• The World Is Watching: Americans – notoriously ignorant of other countries' politics – are often surprised by how much citizens of other countries know about the American political scene, not to mention the country's history. And in a presidential election year – one with both African-American and female candidates – interest is particularly high in many countries, as a Monitor roundup from several countries shows (see story). Reporters from around the globe have been traipsing around Iowa and New Hampshire, and media at home have been tracking exchanges.
Mariah Blake, who is based in Hamburg, Germany, reports that Germans have been transfixed by Democratic candidate Barack Obama. Some Germans, she notes, have found that they didn't know as much about Mr. Obama as they would like and are worried about his inexperience. But the candidate has also received his share of comparisons to John F. Kennedy, whose "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech in West Berlin in 1963 was seen as emblematic of Germany's deep solidarity with the United States in the post-World War II era.
Mariah notes that the enduring reverence for Kennedy in Germany gives this comparison a lot of historical weight. "Behind the rhetoric," she says, "is the hope that the strong but fraying ties to the United States will be mended.
In Paris, Robert Marquand met one man who had not heard of Obama until about five days ago – at which point he became an enthusiast, noting that he was "sympa" – or kind. And "everyone already knows Hillary," this man told Bob.