In case you were wondering …

GWB sets his junior-varsity lapdog to attack Barack Obama.

… which Democratic candidate the Bushoids most fear, Mr. Bush’s second-string poodle, Australian PM John Howard, has just launched an intemperate attack on Barack Obama.

If I were running al Qaeda in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008 and be praying as many times as possible for a victory, not only for Obama but also for the Democrats.

I’m pleased to see that Obama’s spokesman was ready with an appropriately sharp retort.

Footnote If you would like to politely invite Mr. Howard to butt out, you can do so here.

I sent the following note:

Prime Minister:

By now the gross impropriety of your attempt to interfere in the domestic politics of the United States will no doubt have been brought to your attention. Might I suggest a prompt apology, not only to Senator Obama, but to the American citizenry? We prefer to select our own leadership, without any officious meddling from abroad.

Very truly yours,

Of course, this is a little bit unfair. After 2000 and 2004, it would not be entirely unreasonable for foreigners to think that American voters needed guidance in choosing a President. Nor is it unreasonable for foreigners to interest themselves in the results of elections that may touch their interests so closely. Still, there’s a principle involved: republican governments do not interfere in one another’s elections.

Update An Australian reader points out that it’s been a two-way street:

The current U.S. Administration has interferred in Australian politics a number of times with ill informed and fatuous comments about Australian politics usually around election time. Bush’s “Man of Steel” flattery of John Howard goes straight to the heart of the matter and gave an ignorant and dangerously arrogant man the attention on the global stage he, and his supporters, desperately crave. Over here we call it the ‘cultural cringe’ and it refers to the forelock tugging sycophancy of many Australians when faced with somebody famous from ‘overseas’. However, that said, John Howard is far closer to Mr McGoo than Ron Howard.

Second update John Quiggin looks at the Australian political background of Howard’s antics. News to me: not only does Australia have a derisory 1400 troops in Iraq, they’re all safely out of harm’s way. Total fatalities so far: one soldier fatally shot in barracks.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: