Theckston. He says that some account executives [at Chase Home Finance] earned a commission seven times higher from subprime loans, rather than prime mortgages. So they looked for less savvy borrowers — those with less education, without previous mortgage experience, or without fluent English — and nudged them toward subprime loans.

    These less savvy borrowers were disproportionately blacks and Latinos, he said, and they ended up paying a higher rate so that they were more likely to lose their homes. Senior executives seemed aware of this racial mismatch, he recalled, and frantically tried to cover it up

    Nah … just put Barney Frank in jail. That’s the ticket.

  17. OzarkHillbillly says:

    @Stephen Fleming: Yes I can.

  18. G.A.Phillips says:

    sam you are one of the dumbest clucks on this site,and one of the biggest fascists. x teacher right?

  19. @Stephen Fleming:
    Pseudo Intellectual instead, is that better?

  20. Mike says:

    @Stephen Fleming: I most certainly CAN call Gingrich ignorant: a smattering of inaccurate historical name-dropping is not substitute for understanding the current issues facing the United States. I can also, with justification, call him sleazy for taking enormous sums of money in lobbying “fees” ($55 million in all): for example, $1.6 million from the housing finance outfit Freddie Mac. And i can call him disgustingly immoral in his personal life, for example visiting his wife in hospital while she was dying of cancer, to tell her he’d found a new woman and wanted a divorce.

  21. Jay says:

    I don’t like Republican politicians. But I think a close second for my dislike is European pundits who think they know enough to comment on our politics. Ugh. Who cares what they think. This guy was probably at the Obama military tour/prep rally in Germany.

  22. Montanareddog says:


    for example visiting his wife in hospital while she was dying of cancer

    She is still alive 30 years later, so not really dying of cancer. But that is not to condone his alleged behaviour.

  23. Montanareddog says:


    true, but would know his own proposals or know that the US didn’t have an embassy in iran.

    That is not exactly setting the bar high for a presidential candidate!

    What strikes me is that Gingrich seems very much a pseudo-intellectual; he has a lot of knowledge, especially historical, but he uses it to show off, not as an input to a reasoning process.

    It seems telling to contrast this with Harry Truman, who was perhaps a crypto-intellectual?; and did try to use his broad historical knowledge in a constructive manner

  24. Montanareddog says:


    it would appear that they’re more concerned with ideological purity and the celebration of anti-intellectualism than with picking leaders qualified to run the country

    I don’t agree the primary voters are that concerned with ideological purity and anti-intellectualism; it is a faux-populism that strokes their id that is really thriving this cycle. Gingrich is a total Beltway insider, and an ideological mexican jumping bean, and just as fake as Romney. He has the morals of an alley cat. But at least he comes across as (relatively) human, makes mostly the same noises as Romney and gives a better impression of actually believing the nonsense.

  25. superedestroyer says:

    The Republican Party collapsed because the Bush Clan believes that the Republican Party should be run for the advancement of the Bush Clan. That is why they put idiots in charge of many part of the Bush I and Bush II Administration. That is why there is no talent in the Republican Party.

    A better question for the Europeans is what will they think after the U.S. becomes a one-party-state. will the Europeans feel better with Maxine Waters is chairman of the Financial service committee in the House. Will they feel better when Barbara Lee is the chairman of the appropriations committee. Will they feel better when Jan Schakowsky is the chairman of the commerce committee.

    My guess is that the Europeans will feel comfortable with the U.S. as a one-party-state where elections are irrelevant and a few elites make all of the decisions.

  26. Franklin says:

    @Trumwill: Well, yes and no. If they had constructive criticism, it’s perhaps something that should be considered. The der Spiegel blurb did not qualify.

  27. gVOR08 says:

    @mantis: What do you have against Bill Maher?

    Years ago people described Jack Kemp as the leading intellectual light of the Republican Party. I took that to be a slam against the Republican Party. Same with Newt.

  28. mantis says:

    What do you have against Bill Maher?

    Well, all I said, or implied really, is that he is not an intellectual. But he seems to think he is.

    Since you asked, as a liberal, he kind of embarrasses me. He, like Gingrich, speaks as though he knows everything and everyone else is a moron, when, like Gingrich, he often hasn’t a clue what he’s talking about. His anti-vaccination stance is a good example, but there are many others. He usually is very strongly pro-science, but doesn’t seem to understand what he’s supporting, and then he may take a very anti-science stance, as with vaccinations, again with little understanding and no good reason to do so.

    But you know what? That’s fine. He’s a comedian and talk show host. He does what he does, and I don’t have to watch his show. Newt is running for president. I wouldn’t want Maher to run for president, and I don’t care if Newt wants a talk show.

  29. Crystal says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with Doug’s commentary. With one proviso — the media here has not “been neutered by the demands of political correctness, and a welcoming audience” — it is brainwashing PAID FOR by the Koch bros, Murdoch and their ilk.

  30. Alcoholics embarrassing themselves? Funny that. America needs to put down the bottle for a few days and see what it all looks like.

  31. R Foreman says:

    Try one of these two candidates Doug.

  32. Andrew says:

    Really, being able to silence comments you don’t agree with is perhaps the WORST idea anyone on the internet ever had. The people behind “Outside the Beltway” should be ashamed of themselves.

  33. AmeriKen says:

    @Hey Norm: Why don’t you step into the ring with him for a few rounds of debate? As a matter of record, Bill Clinton himself – yes, the god of left – even called Newt and intelligent man and said he had some good ideas that could be useful in getting this country turned around.

  34. AmeriKen says:

    If you want ignorance look no further than the idiot and his mass of clowns in the White House. It seems so odd that the author of this piece would call out Republican blunders when Obama and Biden have been so prolific with their own string of gaffes. It was a Republican who returned the bust of Churchill and insulted our greatest ally. It was a Republican who gave the British Prime Minister a set of DVDs that would not even work in his country. It was a Republican who said there were 57 states in the US. I could go on and on….and on. But, it’s all the Republican’s faults – folks who are not even in the White House yet – that America is viewed negatively across the pond. Yeah, right.

  35. Jamie says:

    Judging by the comments most of you probably voted for Obama and the other fine Democrats running the Senate and the ones that used to run the House.

    How’s that working out for you and the rest of the country?


    You don’t have the credibility to judge anyone or anything in politics anymore.

    You’ve had your chance.