Not be overly patriotic or anything, but I could really care less what any world leader thinks about our Presidential candidates, or any American for that matter. Even when European leaders collectively freaked over the second election of George W. Bush I felt it was in bad taste. This is our country, and those who don't live here would do well to stay out of our domestic politics.
What makes Mr. Howard's statements worse is that he is known ally of Republicans and specifically the President. How dare he make such an unsubstantiated, partisan attack on a Presidential Candidate? How dare he insert himself so blatantly into a political process in which he has no stake?
I would hope that Americans, political affiliations aside, will collectively tell Mr. Howard to STFU. However, as Republicans across the country praise Mr. Howard, a foreigner with nothing to lose in regards to our political future, for butting his way into our electoral politics, for linking an American Senator to terrorists, I fear this will not happen. Instead, Republicans will enable a partisan foreign political attack on on of our own.
Update: Obama Responds:
Mr Obama, who has described the Iraq war as "tragic", said he was "flattered" by Mr Howard's statement.
He said: "I think it's flattering that one of George Bush's allies on the other side of the world started attacking me the day after I announced.
"I would also note that we have close to 140,000 troops on the ground now, and my understanding is Mr Howard has deployed 1,400, so if he is (ready) to fight the good fight in Iraq, I would suggest that he calls up another 20,000 Australians and sends them to Iraq."
"Otherwise it's just a bunch of empty rhetoric," he added.
Senator Obama is already a master at handling these scandals. He refers to it quickly, then goes on the attack. He did the same during the FOX/Madrassa incident.
Compared to the somewhat mishandled Edwards/Blogger controversy, mostly the lack of a quick response that let the story germinate and spread, Obama looks like a pro. Good news for Obama, because this helps put to bed claims that he might crack under the pressure of a general election race. Obama is at least ready for the "big time" when it comes to spin control and right-wing noise machine containment.