Thursday, January 20, 2005

Bits o' Wisdom

I like Thomas Friedman from the NYTimes opinion section. He tends to be 'wettish' in the Thatcherian sense but I think he writes well, seems to get around a bit (writing from Paris today) and, from time to time, has interesting perspectives. He had a worthwhile column today.

If you took all three major parties in Britain - Labor, Liberals and Conservatives - "their views on God, guns, gays, the death penalty, national health care and the environment would all fit somewhere inside the Democratic Party," said James Rubin, the Clinton State Department spokesman, who works in London. "That's why I get along with all three parties here. They're all Democrats!"

The decline of the Tories is tragic. There's no heir of Thatcher just a party becoming increasingly marginalized because they've seemingly abdicated every message other than "Not Labour".

"Europeans were convinced that Kerry had won on election night and were telling themselves that they knew all along that Americans were not all that bad - and then suddenly, as the truth emerged, there was a feeling of slow resignation: 'Oh well, we've been dreaming,' " said Dominique Moisi, one of France's top foreign policy analysts. "In fact, real America is moving away from us. We don't share the same values. ... In France it was a very emotional issue. It was as if Americans were voting for the president of France as much as for president of the United States."

The one concrete result of the U.S. election will probably be to reinforce Europe's focus on its own efforts to build a United States of Europe, and to further play down the trans-Atlantic alliance. "When it comes to emotions, the re-election of Bush has reinforced the feeling of alienation between Europe and the U.S.," Mr. Moisi said. "It is not that we are so much against America, it is that we cannot understand the evolution of that country. ... This election has weakened the concept of 'the West.' "

A ringing endorsement of American exceptionalism if I've ever heard one.

Funnily enough, the one country on this side of the ocean that would have elected Mr. Bush is not in Europe, but the Middle East: it's Iran, where many young people apparently hunger for Mr. Bush to remove their despotic leaders, the way he did in Iraq.

An Oxford student who had just returned from research in Iran told me that young Iranians were "loving anything their government hates," such as Mr. Bush, "and hating anything their government loves." Tehran is festooned in "Down With America" graffiti, the student said, but when he tried to take pictures of it, the Iranian students he was with urged him not to. They said it was just put there by their government and was not how most Iranians felt.

Iran, he said, is the ultimate "red state." Go figure.

Remarkable. I don't expect the MSM or the Left to be trumpeting this though. Just like they don't care about PA oppressing Palestinians.

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