The following euphoria was brought to you by President George W. Bush.
Remember the London Daily Mirror headline -- "How Can 59,054,087 People Be So Dumb?" The New York Times, as recently as three weeks ago, predicted disaster for the Jan. 30 Iraqi elections: "The coming elections -- long touted as the beginning of a new, democratic Iraq -- are looking more and more like the beginning of that worst-case scenario. It's time to talk about postponing the elections."
Well, give The New York Times credit for consistency. Back in December, the Times showed their usual pessimism:
The Bush administration is telling Iraqis not to even think about delaying the sequence of national elections now set to begin on Jan. 30. Pushing back the electoral timetable, as requested late last month by a number of Sunni Arab, Kurdish and secular parties, threatens to push back the timetable for eventual American troop withdrawals, so Iraq is in effect being told to vote in January, ready or not. . . . It would be much better for Washington to stand back and encourage Iraq's wary factions to work out their own solution on the election date.
Washington Post reporter Anthony Shadid, in responding to a question about what surprised him most on election day, said:
My biggest surprise was the way voting surged through the day in Baghdad. It's difficult to describe how insecure the capital can feel at times. . . . A lot of people in the morning held back. But then they literally looked out their windows and saw crowds in the streets. Not only crowds, either. They were festive, even jubilant -- clapping, chanting and playing soccer. It was as if a psychological barrier had been breached, and its impact seemed to snowball as the hours passed.
The New York Times reporter in Baghdad wrote about a 22-year-old Iraqi woman, initially intimidated by the "insurgent" activity on election day:
For an instant, [she] thought it might be too dangerous to go to the polls. 'And then, hearing those explosions, it occurred to me -- the insurgents are weak, they are afraid of democracy, they are losing,' [she] said . . . 'So I got my husband, and I got my parents, and we all came out and voted together.'
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