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TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Iraq election turnout good for world morale

Past the merrymaking of the new year, most people have a tendency to look to spring for a shot of adrenaline to launch them into months ahead.

People needing that boost found it early in the pages of their Monday morning newspapers and on the news channels.

The absolute jubilation of the Iraqi citizens turning out to vote Sunday has to give the world's citizens a major boost.

Even President Bush, who's finding the beginning of his second administration a bit rocky, couldn't contain his glee Sunday while addressing the nation about the huge turnout.

The sight of people dancing in the streets, of people proudly displaying their blue finger as a sign of having voted, of the long lines of people who waited patiently quickened the hearts of people who love freedom.

The voting lines of women had their effect on Arabs in other Mideast lands where females are second-class citizens.

It was a joyous day for sure, but the manner in which many came to the polls indicated the importance they placed in voting. Many of them came in their best clothes. They waited patiently until their opportunity to cast ballots.

The intimidation of insurgents and terrorists was supposed to keep the turnout low. Yet some 60 percent of the eligible voters cast ballots. They made themselves easy targets of terrorism, but for yet unexplained reasons, the acts of violence were minimal.

The voter turnout gives reason to hope that Iraqis are taking more responsibility for their future than the violence indicated. Even President Bush earlier castigated Iraqi soldiers and police officers for not standing up to the violence.

The election is a victory for the president and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and a definite setback for the insurgents who said they were driving an enemy from their land.

Hard work is ahead for the new government, but having taken that first step to embrace freedom is the most important event to have occurred in Iraq since the war began.

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