Jul 11, 2008

With Amigos like these

Amigo! Amigo! How you doing, Silvio? Good to see you!” — President Bush, caught by a microphone addressing Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi at the G8 summit. “I read the courts are after you again. It’s unbelievable. I’ve never seen anything like it. Constantly after you.” On Tuesday, the day after the lunch, a formal apology was issued to the Italian prime minister for raising the corruption charges. At the next day’s lunch, the microphones were cut off, but a few days later Bush ended a private meeting with the world's leaders to a close with the words, “Goodbye from the world’s biggest polluter.” He then punched the air, grinning, as the rest of those present including Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy looked on in shock.

He's getting demob happy. The GOP, meanwhile, has been attempting to spin Obama's forthcoming trip to Europe. "I do think that, frankly, Barack Obama looks toward Europe for a lot of his inspiration. I think John McCain is going to make sure that America stays America" says Romney. "Well this is why [Obama] is a popular candidate in Europe, because there is such an anti-American feeling and he is sort of capturing that," says Giuliani. A member of the Bush delegation, meanwhile, approached German Chancellor Merkel's foreign policy advisor, to stymie Obama's planned speech at the Brandenburg gate.

Andrew Sullivan predicts "an extended media orgasm. Europeans are desperate to fall in love with America again. This young, black Kennedy figure will likely create iconic scenes - reminding the old of the America that once inspired them and the young of the capacity for change that America still contains. And it's simply great theater. One thing we have learned about the Obama campaign that has been overlooked: they understand theater. In fact, no campaign has understood theater this way - and its powerful relationship to politics - since Deaver managed Reagan."

The fear that your leader might be popular abroad is new to me. The British are only too used to our Prime Ministers being more popular abroad than they are at home. Typical English self-deprecation or just the fact that our baseline belief in the untrustworthiness of politicians? More likely because nobody cares about our foreign policy anymore.

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