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October 21, 2004
Guardian's Clark County Project Backfires

The London Telegraph reports on the efforts of its Labourite rival to influence American voters in Clark County, Ohio -- and it's clear that the results will not please the Manchester broadsheet or its constituents. David Rennie reports from Springfield that getting letters from foreigners presuming to instruct Americans on their best interests has created a groundswell of support ... for George Bush:

The first letters to be made public all urged Clark County voters to reject Mr Bush. As he watched the reaction of friends and neighbours, Mr Harkins was delighted.

He is the chairman of the Clark County Republican Party, and his neighbours' reaction was outrage. "It's hysterical," laughed Mr Harkins, showing off sheaves of incensed e-mails and notes from local voters.

The Republicans' delight compares with the gloom among local Democrats, who fear that "foreign interference" is hurting Mr Kerry.

Of course, the tone of the letters almost appeared designed to give offense (or 'offence', for those Brits who may be reading). Neil Evans from Kent told us that if Bush won a second term, Americans traveling abroad would have to learn to speak with a "Canadian accent," leading the Kerry voter Evans targeted to wonder whether the Kentish Oracle was a terrorist himself.

Left-wing celebrities were even less tactful. British film director Ken Loach wrote, "Today, your country is reviled across continents as never before. You are seen as the greatest bully on earth." Historian Antonia Fraser told Clark County that a vote for Kerry would be a vote "against a savage, militaristic foreign policy of pre-emptive killing."

What has been the reaction? According to a delighted Clark County Republican committe, the letter-writing campaign has energized the Bush base, enraging them with the smug superiority that these letters have expressed. The local GOP calls the letters a "gift" that will do more to get the GOP vote to the polls than anything else they could have done themselves.

Unless the Guardian intended on helping Bush get re-elected -- and I read the Guardian enough to know better than that -- I'd say that Operation Clark County could be termed a failure.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 21, 2004 6:26 AM

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