Tired of the U.S. presidential campaign? So is the rest of the world

As Obama and Romney exchange insults, the foreign press refines its harsh critique of both candidates

Jack Rodolico By Jack Rodolico

U.S. Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, prior to delivering foreign policy remarks at Mishkenot Sha’ananim in Jerusalem, July 29, 2012. (Reuters/Jason Reed)

Americans are not the only ones watching the race to the White House. News outlets around the world have dedicated a lot of ink (or, really, pixels) to the subject. And just as the tourist sees your city with new eyes, so the foreign press finds unique angles on the candidates – where they hit the mark, and where they miss by a mile. Below you’ll find our top picks.

  • The Buenos Aires Herald says Romney’s chameleon attempts to reinvent himself belie an ineffective leadership style, thus giving Obama the upper hand. The Argentina-based paper gives Romney a lot of credit, ticking through his political and business credentials and highlighting his background as a centrist who should be able to appeal to moderate voters. But the article threatens: “Because he has been defined by his opponents, first in the Republican primaries and now by the Obama camp, Romney has been cornered into a conservative position that a majority of Americans will not easily relate to.”
  • Al Jazeera English has been covering the election since before Herman Cain seemed like a reasonable candidate. (Don’t you remember that week last fall?) On a show called “Inside Story,” the Qatar-based news organization interviews two prominent American liberals – Cornel West and Paul Street – on Obama’s failures and accomplishments. What’s most interesting is that this conversation may as well be happening on, say, MSNBC – there’s no attempt to dumb down the conversation for a foreign audience, possibly because the show is targeting an American audience. West, who has his issues with Obama, predictably takes Obama to task: “Obama’s talking about trying to save an empire in relative economic decline, undeniable cultural decay, and political paralysis. When he talks about saving the system, what he’s talking about is giving priority to Wall Street…. So yes he did save the system, the question is: What were his priorities?”
  • U.S. President Barack Obama talks under the clouds at a campaign event at Loudoun County High School in Leesburg, Virginia, August 2, 2012. (Reuters/Larry Downing)

    The German magazine Der Spiegel put together an embarrassing highlight reel of Romney’s financial indiscretions. The premise: as Romney refuses to reveal more about his personal finances, the American public grows more skeptical of his motives to help anyone but the super-rich. And the magazine duly notes that Americans don’t dislike Romney strictly because he’s rich: “They’ve voted the Kennedys and the Bushs (sic) into office, and in New York they elected multi-billionaire Michael Bloomberg as mayor. But Americans also expect full transparency from candidates for the White House, on matters ranging from marital fidelity to their health and the state of their finances.”

  • And in this thorough evisceration of Obama’s foreign policy, the Daily Maverick of South Africa takes Obama to task for falling far short of his 2008 campaign message of “Hope and Change.” In particular, the piece focuses on that aspect of Obama’s foreign policy for which he is becoming defined abroad: drone strikes. The writer, claiming Obama has been more hawkish than his predecessor, hones in on “the inability of a man who has grown up with discrimination, to want to chart a bold new way of building bridges with the Muslim world, essentially preferring the comfort of the way which went before him.”

Hmmm. The foreign press seems as unimpressed the White House contenders as the U.S. press. Be sure to let us know what you think below.