The facts from behind the winning Bush road trip
After a week of touring Western and Eastern Europe, it could not be more evident to me that the balance of power on this continent is shifting in President Bush’s favor.
The change is evident in the way he is received on his tour and in the internal developments with which each nation of &uot;Old&uot; Europe has to deal.
Nobody here expected Bush to be re-elected. Subjected to 24/7 of liberal propaganda, the European man in the street felt that Bush was going to crash and burn in the U.S. election. Western Europe was happy about it.
Eastern Europe, unhappy. But nobody felt the he would pull it out. That he did - and expanded his control of both houses of Congress - without compromising on Iraq or withdrawing our troops, sent a message that the American people are behind their president.
Then few people expected the Iraqi elections to come off without a hitch. The vivid demonstration of democracy, purple fingers and all, by-passed the cynical and jaded Euro-media and showed that the people of that beleaguered nation really want the democracy the U.S. has won for them.
Bush’s second inaugural address has also played a role in tipping the balance. By defining American policy in such idealistic terms, he took the high ground and left his European partners bickering in the dust.
His trip to Europe highlights Bush’s new appeal. His name and photo dominate all the front pages and his speeches - newly eloquent and increasingly idealistic - are being heard by all. He is going over the heads of the leftist European media and speaking directly to Eastern and Western Europe.
It’s not quite Woodrow Wilson arriving in the wake of the World War I victory or JFK bringing his charisma to the continent, but Bush and Condi Rice are cutting a swath through the Continent. No doubt about it.
It’s the same in the United States. The Democrats are in disarray with their putative candidate, Hillary, moving to the center, while the party elects leftist Howard Dean as its chairman. More and more, the Democrats are not merely inconsistent, wrong and/or misguided - they are the worst of all possible things you can be in Washington: irrelevant.
And Europe has noticed.
Finally, internal developments throughout Europe are also playing into the president’s hands. Tony Blair is winning his election in the U.K. - having trailed for most of last year - because of the increasing success in Iraq. What once doomed him to defeat - cooperation with Bush - now boosts him to re-election.
In France, Jacques Chirac faces the embarrassment of trying to rescind the 35-hour work week, the foremost achievement of his previous four years in office. It is not stimulating employment, as he had hoped, and its repeal is igniting an anti-Chirac sentiment all over France. German Chancellor Schroeder just got trounced in the local elections in Sedgwick-Holstein, and his failure to push through many of his labor-law reforms is looming larger in domestic German politics.
Russian President Vladimir Putin was upended in Ukraine and has faced an increasingly restive and demonstrating Russian public. And his oil production is way down because of the collapse of Yukos, the oil-production giant. Putin is betting on Gazprom, the old Soviet state company, to fill the void, and it’s not happening.
Finally, Europe feels itself beset by the worst form of anti-Muslim prejudice. Assailed by self-doubt over their failure to do anything positive about Iraq, they watch the growth of neo-Nazi forces attacking the massive migration of Muslims into the European Union. Fanning this sentiment are doubts about the wisdom of admitting Turkey to the E.U., thereby opening the floodgates to massive immigration.
The statesmen of Old Europe seem to have lost their way in the thicket of self-interest, while Bush is holding out a clarifying lantern of idealism and commitment to democracy.
It’s a good time to be an American in Paris.
Dick Morris was an adviser to Bill Clinton for 20 years. E-mail Morris at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andrew Welsh-Huggins is the statehouse correspondent for the Ohio Associated Press.