EUROPEANS AS CULTURAL APPENDAGES of America's liberal elites in blue states. The magnificent Victor Davis Hanson absolutely nails it in his article on today's OpinionJournal:
McDonald's is prominent among the stylish cafés of Luxembourg. Dubbed-in "Friends" and "Jerry Springer" blare from hotel televisions. Bare navels, Ray-Bans, pierced everything, and baggy jeans suggest a studied effort to emulate the look of Venice Beach. For a bewildered American, the key in squaring the anti-American rhetoric with the Valley Girl reality is simply to understand Western Europeans as elite Americans. Their upscale leisured culture is not much different from Malibu, Austin and Dupont Circle, that likewise excuse their crass submission to popular American tastes through the de rigueur slurs about the "corporations," "Bush-Cheney," and "Halliburton." Perhaps this notion that Europe itself has become a cultural appendage of the U.S. explains why it views our upcoming election as a referendum on its own future as well.He also notes, and I can attest, that Europeans are following this election as never before because of this perception that it's also about Europe's future, though I dare to add that it is also partially because of the Iraq issue, which has inflamed the passions all over the place. And because as compared with previous elections, even the last one, Europe's media landscape has changed a lot: there's access to tons more information, with more and more media outlets. And then there's the Internet (and blogs!) making it even more so.
Hanson also warns the Europeans banking too much on a Kerry victory because it won't mean the Copernican turn they expect in the trans-atlantic relations. And he writes: "As never before the Europeans have unabashedly called for the defeat of an incumbent American president in the next election. They better hope that George Bush loses." Well, I can tell that Zapatero is toast no matter who wins; he was openly rooting for Kerry until Kerry criticized him for pulling the Spanish troops from Iraq. To be fair, maybe he now understands that he must be more discreet and responsible after taking office and seeing that things perhaps must be seen in a more nuanced way, or perhaps he's just hedging his bets; but the truth is that neither he nor anyone in his party hardly talks about their preferred candidate for the American election anymore.
Zapatero is still waiting by the phone for that call he said he was going to get from Kerry to attend and speak at the Dems convention. But if Bush gets re-elected, it's going to be much, much worse. For him, and for all Spaniards.