Despite George W. Bush's defiant "you're with us or you're against us" public stance, he actively solicited advice and input from his NATO partners. Obama, by contrast, is saying all the right things in public about transatlantic relations and NATO but adopting a high-handed policy and paying little attention to Europe. And Europe is taking a hint.... and closer to home, the core of the man was made evident again - and the contrast exceptional.
Even in Britain, where the public loves Obama, the government has been obsessed, after repeated slights -- the infamous CD set gifted to Prime Minister Gordon Brown, a press conference canceled due to light snow (or was it fatigue?), being denied a private meeting with Obama at the Pittsburgh summit, etc. -- with the notion that the two countries' "special relationship" is over. To be sure, some of this is overblown -- and hardly new -- but Obama has been less solicitous of his country's most natural ally than any U.S. president in memory.
America's relationship with France bounced back markedly after Nicolas Sarkozy was elected to replace Jacques Chirac. But there have been more than a few bumps since Obama took office. "Obama's policies are not the Atlanticism that Sarkozy was expecting," Macleans quotes Hall Gardner, a professor of international politics at the American University of Paris, as saying. "There've been several elements of disagreement between the two."
And indeed, while most European heads of state dutifully congratulated Obama after the surprise announcement of his Nobel win, the European press was as stunned as their American counterparts. The Independent's Ian Birrell assessed that Obama was being "once again lauded for his symbolism and potential rather than his actual deeds." Peter Beaumont of The Guardian equally snarked, "The reality is that the prize appears to have been awarded to Barack Obama for what he is not. For not being George W. Bush. Or rather being less like the last president."
It would be ironic, indeed, if the Europeans started longing for the good old days of the Bush administration. But that nostalgia is closer than you might think.
As we will always be grateful for what George and Laura Bush did this week, with no media attention, when they very quietly went to Ft. Hood and met personally with the families of the victims of this terrorist attack.All you Bushaters - take a powder - he wasn't all that bad.
The Bushes went and met privately with these families for HOURS, hugging them, holding them, comforting them.
If there are any of you out there with any connection at all to the Bushes, we implore you to give them our thanks…you tell them at a bunch of gay Hillary guys in Boystown, Chicago were wrong about the Bushes…and are deeply, deeply sorry for any jokes we told about them in the past, any bad thoughts we had about these good, good people.
You may be as surprised by this as we are ourselves, but from this day forward George W. and Laura Bush are now on the same list for us as the Clintons, Geraldine Ferraro, Stephanie Tubbs Jones, and the other political figures we keep in our hearts and never allow anyone to badmouth.
Criticize their policies academically and intelligently and discuss the Bush presidency in historical and political terms…but you mess with the Bushes personally and, from this day forward, and you’ll answer to us.
We hope someday to be able to thank George W. and Laura in person for all they’ve done, and continue to do. They didn’t have to head to Ft. Hood. That was not their responsibility.
The Obamas should have done that.
Thank goodness George W. is still on his watch, with wonderful Laura at his side.