A few weeks ago, a British newspaper kicked off a campaign to win hearts and minds in the swing state of Ohio. The Guardian asked concerned Britons to write directly to voters in a hotly contested county, and implore them to vote for Kerry. Ohioans were less then impressed. While it remains to be seen how they'll vote, their passionate letters make it clear that after more than 200 years, the spirit of anti-colonialism lives on in Clark County, Ohio.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: When Afghans went to the polls last month, the world took notice. When Iraqis elect their representatives, possibly in June, the world certainly will pay attention. But when Americans pull the lever for their guy in a little over a week, the world is going to take that one personally, and no corner of the world more than America's chief ally in the Iraq war -- Britain.
BOB GARFIELD: Last week, we noted that Britain's left-leaning Guardian newspaper had launched a letter-writing campaign to persuade registered independents in Clark County, Ohio to vote for Kerry. Among the newly-enlisted pen pals were some impressive names, including master spy novelist John Le Carré. [MASTERPIECE THEATER STYLE MUSIC UP & UNDER]
"JOHN LE CARRÉ:" Please don't feel isolated from the Europe you twice saved. Give us back the America we loved, and your friends will be waiting for you. And here in Britain, for as long as we have Tony Blair singing the same lies as George Bush, your nightmares will be ours.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: And historian Antonia Fraser.
"Antonia Fraser:" If you back Kerry, you'll be voting against a savage, militaristic foreign policy of pre-emptive killing which has stained the great name of the U.S. so hideously in recent times. I say "the great name of the U.S." because I believe that to be profoundly true, almost every movement towards liberty having its roots or its refuge in the U.S.
BOB GARFIELD: And eminent science writer, Richard Dawkins.
"RICHARD DAWKINS:" Don't be so ashamed of your president. The majority of you didn't vote for him. If Bush was finally elected properly, that would be the time for Americans abroad to start simulating a Canadian accent. Please don't let it come to that.
BOB GARFIELD: The Guardian reports that the American response was, well, shall we say mixed, [AMERICAN STYLE BANJO MUSIC UP & UNDER] ranging from the grateful and gracious to the venomous and downright unreadable. Those with delicate sensibilities may want to turn down their radios for a minute. This came from Ohio.
MAN: I'm a student and a lifelong resident of Clark County. I just wanted you to know that this is a wonderful idea you've initiated. People here love and respect the United Kingdom, especially the Prime Minister. I hope this campaign will be successful for your newspaper and for us voters.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: And this came from Texas.
MAN: Real Americans aren't interested in your pansy-ass, tea-sipping opinions. If you want to save the world, begin with your own worthless corner of it.
BOB GARFIELD: And this note was addressed simply from the U.S. of A.
MAN: Hey, England, Scotland and Wales -- mind your own business! We don't need weenie-spined Limeys meddling in our presidential election. If it wasn't for America, you'd all be speaking German. Butt out.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: We don't really mean that. It's just that your American cousins are a little cranky at the moment. [BANJO MUSIC UP FULL] (By the way, the letters were real, but the voices weren't.) Coming up, a poll on both your houses, and the Sinclair Broadcasting Group's self-inflicted wounds.