January 31, 2005


Optimism After Iraq Election, but.... (ABBY GOODNOUGH, 2/01/05, NY Times)

Some glimpsed the ink-stained fingers of beaming Iraqis on television and felt their first stirrings of optimism about the war effort. Others said the healthy turnout and relative calm that marked Iraq's first free elections in decades merely reaffirmed their support for President Bush's agenda there.

In interviews around the country on Monday, many Americans voiced surprise and at least some satisfaction about the apparent smoothness of the proceedings, which brought out millions of Iraqi voters. But most were consistent in saying the elections did not change their fundamental views of their country's involvement in Iraq.

"If they learn something about what democracy is, that could be good for them," O'Neill Espinal, 34, said of Iraqi citizens as he lounged at an outdoor mall in Miami Beach. "But I still think we are fighting the wrong war, and Bush set this election up to make the U.S. government look like the good boys."

Yvonne Roper, who was on her lunch break in Houston, said that what she had seen of the elections backed up her sense that the American news media put an unfairly negative spin on the war effort.

"The way the Iraqi people reacted disproves what we see on TV every day," Ms. Roper, 40, said. "The way they were cheering and putting their fingers up - they were proud to participate."

For others, the images of Iraqis lining up to vote brought a far more personal, if fragile, sense of vindication. Nelson Carman, a purchasing agent in Jefferson, Iowa, whose 20-year-old son died last April while fighting in Iraq, said the turnout on Sunday put "a big stamp of approval" on Mr. Bush's mission. He recalled the disappointment he felt after the Vietnam War, and said the election helped him believe that his son and other American soldiers had not died in vain.

Readers of the Times's editorial page must have been particulary surprised.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 31, 2005 11:46 PM
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