Iranians weigh in on U.S. Presidential Elections


Iranians weigh in on U.S. Presidential Elections
by Faramarz_Fateh

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This a nice piece on PBS produced by FrontLine.

"I am not an expert." Ask an Iranian about domestic politics and that's what you'll hear. That is, until you turn the cameras off. Then it is politics all the time, much of it delivered with deprecating humor. Even Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, often feared in the West for his aggressive promotion of Iran's nuclear program and brutish statements against the state of Israel, is viewed by many Iranians as a comical figure.

But what does the country that invented "Death to America" really think about Americans and the upcoming presidential election?

The most shocking answer, if only because it was nearly universal, was a message of brotherhood and friendship to the American people. All the people we talked with, on camera and off, wanted us to understand that they view the American people and the American government separately. And while they may be critical of America's policies, they yearn for a better relationship with its people.

One young man, who deeply supports his own government's religious conservatism, wrote in our notebook, "All people of America are my brothers and my sisters. I love American people. Have a good time."

Granted, our survey was not comprehensive. We spoke with dozens of people in Tehran, the nation's capital, and Qom, the country's center of Islamic learning. A few times we encountered mistrust or hostility. One man asked our translator if we were spies. Another believed that President George W. Bush was involved in the destruction of the World Trade Center's twin towers, a theory that has wide currency in the Middle East.

As for the presidential election, some didn't think either candidate would change the relationship between Iran and America much. Others were excited about a Barack Obama presidency because he would bring change and open dialog with Iran. Some preferred John McCain because they felt that he is more experienced. If their opinions sound like the two sides of American cable news, it's because they are watching it on illegal satellite dishes, which are nearly ubiquitous.

The most interesting opinions came from unexpected places. A carpet dealer in Tehran's main bazaar told us McCain clearly had the face of a president. And a brilliant young scientist, invited to do medical research at MIT, told us many young Iranians like Obama because his name, when transliterated into Persian, sounds like "U-ba-ma," which roughly means "he is with us."

Whatever their political preferences, the Iranians we met were hopeful for a better relationship with America - Republican, Democrat, or otherwise.

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Before running to vote for Mr. Cream of Nothing...please take time to watch his gaffes and see if he is fit for presidency.