French press review 25 October 2012
Who are Jill Stein, Rocky Anderson, Virgil Goode and Gary Johnson, and why should we care?
First, who they are: the four are the "other" contenders in the US presidential race, even if "contender" is probably not the correct word for candidates who are unlikely to collect more than three per cent of votes between them.
Should we care? Well, yes and no.
Le Monde cares enough to give them 800 words on an inside page in the wake of a debate they took part in earlier this week. The four fringe candidates claim to be addressing the really crucial issues like the curtailment of individual freedom and the war against drugs, issues which are largely absent from the campaign platforms of the big two, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
But the big fish will continue to keep an eye on the minnows, for at least two reasons. The four do give a different vision of what's important to some American voters and that's crucial information in a tight race.
Says Le Monde, no one is likely to forget that it was fringe candidate Ross Perot who cost George Bush the 1992 election. In 2000 the ecologist Ralph Nader got just 2.7 per cent of votes cast but that was enough to seal the fate of Al Gore, who lost to Bush after a recount.
This time around, Gary Johnson, who is campaigning on the libertarian ticket, promoting, among other shockers, the legalisation of cannabis, has got the Republicans hot under the collar in a number of swing states, notably Colorado, where he could collect four per cent of the total vote and make the job easier for Obama.
Virgina is another close race and that's Virgil Goode's home turf. He's a staunch defender of local employment.
Ecology candidate Jill Stein has no time for that sort of calculation. She addresses the 90 million Americans who won't vote at all on 6 November, hoping to convince some of them that another choice exists.
The back page of Le Monde looks at another aspect of US political reality. There are more women candidates for the House of Representatives and Senate since 1992 and that was a record year for women legislators.
America has some way to go on equality of representation, standing at 94th in the world rankings for gender balance in political circles.
Only six of the 50 states have women governors, and five of those are likely to lose on 6 November. Only 17 per cent of congressmen are actually congresswomen. It's even worse in the Senate.
But at least there's Hillary Clinton who, when asked recently by a television interviewer to say who were her favourite designers, replied "Designers? Are we talking clothes? You would never ask a man that question!"
Barack Obama had no problem when he was asked if he knew the name of the erotic best-seller, currently the bedside book of millions of women.
"No," replied the president, "but I'm going to ask Michelle." The answer, by the way, is Fifty Shades of Grey.
Sexists beware! There are eight and a half million more women voters than men in the United States and they are more serious about getting out to cast a ballot.
Why don't they elect more women? Well, suggests Le Monde, it might be because they don't contribute enough to campaign finances. In 2010, women accounted for only 26 per cent of total political contributions. But then, they don't earn as much as men either.