How is the media in the rest of the world reacting to the GOP Government Shutdown of 2013? For the most part they’re telling the truth. The brutal truth. Something most of our media here at home just won’t do.
Here are a few of my favorites. And by favorite I mean they nailed it.
Germany: The German press erupted in criticism for American politicians on Tuesday. Der Spiegel Online proclaimed, “A superpower has paralyzed itself,” while The Welt predicted “fatal consequences” that could damage the U.S. recovery. The Zeit newspaper blamed a “handful of radicals,” stating, “A small group of uncompromising Republican ideologues in the House of Representatives are principally responsive for this disaster. They are not only taking their own party to the brink, but the whole country. Unfortunately the leadership of this party has neither had the courage nor the backbone to put them in their place.”
The United Kingdom: The British press, known for its arch reactions to crises, didn’t disappoint. “America shuts down,” blared The Daily Mail, Britain’s most notorious tabloid. “David Cameron warns on world growth as US government shuts down,” The Independent reported. “It is a risk to the world economy if the US can’t properly sort out its spending plans,” Cameron told BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday.
But perhaps the harshest coverage came from the stolid BBC. In a piece titled “US shutdown has other nations confused and concerned,” Anthony Zurcher wrote, “For most of the world, a government shutdown is very bad news – the result of revolution, invasion or disaster. Even in the middle of its ongoing civil war, the Syrian government has continued to pay its bills and workers’ wages. That leaders of one of the most powerful nations on earth willingly provoked a crisis that suspends public services and decreases economic growth is astonishing to many…Now, as the latest shutdown crisis plays out, policymakers in other nations are left to ponder the worldwide impact of the impasse.”
Here’s a few more. And one overarching theme is that many do not know how to explain a government shutdown because it’s such a foreign concept.
Joyce Karam, Al-Hayat (Arabic newspaper based in London)
“The whole concept is little surreal for our readers, trying to understand why the No. 1 country in the world cannot pass a budget. I come from Lebanon and our parliament is very ineffective, but ludicrous as it sounds, it is better than U.S. Congress when it comes to passing budgets.”
“Many wonder why the U.S. is doing this to its economy or why health care is not an option for everyone.”
Anders Tvegard, Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation
“It’s to us Norwegians hard to understand that it can be happening in one of the most influential countries in the world that you can have such a dysfunctional government. It is kind of joke or disbelief. We laugh about it. How is it possible at all? Why would they do that?”
“The political climate is so poisoned. It’s so different than what we’re used to. Our discussions are peanuts by comparison.”
Min Sun Shaim, Seoul Broadcasting System (South Korean television network)
“It’s pretty unique, compared to their government there. They don’t really know what exactly is a shutdown, so we have to explain what is. The U.S. economy is really important for the Korean economy as well, so we’ve been following this pretty closely. We want to inform our viewers what will impact on their lives.”
American exceptionalism! Someone turn on the Lee Greenwood.