Tuesday, February 01, 2005

BOB HERBERT'S COLUMN in the New York Times today is about the Iraq elections, and it's right on target. You'd have to have a heart of stone not to be tremendously moved by the courage of millions of Iraqis braving threats, and often the reality, of insurgent attacks to vote for the first time in half a century.

But as with any positive development in Iraq, this one was riddled with caveats. For one thing, dozens of people were, in fact, killed in election day attacks. ...

And we should keep in mind that despite the feelings of pride and accomplishment experienced by so many of the voters, yesterday's election was hardly a textbook example of democracy in action. A real democracy requires an informed electorate. What we saw yesterday was an uncommonly brave electorate. But it was woefully uninformed.

Much of the electorate was voting blind. Half or more of those who went to the polls believed they were voting for a president. They weren't. They were electing a transitional national assembly that will have as its primary task the drafting of a constitution. The Washington Post noted that because of the extreme violence that preceded the election "almost none of the 7,700 candidates for the National Assembly campaigned publicly or even announced their names."

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