Though they may not be able to tell the Washington Monument from the Lincoln Memorial, let alone get their heads around the idea of federalism, foreigners are watching the U.S. government shutdown with a combination of bemusement and trepidation.
Those living abroad are getting mostly factual news accounts about the shutdown, though opinion, feature and profile treatment is another matter.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz serves as a lightning rod for a great deal of negative foreign attention,according to Foreign Policy magazine.
There was the gripping profile of Cruz in the French newsweekly Le Point under the headline, "Ted Cruz: The Man Who Blocked America," which paints the senator as telegenic, arrogant and intransigent – a man who "plays on the fear of his colleagues."
The Germany weekly Der Spiegel refers to the entire GOP as "Die Kamikaze Partei." And the left-leaning Europa newspaper portrays Cruz as a menacing agent of chaos, according to Foreign Policy.
Canadian coverage zooms in on the fact that Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The neighbors to the north also find Cruz's lack of party discipline odd. "There is no equivalent in any major Canadian political party," to the "Tea Party hardliner," Jonathan Kay, a columnist for The National Post writes.
The BBC recalls
that fellow Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona once dismissed Cruz as a "wacko bird."
Over in the Middle East, Cruz is still hardly a household name. He was quoted favorably in the Arab press for his opposition to U.S. involvement in Syria. He garnered slight attention in Israel over remarks, carried in The Times of Israel
, made on the Senate floor during his recent marathon speech, seemingly equating himself to those who stood up to the Nazis.
"If you go to the 1940s, Nazi Germany. Look, we saw in Britain, Neville Chamberlain, who told the British people, 'Accept the Nazis. Yes, they'll dominate the continent of Europe but that's not our problem. Let's appease them. Why? Because it can't be done. We can't possibly stand against them."
But not all the coverage runs from outright hostile to mildly unflattering. Blogging in London's Daily Telegraph
, Nile Gardiner, a Washington-based analyst who once worked as an aide to Margaret Thatcher, was laudatory.
Describing Cruz as a "conviction politician" who "isn't afraid to take on the establishment of his own party," Gardiner extolled Cruz's willingness to "fight tooth and nail against" the big government agenda.
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