A bad week

By Wei Hongxia
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, September 21, 2012
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The general election race for the American presidency officially kicked off after two parties' national conventions. But one week later, both camps are facing difficulties.

Chicago teachers went on strike [File photo]

As for the Obama camp, the teacher's strike posed a significant threat to its election campaign. Chicago teachers went on strike ten days ago, straining the nerve of Washington because Chicago has America's third largest public school system. The strike was directly caused by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's education reform scheme which teachers oppose. Emanuel has been one of the central figures in the Democratic Party and served as the Chief of Staff at the White House before becoming the mayor of Chicago. His education reform plan was said to have received approval from the Obama Administration. Chicago's education authorities now plan to shut down 100 public schools to deal with financial strains. These measures will lead to teacher layoffs and exacerbate the already bad job market, potentially affecting voters' confidence in the Obama Administration.

The irony of a teachers' strike in Obama's hometown during his re-election campaign has indeed provided fuel for his Republican opponent Mitt Romney. Romney lost no time in delivering a speech claiming that the teachers lacked a sense of responsibility for their students, and even received support from Obama for their strike.

When the news broke in the US on Sept. 12 that US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other diplomats were killed in Libya, it caused sadness and anger among many different groups. The incident reminded Americans of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and reminded voters of the irony of Obama's 2009 Cairo speech calling for alliance with the Muslim world and his Nobel Peace Prize win.

But Romney, wrongly sizing up the situation, criticized Obama too early. His untimely words generated antipathy throughout the country instead of demonstrating that the Obama Administration was too weak to protect its oversea organizations. Diplomacy has always been considered as Romney's weak spot. This time around, his comments have damaged his image quite a lot among voters. As a result, when discussing the candidate, a lot of people joked that Romney "always chose the wrong people (as letting Hollywood veteran filmmaker Clint Eastwood to endorse him at the Republican National Convention and naming ultra-conservative Paul Ryan as his partner) and spoke the wrong words."

Ryan, taking a more hard-line approach, attacked Obama for being irresponsible, soft and incompetent at a religious convention called Values Voters Summit. His acts gave people a feeling that the Bush era's neoconservatives are trying to return to power.

The question is, even if Obama's policies are disappointing, will voters be willing to accept Romney and Ryan's far-right stances?

For now, it seems that they're unlikely to do so.

The author is now a visiting scholar with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. She is a columnist with China.org.cn. For more information please visit: http://www.china.org.cn/opinion/weihongxia.htm

(This post was written in Chinese and translated by Pang Li)

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of China.org.cn.

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