Because they get better and more objective views, but also because they are scared of Bush's odd kind of religiousness. In a New York Times article about press reactions to Bush's presidency, journalists from all sorts of countries expressed this fear:
The coverage is driven partly by recognition of a seemingly ironic American reality. As El Diario (in Spanish) , a daily newspaper in Juarez, Mexico, reminds its readers this week, "the United States has secular laws and the most religious population of any industrialized country."
But commentary is also driven by fear of a political movement -- and a president -- who seems to claim divine inspiration.
Correspondents for El Correo (in Spanish) in Bilbao, Spain, and the Guardian in London attended Bush rallies in New Jersey and came away "shaken" by Bush's religious appeal.
"People said 'amen' when he spoke," one Norwegian correspondent said. "It was chilling to see who are his followers."
Uneasiness with Bush's evangelical Protestantism seems to lie at the heart of Bush's well-documented unpopularity abroad.
"What deeply alarms many non-Americans," writes Toronto Sun columnist Eric Margolis, "is the prospect of a second Bush term dominated by a coalition of evangelical Christians, Christian 'Rapturists,' American partisans of Israel's PM Ariel Sharon, and rural voters from the Deep South who reject evolution and think French is the native language of Satan."
It's reasonable to be scared of this stuff. The Bush administration's argument would be that we don't care about what the Canadians or the French say, we don't care what foreigners think period. But do they care about what one of their main enablers, the famous Rupert Murdoch thinks?
In the Australian, the flagship of Murdoch's global media empire, conservative U.S. journalist Scott McConnell writes this week that Bush's presidency combines "two strands of Jewish and Christian extremism"—pro-Israel neoconservatism and the Christian Right. McConnell calls for Bush's defeat.
In the Times of London, another Murdoch paper, conservative British-born pundit Andrew Sullivan laments that Americans' "deepest and most mysterious beliefs are being dragged more and more into the public square."
"It is one thing to have religious rhetoric and language in public. That is the American way. It is another to base political appeals on religious grounds -- whether crudely or subtly. It is one of the saddest ironies of our time that as America tries to calm the fires of theocracy abroad, it should be stoking milder versions of the same at home," Sullivan writes
That's our Sullivan, by the way. The one who believes that testosterone makes men inherently smarter and more interesting than women. But this is interesting. It may be a sign that Rupert is no longer going to prop up Bush so whole-heartedly. Or so I hope.