June 13, 2008


American Politics Through a Glass, Darkly (Suzanne Fields, 6/13/08, Real Clear Politics)

An American won't easily recognize politics at home as seen from Europe. Even our British cousins often look through a glass, darkly. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, distilled to their essence, were easier to understand. Liked him, didn't trust her. But the unfolding of the American presidential campaign is understood mostly through stereotypes. This sometimes makes meaningful conversations difficult.

How wonderful, Europeans typically exclaim, that a black man in the land that fought a war over slavery (to reduce a complicated story to an easily understood stereotype) gets to be president only 150 years later (the actual election is usually understood as only a ratifying formality). Curiously, Hillary as the first serious woman candidate seems hardly to have resonated among the frauleins. After the election of first Margaret Thatcher and then Angela Merkel, a leader's sex seems no big deal in Europe.

Europeans sneer at George W. Bush for many reasons, including his openness in talking about his religious faith, but he's having a good time on his current tour of Germany, France and Italy, whose chiefs of state actually like him.

...that doesn't begin from an understanding that W's presidency is a religious phenomenon and the Democratic contest was a function of identity isn't worth having.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 13, 2008 10:34 AM

The "Europeans who are sneering" at Bush are the same ones who threw out his enemy Schroeder in favor of Merkel, threw out Chirac in favor of Sarkozy, Red Ken in favor of Boris, and Chretien in favor of Stephen Harper (North American branch of Europe).

Methinks, as is so damn true here, that the masses and their contemptibly out of touch and arrogant media and cultural elites are not one and the same.

Posted by: Andrew X at June 13, 2008 7:20 PM