Friday October 27, 2006
Mahathir: Gullible Americans may give Republicans election victory
KUALA LUMPUR: (AP) - Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad believes Republicans can win the Nov. 7 U.S. midterm elections because, he says, American voters are not astute and will be fooled by President George W. Bush's propaganda.
"In the first place I am not so sure that the American voters would deny Bush his control over the Senate and the House,'' Mahathir said in an interview with The Associated Press.
"This is because in the last elections, despite his obvious lies to the people, he was still elected to a second term with a much more clear majority,'' said Mahathir, a strident critic of the Bush administration and its war on Iraq.
Most political pundits in the United States are predicting that the Republican Party will lose the elections, which are being seen as a referendum on the highly unpopular Iraq war.
More than 2,800 soldiers have died in Iraq since the start of the war in March 2003.
Mahathir, 82, also dismissed Bush as an ignorant person, and the most hated president in history.
The elder statesman said he had "some brush with Bush'' when he was prime minister.
"I talked to him. I did not consider him as a person intelligent enough or aware enough of what's happening around him to become the president of the United States.''
"He has brought down the United States to a very low level. It is right that Americans should hate him,'' he said.
The Republicans have control of both chambers of the U.S. Congress but the elections could see the Democrats taking a majority in the House of Representatives by gaining 15 seats, and in the Senate by winning an additional six seats.
All 435 House seats are on the ballot, as are 33 of the 100 Senate seats.
Mahathir said Bush's second-term victory did not "show good judgment on the part of the American people,'' who he said are fed a sugarcoated view of the administration's foreign policy.
"What they get in their own media is biased statements and reports, which somehow or the other, do not depict Bush as someone who has done great harm to the U.S. and its credibility,'' said Mahathir.
But even if the Republicans lose, there is unlikely to be a change in the Iraq policy or other foreign policies, said Mahathir, because the Democrats as "equally guilty'' of supporting the invasion of Iraq.
Mahathir, who retired in October 2003, ruled Malaysia for 22 years during which he emerged as a champion of the developing world by repeatedly clashing with Western leaders including then Vice President Al Gore.
Mahathir said the Americans "are fed up'' of the Iraq war but are unlikely to show the displeasure at the ballot box because traditionally less than 50 percent of Americans vote in any election.
"They are not moving themselves to really take this - their right to vote - very seriously,'' he said.